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At the beginning of 2020, household debt in the U.S. was higher than it had been in years. Nearly 6% of all credit card balances were at least two months in arrears, while delinquencies were being reported for 14% and 16% of car loans and student loans, respectively. When COVID-19 shut down all non-essential businesses…

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Does Bankruptcy Affect Alimony or Child Support? Here’s a question I’ve been recently asked by a client. Will a bankruptcy affect alimony or child support? Well, that’s a double question. Actually, it’s four parts.   Bankruptcy and child support or alimony First, if you have to pay child support or alimony, a bankruptcy does not…

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Does Bankruptcy Affect an Inheritance?  I’ve been asked recently how a bankruptcy will affect an inheritance. It’s not an easy question, but you must list anything you’re going to inherit. If you know someone died and you’re listed in the will, or if you know someone died and you were a relative who would receive…

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Does Bankruptcy Affect Wills or Estate Plans? I’ve been asked recently, “How will a bankruptcy affect my will or estate plan?”   A fresh start The purpose of bankruptcy is to give you a fresh start, which will allow you to go forward without the baggage or hassle of all your debts and to start…

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Will A Bankruptcy Affect My Credit Score? A client recently asked me, “Will a bankruptcy affect my credit score, and what can I do about it?” Yes. A bankruptcy does affect your credit score, somewhat. Here’s why.   How your credit score works Your credit score is based on how much money you owe. Are…

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Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy? A client asked me recently whether he can file a bankruptcy on his own, or whether he would need a lawyer to assist him. The answer is that anyone can file papers on their own in court. That’s called a pro se or by yourself petition.…

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Can I Be Turned Down For Bankruptcy?  A client asked me recently, “Can I be turned down for a bankruptcy?” That’s a maybe.   How it works First, you answer all the questions honestly and you provide all the documents to your lawyer. The lawyer prepares the petition, and you fill it out and sign…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, there are different obligations that you have to fulfill. To begin with, you must make all of your financial information available for inspection, such as your income, assets, and liabilities, so that the Bankruptcy Court can determine the following: Whether or not you meet the…

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Last March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law to mitigate the economic effect of COVID-19 on U.S. residents. It included temporary modifications of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which are summarized below. Some federal income is excluded from the “income” definition Traditionally, courts have looked at your disposable…

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Thousands of New Yorkers have lost their jobs in the last several weeks because their employers ceased operations to control the spread of COVID-19. Those who rent their homes or have a mortgage are understandably worried. What happens if you can’t pay? On March 20, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that prohibited enforcement of…

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When you’re struggling with mounting debt balances, bankruptcy can give you the financial relief you need- unless your goal is to eliminate student loan debt. This is not to say that you can’t discharge your student loans, but it’s extremely difficult, and the chance of success has traditionally been low. For a bankruptcy court to…

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Your debts have spiraled out of control, and bankruptcy appears to be your best option for a fresh start. However, your employer requires you to use a company credit card to pay for rental cars, hotel stays, and other expenses associated with your role at the business. Now you have questions. Do you have to…

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Last month, the New York unemployment rate went up to 14.5%, taking it to its highest level since the Great Depression. According to the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), it was the biggest monthly drop in employment numbers on record. Nationally, the April unemployment rate was 14.7% (compared to 4.1% in March), mostly…

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There are many occupations that require you to have a security clearance. They include positions in the military and government, weapons manufacturing, software and aerospace engineering, and more. When you work in one of these industries or are planning to seek a job there, you may be worried that bankruptcy will jeopardize your career prospects.…

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You’ve been in financial trouble since your divorce, so you moved to New York State to live with your parents. Although the reduction in living expenses helped, there’s no way you will be able to make a dent in all those credit card and medical bills before your creditors finally take legal action. You decide…

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When you file for bankruptcy, you may be worried about bank accounts belonging to your minor children. For children under 18, most financial institutions require a parent or guardian to be an additional account holder, so does this mean that your Chapter 7 trustee could seize it and distribute the money to creditors? The answer…

