Mother’s social security income must be included in over-means Chapter 13

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, and pay particular attention to cases close to home!

Here is a case from Wisconsin, which is in the same Circuit as Southern Illinois. This means that the ruling will be given more weight than if it came from a southern or western state. If Chapter 13 Trustees in this area are not already trying to follow the ruling in this case, they will likely start soon.

It involves whether a mother’s social security income has to be included in the family income of an over-means Chapter 13 Debtor…

 

Bankr ED Wisc: Sustained Trustee’s Objection to Debtor’s Ch 13 Plan where she failed to account for her mother’s Contributions (from Social Security) to Household Expenses in Means Test.

The chapter 13 trustee objected to plan confirmation because the debtor had not demonstrated that she devoted all of her projected disposable income to pay general unsecured creditors. See 11 U.S.C. §1325(b). Specifically, the trustee argued that the debtor failed to account for contributions to the debtor’s household made by the debtor’s mother when calculating the debtor’s projected disposable income. The debtor, relying on 11 U.S.C. §101(10A), contended that because her mother’s only income was social security, she did not have to account for her mother’s contributions. The court sustained the trustee’s objection.

Read the entire opinion here.

 

About the author:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

The Holmes Opinion: Mother’s Social Security Must Be Included in Chapter 13 Income

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, and pay particular attention to cases close to home!

Here is a case from Wisconsin, which is in the same Circuit as Southern Illinois. This means that the ruling will be given more weight than if it came from a southern or western state. If Chapter 13 Trustees in this area are not already trying to follow the ruling in this case, they will likely start soon.

It involves whether a mother’s social security income has to be included in the family income of an over-means Chapter 13 Debtor… it is summarized here, but the entire opinion is reprinted below.

 

 

From the Eastern District of Wisconsin

In the matter: Tinita Holmes, Case No. 15‐31329‐GMH

Tinita Holmes is an above‐median chapter 13 debtor. Her mother lives with her. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 3. Mother receives monthly social security benefits of approximately $400, and Holmes’s schedule I indicates that Holmes regularly receives $400 per month from “Mother’s social security”. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 1 at 26; CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 3. Holmes says mother has sole control of her social security benefits and uses the $400 “entirely to pay for her own medical and prescription benefits”. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 3, 6.

The chapter 13 trustee objects to confirmation of Holmes’s plan. The trustee argues that Holmes improperly ignores funds received from her mother in calculating her current monthly income. As a result, the trustee says, Holmes’s plan does not propose to pay all of her projected disposable income to her unsecured creditors as required by 11 U.S.C. §1325(b)(1)(B). CM‐ECF Doc. Nos. 20; 32 at 3–4.

I.

Section 1325(b)(2) defines “disposable income”. For debtors like Holmes who aren’t engaged in business “disposable income” means (excluding inapplicable caveats) “current monthly income received by the debtor . . . less amounts reasonably necessary to be expended—(A)(i) for the maintenance or support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor”. 11 U.S.C. §1325(b)(2)(A)(i) (emphasis added). The present dispute turns on the Bankruptcy Code’s definition of “current monthly income”.

Current monthly income includes the debtor’s income from all sources during the six months preceding the bankruptcy case: “current monthly income” . . . means the average monthly income from all sources that the debtor receives (or in a joint case the debtor and the debtor’s spouse receive) without regard to whether [that] income is taxable income, derived during the 6‐month period ending on [for present purposes the last day of the month before the debtor filed the case].

11 U.S.C. §101(10A)(A)(i) (emphasis added). The debtor’s current monthly income also includes regular payments of the debtor’s or a dependent’s household expenses made by “any entity other than the debtor”, except payments received from social security (and other benefit programs that are not at issue here and are ignored for ease of explication):

“current monthly income” . . . (B) includes any amount paid by any entity other than the debtor (or in a joint case the debtor and the debtor’s spouse), on a regular basis for the household expenses of the debtor or the debtor’s dependents . . . but excludes benefits received under the Social Security Act[.] 11 U.S.C. §101(10A)(B) (emphasis added). Individuals—including mothers—are “entities” for purposes of the Bankruptcy Code. See 11 U.S.C. §101(15) & (41).

II

The trustee argues that the $400 mother regularly contributed to Holmes’s household expenses must be included in calculating Holmes’s current monthly income under §101(10A)’s plain text. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 32 at 3‐4; see also CM‐ECF Doc. No. 1 at 26. The statutory exclusion of social security benefits is irrelevant, says the trustee, because the contributions to household expenses were made by mother and not from an entity disbursing benefits under the Social Security Act. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 32 at 3‐7.

Holmes contends that mother used the $400 to pay mother’s “own medical and prescription benefits” (CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 3); thus, she reasons, neither she nor her household received the $400 or benefited from it. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 2‐8. Holmes argues that §101(10A)(B) excludes benefits mother received under the Social Security Act from the calculation of Holmes’s current monthly income. CM‐ECF Doc. No. 33 at 3‐6.

III

A

Mother’s $400 contribution must be included in the calculation of Holmes’s current monthly income regardless of whether mother regularly contributed money to Holmes or only paid her own household expenses. If, as the trustee contends, mother regularly contributed $400 to Holmes’s household generally, the money would be income Holmes received on a monthly basis under subsection (A) of §101(10A). If, on the other hand, mother is Holmes’s dependent, as Holmes contends, and mother only used the $400 to pay her own monthly prescription expenses, then the money is included under subsection (B), because it is an amount that another entity (that is, mother) paid on a regular basis for the household expenses of Holmes’s dependent (again, mother). Holmes asserts that mother is her dependent; the trustee does not contest that assertion.

The $400 is thus included in Holmes’s current monthly income unless subsection (B)’s exclusionary provision applies. Section 101(10A)(B)’s exclusionary provision is most reasonably understood to apply only to social security benefits received by a debtor or, in a joint case, received by the debtor and the debtor’s spouse.

This understanding best fits the section considered in its entirety. Subsection (A) of §101(10A) defines current monthly income as “the average monthly income from all sources that the debtor receives (or in a joint case the debtor and the debtor’s spouse receive)”. §101(10A)(A) (emphasis added). Subsection (B) directs that the income the debtor receives “includes any amount paid by any entity other than the debtor . . . on a regular basis for the household expenses of the debtor or the debtor’s dependents”. §101(10A)(B) (emphasis added). Subsection (B) thus treats other persons’ payments of household expenses for the debtor or her dependents as income received by the debtor. This makes sense. Paying the debtor and paying her household expenses have similar economic effects.

In this context subsection (B)’s “excludes benefits received” provision is best understood to refer to benefits received by the debtor (or by the debtor’s spouse in a joint case). §101(10A)(B). Subsection (B) has two parts. Part one includes in the “average monthly income from all sources that the debtor receives” (§101(10A)(A)) “any amount paid by any entity other than the debtor . . . on a regular basis for the household expenses of the debtor or the debtor’s dependents” (§101(10A)(B)). Part two excludes from “average monthly income from all sources that the debtor receives” (§101(10A)(A)) “benefits received under the Social Security Act” (§101(10A)(B) (emphasis added)). Part one of subsection (B) is aggregating—it includes other entities’ regular payments of household expenses as part of subsection (A)’s “income from all sources that the debtor receives”. Part two of subsection (B) is exclusionary—it excludes certain benefits from §101(10A)’s general inclusion of all income the debtor received, directly or indirectly, from all sources. The excluded benefits, therefore, are benefits paid to the debtor (and to the debtor’s spouse in a joint case).[1] §101(10A)(A).

