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You Can Protect Your Tax Refund in Bankruptcy

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 at 10:18 am    

protect-tax-returnThe beginning of the year is always the busiest season for filing bankruptcy. Nobody likes to think about their financial troubles during the holidays, and often the holiday spending that so many businesses rely upon is the same tipping point for balanced debt to begin spiraling out of control. But the beginning of the year is also when many people get tax refunds. If the tax refund can cover the credit card bills, disaster may be averted. But if not, Northern Kentucky debtors need to figure out how to protect that tax refund in bankruptcy.

In the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, trustees always watch for bankruptcies filed during the first half of the year that do not properly protect a tax refund. Although the debtor’s tax refund can be appropriately reported and exempted in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, do-it-yourself filers or inexperienced attorneys often fail to complete this crucial step. If the tax return is not properly reported or exempted, the trustee can seize the refund and use it to pay creditors. It is therefore very important to get an experienced bankruptcy attorney to properly file and protect the tax refund.

How can the Tax Refund Be Saved in My Bankruptcy?

A tax refund must be listed as an asset in the bankruptcy filing, even if the tax return has not been filed yet and even if you don’t know how much the refund will be. A reasonable estimate of the refund must be given, although you can also say you don’t know exactly how much the refund is. Trustees in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 carefully review refunds for debtors that have minor children. Having minor children causes the earned income credit to be applied, and this generally provides for a high tax refund. However, the entire earned income credit can be protected from the bankruptcy trustee – again, this is something only an experienced lawyer knows how to do properly!

Chapter 7 trustees in Northern Kentucky are typically more likely to be aggressive in pursuing a high tax refund than a Chapter 13 trustee, since the Chapter 7 trustee can seize the refund outright if it is not exempted properly. This is, in part, how a Chapter 7 trustee gets paid. In Cincinnati, both the Chapter 7 and the Chapter 13 trustees are fairly aggressive in pursuing tax refunds.

There is no specific exemption in the bankruptcy code for a tax refund, so the wildcard exemption has to be used. In Cincinnati, this is a big problem because the wildcard (or miscellaneous) exemption used in Ohio is small. In Northern Kentucky, this is less of a problem because Kentucky law allows debtors to use the federal wildcard exemption. The federal wildcard exemption is very large and most tax refunds will be protected by it.

However, in Kentucky the federal wildcard exemption is also used to cover many other assets, such as the money in the debtors’ bank accounts, any firearms in the home, and any equity the debtor has in a second car. Thus, it is possible that, without proper legal advice, even a modest tax refund could go beyond the limits of the exemption and be taken by the trustee.

How Can Lawrence & Associates Help Protect My Refund?

Experienced bankruptcy lawyers make a big difference. In our consultations, Lawrence & Associates will explain how your tax refund can be spent on reasonable and necessary household expenses to protect it from seizure by the trustee. The lawyers at Lawrence & Associates have spent years learning exactly which expenses can be used to offset the tax refund and which cannot, thus avoiding the risk that the trustee will take the refund or delay the bankruptcy. Details matter, and our attorneys and paralegals are trained to find the details in your life that keep thousands of dollars of tax refunds in your bank account. Lawrence & Associates has been very successful over the years at putting money back in our clients’ pockets by offsetting their tax refunds with our attorney’s fees and thus protecting the debtor’s hard-earned cash from seizure by the Chapter 7 trustee.

You should not put off filing for bankruptcy if your debts cannot be repaid under your current interest rates, or if you are behind on payments and in danger of being sued or having a vehicle repossessed. Lawrence & Associates can help Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati clients protect their assets. We are Working Hard for the Working Class. Call us today and learn how we can help you!


Steps To Take Before, During, and After a Bankruptcy To Reduce The Impact On Your Credit

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015 at 4:42 pm    

credit-scoreMany people wonder how they can protect their credit during a bankruptcy. There are actually several steps you can take before, during, and after a bankruptcy to help reduce the bankruptcy’s impact on your credit to the greatest extent possible. The Fort Mitchell, Kentucky offices of Lawrence & Associates can help you find ways to mitigate credit damage based on your particular circumstances. In the meantime, here are some tips:

Tips Before Bankruptcy

A Fort Mitchell, Kentucky resident with credit card accounts that have zero balances should stop using them immediately! If the balance is less than six hundred dollars, paying it off may be a good idea before the bankruptcy. However, you should never pay more than $600 toward your debts prior to bankruptcy, and you should always consult with an attorney before doing so. Many credit card companies will keep a person’s account open during bankruptcy if the card has a $0 balance when the bankruptcy is filed. If the account remains open until after the bankruptcy, then that card can be used to rebuild credit.