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The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on small businesses all over New York. Those in non-essential industries have had to transition their operations online or close down. Restaurants and other foodservice businesses have converted to take-out or delivery only, which may allow them to remain afloat but forces them to lay off a…

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With over 187,000 reported cases and more than 19,000 deaths, New York City continues to be an epicenter for the novel coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing remains in place, and non-essential businesses that can’t operate online remain closed. If you worked at one of these businesses, you’re probably worried about your financial situation. Below is an…

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Due to this unprecedented health crisis, many New Yorkers are struggling to take care of their families and make ends meet with a diminished income. Sometimes, the financial challenges are so great that you may be wondering whether bankruptcy can lighten the burden. While bankruptcy will make sense for many people, it doesn’t have to…

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This question is difficult to answer during the current COVID-19 situation. Everyone feels that their case is important, and as such, they should be able to see a judge and get some relief or assistance now. But, right now, the court is only hearing a list of cases, which are deemed to be essential cases.…

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If you were thinking about filing for bankruptcy before the coronavirus pandemic took hold or have a case in progress, then you might be wondering how the social distancing and quarantine protocols currently in place will affect the outcome. Can you still file? Is your case on hold indefinitely? What is going on? Are the…

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Many people move to the United States to marry an American fiance(e), join family members, accept a job offer, or invest in a business. While a lot of these newcomers eventually become U.S. citizens, others choose to maintain permanent resident (green card holder) status. Although legal permanent residents cannot vote in U.S. elections or remain…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are required to surrender any nonexempt property to your trustee, who could then sell it and distribute the proceeds among your creditors. Therefore, many people worry that the trustee may come to their home to inventory everything, distressing the family, and catching the attention of neighbors. While…

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Anyone who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York will have to include a form called a Statement of Intention, which is used to provide the following information to your creditors, trustee, and the court: Which debts are secured by collateral (secured) How you plan to address your secured debts Although the automatic stay…

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Some debtors who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy try to minimize their losses by paying back preferred creditors like friends and family and transferring property that’s not likely to be protected by a bankruptcy exemption. When this happens, the bankruptcy trustee has the legal authority to undo these transactions and claim the money and property…

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You will always be grateful to your brother for stepping in when you started struggling financially a year ago. He loaned you $5,000 to stay afloat after you lost your job. Now, months later, you still haven’t found a position that covers more than your basic living expenses, and you’re thinking about filing Chapter 7…

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When you file for bankruptcy in New York, the majority of your creditors will file a claim in order to receive any proceeds from the bankruptcy estate. Although not all of them may receive anything, filing their claim provides information about your debt and increases the likelihood that they will receive something if your trustee…

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When you file for bankruptcy in New York, your debts will become creditor claims. Under bankruptcy law, they are divided into two categories: secured vs. unsecured and, within the latter, priority vs. non-priority. These distinctions dictate which ones get paid first and which ones get paid at all. What are secured claims? Secured debts are…

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Between 2006 and 2017, there were nearly 13 million consumer bankruptcies filed. Of these, 68% were Chapter 7 filings, while 32% opted for Chapter 13. Chapter 13 has certain advantages: if you have a lot of property that you don’t want to lose in a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, then it lets you repay your…

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When you file for Chapter 7 in New York, your trustee is tasked with administering all of the property in your bankruptcy estate. Anything of value that is not covered by an exemption is typically seized and sold so the proceeds can be paid out to your creditors. Sometimes, however, the trustee abandons a piece…

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Last September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released the latest quarterly consumer credit trends report. This document, whose primary purpose is to track how the frequency and types of bankruptcy filings have varied since 2001, also examines issues like: BAPCA effect on the frequency of Chapter 7 filings Discharge rates for Chapter 7 bankruptcies vs.…

