Joint Bank Accounts
Are Joint Bank Accounts Good or Bad?
Joint bank accounts can be good from an estate planning perspective. Upon the death of one of the joint owners, the funds in the account automatically pass to the surviving account holder by operation of law.
Joint bank accounts can be a problem when it comes to filing bankruptcy. The monies in the joint account are considered fully owned by each person named on the account. Therefore, the joint account holder who files bankruptcy may be required to exempt all funds in the joint bank account, or risk losing a portion of those funds to creditors.
Note: Your specific situation may bring forth additional concerns about, and/or benefits to having a joint bank account. It is always good to get information and/or guidance pertaining to your specific situation.
Attorney in Mineola
The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC is here to assist you! Call (516) 858-2620 to schedule an appointment.
Rent Stabilized Status Lost in Bankruptcy
Will filing bankruptcy cause you to lose your rent-stabilized apartment?
On April 10, 2012, the United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. New York ruled that a chapter 7 debtor could not exempt the value of her rent stabilized lease (SeeIn re Santiago-Monteverde, 466 B.R. 621 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2012). Unfortunately,0n September 10, 2012, the debtor lost her appeal to the United States District Court, S.D. New York. The District Court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s ruling which rejected the debtor’s argument that the value of her rent-stabilized lease is a qualifying local public assistance benefit under section 282(2) of New York Debtor and Creditor Law.
It appears that the debtor’s chapter 7 case was going rather smoothly until the chapter 7 Trustee received an offer from the Debtor’s landlord to purchase the Trustee’s interest in the Rent-stabilized lease. This set off a chain of events which, for the time being, have resulted in the debtor potentially being forced out of her rent-stabilized apartment.
Thus, until legislation is enacted which allows debtors to safely exempt the value of their rent stabilized lease, bankruptcy practitioners will have to tread carefully when dealing with a debtor who leases a rent-stabilized apartment.
Bankruptcy Attorney in Mineola
If you would like more information regarding the subject of this post or a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney, call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at 516-858-2620.
Bankruptcy and Student Loans
Understanding the relationship between bankruptcy and student loans.
Student Loan Interest Rates May Increase Soon.
Congress is currently at war over student loan interest rates. Interest rates on Stafford loans will double soon if congress doesn’t act. But although no one seems to want this to happen, the parties can’t agree on what to do about it. This is an important issue for people considering bankruptcy because student loan debt is more difficult to avoid than other debts.
Even if You File Bankruptcy, You May Still Have to Repay Your Student Loans.
Bankruptcy discharges many of an individual’s outstanding debts. When a debt is discharged, the debtor does not have to repay it. However, bankruptcy law makes an exception for student loan debt. Student loan debt will only be discharged under special circumstances.
Section 523(a)(8) of the US Bankruptcy Code provides:
(8) unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would
impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents,
an educational benefit overpayment or loan made, insured, or guaranteed
by a governmental unit, or made under any program funded in whole or in
part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution; or
(ii) an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend; or
(B) any other educational loan that is a qualified education loan, as
defined in section 221(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986,
incurred by a debtor who is an individual;
This section means that student loans will only be discharged when requiring the individual to repay them would impose an undue hardship on the debtor or the debtor’s dependents. The question then is – what counts as an “undue hardship”?
There is no statutory definition for “undue hardship.” Courts have had to define the term themselves, and different jurisdictions have developed different hardship standards. Generally, courts look at factors such as the finances available to the debtor as they are filing bankruptcy, the debtors’ likely future earnings, and the financial needs of the debtor’s family, among other things. In New York, courts follow the test set out in Brunner v. New York State Higher Education Services Corp., 831 F.2d 395 (2d Cir. 1987). In this case the court asked three questions. First, would requiring the debtor to repay the student loan debts put the debtor, or the debtor’s dependents, below a minimal standard of living? Second, is this financial situation likely to persist for the rest of the loan repayment period? Third, has the debtor made good faith efforts to repay the loans? A New York court is only likely to discharge a student loan debt if these questions are answered in the affirmative.
While the factors to be considered may vary from one jurisdiction to another, courts generally agree that the hardship must be “undue” – that is, beyond “ordinary” or “garden variety” hardship. The point is that student loans will only be discharged under extraordinary circumstances.
If you have questions about student loans, bankruptcy, or other legal issues, the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC is here to help. Call us at (516) 858-2620 to set up a free consultation.
INTRODUCTION TO BANKRUPTCY EXEMPTIONS: FILING BANKRUPTCY DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING.
People are not required to forfeit all of their property when they file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws are intended to use individuals’ property to satisfy as many debts as is reasonably possible. The process is not intended to pauperize people. In order to avoid this result, bankruptcy law exempts certain property, up to a maximum value, from the bankruptcy estate. Property that is exempt from the estate is not forfeited in the bankruptcy. That means individuals may keep the exempt property even after they file bankruptcy, as long as the value of that property does not exceed the statutory limit. Federal law allows states to replace the federal exemption scheme with their own. New York allows individuals to choose between federal and state exemptions. Both federal and New York law essentially exempts the same types of property, but the two laws place different limits on each type. This means that people may be able to keep more of their property under one law rather than the other, depending on the types of property they own at the time they file bankruptcy.
Exempt property generally falls under five categories:
1. Basic Necessities and intimate personal items: This category includes personal items such as wedding rings, religious texts, domestic animals, a certain amount of cash, and a home (up to a maximum value).
2. Insurance policies and annuities: Payments individuals receive from insurance claims or annuities may be exempt. This means that after individuals file bankruptcy, they may still receive, for example, payments received under a life insurance plan taken out on a deceased spouse.
3. Motor Vehicles: Individuals may keep an automobile, as long as its value does not exceed a certain limit.
4. Benefits: Benefits such as social security, unemployment, veterans and disability payments may be exempt.
5. Property due under a money judgement: Individuals that receive payments following some lawsuits – such as personal injury, wrongful death, or others – may keep this income, up to a certain value limit.
Again, property exempted under these categories may not exceed certain values, though there may be exceptions and extensions in certain situations. The topic of bankruptcy exemptions is very complicated, and some issues are disputed even among experts. For more information on exemptions, see our earlier posts Changes to NY Bankruptcy Exemptions and Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions & NY .
If you have any questions about bankruptcy and would like to speak to an attorney, please call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at (516) 858-2620 today to schedule a free consultation.