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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Happens to Liens in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

What Happens to Liens in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, your personal obligation to pay a secured debt may be discharged, but the lien remains in place.

A creditor’s lien typically endures Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the debtor doesn’t make the agreed-upon payments while the lien is active, the creditor may seize the property once the bankruptcy process is over.

How Do Liens Work?

Nobody hates to lose money, not even lenders, and when a loan is required to make a large purchase like a house or car, the danger of loss is greater still. By forcing the borrower to acknowledge that the creditor may seize the collateralized property if the debt is not paid as agreed, lenders reduce this risk. This contract grants the creditor a “lien,” or ownership stake in the property.

When a lender recovers property, they often auction it off and apply the money to the outstanding loan sum. In most situations, the borrower will still be liable for the remaining sum, or “deficiency balance,” if the auction price is less than what is owing.

Remember that in some states, shortfall balances on particular transactions are not permitted. A deficit balance will also be eliminated in Chapter 7 bankruptcy; see more below.

“Secured Debt” is created via Liens in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You must classify your debts as either secured or unsecured if you have already begun putting together your bankruptcy petition. A loan with a charge against it? It is locked. No liens? It’s unprotected.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Voluntary and Involuntary Liens

If the lien is voluntary, it was put on your property with your consent; if it is involuntary, it was done so against your will. Why is this important? because you might be unaware that a creditor has a secured debt against you and that you have a lien on your property.

Liberties Liens

In the course of a mortgage or vehicle note transaction, it’s typical to consent to granting a lien to a creditor. You are probably aware that the creditor’s lien could cause you to lose your home to foreclosure or your car to repossession because you agreed to those terms when you financed the property.

But when buying items like jewelry, furniture, electronics, beds, equipment, and computers on credit, many people are unaware that they are agreeing to a lien. Check your agreement or invoice.

Statutory Liens Without Consent

It’s common to have liens placed against your property without being aware of them because certain creditors have the legal authority to do so without your knowledge.

For instance, if you don’t pay your tax due, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may place a lien on your property. If you don’t pay your dues, your homeowners’ association may place a lien on your home. Or, if you don’t pay for repairs, a contractor could put a lien on your house.

Liens for Involuntary Judgments

By filing a lawsuit against the borrower and utilizing the money judgment to put a lien on your property, some creditors can convert an unsecured debt into a secured debt.

Medical bills, credit card balances, and other unsecured debt are all considered judicial liens.
After an unsecured creditor obtains a judicial lien and transforms into a secured creditor, many people apply for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

By filing a lawsuit against a borrower, succeeding, and obtaining a “money judgment” against the borrower for the amount owing plus fees and costs, a creditor can establish a “judicial” or “judgment” lien. A money judgment holder may register it against the borrower’s real estate.

Any property owned by the borrower that is not real estate is considered personal property, and in some states, the money judgment immediately grants the creditor a lien on that property.

How to Obtain a Money Judgment as an Unsecured Creditor

The procedure begins when the debtor is unable to make a payment on an unsecured obligation, like an outstanding credit card amount or overdue rent. You do not provide the creditor with collateral to secure these debts, thus the creditor cannot compel payment absent a judicial ruling.

A creditor will initiate a civil lawsuit if they feel that the debt is significant enough to warrant the expense of legal action. The court will issue a “default” money judgment and the creditor will be declared the winner if the borrower doesn’t reply.

If the borrower loses after submitting an answer to the complaint in the litigation, the court will also issue a money judgment. read about litigation that bankruptcy averted.

How a Money Judgment Becomes a Lien in the Mind of the Creditor

After receiving a monetary judgment, a creditor is deemed a “judgment creditor” and is required to “perfect” or establish an enforceable lien. Perfecting the lien often happens after the money judgment has been recorded at the recorder’s office or after adhering to other state legal requirements.

Advantages of a Perfected Lien

Once perfected, the lien will be paid out of the sale proceeds if the borrower sells real estate within the recorder’s authority (often the county). Before distributing money to the house seller, the title firm managing the transaction examines whether any recorded liens exist and pays them.

Personal property may also be encumbered by judicial liens. However, the majority of people have exemptions that allow them to defend their vehicles and home goods, therefore these targets are rarely used. Most states allow persons to use the same exemptions that are available in bankruptcy to safeguard property from creditors.

Use of Money Judgments by Creditors in Other Ways

A money judgment can be used by a judgment creditor for purposes other than creating liens. Most take use of money judgements to take money from the borrower’s bank account (bank levy) or take money out of their paycheck (wage garnishment).

How Are Liens Affected by Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

This topic can be challenging to understand, but it can be summed up as follows:

Your need to pay a secured debt, such as a mortgage or car payment, will probably be eliminated if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you don’t pay what you owe, the creditor can still seize the collateral (the house, car, or other property) because Chapter 7 bankruptcy won’t remove a voluntary lien.
When a judgment lien prohibits you from benefiting from an exemption, you can seek the court to set it aside. For instance, you may seek the court to remove the lien on up to $15,000 of your property equity if an exemption allowed you to keep the remaining $15,000 of equity.

Why Liens Are Not Automatically Eliminated by Chapter 7

After Chapter 7, a creditor cannot pursue you for a debt that has been discharged by your bankruptcy since filing for bankruptcy releases you from the obligation to pay. When a lien is in place and you don’t make the agreed-upon payments, Chapter 7 does not affect your obligation to return the property.