Section 101(10A) thus includes the $400 in Holmes’s current monthly income if mother either regularly contributed the $400 to Holmes or regularly used the $400 to pay household expenses of Holmes or Holmes’s dependents. Section 101(10A)(B) does not exclude the $400 in either instance because Holmes received an economic benefit from mother, not from a government entity disbursing social security benefits.

B

The Social Security Act’s anti‐assignment provision does not require a different result. Section 407(a) of the Social Security Act protects Social Security Act payments from “the operation of” the bankruptcy laws:

The right of any person to any future payment under this subchapter shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this subchapter shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

42 U.S.C. §407(a). Section 407(a) does not prevent bankruptcy law from regulating the amount a chapter 13 debtor who does not receive benefits under the Social Security Act must pay unsecured creditors.

Section 407’s inapplicability is obvious if the $400 is included in Holmes’s current monthly income because Holmes regularly received that amount from mother. Money Holmes receives from mother is not money paid under the Social Security Act. In this scenario, the government isn’t paying Holmes social security benefits, and mother isn’t transferring her right to future social security benefits to Holmes.

Section 407 is also inapplicable if the $400 is included in Holmes’s current monthly income because mother made regular payments of household expenses for Holmes or her dependents. Mother’s social security benefits enabled mother to pay these expenses, which conveyed an economic benefit on Holmes. But mother conveyed this benefit, not the Social Security Act. If mother had spent her social security benefits on things other than household expenses of Holmes or Holmes’s dependents, then mother’s use of her social security benefits would not affect Holmes’s current monthly income.

Section 101(10A) does not make mother’s social security benefits subject to the “operation of” the Bankruptcy Code by requiring Holmes to account for the economic benefit mother provided when calculating Holmes’s current monthly income. The Bankruptcy Code does not compel mother to use her social security benefits to pay Holmes’s household expenses. The Bankruptcy Code does not require mother to do anything: Mother is not a debtor. And nothing in the Social Security Act prevents the Bankruptcy Code from compelling Holmes—a debtor seeking the Bankruptcy Code’s protections—to use her income—none of which comes to her by operation of the Social Security Act—to pay her creditors. See Neavear v. Schweiker (In re Neavear), 674 F.2d 1201, 1206 (7th Cir. 1982) (“We thus conclude that section [4]07 provides an exemption from the bankruptcy laws only for the benefits of social security recipients”).[2]

IV

The trustee’s objection is sustained.

 

 

About the author:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

[1] At least one court has read §101(10A)’s exclusionary provision to apply to non‐debtor social security benefits based on a comparison with 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(10)’s text. See, e.g., In re Miller, 445 B.R. 504, 506–07 (Bankr. D. S.C. 2011). Section 522(d)(10) provides an exemption for “[t]he debtor’s right to receive—(A) a social security benefit . . .” 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(10)(A). The Miller court reasoned that §101(10A)’s exclusionary provision does not specify that it is the debtor’s social security benefits that are excluded, unlike §522(d)(10), which states that the exemption applies to the debtor’s right to receive a social security benefit. In re Miller, 445 B.R. at 507. As explained above, however, if one considers §101(10A) in its entirety, it too addresses only sources of income received by the debtor or the debtor’s spouse in a joint case. In context, §101(10A) is best understood to refer to social security benefits received by a debtor, just like §522(d)(10). The lack of parallel construction in a section addressing exemptions rather than definitions does not warrant a different reading. As the trustee argues, a construction of §101(10A) that does not limit the exclusionary provision to benefits received by debtors yields unjustifiably counterintuitive results. For example, two debtors who both regularly receive $500 per month from their grandmothers would have different current monthly incomes if one grandmother took the $500 from her social security benefits and the other took the $500 from an IRA withdrawal—even if both grandmothers received the same amount of social security and had the same total income. This incongruous result is not justified by the text of §101(10A).

[2] The parties dispute only the narrow question of whether Holmes’s current monthly income includes an additional $400 based on mother’s use of her social security benefits. Whether the Bankruptcy Code ultimately requires Holmes to pay unsecured creditors more than her plan currently provides is a question for another day. See 11 U.S.C. §1325(b)(3) (incorporating §707(b)(2)(A) & (B) in determining projected disposable income of above‐median‐income debtors, like Holmes); see also §707(b)(2)(A)(ii)(I) & (II) (addressing reasonable expenses of the debtor, the debtor’s dependents, the debtor’s household members and certain eligible immediate family members).

Sufficient income to convert: the full Castillo case

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country.

This is a case involving a person on a fixed income and whether they may convert to a Chapter 13 consolidation. Read the summary of the case here. Below is the entire decision.

 

In re: EDMUND CASTILLO AND ETHEL C. CASTILLO, Chapter 7, Debtors.

Case No. 2:12-bk-50300-RK.

United States Bankruptcy Court, C.D. California, Los Angeles Division.

January 18, 2017.

ORDER DENYING DEBTORS’ MOTION TO CONVERT CASE FROM CHAPTER 7 TO CHAPTER 13

ROBERT KWAN, Bankruptcy Judge.

Pending before the court is the motion of Debtors Edmund and Ethel Castillo (“Debtors”) to convert this case from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13. Electronic Case Filing Number (“ECF”) 44, filed on November 21, 2016. Having considered the moving papers and the oral arguments of the Debtors at the hearing held on January 3, 2017 at 2:30 p.m., the court denies the motion.

On December 7, 2012, Debtors commenced this bankruptcy case by filing their voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. The case was a “no asset” Chapter 7 bankruptcy case with no claims bar date as indicated by the notice sent to creditors by the court on December 7, 2012, ECF 2, telling them not to file a proof of claim since there does not appear to be any property available to the Chapter 7 Trustee to pay creditors pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 2002(e) and no deadline or bar date would be set for filing proofs of claim. The bankruptcy case was fully administered by the Chapter 7 Trustee, who later filed a “no distribution” (or no asset) report on January 23, 2013 as noted on the case docket. The court entered a Chapter 7 discharge of Debtors on March 18, 2013, ECF 18, and closed the case on March 29, 2013 thereafter. ECF 20.

On July 25, 2016, Debtors filed their motion to reopen this bankruptcy case “to permit Debtor to seek relief for violation of the discharge injunction.” ECF 21. The court set the motion to reopen the case for hearing on August 18, 2016, ECF 22, and granted the motion to reopen the case by a written order filed and entered on September 15, 2016. ECF 26.

The motion to convert should be denied because the record indicates that Debtors are not eligible for relief under Chapter 13 because they do not have excess income to make monthly payments in a Chapter 13 plan as their bankruptcy schedules show no net monthly income. Schedule I-Current Income of Individual Debtor(s) and Schedule J-Current Expenditures of Individual Debtor(s), ECF 9, filed on December 21, 2012, at 16-17 (showing negative monthly net income of $2,074.00); 11 U.S.C. §§ 101(30), 109(e) and 706(d). The moving papers only consisted of the court’s check box form motion, F 1017-1.1.MOTION.DEBTOR.CONVERT, and did not contain any legal memorandum of points and authorities or any evidence in support of the motion. ECF 44. Thus, the only information in the record regarding Debtor’s income eligibility under Chapter 13 was their income and expense schedules. ECF 9 at 16-17. As 11 U.S.C. § 706(d) provides, “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of this section, a case may not be converted to a case under another chapter of this title unless the debtor may be a debtor under such chapter.” See also, Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. 365, 372-373 (2007)(a Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtor’s right to convert to Chapter 13 is expressly conditioned under 11 U.S.C. § 706(d) on ability to qualify as a debtor under Chapter 13). In order for a debtor to qualify as a debtor under Chapter 13, a debtor must have sufficient income to make the payments called for under a plan under Chapter 13. 11 U.S.C. §§ 101(30) and 109(e); see also, In re Terry, 630 F.2d 634, 635 (8th Cir. 1980); In re Ludwig, 411 B.R. 632, 635 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa 2008); In re Bradley, 18 B.R. 105, 106 (Bankr. D. Vt. 1982) (debtors must demonstrate that they have or will have income sufficient to make payments called for by the plan), citing inter alia, In re Mozer, 1 B.R. 350, 352 (Bankr. D. Colo. 1979); see also, Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. at 372 (a debtor’s right to convert a Chapter 7 case to another chapter of the Bankruptcy Code under 11 U.S.C. § 706(a) is not absolute as debtor must be eligible for the other chapter as expressly conditioned by 11 U.S.C. § 706(d)). Thus, Debtors who do not have sufficient income to make payments called for under a plan, as here, are ineligible for Chapter 13. Id.

It also appears that Debtors cannot show that conversion to Chapter 13 is in good faith since they have not demonstrated that they have any excess income to make Chapter 13 plan payments and appear to be motivated by trying to stop the actions of their secured creditor from foreclosing a reinstated trust deed, which the creditor had shown in a state court action was fraudulently released and indicates that the motivation for the Chapter 13 conversion request was to defeat the state court litigation brought by the secured creditor. Opposition of Wilmington Trust, NA, as Trustee, etc., to Debtor’s Motion to Hold It in Contempt and for Sanctions, ECF 40, filed on November 4, 2016, and Exhibit 5 attached thereto (state court order filed on August 17, 2016, granting Wilmington Trust, NA, summary judgment, finding Debtor Edmund Castillo recorded a forged reconveyance of trust deed purportedly to “revoke” and reconvey Wilmington Trust’s trust deed and lien to secure its real property loan on Debtors’ property); see, In re Leavitt, 171 F.3d 1219, 1224 (9th Cir. 1999); see also, In re Santos, ___ B.R. ___, 2017 WL 129901, No. 6:13-bk-13557 MH Chapter 7 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2017) (memorandum decision and order denying debtors’ motion to convert to Chapter 13 based on finding cause to convert or dismiss Chapter 13 case under 11 U.S.C. § 1307(c) if motion granted)(copy available on the court’s website under judicial opinions), slip op. at *4-6, citing inter alia, Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. at 365. As noted previously, the motion to convert does not include any legal memorandum of points and authorities and did not state a reason for the motion, ECF 44, but Debtor Edmund Castillo in his motion to reopen the case, ECF 21, stating that he sought to reopen the case to amend the bankruptcy schedules to add lien creditors and to file a motion to avoid lien of the secured lender, or alternatively, to file a motion to convert the case to Chapter 13. Debtors have not provided any good faith reason for converting this case to Chapter 13 because they do not intend to pay claims of their unsecured creditors as there are no meaningful debts to be paid as such debts were discharged by the Chapter 7 discharge previously entered in this case and Debtors’ only stated reason for converting to Chapter 13 is to avoid the lien of the secured creditor determined in the state court litigation to be valid after determining that Debtor Edmund Castillo had recorded a forged reconveyance of its trust deed to illegally release the lien arising from the trust deed, which is just a collateral attack on the state court judgment in that litigation, is not a good faith reason to convert to Chapter 13. In re Santos, ___ B.R. ___, 2017 WL 129901, No. 6:13-bk-13557 MH Chapter 7, slip op. at *3, citing inter alia, In re Starling, 359 B.R. 901, 911 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2007).

To the extent that Debtors seek relief that the secured creditor is collecting its claim in violation of the Chapter 7 discharge injunction in this case, that relief is being considered in the contested matter of Debtors’ motion for contempt, which is now set for an evidentiary hearing, and thus, there is no demonstrated good faith reason for conversion of the case to Chapter 13. Moreover, prepetition creditors would be prejudiced if this Chapter 7 bankruptcy case were converted to Chapter 13 since the case has been fully administered and long closed, prepetition creditors have been told that prepetition debts have been discharged four years ago and they have not been able to take any collection action for at least this time, and they would be now told that Debtors would pay debts under a Chapter 13 plan where they have not shown that they have the means to make any payments under a plan since their schedules do not show any monthly net income.

For the foregoing reasons, the court denies the motion to convert.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

 

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also find his website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com.

 

Sufficient income required to convert to Chapter 13

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country.

This is a case involving a person on a fixed income and whether they may convert to a Chapter 13 consolidation.

 

Bankr CD California: Chapter 7 Debtors who Lacked Sufficient Income to make Payments called for under a Ch 13 Plan could Not Convert to Chapter 13.

Thus, Debtors who do not have sufficient income to make payments called for under a plan, as here, are ineligible for Chapter 13.

It also appears that Debtors cannot show that conversion to Chapter 13 is in good faith since they have not demonstrated that they have any excess income to make Chapter 13 plan payments and appear to be motivated by trying to stop the actions of their secured creditor from foreclosing a reinstated trust deed, which the creditor had shown in a state court action was fraudulently released and indicates that the motivation for the Chapter 13 conversion request was to defeat the state court litigation brought by the secured creditor. Opposition of Wilmington Trust, NA, as Trustee, etc., to Debtor’s Motion to Hold It in Contempt and for Sanctions, ECF 40, filed on November 4, 2016, and Exhibit 5 attached thereto (state court order filed on August 17, 2016, granting Wilmington Trust, NA, summary judgment, finding Debtor Edmund Castillo recorded a forged reconveyance of trust deed purportedly to “revoke” and reconvey Wilmington Trust’s trust deed and lien to secure its real property loan on Debtors’ property); see, In re Leavitt, 171 F.3d 1219, 1224 (9th Cir. 1999); see also, In re Santos, ___ B.R. ___, 2017 WL 129901, No. 6:13-bk-13557 MH Chapter 7 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2017) (memorandum decision and order denying debtors’ motion to convert to Chapter 13 based on finding cause to convert or dismiss Chapter 13 case under 11 U.S.C. § 1307(c) if motion granted)(copy available on the court’s website under judicial opinions), slip op. at *4-6, citing inter alia, Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. at 365. As noted previously, the motion to convert does not include any legal memorandum of points and authorities and did not state a reason for the motion, ECF 44, but Debtor Edmund Castillo in his motion to reopen the case, ECF 21, stating that he sought to reopen the case to amend the bankruptcy schedules to add lien creditors and to file a motion to avoid lien of the secured lender, or alternatively, to file a motion to convert the case to Chapter 13. Debtors have not provided any good faith reason for converting this case to Chapter 13 because they do not intend to pay claims of their unsecured creditors as there are no meaningful debts to be paid as such debts were discharged by the Chapter 7 discharge previously entered in this case and Debtors’ only stated reason for converting to Chapter 13 is to avoid the lien of the secured creditor determined in the state court litigation to be valid after determining that Debtor Edmund Castillo had recorded a forged reconveyance of its trust deed to illegally release the lien arising from the trust deed, which is just a collateral attack on the state court judgment in that litigation, is not a good faith reason to convert to Chapter 13. In re Santos, ___ B.R. ___, 2017 WL 129901, No. 6:13-bk-13557 MH Chapter 7, slip op. at *3, citing inter alia, In re Starling, 359 B.R. 901, 911 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2007).

 

Read the full opinion here.

 

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also find his website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com.

Obamacare repeal has an obtuse tie to the bankruptcy code.

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country. I discovered that the House bill intended to repeal Obamacare has a strange bankruptcy provision…

HR 1275 is the House bill intended to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Among its provisions is Section 122, which contains an odd allusion to the Bankruptcy Code:

(c) Protection Of Certain Assets In Case Of Individuals Covered Under Limited Benefit Insurance.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if an individual is covered under limited benefit insurance for a plan year and benefits under such insurance have reached the annual limit under such insurance for items and services furnished in the plan year, the individual is not liable for debt incurred and arising from the provision of subsequently furnished items and services during the plan year, regardless of whether benefits are otherwise covered for such items and services under such policy, insofar as the liability attributable to such items and services exceeds—

(A) the bankruptcy valuation of the individual’s property at the time the debt is incurred; reduced by

(B) such annual limit of benefits under the limited benefit insurance for the plan year.

Property in the amount so protected from liability shall be exempt and immune from attachment or seizure with respect to any judgment related to such debt.

(2) BANKRUPTCY VALUATION DEFINED.—In this subsection, the term “bankruptcy valuation” means, with respect to property of an individual as of a date, the value of the property as of such date as determined as if the individual were a debtor in a bankruptcy case that could have been filed under title 11 of the United States Code and the property could not be exempt under section 522 of such title.

***

                I have consulted with bankruptcy colleagues around the country about this section and we have come to the following consensus:

  1. it is very poorly written and
  2. it does not affect the bankruptcy laws.

What we think it means is that if you are sued by your insurance company or a medical provider for non-payment, the assets of the individual will not be seized to collect on any of those bills as long as the value of the assets are within the bankruptcy exemptions.

It is not forcing a collector to use federal law or statutes to sue. Nor does it force states to use the federal exemptions. In fact, all but 16 states have opted out of the federal exemptions in favor of their own.

And since these exemptions – when they DO apply – apply to any judgment against a defendant/debtor, this section seems superfluous and/or redundant if not feckless.

My first thought was “this is like saying, ‘if you are sued, it does not impede your right to vote’,” but that is also incorrect. This provision does NOT amend or eliminate a defendant/debtor’s right to protect their assets under federal or state exemption law.

Nor does it amend or affect the provisions of the bankruptcy code.

It provides a person a right already given to them in another area of federal law.

And isn’t that nice of Congress to provide that …

***

About the author:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

Bankruptcy fees may increase under new budget!

 

From http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/filing_for_bankruptcy_would_li.html

Filing for bankruptcy more expensive under Trump budget

Posted on March 17, 2017 at 10:03 AM

BY LEADA GORE lgore@al.com

Filing for bankruptcy would likely cost more under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

Trump’s “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” includes a provision that would raise an additional $150 million in 2017 through higher filing fees. Currently, the fees generate about $138 million; Trump’s budget aims to see that grow to $289 million by 2018.

The change, according to the outline would “ensure that those that use the bankruptcy court system pay for its oversight.”

The increased fees would go to the Department of Justice’s United States Trustee Program, which oversees the administration of bankruptcy filings.

The budget outline doesn’t specify which filing fees will increase.

Currently, the filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the most common type of petition, is $335. Other filing fees range from $310 for Chapter 13 to $1,717 for Chapters 9, 11 and 15. Additional costs come from attorney’s fees and required financial counseling.

In 2016, there were more than 800,500 bankruptcy filings in the U.S., a decline of about 6 percent. Non-business consumer filings dropped by 6 percent and business petitions dropped by 2 percent, according to court statistics.

Chapter 11 filings, which generally covers business reorganizations, were up 6 percent.

The overall drop follows a 10 percent decline from the previous year.

***

If you go to the actual document, and search “bankruptcy”, you get this:

“Increases bankruptcy-filing fees to produce an additional $150 million over the 2017 annualized CR level to ensure that those that use the bankruptcy court system pay for its oversight. By increasing quarterly filing fees, the total estimated United States Trustee Program offsetting receipts would reach $289 million in 2018.” So, it looks like quarterly fees for Chapter 11s.

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

The Sanctioning Dead … part two!

Dead Men Tell No Tales … nor can their attorney’s continue to pursue an action without telling anyone their client died!

 

 

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, and pay particular attention to cases that affect an attorney’s practice and standing with the court.

Here is a case from Puerto Rico that shows how important it is to be a good officer of the court – to show respect not only to the court but opposing counsel.

The Creditor and Debtor obviously had a long litigious relationship. In the middle of a motion to dismiss a case based on bad faith, the creditor died. Creditor’s attorney, however, did not inform the curt or opposing counsel and continued prosecuting/negotiating the case.

The first half of the opinion can be read here.

 

The death of the creditor might not have been the end of the case. Were there enough discoverable evidence gathered at the time of the creditor’s death the court might have considered proceeding with the case – although the odds of the creditor’s success diminished substantially. Had the creditor’s attorney been more candid about the creditor’s death he (gender neutral) may have avoided these sanctions. He would have faced an immediate summary judgment motion, but were there enough facts and evidence available the complaint might have been able to withstand even that (perhaps not enough to prevail at the end …) but the death of a creditor is not the death of a case. The creditor’s heirs and assigns, if the bankruptcy case WAS dismissed due to bad faith, could continue to collect against the Debtor for the decedent’s estate.

I suspect this case depended too much on the creditor and her testimony as opposed to hard evidence. The attorney’s actions and lack of candor likely point to the fact that when the creditor died, so did her case against the Debtor.

This is an excellent opinion and a good morality tale for attorneys.

 

IN RE: ROBERTO CENTENO PAGAN Debtor

CASE NO. 14-08824 (ESL)

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO

January 30, 2017

CHAPTER 7

OPINION AND ORDER

(continued)

Jurisdiction

The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 157(b)(1) and 1334(b). Venue of this proceeding is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§1408 and 1409. The power to sanction will be further discussed below.

Applicable Law and Analysis

(A) Sanctions under Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011 and Fed. R Civ. P. 11

        “Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011 is derived from Fed. R. Civ. P. 11.” In re Figueroa Alonso, 546 B.R. 1, 7 (Bankr. D.P.R. 2016). Moreover, as this court has previously explained:

“The central purpose of Rule 11 is to deter baseless filings. See CQ Int’l Co. v. Rochem Int’l, Inc., USA, 659 F.3d 53, 62 (1st Cir.2011). Likewise, “the purpose of Federal Rule of Bankruptcy 9011 is to deter baseless filings in bankruptcy court and thus avoid unnecessary judicial effort, the goal being to make proceedings in the court more expeditious and less expensive. The rule imposes sanctions on persons violating the rule and, it is hoped, will act to deter future conduct of the same nature.” Alan N. Resnick & Henry J. Sommer, 10 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 9011.01 (16th ed.2015).”

Id. Specifically, Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011(b) provides:

(b) Representations to the court

By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a petition, pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;

(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.

Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011.

The four subdivisions in Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011(b) “may be further divided in two categories; namely, the frivolousness clauses and the improper purpose clause.” In re Terron Hernandez, 513 B.R. 172, 180 (Bankr. D.P.R. 2014). Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011(b)(1) “prohibits presentation of a document for an improper purpose” and “lists harassment, delay or needless increase in litigation as examples of improper purposes, but the list is not exhaustive.” Alan N. Resnick & Henry J. Sommer, 10 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 9011.04[7][a] (16th ed. 2015).”Courts may infer the purpose of a filing from the consequences of a motion, such as delaying the proceedings or creating ‘a persistent pattern of clearly abusive litigation.” In re Terron Hernandez, 513 B.R. 172 at 180, quoting In re CK Liquidation Corp., 321 B.R. 355, 365 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2005) . “Fed. R. Bankr.P. 9011(b)(2)-(4), “require[ ] that a party’s attorney must perform a reasonable preliminary investigation of the facts and the applicable law before filing a paper in federal court. Id., quoting In re Am. Telecom Corp., 319 B.R. 857, 867 (Bankr.N.D.Ill.2004).