Tips During Bankruptcy

A Northern Kentucky resident can help to improve credit as well. Reaffirming on a loan or lease for a car will help to improve your credit rating. Future car payments will also help boost your credit score. It is not wise to reaffirm on a vehicle if the payments are beyond your ability to pay, but with a careful budget in place payments toward a mortgage or a car loan will continually improve your credit score. A good Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy attorney will prepare a budget that allows for such payments.

Tips After Bankruptcy

In Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, almost everyone that exits a bankruptcy gets credit card solicitations immediately. If the solicitation comes from a legitimate and well known credit card company, they might help you improve your credit. You’ll need to make sure that the company reports the credit line to the credit bureaus, so the payments on the card will help your credit. If you do accept such a credit card, be sure to charge only minimal amounts to it such as gas or groceries. Most importantly, ALWAYS pay the card off at the end of the month to avoid interest taking a big bite out of your budget. Finally, be sure to always pay all loan or credit card payments on time, as timeliness is important to your credit rating.

Unfortunately, our office does not provide additional services for rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy, although we can help you file bankruptcy or preserve your credit rating before filing bankruptcy. If you’d like more advice on filing bankruptcy or maintaining or preparing to preserve credit during bankruptcy, call Lawrence & Associates at our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky or Warsaw, Kentucky today!

If you are overwhelmed by mounting debt and tired or receiving harassing phone calls from creditors, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you obtain that fresh start that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Lawrence & Associates Help a Client Keep Her Home Using Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at 4:47 pm    

save my home from foreclosureThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce or been saddled with overwhelming medical bills. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. We want to share a recent case we handled to give you an idea of what we can do for our clients. We will supply as many details as possible while still respecting our clients need for privacy.

The Situation

Our client needed to stop a foreclosure on her Northern Kentucky home. She was behind on her mortgage because she had unexpectedly gotten laid off, and it had taken her a few months to find a new job. The foreclosure had been filed and she had no way to defend it.

What We Did

When out client called Lawrence & Associates, we let her know that she could save her home with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so long as she filed the bankruptcy before the Master Commissioner’s sale on her home. Even if the mortgage company gets a judgment on the foreclosure, they cannot take the home so long as the mortgage arrearage is repaid inside a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The Result

Our client got to keep her home and she was able to repay her mortgage arrearage. With her new job and reduced debt, F.S. has gotten the fresh start through the bankruptcy court.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Providing You With Debt Relief Solutions Through Bankruptcy

Regardless of the reasons that brought you to financial distress, filing for bankruptcy does not make you a bad person. In fact, the government created bankruptcy in order to help people recover from unmanageable financial problems. At Lawrence & Associates, we help our clients understand how bankruptcy laws are made to protect them and will allow for a brighter financial future.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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Illness and Overwhelming Medical Bills Send Many into Bankruptcy

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 3:53 pm    

chapter 7 bankruptcyAccording to a 2007 study, 62.1% of all bankruptcies have a medical cause and the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007. [1] Moreover, a recent article in Forbes highlighted one woman’s story of illness and mounting debt and stated that overwhelming medical bills cause 17-62% of all bankruptcy declarations. [2]

Stephanie Casey Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

The woman featured in the Forbes article, 30-year-old Stephanie Casey, discusses her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis and the skyrocketing medical bills and debt associated with the diagnosis. Before the diagnosis, Mrs. Casey and her family were in an ideal situation- they had health insurance, IRA accounts, a sizeable emergency fund, were saving for a home, and no debt. However, the medication for MS rose from $2,800.00 to $3,600.00 per month and even with health insurance, Mrs. Casey was responsible for $250.00 per month. That’s over $3000.00 a year spent just on injections to help slow the progression of MS!