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Veterans of the U. S. military sometimes struggle financially after they return from active duty.    Physical and/or emotional injuries (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 an estimated 41% of Gulf War-era veterans had a disability related to their service) or a personal crisis like divorce can make it impossible for them to…

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A third quarter report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data found that in the third quarter of last year, overall household debt jumped 0.7% to $13.95 trillion. Nominally speaking, this total exceeds the previous peak of $12.68 trillion, which was reported in the third quarter of 2008. The report…

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Luxury retailer Barneys, which recently filed for bankruptcy, outraged loyal customers when it declared that after November 7, store gift cards could no longer be used. One of them, who was now out $100, griped to the New York Post, “This is theft.” It’s a situation that has made New York shoppers justifiably nervous. Gift…

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Most of us have a tendency to overspend during the holiday season, even when we’re months behind on our credit card payments and other bills. Although you want your loved ones to have a memorable Christmas morning, excessive spending during the months leading up to bankruptcy can cause serious problems for your case. If you…

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When you take out a mortgage or car loan, you agree to repay the amount over time. If financial challenges become so steep that you end up having to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the lender will usually do one of two things: take back the asset or charge off the debt. How is repossession…

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When you take out a life insurance policy and make regular payments, the insurer will grant your beneficiaries a death benefit when you pass. Although this is the goal, if financial difficulties arise and you file for bankruptcy, you could risk losing some or all of the benefits to your creditors. There are two primary…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, one of the biggest advantages is that the automatic stay protects you from most creditor actions such as collection agency calls, wage garnishments, lawsuits, foreclosures, and repossessions. The automatic stay is an injunction issued by the bankruptcy court. Once creditors are notified, even a lawsuit…

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One of the biggest misconceptions about filing for bankruptcy is that you’re going to “lose everything.” A lot of people don’t learn the truth until they’re desperate enough to consult a bankruptcy attorney and learn that in New York, they can use state or federal exemptions to protect property up to a certain value. How…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, your attorney will tell you that in exchange for having all dischargeable debt wiped out, you will have to surrender any nonexempt property to the trustee for sale and distribution to your creditors. How does this requirement affect your household goods and furniture? Will you…

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that in 2016, the top source of consumer complaints was inaccurate credit reporting. When you’re trying to rebuild after bankruptcy, a defective credit report can be a major obstacle. Your credit rating dictates whether you will be approved for a credit card, personal loan, or mortgage and, if so,…

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You file for bankruptcy to put your mountain of unsecured debt behind you, but it doesn’t always proceed smoothly. Although it’s not a routine happening, a dispute can arise regarding a debt that you included on the petition. Should this happen, you, your trustee, the creditor, or another party involved in the case can file…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, your lenders may try to reclaim any assets that you posted as collateral for a loan. However, Section 722 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allows you to keep this property by “redeeming” it, meaning that you pay the remaining debt balance or the current replacement…

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Married couples in New York have the option of addressing their debt burden by filing a joint bankruptcy petition. While this is a convenient way of eliminating debt incurred over the course of the marriage, it’s not a legal obligation. In fact, there may be times when separate filing is more beneficial. How joint bankruptcy…

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Last month, Business Insider ran a story indicating that student loan debt was driving a high number of bankruptcies. Citing a recent LendEDU study, it found that 32% of all consumers who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy have a significant amount of student loan debt- on average, 49% of their liability was related to the…

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When someone files a lawsuit against you, you may be tempted to declare bankruptcy, especially if it involves a debt you can’t afford to repay. While bankruptcy can stop a lot of creditor lawsuits, such as collection actions by credit card companies and mortgage providers, some proceedings are not impacted by the automatic stay. Below…

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If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, your debt situation has probably reached crisis level. Perhaps your creditors are calling you on a daily basis, and one or more of them is threatening to sue you. Shouldn’t you see a bankruptcy attorney immediately and receive the protection of the automatic stay? In most cases, the…