In the instant case, the Debtor alleges that the allegations contained in the Motion to Dismiss were meant to aggravate the Debtor and to cause him to incur in unwarranted expenses and delay in closing his bankruptcy case and obtaining his discharge. In addition, the Debtor sustains that the factual allegations contained in the Motion to Dismiss are false. Finally, the Debtor argues that several of the prayers for relief included in the Motion to Dismiss have no basis in law. Therefore, the court must determine if the filing of the Motion to Dismiss violated Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011 (b)(1) and whether the allegations and arguments contained therein violated Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011 (b)(2) and (b)(3).

This court finds that sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011(b) are not warranted. Firstly, the court finds that the Motion to Dismiss was not filed for an improper purpose. Although, the litigation that ensued from the filing of the Motion to Dismiss certainly prolonged the Debtor’s bankruptcy case, this court finds that it was not filed to harass the Debtor or to maliciously prevent or delay the entry of the Debtor’s discharge. In addition, this court finds that although several of the remedies requested in the prayer for relief in the Motion to Dismiss were not proper, it is clear from the motion that the main relief requested was that the Debtor’s bankruptcy case be dismissed pursuant to Section 707(a) and/or Section 707(b)(3)(A) as Medina Ramos alleged that it was filed in bad faith. Moreover, the Motion to Dismiss contained a thorough discussion of the legal theories and case law in support of the request for dismissal pursuant to Section 707(a) and/or Section 707(b)(3)(A). Finally, at this juncture the court cannot determine whether the factual allegations contained in the Motion to Dismiss had evidentiary support since Medina Ramos has passed away and is no longer able to testify in support of those allegations. Accordingly, this court denies the Debtor’s request for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. P. Bank. 9011(b).

(B) Sanctions under 28 U.S.C. §1927

Section 28 U.S.C. §1927 provides:

Any attorney or other person admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct. 28 U.S.C. § 1927.

“Sanctions under Section 1927 can only be imposed against attorneys, not parties.” In re MJS Las Croabas Properties, Inc., 530 B.R. 25, 40 (Bankr. D.P.R. 2015), aff’d sub nom. MJS Las Croabas Properties, Inc., 545 B.R. 401 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2016). Moreover, although courts are split as to whether bankruptcy courts may impose sanctions under Section 1927, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit has affirmed a bankruptcy court’s award of sanctions under Section 1927. See MJS Las Croabas Properties, Inc., 545 B.R. at 418.

“The purpose of sanctions under § 1927 is to deter dilatory litigation practices and to punish aggressive tactics that far exceed zealous advocacy.” Id. at 419, quoting In re Royal Manor Mgmt., Inc., 525 B.R. 338, 365 (BAP 6th Cir. 2015). Furthermore, the focus of Section 1927 is on a course of conduct. Id. (“Unlike Rule 11 sanctions which focus on particular papers, the inquiry under § 1927 is on a course of conduct.”), quoting Bowler v. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 901 F.Supp. 597, 605 (S.D.N.Y.1995)). The First Circuit Court of Appeals has explained that “[l]itigation conduct qualifies as “vexatious” if it is “harassing or annoying, regardless of whether it is intended to be so.” Lamboy-Ortiz v. Ortiz-Velez, 630 F.3d 228, 245 (1st Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Moreover, “section 1927 does not apply to “[g]arden-variety carelessness or even incompetence,” but instead requires that the “attorney’s actions … evince a studied disregard of the need for an orderly judicial process, or add up to a reckless breach of the lawyer’s obligations as an officer of the court.” Id. at 245-46, citing Jensen v. Phillips Screw Co., 546 F.3d 59, 64 (1st Cir.2008). Finally, in this Circuit a finding of subjective bad faith is not required and courts are to apply an objective standard in assessing an attorney’s conduct. Cruz v. Savage, 896 F.2d 626, 632 (1st Cir. 1990) (“Finally, in assessing whether an attorney acted unreasonably and vexatiously in multiplying proceedings, the district courts in this circuit should apply an objective standard.”).

In the instant case, the court finds that attorney Morales Vidal’s actions add up to a reckless breach of her obligations as an officer of the court. Attorney Morales Vidal failed to inform this court or the Debtor’s counsel of her client’s passing prior to the hearing held on October 16, 2015, despite the fact that the Minutes reflect her client passed away a month before said hearing[1]. Also, attorney Morales continued settlement negotiations with the Debtor prior to the hearing despite the fact that the Movant had passed away. As a result, not only was the hearing held on October 16, 2015, but the Debtor had to file a reply and memorandum of law in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, only for attorney Morales Vidal to end up eventually withdrawing the Motion to Dismiss. However, the motion withdrawing the Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 64) was not filed until January 4, 2016 (almost five months after her client had allegedly passed away) and was filed in response to the Order entered by this court on December 4, 2015 (Docket No. 59). The unnecessary prolongation of this contested matter could have been avoided had attorney Morales Vidal promptly informed this court and Debtor’s counsel of her client’s passing, instead of continuing to litigate the matter without confirmation of whether Medina Ramos’ daughter was interested or had standing to pursue the same. Accordingly, attorney Morales Vidal’s cumulative behavior in continuing to litigate this matter despite the fact that her client had passed away, and the manner in which she prosecuted the same, including but not limited to failing to inform Debtor or the court of her client’s death, is sanctionable under 28 U.S.C. §1927.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated herein, Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions (Docket No. 67) is denied. However, the court hereby sanctions attorney Morales Vidal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1927 to pay to the Debtor the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees incurred after September 15, 2015. The Debtor is further ordered to file an itemized description of his fees, excess costs and expenses related to his counsel’s work in defending against the Motion to Dismiss within fourteen (14) days. Attorney Morales Vidal may file a response fourteen (14) days thereafter.

SO ORDERED.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, this 30th day of January, 2017.

——–

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

 

 

[1] The court notes that during the hearing attorney Morales Vidal stated that she did not know that her client had passed away a month ago, but that she had recently been informed. Nevertheless, it is clear she had knowledge of her client’s passing prior to the hearing and failed to inform the court or Debtor’s counsel. See Audio File (Docket No 54) at 10:19-10:20 AM.

The Sanctioning Dead …

Dead Men Tell No Tales … nor can their attorney’s continue to pursue an action without telling the court about their client’s death!

 

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, and pay particular attention to cases that affect an attorney’s practice and standing with the court.

Here is a case from Puerto Rico that shows how important it is to be a good officer of the court – to show respect not only to the court but opposing counsel.

The Creditor and Debtor obviously had a long litigious relationship. In the middle of a motion to dismiss a case based on bad faith, the creditor died. Creditor’s attorney, however, did not inform the curt or opposing counsel and continued prosecuting/negotiating the case.

Here are the facts in the first part of the Opinion. The second half of the opinion can be read here.