The High Cost of Healthcare

In the article, Mrs. Casey also expresses concern for her future and the future of her family. She states, “If I lose my vision, like 81% of MS patients do, and can’t work–this would mean that I’d no longer be covered by health insurance after 18 months of COBRA–we’re prepared to file for bankruptcy. If I don’t have insurance, and I lose my income, our family would be functioning on my husband’s salary alone to cover a $2,200 a month mortgage–and my $3,500 per month medication.” She goes on to state, “We’d be bankrupt within a few months of running up credit card bills to pay for the drugs, so it would be better for me to file individually, get down to no income and qualify for disability insurance and patient assistance programs from the drug manufacturers.”

Filing for Bankruptcy May Help

Although Mrs. Casey’s situation may seem extreme, many insurance companies in Northern Kentucky cancel coverage when the employee suffers a disabling illness because they become too sick to work, leaving them with medical bills and no insurance.With the rising costs of medical care and the increase of individuals struggling to stay on top, filing for bankruptcy may help relieve some of that debt. A Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy Attorney can help you get a better idea of what disclosures are required in order to file for bankruptcy and what debts will be discharged.

If you are overwhelmed by mounting debt and tired or receiving harassing phone calls from creditors, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you obtain that fresh start that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


A Fresh Take on Bankruptcy: Filing for Bankruptcy Can Benefit Individuals, Companies and Society

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 4:08 pm    

fresh start bankruptcyThe Webster Dictionary defines bankruptcy as the quality or state of being bankrupt or the utter failure or impoverishment. Although the definition of bankruptcy gives off a negative connotation, it doesn’t have to. Filing for bankruptcy can benefit individuals, companies and society as a whole.

A Fresh Start

People often don’t understand the process of filing for bankruptcy, however, bankruptcy is a legal procedure by which an individual or a business can discharge its debts when the petitioner (the person or company filing bankruptcy), does not have the means to pay off the debt within a reasonable period time. Bankruptcy can help both individuals and companies have a fresh start.

An Over Abundance of Debt Options

In today’s environment of the over abundance of credit cards, pay day loans, car loans, and first, second and third mortgages, it is very easy to fall behind in paying bills, which often leads to people drowning in debt. Falling deep into debt is not a positive thing for either the individual or for society. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, the average household in the United States has approximately $15,799 in credit card debt, $54,000 in household debt and credit card debt for the United States totals $793.1 billion. [1] With statistics like this, it is no wonder why so many of us are struggling and forced to file for bankruptcy.

Earnings Are Meant to Motivate

Although our clients often worry about embarrassment that may come from filing for bankruptcy, many of our clients who are forced to file for bankruptcy are hard working individuals who can no longer afford to hand over every penny they make to creditors and there is nothing embarrassing about that. After all, the purpose of earnings is to motivate people to work hard, but how motivated can you be if you know that most of the money you make will go to creditors? Without the option of filing for bankruptcy, many people would work long hours just to hand over hard earned money to creditors.

Bankruptcy Stop the Calls and Collections Immediately 

Bankruptcy helps to give debtors a fresh start, alleviating what could be a tremendous burden. Further, when an individual or company files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect meaning the harassing phone calls, letters and potential lawsuits from all creditors stop.

If you are overwhelmed by mounting debt and tired or receiving harassing phone calls from creditors, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you obtain that fresh start that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Footnote: [1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/credit-card-debt-statistics/


Bankruptcy Explained: Can Debt Consolidation Protect Me from Creditors?

Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 4:12 pm    

Debt Consolidation Northern Kentucky

A consolidation or “workout” is an attempt to modify one or multiple debts without the need for bankruptcy, usually through a debt consolidation agency. The main issue with a workout is that most debt consolidation companies don’t provide local creditors with a contract that enforces the agreement.

Without a Contract Your Workout Can’t Be Enforced 

In Northern Kentucky, a debt consolidation agreement is subject to contract laws, and without a valid contract between you and your creditors the workout can’t be enforced in a Northern Kentucky County court. This means that, if a creditor such as a credit card (like Capital One), or a medical provider (like St. Elizabeth Medical Center) decides not to be bound by the terms of the workout, they can still sue you in the county in which you live. This is the central reason that debt consolidation agreements often do not work for Northern Kentucky residents. Creditors that do not participate in the debt consolidation plan are entitled to file a lawsuit, which sometimes makes the entire exercise pointless. Only filing bankruptcy provides Northern Kentucky debtors with the muscle they need to force creditors to obey the rules.