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To most of us, social media accounts are recreational tools used to share life updates, photos, opinions, and other social commentaries. However, if you are a New York business owner declaring bankruptcy, then the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram photos you use to advertise your products and services can be considered assets. In May 2015, a…

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One of the many reasons why people hesitate to file for bankruptcy is that they worry about their life being impacted. While it’s true that you may encounter difficulties with renting an apartment, getting a car loan at a decent interest rate, and other undertakings that require a decent credit score, there are laws that…

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Section 550 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allows a trustee to sue creditors to recover any payments made by a debtor within the 90-day period prior to their bankruptcy filing. These actions, which as known as preference lawsuits, apply to payments that were made: On a previously incurred (as opposed to current) debt While the…

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Sometimes you can find yourself so deep in debt that you owe more on your household goods, car, and other real property than they are worth. If this happens and you don’t want to risk surrendering these assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a then Chapter 13 may allow you to “cram down” these debts,…

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If you’re thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then you may be wondering if you can still keep a credit card. This concern is understandable. Credit cards appear to be essential if you want to rent a hotel room, a car and enjoy other benefits that are more difficult to acquire with cash or…

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You may have filed for Chapter 7 because you lost your job or had your hours cut back at work and couldn’t find suitable replacement employment. Now you’re thinking about taking your financial future into your own hands by starting a new business. While there is technically nothing stopping you from becoming an entrepreneur after…

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Research suggests that next to high medical bills, job loss is the most common reason why Americans file for bankruptcy. If they are unable to find work before their emergency funds and COBRA insurance coverage runs out, then they face relentless payment demands from their mortgage issuer, auto loan provider, credit card issuer, and other…

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Most bankruptcies in New York go smoothly. If your trustee or one of your creditors has questions or concerns, then they are generally raised and resolved during the meeting of creditors. In some rare cases, a party seeking additional information will file a motion for a Rule 2004 examination. The Rule 2004 examination explained Debtors…

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You’ve heard about how bad faith on the part of a debtor can impact their bankruptcy filing. When they are motivated by anything other than unmanageable debt and the desire to start over, the court can dismiss their case. However, there are also cases where creditors can act in bad faith, particularly when they force…

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When you think of bankruptcy, you probably imagine an indebted person or business owner visiting a bankruptcy attorney’s office and filing a chapter that is best suited to their circumstances. While this is the most common way to file, it’s not the only one. There are actually two types of bankruptcy in New York: voluntary…

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Many clients who file bankruptcy with our office have received notices in the mail or calls by phone that their debts have been purchased by a debt collector. A few of the most common agencies are: Midland Funding Asset Recovery Systems (ARS) United Collection Bureau (UCB) Cavalry Portfolio Services Many clients have many questions about…

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When you approach the bankruptcy process from an honest and informed perspective, you have an enviable opportunity to eliminate a crushing debt load and start over. Unfortunately, too many debtors are dishonest or uninformed, causing them to risk dismissal of their case and, in some cases, charges of bankruptcy fraud. Before you file, make sure…

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You filed for bankruptcy in New York, and now you’ve heard that an aunt has made you one of the beneficiaries of her sizable estate. You haven’t received your discharge yet, so how much of that money will you be allowed to keep? It’s a question anyone would ask when they receive an inheritance in…

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The month of January can be a difficult time for financially for anyone. They may have acquired even more debt due to holiday spending and are reaching the point where they have to choose between paying the rent and paying their credit card bill. People stuck in this situation may benefit from Chapter 7 bankruptcy.…

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A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates that the third quarter of 2018 saw increases in practically all types of borrowing, making it the 17th consecutive quarter that America’s debt load has increased. Household debt rose yet again to $13.51 trillion, most of which was mortgage debt at $9.14 trillion.…