 

 

IN RE: ROBERTO CENTENO PAGAN Debtor

CASE NO. 14-08824 (ESL)

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO

January 30, 2017

CHAPTER 7

OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the court upon the Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions (Docket No. 67). The Debtor seeks sanctions against unsecured creditor Amada Medina Ramos and her legal counsel for the filing of Medina Ramos’ Supplemented §707(a) &/or §707(b)(3)(A) & §349 Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 40). The Debtor alleges that the Motion to Dismiss was frivolous, malicious, and caused the Debtor to incur in unwarranted expenses and delay in the closing of his bankruptcy case. Consequently, Debtor prays for sanctions in the form of attorney’s fees and costs. Also before the court is the Opposition to Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions filed by Medina Ramos’ legal counsel (Docket No. 69), the Order to Show Cause (Docket No. 75) entered by this court on June 16, 2016, and attorney Morales Vidal’s responses thereto (Docket Nos. 77, 81, 82 and 83). For the reasons stated herein, Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions (Docket No. 67) is denied. However, the court hereby sanctions attorney Morales Vidal under 28 U.S.C. §1927.

Procedural Background

The Debtor filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code on October 28, 2014 (Docket No. 1). On October 29, 2014, the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors & Deadline (the “Notice”) was docketed in the instant case (Docket No. 6). The Notice disclosed that the deadline to object to the Debtor’s discharge or to challenge the dischargeability of certain debt was January 25, 2015. On January 11, 2015, Amada Medina Ramos (hereinafter referred to as “Medina Ramos”) filed a motion requesting an extension of ninety (90) days to file a motion to dismiss for bad faith under Section 707 and/or a complaint to deny Debtor’s discharge or to challenge the dischargeability of Debtor’s debt to Medina Ramos pursuant to Section 523 (Docket No. 17), and the same was granted On January 15, 2015, (Docket No. 18). On January 15, 2015, the Debtor filed his Response to Amada Medina Ramos’ Motion for Extension of Time in which he argued, among other things, that the request for extension of time was frivolous and that the ninety (90) day request was unreasonable (Docket No.19).

On February 11, 2015, Medina Ramos filed a motion titled Amada Medina Ramos Verified Request to Initiate Discovery Before Motion to Dismiss Under §707(a) &/or §707(b) &/or §523/§727 Complaint is Filed (the “Motion to Initiate Discovery”, Docket No. 21) requesting that the court enter an order authorizing discovery alleging that there was a need for discovery to ascertain the viability of her potential actions against the Debtor. On that same date, Medina Ramos filed a supplement to the motion requesting discovery, adding Medina Ramos’ declaration that the information contained therein was correct (the “Supplement to Motion to Initiate Discovery”, Docket No. 22). On February 12, 2015, the Debtor filed his Response to Motion to Initiate Discovery (Docket No. 23) in which he argued, among other things, that the request for discovery was unnecessary since based on Medina Ramos’ allegations she must have possession or control of any documents or evidence that would substantiate her potential claims against the Debtor. In addition, the Debtor alleged that Medina Ramos has no evidence of bad faith or abuse and that she has access to the public documents related to the pre-petition probate and state court litigation related to Medina Ramos’ claim against the Debtor. On February 13, 2015, the Debtor filed a Supplement in Opposition to Motion to Initiate Discovery (Docket No. 24) in which he informed the Court that on that same date his legal counsel forwarded to Medina Ramos’ legal counsel all documents in Debtor’s possession related to Medina Ramos’ claim. In addition, the Debtor reiterated his opposition to discovery. On February 18, 2015, the court entered an Order denying Medina Ramos’ Motion to Initiate Discovery (Docket No. 25). On that same date, the court also entered an order denying Medina Ramos’ Supplement to Motion to Initiate Discovery (Docket No. 26).

Thereafter, on April 22, 2015, Medina Ramos filed Medina Ramos’ §707(a) &/or §707(b)(3)(A) & §349 Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 35), which was denied without prejudice for failure to comply with LBR 9013-1(3) and LBR 9013-1(c) (Docket No. 36). Subsequently, on May 1, 2015, Medina Ramos filed Movant Request for Reconsideration of Order Denying Motion to Dismiss re docs #35 & #36 & Request Leave To Supplement & Notice Creditors Not Otherwise Noticed (Docket No. 38) in which she sought leave to supplement Docket No. 35 in order to comply with the notice requirements of LBR 9013-1(c)[1]

On that same date, Medina Ramos proceeded to file Medina Ramos’ Supplemented §707(a) &/or §707(b)(3)(A) & §349 Motion to Dismiss[2] (the “Motion to Dismiss”, Docket No. 40) in which she argued that the Debtor’s bankruptcy case should be dismissed because it was filed in bad faith and with the intent to avoid payment of Debtor’s $25,000.00 debt with Medina Ramos “through conduct akin to fraud, misconduct, or gross negligence” (Docket No. 40, p.7). Medina Ramos alleged that the Debtor: (i) “had no reason or cause to file for “protection” from his creditors, other than to thwart and gain undue advantage and avoid payment to Movant” (Docket No. p. 5); (ii) “continually manipulated Movant to obtain the conveyance of her property rights in the Barceloneta property and later free himself from this single debt by repeatedly promising payment in exchange for conveyance”; and (iii) “has no real need to shield himself from collection or pressure from his other creditors since debtor’s only source of income in that of Social Security benefits is protected under 42 U.S.C. §407 from collection or garnishment. His only asset, titled to him by misleading and manipulating Movant to sign a donation, is now exempted from the reach of creditors under the Puerto Rico Homestead Law 195” (Docket No. 40, p.6). Accordingly, Medina Ramos contends the “debtor’s utilization of the protections of Bankruptcy Code and law, as well as his utilization of the Puerto Rico exemption law has been in conscious detriment of the Movant and establishes “cause” to dismiss with case with prejudice for bad faith and abuse of process” (Docket No. 40, p. 10). In addition, Medina Ramos argued that a majority of courts have held that dismissal under Section 707(a) for bad faith is appropriate even though there is no controlling precedent from the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Moreover, she alleged that seven of the twelve factors considered by the court in In re Lombardo, 370 B.R. 506, 512 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2007) to determine there was cause to dismiss pursuant to Section 707(a) are present in this case. Medina Ramos also sustained that the case could be dismissed under Sections 707(b)(1) and 707(b)(3)(A).

On May 8, 2015, the Debtor filed a Notice of Intent to Pursue Rule 9011 Sanctions (Docket No. 42) informing the court that on that same date a copy of a motion requesting sanctions was sent to Medina Ramos and her legal counsel in compliance with Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011(c). On May 26, 2015, Medina Ramos filed Movant [sic] Response to Debtor’s Motion of Intent to Pursue Rule 9011 Sanction (Docket No. 45) in which she declared that “[t]he motion to dismiss which debtor purports violates Rule 9011 was drafted and filed after carefully reviewing the facts [without the opportunity of discovery prior to its filing as requested at doc #22 and opposed by debtor and denied by the court] and researching the law” (Docket No. 45, pp.1-2, ¶5). In addition, Medina Ramos, through her legal counsel, reaffirmed her request that the Debtor’s bankruptcy case be dismissed for bad faith and declared that “[a]lthough Movant’s health is very delicate at this time and has turned for the worse very recently, it is in the opinion and evaluation by the undersigned, that there is no reason to withdraw the motion to dismiss at this time” (Docket No. 45, p.3, ¶12).

Subsequently, on June 1, 2015, the Debtor filed a Motion for Order (Docket No. 46) in which he requested that the court enter an order setting a hearing to consider the Motion to Dismiss or ordering the Debtor to file a response within thirty (30) days from the entry of the order. On June 12, 2015, the Court entered an Order and Notice scheduling a preliminary pretrial and scheduling conference under Fed. R. Bank. P. 7016(b) on October 16, 2015 (Docket No. 49).