Debt Consolidation vs Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

There are many reasons why Northern Kentucky residents try to avoid bankruptcy by contacting a debt consolidation company. Many debtors believe bankruptcy is a bad thing, and try to avoid it by seeking a new repayment agreement with creditors. What those debtors don’t realize is that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides the same relief but also forces the creditors to abide by the new repayment plan. The downside of the debt consolidation agreement is that it will not freeze interest accumulation on unsecured debts, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will. Further, if the debt consolidation agreement fails, Northern Kentucky debtors will enter bankruptcy anyway, but with the added complication of having less money than they would have had if they had filed the Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the first place.

Lawrence & Associates is experienced in debtor-creditor law and we can advise Northern Kentucky debtors on whether a non-bankruptcy workout will provide immediate debt relief.


Bankruptcy Explained: Understanding Property Exemptions – Keeping Your House and Car

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 at 1:19 pm    

If you file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you can always keep your property. If you file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the United States bankruptcy code allows you to keep your house, keep your car, and keep your property so long as your equity in that property is below certain thresholds at the time the bankruptcy is filed. Equity is the value of the property minus the amount of any loans secured against it. The amount of equity you can have and still keep your property depends on whether you file your bankruptcy in Kentucky or Ohio.

How to Keep Your House and Car When You File Bankruptcy in Kentucky

Kentucky allows you to use federal exemptions to keep your property. This is good, because federal exemptions are usually much more forgiving than state exemptions. Kentucky allows you to use Kentucky state exemptions as well, but they are not as good as the federal exemptions and are rarely used. You can read the entire section of the federal bankruptcy code that gives us property exemptions, 11 U.S.C. 522, here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/522. The exemption levels are adjusted every three years. For the latest levels, contact Lawrence & Associates or check our blog to make sure these amounts haven’t changed.

As a rule of thumb, if you file bankruptcy in Kentucky you usually only have to worry about protecting your home, your car, or any “luxury” items you might own (such as a nice boat). The federal exemptions are large enough that it is rare for anything else to be in danger. The good Fort Mitchell bankruptcy attorney assess your equity in your property for you, and report your options to keep your house, car, and other property to you before filing. For example, under the federal exemptions you can keep your home as long as your equity in the house and land is less than $22,975.00 (and married couples can keep their home with double that exemption). So a married couple filing bankruptcy with a $200,000.00 house and a $175,000.00 mortgage can keep the house since their equity ($25,000.00) is less than the total exemption ($35,950.00). Figuring out how to value the home, car, or other property appropriately is sometimes a matter of controversy, but your attorney will be able to affix all values before filing.

How to Keep Your House and Car When You File Bankruptcy in Ohio

Ohio requires that you use the state exemptions, but does not allow federal exemptions. This can be good or bad, since Ohio has a much better exemption for your home, but lesser exemptions in other areas. Other than the change in exemption levels, the analysis works basically the same when you file bankruptcy in Ohio as it does when you file bankruptcy in Kentucky. Unfortunately, because Ohio’s exemptions are so much worse than the federal exemptions (again, other than the exemption for your home), many people who file bankruptcy in Ohio have more trouble keeping their car, or other property.


Bankruptcy Explained: What Type of Bankruptcy Should I File?

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015 at 9:04 am    

types of bankruptcyAdvice from an attorney is your best bet when deciding if you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Are you facing foreclosure from a bank like Wells Fargo, being sued for medical bills by a hospital like St. Elizabeth, or confronting a mountain of Capital One credit card debt? Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will end the harassing phone calls and letters. You must comply with the terms of any repayment agreement or you will lose these protections, so it is important to have strong legal guidance before agreeing to anything. Choosing the right kind of bankruptcy can mean the difference between keeping your house, keeping your car, keeping your money, or losing it all. Some of the things a Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy attorney will need to know is a client’s past income and current assets. Knowing the asset exemptions and median income levels of the client will help to make the decision easier.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy lawyer’s first step will be to determine whether you are eligible for protection under Chapter 7. The 2005 revisions to the bankruptcy laws require that, to qualify to discharge debts under Chapter 7, you must submit to a “means test,” demonstrating to the court that you lack the means to repay your creditors in a Chapter 13 proceeding. We will conduct a means test and, if you qualify, we will prepare and file all documents required to complete the Chapter 7 process. We will carefully explain which debts can be eliminated, as well as which assets you can protect, so that you get the benefit you deserve.

In General, You Cannot File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy If You…

  • have filed a bankruptcy in the last eight years
  • have assets with significant value that you don’t want to lose
  • have income over median for your household size in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Make Sure to Assess The Value of Your Property Correctly

Figuring out how to correctly assess the value of your property, or the correct number for median income, can be a daunting task, and the consequences of making a mistake are very drastic. A Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy lawyer will make sure your bankruptcy is filed correctly so that you get the maximum benefit from your decision to file.

You Get Immediate Relief  After You File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Once you file for protection, an automatic stay goes into effect, preventing your creditors from calling, writing or taking any other legal action to collect the debt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition can also stop foreclosure proceedings, wage garnishments and repossession actions. With the help of a lawyer, in Kentucky, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding can generally be completed in 3 to 5 months.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you don’t qualify to permanently discharge debt under Chapter 7 or prefer to set up a new payment plan with your creditors, we will help you reorganize your debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. We will prepare and file all the necessary paperwork to complete the process and will represent you in hearings or meetings with creditors, the bankruptcy trustee or the bankruptcy court. We will help you put together a reorganization plan and will review all proposed repayment plans to ensure they are appropriate.

You Get Immediate Relief  After You File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you file for protection under Chapter 13, an automatic stay goes into effect, which prevents your creditors from calling, writing or using any other means to collect the debt, other than through the bankruptcy proceeding. The automatic stay will suspend foreclosure or repossession actions, as well as wage garnishments, giving you time to get back on your feet financially. In many instances, you will be able to reduce the amount you have to pay, sometimes to as little as a penny on the dollar, by entering into agreements with your creditors. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be ideal for someone with large medical bills or credit card debt, allowing you the opportunity to keep most or all of your assets and enter into payment arrangements that are workable.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Bankruptcy Explained: There Are Legal Solutions That Provide Debt Relief to Those Who Need It

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015 at 2:37 pm    

fresh start bankruptcyThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. Have you received notice that your wages will be garnished due to delinquent payments on your financial obligations? Has the bank started foreclosure proceedings on your home? Is your car about to be repossessed? Or have you realized that try as you may, there is just no way for you to stay current on all of your bills? Regardless of the financial problems you are facing, it is important to realize that there are legal solutions to help you obtain debt relief.

Immediate Relief For Pressing Financial Problems

Above all, do not ignore your financial problems or lawsuits that creditors bring against you. These issues will not disappear. Your best option is to contact a bankruptcy attorney at the first sign of financial distress. Even if you are facing immediate foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, Lawrence & Associates can provide swift legal action to help protect you. Your start to a fresh financial future begins when you contact a Northern Kentucky bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney will help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Good Fort Mitchell, Kentucky bankruptcy lawyers will take the time to fully explain your legal options and the bankruptcy process in an understandable way — not with complex legal jargon. Good bankruptcy attorneys will also provide advice on how to stop creditor harassment, garnishment, foreclosure and repossessions.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Lawrence & Associates Help a Husband and Wife in Northern Kentucky Get Released of Their Credit Card Debt

Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 1:53 pm    

credit card debtThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce or been saddled with overwhelming medical bills. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. We want to share a recent case we handled to give you an idea of what we can do for our clients. We will supply as many details as possible while still respecting our clients need for privacy.

The Situation

Our clients, a husband and wife, were getting sued by credit card companies. They had been making payments, but the interest rate were so high that their payments only went to the monthly interest on their cards. They were afraid to file bankruptcy because they were afraid they’d lose their house and their car.

What We Did

Lawrence & Associates helped them file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and made sure they didn’t lose any property. The credit card debt – which would have already been paid back if it would have had normal interest rates – was wiped clean.

The Result

Our clients received a fresh start and then began living their lives without the constant fear of a lawsuit hanging over their heads.

If you are going through tough financial stress, call Lawrence & Associates’ Fort Mitchell, KY office to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our highly experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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