Tag Archives: organizing for bankruptcy

July 2017 Chicago Bankruptcy Question and Answer Podcast with Joseph Wrobel

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. Click/tap here to listen to this podcast interview anytime.

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show:

  • Can you, and when should you include a title loan in your bankruptcy filing?
  • If you owe money to a business that files bankruptcy, do you still need to pay?
  • When you need to file bankruptcy and get a new car, what is the best plan?
  • What does someone need to do to prepare for a bankruptcy case?
  • Are Social Security and pensions safe from creditors when you file for bankruptcy?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973, he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

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Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Basics: Danger in Attempting Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What happens when people try to pursue a bankruptcy case (pro-se) without a lawyer;
  • Why the bankruptcy courts treat everyone with the assumption they know the laws;
  • There is no “do-over” or reset button on final decisions by bankruptcy courts;
  • How a bankruptcy attorney can help repair some but not all of the damage.

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School. 

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

Bankruptcy Basics: May 2015 Bankruptcy FAQs

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

Click/tap here to listen to the podcast now.

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • If I get sued and lose at trial and my creditor gets a judgment can I still file bankruptcy?
  • I am trying to do bankruptcy without a lawyer, do I have to include empty accounts?
  • Is a surviving spouse responsible for the credit card debt of their deceased spouse?
  • If I filed for bankruptcy in 2012. I’m behind again on bills, when can I file again?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

For more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996.

Planning a bankruptcy in 2015? Time to get things in order.

Many people who make the decision to file a petition for bankruptcy have been thinking about it for a while. In most households, a series of life and financial events usually cause an inability to keep up with the payments on houses, cars, credit cards and so on. There are a few “last straws” that prompt people to file for bankruptcy. Wage garnishments and home foreclosures are common events that cause an individual person or married couple to declare bankruptcy in either a Chapter 7 discharge or a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy.

  1. Measuring the credibility of collector threats;

Debt collectors have very convincing threats they can use to coerce you into making a payment on a debt you owe them, regardless whether you can afford to pay them. If paying a credit card, for example, means you will be without food or power, you might not be able to afford to pay them. If the amount you owe is not significant a collector might simply call you forever. They might also sue you. Remember that large credit card companies have collectors with attorneys on file it may cost them very little to get a money judgment against you. If there is a judgment against you, the creditor may get the court to seize cash in your bank account or force the sale of assets to pay the debt. A bankruptcy could stop that creditor in their tracks.

  1. Keep your cash account balances low if you are concerned with account seizures;

If you have money sitting in your checking account to pay large bills such as rent and mortgage payments, consider converting cash into money orders or otherwise safeguard it somewhere else than cash checking accounts. If your account is seized by the court in collection of a money judgment, you may have a very difficult time persuading your creditor or court to return your cash because you had it budgeted for car or housing payments.

  1. Negotiating payment plans to avoid bank account seizures;

Even though a creditor might obtain a money judgment against you for the full amount they are seeking, they might also accept monthly payments, and so long as they receive monthly payments they might refrain from seizing your cash accounts and assets.

  1. Creating all your list of debts and collectors;

Order a copy of your credit report using a website such as Credit Karma (they advertise no fee access to credit scores and reports) and compile a master list of everyone to whom you owe money. By reviewing all three credit reports (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian) you can make sure nothing slips between the cracks. A bankruptcy petition requires a complete listing of all creditors. It is a good idea to become familiar with how credit is reported so you can later watch over it and make sure there are no inaccuracies. Many people have some sort of incorrect information listed on their credit report(s).

  1. Meet with a bankruptcy attorney who can advise you about next steps;

In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy it is recommended you work with a licensed bankruptcy attorney who understands how to navigate the complex system of bankruptcy qualifications such as the means test for Chapter 7. Your bankruptcy attorney can also tell you everything you need to do to prepare for your bankruptcy case. When you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney, look for an attorney or law firm primarily focused in bankruptcy law because that experience is helpful to making sure you get a fresh financial start with the best outcome from the bankruptcy case.

  1. Create a working budget during bankruptcy and stick to it after;

Many people say that the most important credit factor about bankruptcy is what you do to protect your credit after a bankruptcy. Since the automatic stay provision of your bankruptcy stops creditors from collecting from you during the case, you will be able to apportion monthly income to keep up with important payments and start saving money for the future. Setting and sticking to a strict budget will help in building discipline and living within your means so you can avoid financial problems in the future. Just as easily, as people fall into the habit of overspending, they can learn the habit of budgeted spending.

  1. Research how to challenge negative marks on credit reports.

A bankruptcy discharge may eliminate your duty to pay certain debts, but that does not automatically wipe those debts from your credit rating. Your credit score might still be low after your bankruptcy case, and it will be necessary to let the credit reporting agencies know that a debt is no longer owed and should be eliminated from the credit report. There are agencies who work with clients, for a reasonable fee, and help update the credit agencies to reflect the results of a bankruptcy discharge order.

Most of a bankruptcy client’s anxiety can occur in the time before a bankruptcy filing. Once the information is collected and the process is underway, the client can relax and prepare for financial success with a fresh start.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

You are not a bad person for discharging a money judgment in bankruptcy

Once a month Chicago bankruptcy attorney Joseph Wrobel answers frequently asked questions on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update Internet radio podcast. One of the questions on this month’s program involved the potential discharge of a money judgment. The individual wanted to know if they can file for bankruptcy and include a judgment for money ordered by a local court. The judgment is currently being repaid through a wage garnishment. Listen to September’s FAQ in bankruptcy radio show.

Here was the specific question: “In 2009, I returned a vehicle for which I could no longer pay due to death of my husband and my being laid off. The financial company sued me and is now garnishing my wages at 15%. Can I include the remaining balance and stop the garnishment in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?”

Joe’s answer based on the information provided: Yes, a judgment is just another debt that can be discharged. When you owe money to a person or company and you don’t pay them, they go to court and get a judgment against you, ordering you to pay the money or the court will allow the debtor to collect it from you with the power of the court, including actions like wage garnishments. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the individual garnishing your wages and any other bill and debt collection activities must stop and are forbidden during the bankruptcy as a matter of federal law.

A judgment to pay another is not a moral issue or punishment for failure to pay.

Many people think that a judgment for an amount of money is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. This is not true at all. While criminal courts ‘punish’ people for breaking criminal laws and causing harm to victims and society, a small claims or civil court is never punitive. The civil court could in many cases care less why the debt wasn’t paid, unless your credibility is otherwise at issue in the lawsuit. The civil court that enters a judgment against you simply applies the law to the facts presented to them. If you owe money, they can order you to pay. That is all.

When you file a petition for bankruptcy protection the automatic stay provision kicks in and the collection activity, in this case a garnishment, must stop during the time the bankruptcy case is ongoing. Your attorney, assuming you hire one, will send a notice to whomever manages your wage garnishment and it must stop. If the judgment amount is included in the list of debts to be discharged, the discharge notice will also be sent to whomever is collection on the judgment as well as with whomever obtained or now owns that judgment.

Deciding whether bankruptcy protection may be the answer to your financial problems requires knowing the law and how it can help you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

Bankruptcy Basics: September Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics and types of FAQ covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What happens to a judgment from an uninsured car accident if I file for bankruptcy?
  • Can a 19 year old student loan for $12,000.00 be included in bankruptcy?
  • I am waiting for an insurance proceeds check, will  I be able to keep the money?
  • Can I include a judgment that garnishes my wages when I file for bankruptcy?

 

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

 

Ask an anonymous bankruptcy question for our radio show!

Do you have questions about bankruptcy and have a specific situation that causes you to believe bankruptcy protection might save the day? Once a month, Joseph Wrobel appears on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update, an Internet radio show/podcast as he teaches basic bankruptcy concepts while answering real questions about bankruptcy from real people.

If you have a bankruptcy law question for attorney Joseph Wrobel, you can send him an e-mail at josephwrobel@chicagobankruptcy.com and he will read it on an upcoming episode of the Chicago Bankruptcy Update. Please write “radio show question” in the subject line so your question can be included.

Important Disclaimer:

Please understand a few disclaimers: (1) answers to questions read on the show do not constitute legal advice; (2) asking a question to be answered does not create an attorney/client relationships; (3) the radio show is for education and entertainment purposes only.

Joseph Wrobel takes his time to appear on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update for many reasons, mostly to help you, the person who may need bankruptcy information, gets the real information you need without a “sales pitch.” Joseph Wrobel has been an active bankruptcy attorney for more than 40 years and has seen just about everything. As a result, he quickly thinks of the types of situations that are challenging in bankruptcy law.

Joseph Wrobel is changing how people look at bankruptcy. Do not be afraid of taking control.

Attorney Wrobel also knows that too many people are afraid to admit financial defeat, afraid to talk to a lawyer, and afraid of losing their home, car and possessions. There are many instances in which people will not lose everything, will not have to worry, and will be able to start over fresh, without all the debt and harassment from creditors.

If you want to stop the phone calls, wage garnishments and get a better financial attitude, take Attorney Wrobel’s advice and ask the real questions so you can get the real answers. The only bad questions are the questions never asked.

We hope you join us and share your hypothetical question for an upcoming radio show episode.

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we all hope you enjoy our monthly radio show and share it with other people you know might be too shy or ashamed to ask for help. Together we can make a difference.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

U.S. Supreme Court: Inherited IRAs are not “retirement funds” protected in bankruptcy

Protecting a qualified Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) is important to the people who rely on their IRA accounts when they retire and from time to time, when they borrow from them in certain situations. Creditors often try to persuade debtors to cash in or borrow from their IRA to pay debts, and some people succumb to pressure when they fear losing their house, car and personal property in a lawsuit if a creditor makes good on their threats.

What many people do not know is that their IRA is protected from bankruptcy proceedings. The trustee will not make you empty your qualified IRA when collecting assets to pay off creditors. Some people call IRA assets “bulletproof” money because of its nature in being beyond the reach of creditors.

What happens, however, when you inherit an IRA account? The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that the funds in an inherited IRA are not protected in bankruptcy.