On October 5, 2015, the Debtor and Medina Ramos filed a Joint Motion to Convert Pre-Trial Hearing to Status Conference (Docket No. 51). In addition, the parties informed the court that they were engaged in communications regarding the exchange of documents and papers necessary to litigate the contested matter as well as a possible settlement. On October 14, 2015, the court entered an Order granting the Joint Motion to Convert Pre-Trial Hearing to Status Conference (Docket No. 52).

On October 16, 2015, the court held a Status Conference in which Medina Ramos’s legal counsel, Lyssette Morales Vidal, for the first time informed the court and Debtor’s counsel that Medina Ramos had passed away a month before the hearing. See Docket Nos. 54 (Audio File) and 55 (Minute Entry). In addition, attorney Morales Vidal informed the court that she would be filing a motion to substitute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 253. [3]

Debtor’s counsel declared that this was the first time he was being notified of the Movant’s death despite several attempts to communicate with attorney Morales Vidal with regards to the Status Conference and a possible settlement prior to the hearing. The court noted in the Minute Entry that “[m]ovant has passed one month ago. Movant’s counsel had failed to inform debtor’s counsel[4]” (Docket No. 55). In addition, the court granted the Debtor sixty (60) days to file an answer to the Motion to Dismiss.

On November 20, 2015, the Debtor filed a Response to the Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 57) and Debtor’s Memorandum in Opposition to Dismissal (Docket No. 58) in which he argued, without conceding that Section 707(a) is a proper basis for dismissal, that: (i) the Debtor’s bankruptcy filing was filed in good faith due to his financial situation; (ii) the Debtor did not induce Medina Ramos to sign any of the documents pertaining to the donation of the Barceloneta property; (iii) during the state court proceedings Medina Ramos was represented by an attorney; (iv) the Debtor had other debts when he filed for bankruptcy as evidenced by Schedule F; and (v) the Debtor had a legal right to file for homestead protection. In addition, the Debtor stressed that despite Medina Ramos’ death, “even without a client or a substitute, Amada’s counsel continued to prosecute this action has if nothing had changed” (Docket No. 58, p.12). Accordingly, the Debtor declared that “[s]uch lack of candor toward the Court and consideration for her adversaries deserves scrutiny from the court and a relevant sanction against Movant’s counsel to deter similar wasteful and spurious litigation in the future.” Id.

On December 4, 2015, the court entered an Order directing attorney Morales Vidal to show cause why the Motion to Dismiss should not be denied for the reasons stated by the Debtor (Docket No. 59). After several procedural events[5], on January 4, 2016, attorney Morales Vidal filed a Response to Order at doc#62 & Motion to Withdraw doc#40 with Prejudice due to Death of Movant in which she requested that the Motion to Dismiss be withdrawn since she no longer had a client or witness because the Movant’s heir was not interested in pursuing the contested matter (Docket No. 64). In addition, attorney Morales Vidal declared that “[a]lthough the totality of circumstances surrounding the pre-petition dealings with movant were in the Movant’s opinion, in bad faith and in abuse of the bankruptcy process, it is a determination that is ultimately only made by the Court after weighing the credible testimony of the parties, testimony and evidence not possible under the circumstances of Movant’s death” (Docket No. 64, p.3, ¶14).

Subsequently, on January 5, 2016, the Debtor filed a Motion for Leave to File Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions[6] (Docket No. 65) and the same was granted on January 12, 2016 (Docket No. 66). On January 14, 2016, the Debtor filed Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions[7] seeking sanctions against attorney Morales Vidal pursuant to Fed. R. Bank. P. 9011 arguing that: (i) “the motion to dismiss frivolous and malicious”; (ii) “the multiple claims for relief in the motion are inappropriate for a motion to dismiss and are not warranted or supported by existing law or a good faith argument to modify or extend existing law; and (iii) “the claims, false statements and allegations in the motion are clearly meant to aggravate and harass the debtor and cause in to incur in unwarranted expenses and delay in finishing his case and obtaining a discharge” (Docket No. 67, p. 5, ¶8). In addition, the Debtor requested that the court take notice what he alleges constitutes sanctionable conduct by attorney Morales Vidal, including: (i) “opposing counsel’s conduct leading up to the October 16, 2015 hearing”; (ii) “the ambiguous manner in which she has handled the death of her client and her antics in notifying the fact”; (iii) “her unsupportable statements, legal arguments and allegation made for the record during that hearing concerning the viability of the action, the availability of material witnesses and the certain inclusion of Amada’s sole heir”; (iv) “her failure to address the Court’s inquiry regarding [the] Rule 25 addition of Amada’s heir and her failure to file a formal statement of death in the record”; (v) “her continuation of this matter despite not having a client”; (vi) “her attempt to entice Debtor and his counsel into reaffirming a dischargeable debt all the while knowing-and not disclosing-that her client was dead”; and (vii) “the unjustifiable manner in which she caused the additional waste and expense of time and resources by the Debtor, his attorneys and the judicial system by causing the continuation of this matter through her silence and gimmicks thus causing a formal, extensive and expensive response to the [Motion to Dismiss], only to withdraw it at the eleventh hour, and only after by confronted by an order of Court for her to finally to support her cause, or else” (Docket No. 67, pp.2-3). Accordingly, the Debtor requests sanctions in the form of attorney fees and costs in having to defend himself against the Motion to Dismiss.

On January 25, 2016, attorney Morales Vidal filed an Opposition to Debtor’s Motion for Rule 9011 Sanctions (Docket No. 69) reiterating the arguments contained in Docket Nos. 45 and 64. In addition, attorney Morales Vidal argues that: (i) “there is an absence of even a prima facie case to warrant sanctions; (ii) the “Debtor has not shown, nor can he produce a showing of evidence of objectively unreasonable conduct on the part of the undersigned attorney, or a subjective determination of an improper purpose in the motion to dismiss”; and (iii) “[t]he purpose of the motion to dismiss was proper and warranted by law upon and evidentiary hearing or on summary judgment further on in the proceedings had it not been for the demise of the Movant.” Moreover, attorney Morales Vidal also submits that she has been a responsible advocate during her more than forty (40) litigating before this court (Docket No. 69, p.4, ¶13).

On June 16, 2016, the court entered an Order to Show Cause ordering attorney Morales Vidal “to show cause within fourteen (14) days as to why she should not be sanctioned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1927” (Docket No. 75). The Order to Show Cause specifically makes reference to the “statements and allegations made by attorney Morales Vidal during the hearing held on October 16, 2015, (Docket No. 54 Audio File, Docket No. 55 Minute Entry).”

On July 5, 2016, attorney Morales Vidal filed a Request for Extension of Time to Respond to Order to Show Cause at doc. #75 (Docket No. 77) requesting an additional thirty (30) days to file her answer to the Order to Show Cause. On that same date the Debtor filed a response informing the court that he had not objection to the request (Docket No. 78). On July 6, 2016, the court granted the Request for Extension of Time to Respond to Order to Show Cause at doc. #75 (Docket No. 79).