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The holiday season can be as stressful as it is magical. This reality can become even more difficult when you know that your debt load has become more than you can handle yet you still have holiday gifts to buy. Your son wants a new PlayStation and your teenage daughter insists that her social life…

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Did your holiday shopping leave your family thrilled but saddle you with even more debt? If so, you may be thinking about including bankruptcy in your plans for the New Year. Whether that’s a good idea or not depends on how much you spent during the holidays, on what items, and related conditions. The tax…

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One of the main reasons why New York parents hesitate to file for bankruptcy is concern over how the decision will affect their children. Even when their credit card bills are months in arrears and the bank is on the verge of foreclosing on the family home, they worry that their children’s property or 529…

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Many consumers have heard of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protected them from abusive, unfair, and unconscionable treatment by third-party debt collectors. What may not be as well-known is that individual states have their own debt collection laws, some of which extend greater protection to residents. The New York debt collection regulations were…

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Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can provide you with relief from creditor collection actions, but it takes time. You have to complete and file a multi-page petition, attend the 341 meeting (Meeting of Creditors), and more. But what if you can’t wait that long? What if you’re facing a wage garnishment, repossession, foreclosure, or other…

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The Truth in Lending Act, or TILA for short, was passed 50 years ago to ensure protection and transparency for consumers in their interactions with creditors and lenders. Today, it is part of the more encompassing Consumer Credit Protection Act, but its echoes can be felt in the measures taken to help consumers avoid a…

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When you’re burdened by debt and unable to make the minimum payments on your student loans and credit cards you’re probably going to hear from a credit collector or a third-party debt collector. Although dealing with both types can seem like the same frustrating experience to you, the truth is that the law has different…

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When you accumulate a certain amount of tax debt, the IRS may file a lien against your property, including your home. These liens effectively encumber everything you own, such as your house, motor vehicle, bank account, and real estate, and everything that you acquire while the lien is still in effect. Once a tax lien…

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Every year, couples throughout New York file for joint bankruptcy, but there’s a persistent presumption that these are heterosexual unions and that gay couples cannot legally file together. If they want relief from their debts, then they must file separately. It’s not true and hasn’t been since the New York State Legislature passed the Marriage…

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Financial problems can leave you feeling depressed and alone, even when a difficult economy and job market have caused you to fall behind on your credit card bills, mortgage, and other debts. If you are considering bankruptcy, then do not be embarrassed. Some of the world’s most celebrated singers, movie stars, sports players, and other…

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If you are struggling financially, then you may fall behind in your rent payments. With New York rents being so high, it is not unusual for a distressed consumer to go into arrears simply to put food on the table. This means that you will eventually receive a notice of eviction from your landlord.  For many filers,…

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If you’ve decided to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’re probably worried about how your decision may affect your pension. Is it exempt? Or will it be ‘liquidated’ along with the rest of your nonexempt assets? In New York, the answer depends on what kind of pension you are receiving. While many types are 100%…

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At one time it was relatively common for people to file for bankruptcy without an attorney. They would get copies of the required forms, fill them out by hand, and file their own bankruptcy petitions at the clerk’s office. Afterward, they would appear on their own at the meeting of creditors and, if they were…

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Anyone can run into financial difficulties, and members of the U.S. armed forces are no exception. However, because they are tasked with the monumental responsibility of defending the nation, laws are in place to protect them during civil matters like lawsuits, foreclosure, and even bankruptcy.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that evolved from…

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After you’ve been discharged from bankruptcy in New York, you have the chance to start over. An important part of rebuilding is monitoring your credit report for accuracy and reporting any discrepancies immediately. Black marks on your file can result in denial of credit, higher interest rates, and even lost job opportunities. Unfortunately, credit report…

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When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, the goal is to seek relief from all of your debts. There are times, however, when you may want to remain responsible for a particular obligation. This possibility happens when the debt is secured by a significant asset that the creditor could seize if you…

