“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.” 

“Chain of Title” How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud – By David Dayen (Book Review)


When I am not helping consumers get a fresh start and live debt free in my law practice, I enjoy reading as a pastime.  IMG_3041To combine both, I recently had the pleasure of reading this book, published by first-time author David Dayen.

I Am Married and Need to File Bankruptcy: Does My Spouse Need to Know?

marriageBoth single and married consumers find themselves in need of a fresh start through bankruptcy protection.  A married person can file for bankruptcy by themselves, just like they can file a separate income tax return if they choose to. 

Credit Preference Payments: How to Avoid Them in Your Consumer Bankruptcy


You have probably never heard of a “preference payment” in a Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy proceeding, but these are never fun conversations to have with a client.  Let me write about this now and hope that, if you decide to hire me as your attorney, we will never have to have this conversation.  This situation comes up when an otherwise broke person has a sum of money on hand, and then has to decide what to do this money.

Bankruptcy: Who Would Want to File?

money 20Bankruptcy allows consumers who are faced with overwhelming debt to move forward with their lives knowing that they have legally resolved problems with their creditors.  While there are some debts, such as student loans, which are not automatically discharged by a bankruptcy filing, almost every type of consumer debt can be discharged in a bankruptcy filing.  Here are some life situations which have I seen in more than two thousand consumer bankruptcy filings:

Keeping Your Swine in a Bankruptcy: Weird exemption laws in the United States

swineOne of the critical goals in any bankruptcy proceeding is to keep as much of your property out of the hands of the Trustee as you can. In fact, you want to keep all of it out of the Trustee’s hands (the so-called “no asset” case). After all, if the Trustee takes everything from you, the idea of a “fresh start” doesn’t really mean too much. Property which you as the consumer filing bankruptcy get to keep is known as “exempt” property.