The case of Clark v. Rameker, involves a bankruptcy petitioner, Ms. Heidi Heffron-Clark, who inherited her mother’s IRA in 2001. Nine years later when she filed her petition for bankruptcy, Clark sought to exclude approximately $300,000 held in the inherited IRA, from the bankruptcy estate, using the “retirement funds” exemption. “The Bankruptcy Court concluded that an inherited IRA does not share the same characteristics as a traditional IRA and disallowed the exemption. The District Court reversed, explaining that the exemption covers any account in which the funds were originally accumulated for retirement purposes. The Seventh Circuit disagreed and reversed the District Court.” The Supreme Court, on review, held that, “Funds held in inherited IRAs are not “retirement funds…[i]”

The Court’s analysis over whether inherited funds were meant to be treated like originally accumulated funds, by the individual owner, were the same under the legal meaning of “retirement funds” in the bankruptcy code of laws. IRAs are certainly unique and some of these features were noted in a recent Forbes article about this case, “Unlike IRA owners, inheritors can’t put additional funds into the account, and they can take money out at any time without penalty. In fact, generally, non-spousal IRA heirs must either withdraw the entire amount each year, starting by Dec. 31 of the year after the IRA owner died.[ii]”

An IRA rollover, to a spouse, is one additional notable impact of this case.

Reports on this case also note the Court’s decision does affect an individual who inherits an IRA from their spouse. They are allowed to receive their spouse’s IRA funds and have the option of rolling those monies into their own IRA – this option is only available for spouses. As mentioned in Forbes, “She can roll the assets into her own IRA and postpone distributions from a traditional IRA until she turns 70 ½. The catch is, like other IRA owners she may have to pay a 10% early-withdrawal penalty if she takes money before age 59 ½ from her own IRA.[iii]”

Here is a link to another relevant article: Five Rules For Inherited IRAs.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

[i] U.S. Supreme Court Opinion: CLARK et ux. v. RAMEKER, TRUSTEE, et al., No. 13-299, Decided Jun. 12, 2014.

[ii] Forbes: Supreme Court Finds Inherited IRAs Not Protected in Bankruptcy. By Deborah L. Jacobs, Jun. 12, 2014.

[iii] See Forbes article (FNii).

Bankruptcy Basics: Your current and ex-spouse and why they must be disclosed

Many of us make decisions regarding our finances with someone else. Often a spouse or a former spouse is involved in major financial decisions, in a variety of situations. Your current spouse, with whom you may own property, can certainly affect your decision to file a petition for bankruptcy protection. Likewise, an ex-spouse, to whom you may owe financial support, also is likely to chime in on legal activity involving bankruptcy. You may have heard people say, “I’m not going to tell so and so, and it is none of their business,” but the truth is it will become their business soon enough.

Yes, you must disclose your current and/or ex-spouse to your bankruptcy attorney.

We hire bankruptcy attorneys who are experienced in the law and practice of debt relief because we rely on their advice and counsel as to what works best for us in our current financial state. While it is possible that a current or ex-spouse will have no bearing on your bankruptcy case, that is a decision your attorney should make by using their knowledge and experience with the law.

Your bankruptcy lawyer needs to know about current and/or ex-spouses to the extent their income is included or somehow affects your income, for purposes of the means test necessary to determine whether you qualify for bankruptcy relief, and which chapter may be available. For example, if you pay or receive financial support as required by a divorce judgment or separation agreement, you may qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7. In the event of divorce, you might also be obligated to maintain life and/or health insurance policies, another factor in calculating potential bankruptcy outcomes.

Bankruptcy attorneys cannot help you unless you give them accurate and complete information.

If your bankruptcy attorney determines your current or former spouse is relevant to the bankruptcy, and is entitled to notice pursuant to the law, they might have to disclose the individual as a creditor to whom you owe money, or as a co-debtor also responsible for joint debts. Responsibility for debts might also be stated in the divorce judgment, and your attorney will likely need a copy of the final divorce decree.

Giving your attorney a full and complete financial picture at the first meeting at the attorney’s office is important. Based on the information you provide, your attorney can generally tell you what bankruptcy relief may be available, but only when you give them a complete and accurate financial history. This is not a time to feel shame and hide information, because if you do, things may only be more difficult moving forward.

Full disclosure of financial facts and circumstances is necessary to avoid committing a fraud on the court.

If you fail to disclose a current or former spouse to the bankruptcy court, you may have bigger problems. Of course, in reviewing and preparing your bankruptcy petition, your lawyer is likely to discover a current or former spouse the court and trustee needs to know of, however if you work to hide their existence it is possible for your petition to be filed with incomplete information, and may be considered a fraud on the court. For more information about the penalties for defrauding the bankruptcy court, please read our article, Bankruptcy Court: Go ahead and make their day.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

Bankruptcy Basics: June Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Bankruptcy FAQs

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

Topics and types of FAQ covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What happens to additional debt incurred during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy;
  • How to address incorrect or updated  amounts listed in the bankruptcy petition;
  • What happens with auto accident and injuries and Chapter 7 bankruptcy;
  • How are 401K contributions addressed in bankruptcy.

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com