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Even if they are being called daily by creditors and facing collection lawsuits, many New Yorkers shy away from declaring bankruptcy because they believe doing so will prevent them from ever getting credit again. This is untrue: once the crippling debt load is discharged, you can build your way to a stellar credit score. You…

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy has helped thousands of New York consumers eliminate crushing levels of debt and reclaim their lives. While most of them realize greater financial solvency after discharge, some people eventually experience debt overload yet again, forcing them to consider filing for bankruptcy protection a second time. Federal law places no restrictions on how…

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When you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, certain mistakes and oversights can cause your petition to be denied. To help you avoid situations that can prevent you from getting the fresh start you need, five of the most common mistakes are outlined below. Filing at the wrong time. If you have filed for bankruptcy…

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Chapter 7 is the most commonly filed form of bankruptcy. There are two main reasons for its popularity: it is over quickly, with most cases being discharged in three to five months, and it wipes away unsecured debt. The primary drawback is that the trustee can seize any debtor property not protected by an exemption…

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You’ve been living in Germany for nearly a year, but have a mountain of debt back home. You also have important property and assets that creditors are threatening to seize if you don’t start paying down the arrears. Even though you live overseas, these creditors can still seek judgments against you and place liens on…

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How many times have you turned on your TV or radio and heard an ad proclaiming how a particular debt settlement company can negotiate with your lenders to lower your interest rate and reduce your monthly payments. Does it sound too good to be true? Chances are that it is. How debt settlement companies work…

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It almost sounds like a plot from a movie. You file for bankruptcy to deal with your financial struggles. Then, seemingly from nowhere, you become rich. You’ve won the biggest jackpot in history or a wealthy relative who didn’t seem inclined to help you financially in life dies and leaves you a fortune. This sudden…

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Many people who have trouble meeting their financial obligations each month turn to payday lenders, especially if credit issues prevent them from obtaining a regular loan from a bank. These companies loan you a certain amount with a high amount of interest, all of which must be repaid in full when your next pay period…

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When two or more people agree to go into business together and do not establish themselves as a corporation, limited liability partnership (LLP), the result is a general partnership. Each partner is personally responsible for all debt arising from the partnership, meaning that if the new enterprise defaults on any of its obligations, creditors can…

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When you start your own business, you’re excited about the future possibilities. Ideally, it will be a success that allows you to support your family and even your future generations. Unfortunately, not every small business meets with success. Debt such as commercial leases, supplier contracts, and business loans can exceed income until bankruptcy is the…

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If you own a New York LLC, you are likely wondering how it will be affected by a Chapter 7 filing. If you are a single-member LLC, will you have to shut the business down? What about the other members if you are part of a multi-member LLC? Like corporations, LLCs are separate legal entities…

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Many New Yorkers who start their own businesses, alone or with someone else, choose to incorporate. Their personal assets are differentiated from the company’s, offering greater protection, banks are more receptive to lending money to incorporated businesses, and having “Inc.” or “Corp” after the company name enhances credibility and opens up more opportunities. When an…

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When your creditors are closing in and you’re facing loss of your home, vehicle, and even a percentage of your wages, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to get everything under control without losing assets in the process. Unlike Chapter 7, which may require you to surrender property in exchange for a total discharge of all…

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Many New York residents who are contemplating bankruptcy worry that their friends, family, and employer will find out, causing them to lose respect and even their job. The bad news is that your bankruptcy filing is a public record, meaning that anyone can look it up—provided they know about it in the first place. In…

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For many of us, creating and sticking to a budget is a top New Year’s resolution. Mastering the ability to live within your means is especially important if you are in the middle of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or planning to file, because successful planning can help ensure greater financial success in the future. Here…

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For many of us, the holidays are when budgets go out the window. In 2016, the average American shopper spent $935.58 on Christmas presents, and this year the total will probably go up, thanks to higher-priced gifts and advertisements that make it difficult to resist overspending. For some people, the intention is to spend as…

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