Therefore, even if the creditor cannot physically force you to pay your debt, if you refuse to do so voluntarily, the creditor may seize your property. This outcome results from the fact that a secured transaction includes two main components:

Your duty to reimburse the creditor. You are liable for paying the total debt. In the event that the debt is eligible for the bankruptcy discharge, filing for bankruptcy will discharge your personal duty for it. This implies that the creditor is prevented from subsequently filing a lawsuit against you to recover the debt and from using the judicial lien (discussed above) to garnish your earnings or deduct funds from your bank account.

The ability of the creditor to reclaim the collateral through the lien. Your creditor has the right to use the proceeds from the sale of the collateral used to secure the loan to offset any amounts you owe. If you don’t pay the loan, the lien enables the creditor to seize the property and force its sale. The lender has the right to sue you for the value of the collateral if it isn’t available. Even if you transfer ownership of the property to another party, a lien remains on it. A lien is not removed by bankruptcy on its own.
Example. Mary purchases a couch from a furniture retailer using credit. She agrees to pay for the couch over the following year by signing a contract. According to the contract, the couch has a security interest in favor of the creditor (the store), who has the right to reclaim it if any payment is more than 15 days overdue. In a secured debt of this kind, the lien is the store’s right to take back the couch, and Mary’s responsibility to pay the loan is her personal liability. She is no longer obligated to pay for the couch after filing for bankruptcy, but the creditor still has a lien on it and has the right to take it back if she doesn’t.

You might be able to take extra actions during bankruptcy to get rid of or at least lessen liens on collateral for security interests. See Avoiding Liens in Bankruptcy for further information.

Lenders Must Make Their Liens Perfect

A security interest agreement only counts as a secured debt for bankruptcy purposes if the creditor reports the lien with the proper municipal or state records office to “perfect” the lien. In order to establish a lien on real estate, for instance, the mortgage holder (the bank or another lender) normally needs to record the lien with the county’s recorder’s office.

The holder of a security interest must typically record it with the state or municipal agency that handles UCC recordings (also known as “UCC recordings”) in order to perfect a security interest in a vehicle or commercial asset. Typically, this is the secretary of state.

Why File for Bankruptcy Under Chapter 7?

Why then may declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy be preferable than allowing the property or automobile to go through a foreclosure or repossession? It eliminates your need to repay the full loan, including any outstanding shortfall sum, is the solution.

Due to the fact that forgiven debt is treated as income, it may also occasionally preclude the assessment of a tax liability. For instance, if you permit the foreclosure of your home and the lender forgives the unpaid sum, you can be hit with a big tax payment at the end of the year.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Does Divorce Impact Social Security Benefits?

Credit and Divorce

You’ll want to pay attention to how divorce and remarriage affect your Social Security, just as you would with marriage. For example, a name change must be recorded to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order for your earnings to be accurately reported, and remarriage affects survivor benefits.

Essentially, if you have been married for at least 10 years, you will likely continue to get Social Security benefits. If your marriage lasted fewer than ten years, you would not be eligible for your ex-benefits. spouse’s Remarriage and other variables can affect your benefits.

During a divorce, it is not overly complicated, but you must understand your rights and take care of these matters immediately.

How long must a couple be married before receiving benefits?

To be eligible for spousal benefits, you must have been married for at least 10 years.

How much Social Security does a divorced spouse receive?

This is crucial information for your divorce financial planning. To comprehend your spouse’s or ex-retirement spouse’s funds, you must obtain their Social Security benefits statement. This is particularly significant if you lack your own earnings or employment history.

When you reach the full retirement age, you will get full or unreduced benefits as well as fifty percent of your retirement savings account. Typically, if you have your own benefits, you will receive them first. If your spouse receives a bigger benefit than you do, you will also receive funds from their record.

The current full retirement age is 66, but it will shortly increase to 67. You can apply for Social Security payments at the age of 62, but the amount you get will be decreased. You may be eligible for delayed retirement credits if you or your spouse prolong your retirement age. These raise your monthly benefit amount.

Can You Continue Receiving Social Security Benefits After Divorce?

You can only get Social Security benefits after a divorce if:

  • You were wed for a decade.
  • You have not married again*
  • Your ex-spouse is qualified for Social Security and disability benefits.
  • Your personal retirement benefits are lower than those of your ex-spouse.
  • You are age 66 or older
  • You have been divorced for a minimum of two years.
  • Generally, remarriage will nullify your former spouse’s benefits.

How Are Social Security Benefits Divided Upon Divorce?

Social Security can be split in a variety of ways. Still, it is common for each spouse to get fifty percent of the retirement account. You may be subject to Social Security regulations, or you may be eligible for a greater payment or additional benefits. Divorcees must consult with an attorney to guarantee that each party receives what is due.

A delayed retirement can affect the timing and amount of benefits received. Overall, delaying retirement is preferable to retiring early, so your benefits will not be lowered.

Can You Collect Social Security If Your Ex-Spouse Has Died?

Yes, you will receive the full amount of their retirement benefit if your ex-spouse dies. At age 62 or beyond, you will begin receiving Social Security. Delaying your Social Security payments until age 65 or 67 ensures you receive the entire amount (retiring before age 67 can result in a reduction of 0 to 15% in benefits till age 67).

How Divorce Affects Benefits for Survivors

If your divorced spouse dies, you are eligible for widow/widower payments if your marriage lasted at least 10 years. However, you will not be required to meet the length-of-marriage criteria if you are caring for your deceased ex-minor spouse’s or disabled child. Benefits paid to a 60-year-old or older surviving divorced spouse do not influence the benefit rates of other survivors receiving benefits.

Keep in mind that the SSA will not notify your ex-relatives spouse’s if you apply for survivor benefits. In addition, there is no limit on the number of individuals who may claim for benefits from a single Social Security account.

How Remarriage Affects Benefits for Survivors

In general, if you remarry before the age of 60, you are ineligible for survivors payments until the second marriage ends by death, divorce, or annulment. You can continue to claim benefits on your former spouse’s record if you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled).

At age 66 or older, you are eligible to receive retirement benefits based on your new or current spouse’s record if it is greater. Your remarriage would not affect the amount of child support given to your children.

Name Modification on Your Social Security Card

If you change your name, you must inform both the Social Security Administration and your employer. This will ensure that your earnings are reported and documented accurately by your company.

You can obtain a new Social Security card bearing your new name. You must produce a copy of your birth certificate, adoption decree, or other appropriate documentation to confirm your date of birth. To establish your identity, you’ll need a valid U.S. driver’s license, state identification card, or passport.

Are You Afraid of Divorce, Remarriage, and Social Security? Consult a Lawyer

Social Security-related information is available at SSA.gov. A divorce can effect many aspects of one’s life, even after death. It is essential to comprehend the legal ramifications of a divorce, from retirement benefits to name changes on Social Security cards.

Put your mind at ease by allowing an expert divorce attorney in your state to assist you in making the right decisions regarding divorce, remarriage, and Social Security.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is Credit and Debt Counseling in Bankruptcy?

What Is Credit and Debt Counseling in Bankruptcy?

Credit Counseling: The “First” Course

Before filing for bankruptcy, you must be certain that it is the best option, as it can have serious and long-lasting effects on your credit, possessions, and income. The first course, pre-filing credit counseling, helps you determine whether bankruptcy is the best option. In this course, you will evaluate your financial situation and investigate alternative repayment options. If, after completing the course, it still makes sense to file for bankruptcy, you will submit a certificate of course completion along with your petition and schedules to demonstrate that you fulfilled the education requirement (the official paperwork that initiates the case). You can take the course online or over the phone and most people complete it in an hour or two.

Educating Debtors: The “Second” Course

You’ll take the post-filing debtor education course (or “second” class) after you file your bankruptcy. The second course will provide you with financial management tools that you’ll be able to rely on after your bankruptcy is over.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must file your completion certificate with the court no later than 60 days after the date first set for the 341 meeting of creditors (the hearing that all bankruptcy filers must attend) (the hearing that all bankruptcy filers must attend). The court will remind you by sending a notice entitled “Notice of Requirement to File a Certification of Completion of Course in Personal Financial Management.” Chapter 11, 12, and 13 filers can submit the completion certificate anytime before making the final payment under the repayment plan.

Not only is it easy to forget to complete the coursework, but failure to submit the certificate will result in a fine. The court will dismiss your lawsuit without discharging (wiping out) your qualifying debt, and you’ll have to refund the filing fee to reopen it. Worse yet, in many courts, you won’t be able to file the certificate until you file a motion asking the court to accept the late-filed certificate and the judge grants your request (and you might have to file an additional motion asking for your discharge) (and you might have to file an additional motion asking for your discharge).

Who Must Complete the Courses?

All individuals who file a Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 bankruptcy must complete a credit counseling class and a debtor education training course before receiving debt relief—even if the individual’s debts are primarily business debts.

This regulation involves a husband and wife filing jointly (together) (together). Each must satisfy the condition. In contrast, business entities are exempt, including partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations.

You might be exempt from the requirement if you must file an emergency case, or you’re in a military zone. Nevertheless, such exceptions are uncommon.

To find a course that fits the requirements of the courts in your bankruptcy jurisdiction, visit the U.S. Trustee’s website and select from a list of recognized providers.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

A swift bankruptcy petition can prevent imminent creditor action. Find out how quickly you may file an emergency bankruptcy filing online.

Sometimes it is necessary to quickly halt a creditor’s action. Filing for bankruptcy is beneficial. When you file a case, the court automatically issues a stay prohibiting most creditors from pursuing collection efforts (exceptions exist).

However, filling all the bankruptcy forms is not an easy task. If time is of the essence, you can use an expedient online bankruptcy filing process known as an emergency bankruptcy filing (or skeleton file) to obtain the automatic stay and submit the remaining documentation later.

Online Filing of Emergency Bankruptcy Forms

Upon completion, the average bankruptcy petition can easily exceed fifty pages. When facing a foreclosure auction, repossession, wage garnishment, collection action, or another time-sensitive issue, however, it may not be possible to complete all of the paperwork.

You have alternative options.

When you need to file bankruptcy quickly, you can file your forms online quickly. In addition, you can access online filing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can begin the online filing procedure by uploading a small fraction of the required forms:

  • The petition for bankruptcy (the principal document containing identifying information, the chapter you’re filing under, and other general information)
  • the names and addresses of the creditors that will be mentioned in the bankruptcy schedules (commonly referred to as a creditor mailing list or mailing matrix; verify format requirements with your court).
  • a certificate indicating that you fulfilled the credit counseling requirement or a waiver request, and
  • Statement Regarding Your Social Security Numbers on Form B121.

