It's tax refund season: Over the next two months countless New Yorkers will be filing tax returns and claiming tax refunds.
A colleague of mine reports that Rochester Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren appears to be of the opinion that property can qualify for the homestead exemption even if it is used in part for non-residential purposes. The issue came up in a recent hearing before the judge; no formal decision was delivered, but Judge Warren, according to this source, said from the bench that the debtor could exempt mixed-use property.
One of the most common questions in a bankruptcy case is the fee: how much will it cost? My answer is it depends on the complexity of the case. The typical attorney fees in my cases range from $900 to $1,200 for chapter 7. Occasionally the fee is higher, for more complicated cases, or where extra work may be needed. My chapter 13 fees usually range from $2,500 to $3,500.
The United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a junior mortgage that is 'under water' - that is, the value of the house is less than the senior mortgage - cannot be stripped down or removed as an unsecured claim in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. And yet, the opinion seems to invite a challenge to the very case the court is relying upon for its conclusion.
Section 523(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code states that student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. In 2000, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that unpaid tuition does not constitute a student loan. In a recently released case, Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki of Buffalo ruled that changes in the bankruptcy code in 2005 did not alter the results of the earlier Second Circuit case.
Four years ago, I reported that bankruptcy lawsuits (known as 'adversary proceedings' or 'APs') in the Rochester Bankruptcy Court in 2010 were down by one third from the previous year. The average number of APs filed 2007 to 2010 in Rochester was 113 per year (not including clusters of APs related to one particular complicated chapter 11 case). In 2010 the number dropped to 67.
Once dismissed, a chapter 13 bankruptcy case cannot be reopened absent "extraordinary circumstances", says Rochester Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren. And failure of the debtor and attorney to pay attention to warning letters and motions is, unfortunately, not what is ment by extraordinary.
Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren of our local Rochester Bankruptcy court (Western District of New York - Rochester Division), is now starting to issue written opinions. Judge Warren assumed to bench in Rochester in March 2012, and for the first two years of his tenure he issued no written opinions. The judge had announced publically that he anticipated to follow the practice of "rule and roll" -- entering prepared decisions on the record from the bench but not issuing them in written form for the general public. That practice has changed significantly in the past three months.
We know that bankruptcy code Sect 513(a)(8) does not allow a bankruptcy debtor to receive a discharge of student loans.I have previously written about the definition of private student loans in bankruptcy and about the Supreme Court case related to discharging student loans through a chapter 13 plan.
A colleague of mine has passed on a letter one of his client's received from an alleged collection agency called "First Start Group". The letter includes the following: