Law Office Closing

As of June, 2018, I am a full time employee of J.P. Amourgis & Associates.  My new phone number is 330-535-6650.  You can find full contact information here.  I look forward to serving all your consumer bankruptcy needs with the enhanced resources of on of Ohio’s largest consumer bankruptcy firms.

Four Things to Know About Your Tax Refund in Bankruptcy

IRS file cabinet (2)It’s that time of year, consumers are preparing to file their income taxes.  For some, having mortgage interest deductions, dependents as deductions, and things like the Earned Income Tax Credit can mean a large refund even if your income is relatively modest.  Keeping your income tax refund in your pocket, and out of the Chapter 7 Trustee’s pocket, is a realistic goal.  The National Consumer Law Center just released a review of key pointers to keep in mind at tax time.  You can read the entire article here.

Can I Discharge Tax Debts Owed to the Internal Revenue Service in My Bankruptcy?

IRSA recent Chapter 7 case allowed my client to discharge more than $17,000 in taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.  While the normal rule is that tax debts are among the “exceptions” to bankruptcy discharge found in the bankruptcy code (11 U.S.C. 523), tax debts can discharged assuming certain rules are met.  The application of these rules can be tricky, so make sure that your bankruptcy attorney is experienced in applying them.  All of the rules must be satisfied, independent of each other. 

Liz Weston Interview: Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy better than a Debt Management Plan?


Blake Brewer was recently interviewed by Liz Weston, an outstanding consumer affairs advocate, author, commentator, and now blogger at  She was providing insight to consumers about the pros and cons of the “debt consolidation” plans you hear advertised on radio and television.  The plans promote themselves as alternatives to bankruptcy.  Indeed they are, but you still need to understand the differences before you make a decision either way.  Weston’s article can be found here.

My Attorney Is An Idiot! I Wanted To Keep My House In My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

reaffirmation agreementYears after your bankruptcy discharge has been granted in Chapter 7, you may still be grappling with the concept of a “reaffirmation agreement” for your mortgage.  This can come up, for example, if you try to re-finance the home.  Or, if you are monitoring your credit report, like you should be, and the trade line for the mortgage you have been faithfully paying merely says “included in bankruptcy.”  Here is why your attorney was wise in making sure you did NOT sign a reaffirmation agreement for your mortgage.

“Zombie” Real Estate – the Deed That Would Not Die!

house abandoned

Northeast Ohio has been ground zero for the mortgage crisis of the Great Recession.  This has resulted in many homeowners who wind up walking away from their homes.  As home values decreased, it made less and less sense to continue paying the mortgage.

Bankruptcy is an option for those people.  Although it is rare that a mortgage company brings a lawsuit against a consumer to try and collect on the unpaid mortgage, getting a fresh start means that the debt is legally eliminated and the consumer can move on to re-build their credit.

Upside Down Car Loans: Is There Hope in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

carsA recent story in the Detroit Free Press observed that nearly one out of every three car loans in the United States is “upside down.” Stated another way, the driver is paying more on the car loan than the car is even worth.  And who knows the status of the automobile industry better than the city paper for Detroit, home to America’s automobile manufacturing industry since the industry began?      You can read the article here.

Student Loans: No Discharge in Bankruptcy UNLESS You First Attempt Administrative Options

student-loan-debtIn filing for bankruptcy protection, the consumer cannot expect that student loans will be discharged along with normal consumer debt, like credit cards.  The reason is that the Bankruptcy Code, under 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(8) states that student loans are nondischargeable, unless the consumer is able to bring a separate lawsuit and show, in this separate lawsuit, that being forced to repay the student loans, would constitute “undue hardship.”  The bankruptcy code does not define what “undue hardship” is.  So the courts have come up with their own definition:

Case Analysis: Bankruptcy Dismissed for Failure to File Credit Counseling Certificate

credit-counselingBoth before and after filing their bankruptcy petitions, consumers are required to participate in counseling sessions, with very, very limited exceptions. This recent case from the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal shows two important concepts :1) how a consumer trying to file their own “simple” Chapter 7 Bankruptcy winds up wasting a whole lot of time and money, and gets no discharge of their debts, and 2) how seriously the Courts view the credit counseling requirement. The case is In re: Naomi Kidd Ramey, and you can view the entire by clicking here. (Ohio is one of four states which are included in the appellate jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit).

Practical Alternatives to Payday Loans

payday loans

Payday loans are marketed as being a convenient solution to “life situations” where there is “more month than money” as payday draws near but does not quite arrive.  Any consumer finance professional will tell you this is a false premise – a car requires predictable maintenance, for example, the tires wearing out is not an “emergency.”