You should also be prepared to pay a filing fee, submit a request for a fee waiver, or submit a request to pay the filing charge in installments.

Finalizing a Skeleton Bankruptcy Filing

Your skeleton bankruptcy case will be dismissed if you do not provide the extra documents within 14 days. Also, be aware that certain courts may request alternative forms. The prerequisites are outlined in the local rules posted on your court’s website.

Emergency Bankruptcy Filing Procedures

For an urgent filing, you need take the following steps:

  • Step 1: Contact the court clerk or visit the court’s website to determine which forms are required for an emergency filing.
  • Step 2: Complete the Individual Voluntary Petition for Bankruptcy.
  • Step 3: On the list of creditors, you will include the names and addresses of everyone you owe money to, along with collection agencies, sheriffs, attorneys, and anybody else attempting to collect debts from you. Use the address that appears on the most recent billing statement or court filing.
  • Step 4: Complete the form Your Statement Regarding Your Social Security Numbers.
  • Step 5: Complete any other paperwork required by the court (for instance, in some jurisdictions you must file a cover sheet and an order of dismissal that will be executed if you fail to submit the remaining documents).
  • Step 6: Submit the originals and the requisite number of copies with your fee, a fee waiver application, or a request to pay the fee in installments, along with a self-addressed envelope, to the court clerk. Save duplicates for your records.
  • Step 7: Submit the remaining forms within 14 days to prevent case dismissal.

Obtaining and Filling Out the Bankruptcy Forms

See Forms You Must File in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for a complete list of Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. See Completing the Bankruptcy Forms for information on each of these forms, as well as basic instructions on how to complete them.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Credit and Divorce

Credit and Divorce

If you have just gone through a divorce or are planning one, you may want to examine credit and divorce concerns attentively to prevent the predicament described above. In addition, understanding the various types of credit accounts acquired during a marriage can provide light on the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.

Does Divorce Affect Credit Scores? Your credit score may decline.

Divorce does not influence your credit score by itself. Unless you take the necessary safeguards, the divorce process, which sometimes involves joint credit accounts, may negatively impact your credit.

The divorce order defines who is liable for accounts opened during the marriage. This judgment does not, however, bind the lenders. This means that you may still be liable for an account bearing your name.

Types of Credit Accounts and Financial Obligation

There are two different sorts of credit accounts: individual and joint. You can also allow approved others to use your account when applying for credit.

Personal Accounts

The creditor takes your income, assets, and credit history into consideration. Regardless of your marital status, you are solely responsible for paying off the debt in your individual account. The account will appear on your credit report, as well as that of any “approved” users.

Nonetheless, if you reside in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin), you and your spouse may be responsible for debts incurred during the marriage, and the individual debts of one spouse may be reflected on the credit report of the other.

Advantages/Disadvantages

If you are not employed outside the home, work part-time, or have a low-paying job, having an individual account could be detrimental. Because it may be difficult to provide a solid financial picture without your spouse’s salary.

Alternatively, if you start an account in your own name and are responsible, no one else’s actions (or nonpayment) can negatively impact your credit rating.

Shared Accounts

Considerations for a joint account include the income, financial assets, and credit history of both account holders. In a joint account, you and your spouse are jointly accountable for paying debts, regardless of who pays the bills. A creditor who reports the credit history of a joint account must include both parties’ names (if the account was opened after June 1, 1977).

Advantages/Disadvantages

A creditor accepting a loan or credit card may consider the combined financial resources of two applicants as evidence of their creditworthiness.

However, because two people jointly applied for the credit, both are liable for the debt. This is true even if a divorce ruling assigns each spouse distinct debt liabilities. On jointly-held accounts, ex-spouses who run up expenses and don’t pay them can harm their ex-partners’ credit histories.

Account titled “Users”

If you create a personal account, you can grant access to another individual. If you list your spouse as an authorized user, a creditor who reports your credit history to a credit bureau must also include your spouse’s name (if the account was opened after June 1, 1977). A creditor is also permitted to report the credit history of any other authorized user.

Advantages/Disadvantages

Frequently, user accounts are created for convenience. Students and housewives, who may not qualify for credit on their own, benefit from these loans. These individuals may use the account, but they are not contractually obligated to pay the bill.

What Happens to Your Credit If You Divorce?

If you are contemplating divorce or separation, pay close attention to the status of your credit accounts and the relationship between credit and divorce. If you keep joint accounts during this time, it is imperative that you make regular payments to protect your credit rating. As long as a joint account has an outstanding amount, you and your spouse are accountable for it.

Will a divorce save assets from creditors?

As noted previously, a judge’s divorce judgment does not apply to creditors. This means that creditors may pursue you for any missed payments or unpaid credit card balances. Additionally, they will submit your credit history to a credit bureau.

Should Debt and Credit Cards Be Paid Off Prior to Divorce?

Yes! If at all possible, it is preferable to pay off or decrease as much of your joint debt as possible prior to or as part of the divorce process. If that is not practicable, stop making new purchases with shared credit cards.

Preventing an Ex-Spouse From Ruining Their Credit During or After a Divorce

Divorce by itself can be quite hard. However, it is essential to consider the financial ramifications, especially in terms of credit scores. The following recommendations can assist you in maintaining good credit as you go in life.

Early closure of joint accounts

You might want to close any joint accounts or accounts where your ex-spouse was an authorized user. You might also ask the creditor to convert these accounts to individual accounts.

A creditor cannot automatically liquidate a joint account due to a change in marital status, but may do so at the request of one of the divorcing spouses. However, creditors are not required to convert joint accounts into individual accounts.

Instead, they may force you to reapply for credit individually and, based on your new application, grant or deny credit. To remove a spouse from an obligation on a mortgage, vehicle loan, or home equity loan, a lender will usually need refinancing.

2. Obtain Your Credit Score Through a Credit Reporting Agency

There is no better time to obtain a free annual credit report than when you are going through a divorce or have concerns about an ex-debt spouse’s repayment. Determine your debts, what has been reported, and whether your ex-spouse is behind on payments for joint accounts.

If you reside in a community property state, you must be aware of all of your ex-obligations spouse’s accrued during the marriage, even if your name was never on the loan or credit application. Any debt created during the marriage is regarded as jointly incurred by both parties.

3. Separate and Transfer Credit Card Obligation

Instead of simply announcing that one spouse will be responsible for paying off the credit card debt, actually divide the debt on shared credit cards and transfer it to the responsible spouse. Then, cancel the joint cards without delay.

4. Include a clause on indemnification in your divorce agreement

Consider inserting an indemnification language in your divorce agreement if just one spouse is to be accountable for a jointly-owned debt. This section specifies which spouse is responsible for the debt and makes it abundantly apparent that the other spouse is not liable.

You can sue your spouse if they refuse to pay a debt stated under their name in the indemnification agreement.

Obtain Expert Legal Assistance With Your Credit and Divorce Concerns

Your credit score is an essential component of your financial well-being. If you’re considering divorce, you’ll need to know who will be responsible for the majority of the debt after the marriage and how this could affect your credit history. However, you are not required to answer these questions on your own. A local divorce attorney will be able to alleviate your anxiety.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

10 Things To Do Before You File For Divorce and Realities of the Divorce Process

10 Things To Do Before You File For Divorce and Realities of the Divorce Process

Here are ten actions to take if you believe that your marriage is beyond repair and that divorce is inevitable.

Speak with a lawyer.

Find out what your legal obligations and rights are. Consider the scenario where you decide to relocate to your parents’ home with the kids while you wait for the divorce to be finalized. Moving in with your parents, even for a short time, could be a grave legal error.

Copies of documents.

Make copies of everything you can find by going through household files, including tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits manuals, life insurance policies, mortgage papers, financial statements, credit card statements, wills, Social Security statements, car titles, etc. It’s crucial to learn as much as you can about the company’s finances if your spouse runs a self-employed business. If you have financial information on your home computer, make copies of it.

List the belongings in the home and in the family.

The major possessions should be listed, including furniture, jewelry, art, appliances, and cars. Don’t forget to search your home’s storage spaces and your safe deposit box for valuables.

(Knowing all of the marital assets is crucial when it comes to dividing the property.)

Understand the household budget and costs.

Write down each monthly expense for utilities, a mortgage, and other living expenses as you go through your check register for the previous year, if you can. Keep track of the money you spend every day so you can figure out your monthly cash outlays as well.

Choose a family debt management strategy.

Determine the family debt, if any, and think about settling it before filing for divorce. One of the most challenging issues to settle during a divorce is how to divide the marital debt. When assessing debt, consider whether any of it was racked up by one spouse or the other before the wedding. The spouse who incurred it would be responsible for paying off this “non-marital debt,” which belongs to them.

Find out the exact salary of your spouse.

If your spouse receives a regular paycheck, it is simple to check a pay stub; however, if your spouse is self-employed, owns a business, or receives any portion of income in cash, you should try to keep track of the money coming in over the course of several months.

Analyze your earning potential in a realistic manner.

Perhaps you have been focusing solely on raising children while you have been out of the workforce for a while. Analyze your current employability and whether pursuing more education before getting divorced would be advantageous for you in the long run.

Look at your credit report.

If you don’t already have credit cards in your name, apply for them right away, use them, and build your credit. If you have a bad credit history, try to pay your creditors now so that you can raise your credit score before the divorce.

Make your own “nest egg” by yourself.

You ought to have access to your own money at all times. You will be responsible for paying bills if your spouse leaves and stops doing so until temporary support orders can be put in place. You will require funds for a retainer if you plan to initiate the divorce. Start putting money aside now, and when you have a sizeable nest egg of your own, consider starting divorce proceedings.

Prioritize spending time with your children.

Keep your kids’ schedules as regular as you can throughout the divorce process. If you and your partner can’t be with the kids together without fighting, schedule separate times for you both to be with them. Participate in your children’s school, sports, and extracurricular activities. Don’t speak poorly of your spouse in front of your kids. Put your kids first in everything you do.

The Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group handle complex divorce cases throughout Arizona, California, Nevada and New York. Their skilled litigation team provides no-nonsense legal counsel for family law cases at the highest level possible.

The law team at Canterbury thoroughly prepares clients while understanding that all cases have unique circumstances and laws vary by state and local jurisdiction. The Scottsdale divorce attorneys also prepare clients for the constant surprises that inevitably arise during the divorce process:

Length of divorce – Depending on your unique situation, divorce can take few months to well over a year, leaving issues that still need to be settled. The vast majority of matters resolve within one calendar year. More complex dissolutions with large asset bases and children, can take up to two years. At Canterbury Law Group, we help clients work out many divorce issues before entering court in attempt to eliminate or reduce long cases. The longer the case, the more expensive it is for both sides.

Court TV is not reality – Court TV may have constructed an unrealistic image of what court is like for the majority of divorce cases. In fact, most cases reach a settlement before needing to see a judge, or if you see a judge, it might only be for a few preliminary hearings and no trial if you elect to settle later.

Rescheduling is common – Expect your court dates to be rescheduled for other cases that take priority in your jurisdiction, such as criminal trials. You cannot insist upon a court date just because the court issued it. Rather, be prepared for rescheduling. Change is constant in a divorce proceeding.

Patience is needed – In most courthouses, your case will not be the only case scheduled for a hearing. Be prepared to sit and wait for other cases to be heard before yours. However, you must always be on time in the event the court is on time.

Everyone has an opinion – When you are going through a divorce, you will realize that everyone has an opinion. Ignore most of them because each case is unique, and no one can give you divorce advice better than your divorce attorney. Don’t rely on what you ‘hear’ or ‘read’ on the internet. Secure top legal counsel and let them steer you successfully to the resolution of your case so you can move on with your life. For more on divorce legal services, go to www.canterburylawgroup.com or call 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Collecting Business Debts

Collecting Business Debts

You can increase your chances of getting paid by contacting clients who are facing collections.

When it’s time to get paid, a small business owner may face their biggest challenge yet. Fortunately, you can reduce late payments and build a business radar that alerts you when an account is on its way to collections with a little advance planning. By maintaining open lines of communication and assisting clients who are experiencing financial difficulties as they get through a difficult time, you might gain loyal clients for life.

Customers who are slow to pay typically fall into three categories:

  • Customers who want to pay but are unable to do so on time due to legitimate financial difficulties.
  • Customers who favor to juggle or postpone payments.
  • Customers who will take any action necessary to avoid making a payment.

There is hope for the first two categories. You might be able to control these debts and persuade the debtors to pay in full or in part. Regarding the final group, you must identify it as soon as you can and take serious action, perhaps handing the account over to a collections agency (discussed below).

No matter what efforts you make to collect, the following rule is always true: As soon as you can, get to work, and continue working on the account until you are paid. Send bills promptly, and send new bills every month. There is no need to wait until the month’s end. Once an account is past due, send reminder letters as soon as possible.

More advice is offered below:

  • No harassing. Don’t bother those who owe you money, but let them know you are keeping an eye on the situation. You shouldn’t call a debtor more than once per day, and you shouldn’t ever leave messages that contain threats or disparaging remarks about the debtor.
  • Don’t get personal; be direct, listen, and direct. Calls should be brief and specific. According to Carol Frischer, a specialist in collections, your aim should be to stop the debtor from taking the call personally, or from equating the failure to pay as a failure in life. Always maintain your composure while maintaining a sense of urgency regarding getting paid.
  • Be imaginative. Ask the customer how much they can reasonably afford to pay if they are experiencing real financial difficulties. If the client accepts a new payment schedule in writing, take into account extending the payment deadline. Make sure the customer intends to abide by the agreement by calling the day before the following scheduled payment is due.
  • Write letters of demand. Send a series of escalating letters along with the phone calls. Save copies of all communications you have with the customer, and make sure to take notes during every call. If you send the case to a collections agency or take the client to court, you might need these.
  • Send letters using a collection agency. A fixed fee can be paid to a collection agency to have them send out several letters on your behalf. This is distinct from giving the debt to a collection agency.
  • Offer a substantial one-time discount. If a fairly large account goes unpaid for a prolonged period of time (let’s say six months), and you have doubts about ever being able to recover the debt, you might want to think about making a written offer for a time-limited, substantial discount to settle the matter. A mutual release and settlement, a formal document that discharges the debt, can be used to put an end to this.
  • Send the debt to a collection company. Your last resort is to send a debt to collections. Typically, a collection agency will pay you 50% of the money it collects. Of course, there are instances where half is preferable to nothing.
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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is a Priority Claim in Bankruptcy?

What Is a Priority Claim in Bankruptcy?

It’s a common misconception that when a debtor files for bankruptcy, all of their creditors are left in the dark, but this isn’t always the case. Money is readily available to pay creditors in almost all Chapter 13 cases and some Chapter 7 cases.

However, debtors are not automatically reimbursed. A creditor must use an official proof of claim form to submit a “proof of claim” to the court before they can get paid. Additionally, not all debts owed to creditors are handled equally.

Priority claims are obligations that are eligible for special consideration and will be paid before nonpriority claims. The creditor certifies whether a priority status exists by checking the box next to it in box 12 on the proof of claim form.

All claims submitted will be evaluated by the bankruptcy trustee, who has been appointed by the court to manage the case. The trustee will distribute money to priority creditors following the resolution of objections and confirmation of the plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The trustee will pay claims without regard to priority if there is money left over.

Here are some typical priority claim examples:

  • administration fees for the bankruptcy (such as accounting or legal fees)
  • obligations for child and spousal support
  • 180 days prior to bankruptcy, compensation of up to $15,150 was earned (wages, commissions, and other compensation)
  • contributions to an employee benefit plan of up to $15,150
  • deposits made by the filer to secure future personal goods, services, or housing are allowed up to $3,350.
  • a fisherman may receive up to $7,475 for unpaid fish sold to a storage or processing facility.
  • the government’s unpaid taxes, and
  • Injury or fatality claims resulting from drunk driving-related car or boat accidents.

These numbers are valid as of April 1, 2022, and they continue to be so until March 31, 2025.

In a Chapter 13 case, each creditor requesting payment is required to submit a claim. If it appears that a Chapter 7 case is a “asset case,” meaning that funds will be available for distribution, the court will order creditors to submit claims. In contrast, in a “no-asset case,” creditors won’t submit claims.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Best Effort Requirement in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Best Effort Requirement in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

What is the Best Effort Requirement of Chapter 13?

The bankruptcy trustee is appointed following the filing of the repayment plan. The trustee and your creditors will review your proposed repayment plan to ensure that it satisfies all bankruptcy requirements. Before being finalized, your repayment plan must also be approved (confirmed) by the court.

Paying your disposable income to nonpriority unsecured creditors (such as credit card companies) in your repayment plan will demonstrate that you are making every effort to repay your debts. After deducting allowed living expenses and mandatory payments, such as secured and priority debt payments, your disposable income is the amount remaining. (Secured debts are backed by collateral, such as a mortgage or an automobile loan. Priority debts are those that warrant advancement to the front of the payment queue. Examples include domestic support obligations and tax debt.)

You will apply your discretionary income to your remaining debt (nonpriority unsecured debt, like credit card balances and medical bills).

What Will I Pay Unsecured Nonpriority Creditors?

  • Using the Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income form, you will subtract the following from your income to determine your disposable income:
  • Expenses for living based on national and regional norms, as well as some actual amounts
  • secured payments, such as mortgage or auto loan payments (and any delinquent payments), and
  • Priority debts include arrears on child support and certain tax debts.
  • Over the course of five years, you will be required to pay a minimum of your monthly disposable income to your non-priority unsecured creditors.

Why Will I Be Charged More If I Own a Large Property?

The analysis continues further. In determining whether to confirm your repayment plan, the judge will also consider whether your creditors will receive the same amount through your Chapter 13 plan as they would if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Here is why this is important:

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee sells all nonexempt assets (those that are not protected by exemptions). The funds are allocated first to the priority creditors, and then, if anything remains, to the non-priority unsecured creditors.

  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, allows you to keep non-exempt property. However, your creditors will not permit you to receive a windfall. To ensure that your creditors receive the same amount as they would under Chapter 7, you must pay the greater of:
  • the sum of your total priority debt and your disposable income, or
  • the market value of your taxable property.

Except: If You Were Eligible for Chapter 7

If you qualify for Chapter 7 but file for Chapter 13 for another reason, such as to save your home, you will not be required to calculate a monthly disposable income figure. Your plan payment will be based on your financial situation. The bankruptcy court will typically approve your Chapter 13 plan even if you’re paying non-priority unsecured creditors little or nothing. Additionally, the duration of your plan is reduced from five to three years.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Community Property

Community property issues can arise during divorce proceedings and after a spouse's death. When spouses divorce or pass away, they are frequently left with the arduous task of dividing property and proceeds acquired during the marriage. This may include tangible assets (such as stocks, bonds, and legal title), as well as intangible assets (such as automobiles, furniture, paintings, and family homes) and debt. In some states, property acquired during the marriage is considered "community" property and is frequently divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce. The manner in which states treat "community property," also known as "marital property," will determine what happens to debt or assets upon divorce. Common Property Statutes State laws govern community property, and not all states have such laws on the books. Community property laws in nine states (and Puerto Rico) govern the division of debt and property in a divorce. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are included in this group. In such states, property is typically divided equally, whereas in all other states, distribution is determined by a judge based on what is equitable or fair. Alaska is distinctive in that divorcing couples have options. Despite the fact that each state determines how property is divided upon divorce, the laws may vary slightly. For instance, some states, such as California, divide debts and assets "equally" (50/50), while others, such as Texas, divide them "equitably." Even in community property states, courts in jurisdictions that apply the equitable distribution doctrine consider numerous factors, some of which justify unequal distribution of property or debt. Because these laws affect property and other valuable assets, they can have a profound impact on the future of a spouse who is forced to share a portion of an asset that was previously considered separate property. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement between the parties, property distribution will be governed by the law of the state in which the couple was married. Compared to separate property, community property In most cases, property acquired during a marriage belongs to both partners. This is particularly true in states where community property laws exist. Despite the fact that not all states have such laws, property acquired during the duration of a marriage is distributed equally upon divorce. The following are examples of community property: Earnings of each spouse during the marriage Home and furnishings acquired with marital funds during the marriage (reword) Investments and operations of a company generate interest income. The mortgage and family home Separate property, on the other hand, is that which was owned prior to the marriage, was inherited or received as a gift during the marriage, or was earned after the date of separation by either spouse. These are examples of separate property: Bank accounts that are held independently Separately held inheritances acquired during a marriage presents to either partner Personal injury compensation Any property acquired after the dissolution of a marriage is considered separate property. Courts have also categorized certain properties as "partially" or "quasi" community property. This includes assets that would have been considered separate property at the beginning or during the marriage, but have become marital property as a result of co-mingling or other circumstances. Considerations a Judge Might Employ to Determine Property Division A judge may consider several factors when determining how to divide property acquired during the marriage. A judge will consider 1) the earning capacity of each spouse, 2) which parent is the legal custodian of the children (if any), and 3) the existence of fault grounds such as adultery or cruelty. Consequently, even in states with community property, property may not always be divided 50/50. Instead, courts will consider the following factors to determine whether an unequal property division is necessary: One spouse may receive a larger share of the marital assets if fault-based grounds for divorce exist (such as adultery, cruelty, etc.). Loss of Continuing Benefit: Whether one spouse will incur the loss of compensation they would have received had the marriage continued. Disparity of Earning Capabilities: Whether disparities exist between incomes, earning capacities, and business opportunities that may impact property division. Health and Physical Conditions: Whether the physical health or condition of the spouses may impact the property division. Age Disparities: Whether there is a disparity between the ages of the spouses that could affect one's ability to work or receive retirement benefits. The size of the estate can have an impact on the distribution of property. The larger the estate, the more likely the court is to favor a 50/50 split. The likelihood that one of the spouses will receive a substantial inheritance. Gifts to a Spouse: After a divorce, gifts are typically converted to separate property. A spouse who obtains primary custody of children under the age of 18 may affect the division of property. Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Concerning Community Property Legal issues surrounding a divorce can be overwhelming in number. Property matters, alimony, child custody, child support, division of retirement benefits accrued during the marriage, visitation rights, and other legal matters must all be handled with care. Finding the appropriate divorce attorney is crucial. Contact a local divorce attorney with experience in your area today.

Community property issues can arise during divorce proceedings and after a spouse’s death. When spouses divorce or pass away, they are frequently left with the arduous task of dividing property and proceeds acquired during the marriage. This may include tangible assets (such as stocks, bonds, and legal title), as well as intangible assets (such as automobiles, furniture, paintings, and family homes) and debt.

In some states, property acquired during the marriage is considered “community” property and is frequently divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce. The manner in which states treat “community property,” also known as “marital property,” will determine what happens to debt or assets upon divorce.

Common Property Statutes

State laws govern community property, and not all states have such laws on the books. Community property laws in nine states (and Puerto Rico) govern the division of debt and property in a divorce. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are included in this group. In such states, property is typically divided equally, whereas in all other states, distribution is determined by a judge based on what is equitable or fair.

Alaska is distinctive in that divorcing couples have options.

Despite the fact that each state determines how property is divided upon divorce, the laws may vary slightly. For instance, some states, such as California, divide debts and assets “equally” (50/50), while others, such as Texas, divide them “equitably.” Even in community property states, courts in jurisdictions that apply the equitable distribution doctrine consider numerous factors, some of which justify unequal distribution of property or debt.

Because these laws affect property and other valuable assets, they can have a profound impact on the future of a spouse who is forced to share a portion of an asset that was previously considered separate property. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement between the parties, property distribution will be governed by the law of the state in which the couple was married.

In most cases, property acquired during a marriage belongs to both partners. This is particularly true in states where community property laws exist. Despite the fact that not all states have such laws, property acquired during the duration of a marriage is distributed equally upon divorce.

The following are examples of community property:

Earnings of each spouse during the marriage

Home and furnishings acquired with marital funds during the marriage (reword)

Investments and operations of a company generate interest income.

The mortgage and family home

Separate property, on the other hand, is that which was owned prior to the marriage, was inherited or received as a gift during the marriage, or was earned after the date of separation by either spouse.

These are examples of separate property:

  • Bank accounts that are held independently
  • Separately held inheritances acquired during a marriage
  • presents to either partner
  • Personal injury compensation
  • Any property acquired after the dissolution of a marriage is considered separate property

Courts have also categorized certain properties as “partially” or “quasi” community property. This includes assets that would have been considered separate property at the beginning or during the marriage, but have become marital property as a result of co-mingling or other circumstances.

Considerations a Judge Might Employ to Determine Property Division

A judge may consider several factors when determining how to divide property acquired during the marriage. A judge will consider 1) the earning capacity of each spouse, 2) which parent is the legal custodian of the children (if any), and 3) the existence of fault grounds such as adultery or cruelty.

Consequently, even in states with community property, property may not always be divided 50/50. Instead, courts will consider the following factors to determine whether an unequal property division is necessary:

  • One spouse may receive a larger share of the marital assets if fault-based grounds for divorce exist (such as adultery, cruelty, etc.).
  • Loss of Continuing Benefit: Whether one spouse will incur the loss of compensation they would have received had the marriage continued.
  • Disparity of Earning Capabilities: Whether disparities exist between incomes, earning capacities, and business opportunities that may impact property division.
  • Health and Physical Conditions: Whether the physical health or condition of the spouses may impact the property division.
  • Age Disparities: Whether there is a disparity between the ages of the spouses that could affect one’s ability to work or receive retirement benefits.
  • The size of the estate can have an impact on the distribution of property. The larger the estate, the more likely the court is to favor a 50/50 split.
  • The likelihood that one of the spouses will receive a substantial inheritance.
  • Gifts to a Spouse: After a divorce, gifts are typically converted to separate property.
  • A spouse who obtains primary custody of children under the age of 18 may affect the division of property.

Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Concerning Community Property

Legal issues surrounding a divorce can be overwhelming in number. Property matters, alimony, child custody, child support, division of retirement benefits accrued during the marriage, visitation rights, and other legal matters must all be handled with care. Finding the appropriate divorce attorney is crucial. Contact a local divorce attorney with experience in your area today.

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