On August 4, 2016, attorney Morales Vidal filed her Attorney Response to Order at doc #75 to Show Cause (Docket No. 81). In her response attorney Morales Vidal sustains that the Motion to Dismiss was not filed “unreasonably and vexatiously to multiply litigation” and that it was not filed “without a basis in law fact and law” (Docket No. 81, p. 1, ¶¶4-5). In addition, she declares that “[h]er pleadings and conduct in this and all of her cases has been responsible, reasonable and with the upmost integrity and good faith in the drafting of her pleadings on behalf of her now deceased client…” (Docket No. 81, p. 2, ¶9). Attorney Morales Vidal also challenges the Debtor’s allegations as to the Motion to Dismiss and reiterates that the evidence could have led this court to determine that the Debtor had filed the bankruptcy petition in bad faith had her client not passed away. Finally, she also argues that due process requires that the court “identify with specificity what litigation misconduct by the undersigned or her now deceased client, Movant in the Motion to Dismiss, or throughout these proceedings satisfy the triggering mechanism for §1927 that shows misconduct [vigorously denied by the undersigned] that has multiplied the proceedings both vexatiously and unreasonably” (Docket No. 81, p. 8, ¶45).

On August 5, 5016, attorney Morales Vidal filed a motion titled Exhibits to Attorney Response to Order at doc #75 to Show Cause (Docket No. 82) supplementing her response by attaching the documentary evidence which she sustains supported the allegations contained Motion to Dismiss. On August 7, 2016, attorney Morales Vidal filed a motion titled Attorney’s Motion to Inform Impossibility of Opening Audio at doc #54 & as Such Show Cause Filed at doc #81 Does Not Address Audio (Docket No. 83) stating that she has not been able to open the Audio File at Docket No. 54 and prays for an extension to visit the Clerk’s office for assistance. In the alternative, she submits her answer as is if the court does not grant her extension of time.

On September 1, 2016, the Debtor filed Debtor’s Position to Response to Show Cause, Dkt. 81-83 (Docket No. 84). He argues that the Order to Show Cause “is well-grounded and meritorious in light of counsel Morales Vidal’s actions during and subsequent to the October hearing” (Docket No. 84, p. 2). However, the Debtor also informs the court that “so far as we are concerned, we want nothing from sister counsel, Lyssette Morales Vidal” and declares that “[b]y entry of the mere order to show cause, we deem ourselves satisfied and the dignity of our practice vindicated from the affront caused by sister counsel’s litigation tactics.” Id. The Debtor also sustains that although it no longer seeks an award of monetary sanctions against attorney Morales Vidal, that the court may impose other remedies such as a public reprimand, apology or bill of costs to the court. Finally, the Debtor requests that the matter be deemed submitted.

 

 

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

[1] Medina Ramos also asserted that the First Motion to Dismiss complied with 9013-1(3) since the Debtor had previously certified that he is not active in the military service at Docket No.2. In the alternative, Medina Ramos requested leave to file the corresponding certification (Docket No. 38, ¶4).

[2] On that same date, Medina Ramos filed an incomplete version of the motion to dismiss (Docket No. 39). Medina Ramos later clarified that the Debtor should respond to the Motion to Dismiss filed at Docket No. 40. See Docket Nos. 43, 44.

[3] The court notes that the motion to substitute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. was never filed.

[4] The court also questioned whether Ms. Medina Ramos’ daughter had standing to pursue the action.

[5] See Docket Nos. 61 and 62.

 

[6] The Debtor argued that:

“The Movant passed away apparently well before the hearing scheduled for and held on October 16, 2015. (Dkt. 55)(the “Hearing”). Undeterred, counsel for Movant continued to press this matter as if nothing had happened. Prior to the Hearing and without disclosing Movant’s death to Debtor’s attorney, Movant’s counsel brazenly attempted to entice Debtor’s counsel into reaching a settlement whereby the Debtor would re-affirm this unsecured and dischargeable debt. Also, at the Hearing, Movant’s counsel was asked to enter the statement of death and inform the Court how she could substitute the dead Movant’s heir under Rule 25 in a matter where no claim was filed and did not involve a dischargeability contest. (Dkt. 54-55). Movant’s counsel failed to do either. Instead, knowing all along that the allegations were unsupportable and false, she caused Debtor to have to answer the [Motion to Dismiss], only to “withdraw” it at this time after being unable to comply even with the most minimum requirements set forth by the Court. Dkt. 57-62).”

Docket No. 65, pp. 1-2.

 

[7] The Debtor declared that “[t]his Rule 9011 motion is in all material respects identical to the notice of motion served on the Movants dated May 8, 2015 and of which Movants acknowledge notice, a copy of which was attached to Debtor’s motion for leave to seek Rule 9011 sanctions” (Docket No. 67, p.1).

The Mooney opinion – Health Savings Accounts and bankruptcy

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, as they may be a harbinger of things to come in districts in which I practice and can be used to help Debtors get the financial relief they need.

Here is the opinion as to the availability of a Health Savings Account to a Trustee for liquidation in a Chapter 7.

 

Read a synopsis and review of the subject here

 

In re: DENISE E. MOONEY, Debtor/Plaintiff-Appellant, versus JOY R. WEBSTER, Trustee/ Defendant-Appellee. An appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia dated January 27, 2017. Case: 15-11229

Date Filed: 01/27/2017

Before HULL and JILL PRYOR, Circuit Judges, and CONWAY, District Judge.

When Denise E. Mooney filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2013, she claimed the assets in her health savings account (“HSA”) as property exempt from the bankruptcy estate.  As we previously recognized, the Bankruptcy Code permits states to adopt their own lists of property that is exempt from a bankruptcy estate.  See In re Mooney (“Mooney I”), 812 F.3d 1276, 1279 (11th Cir. 2016) (citing 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(2)).  Georgia has set forth its list of exempt property in O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100.  Mooney claims that the contents of her HSA are exempt from her bankruptcy estate pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(2)(C), which exempts, in relevant part, any “disability, illness, or unemployment benefit,” and O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(2)(E), which exempts any “payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness [or] disability. . . .”

The Chapter 7 trustee, Joy Webster, objected to the HSA’s exemption.  The bankruptcy court sustained Webster’s objection, and the district court affirmed.

On appeal, we certified questions to the Supreme Court of Georgia, including:

(1) Does a debtor’s health savings account constitute a right to receive a “disability, illness, or unemployment benefit” for the purposes of O.C.G.A. § 44–13–100(a)(2)(C)?

(2) Does a debtor’s health savings account constitute a right to receive a “payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract” for the purposes of O.C.G.A. § 44–13–100(a)(2)(E)? Mooney I, 812 F.3d at 1283.

The Supreme Court of Georgia answered both questions in the negative, holding that under Georgia law, an HSA does not constitute a right to receive a “disability, illness, or unemployment benefit” for the purposes of OCGA § 44-13-100 (a) (2) (C), nor does it constitute a right to receive a “payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract” for the purposes of OCGA § 44-13-100 (a) (2) (E). Mooney v. Webster, 794 S.E.2d 31, 36 (Ga. 2016).[1]  The Supreme Court of Georgia’s answers to our certified questions foreclose Mooney’s arguments on appeal.  Under Georgia law, Mooney was not entitled to claim the assets in her HSA as property exempt from the bankruptcy estate.  Accordingly, we affirm.

AFFIRMED.

 

 

About the blogger: Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

 

 

 

[1] We certified a third question as well:  “Is a debtor’s right to receive a payment from a health savings account ‘on account of illness [or] disability’ for the purposes of O.C.G.A. § 44– 13–100(a)(2)(E)?” Mooney I, 812 F.3d at 1283.  Because the Supreme Court of Georgia answered our first two questions in the negative, it did not address the third question.  Mooney, 794 S.E.2d at 32.

 

Health Savings Accounts and Bankruptcy

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, as they may be a harbinger of things to come in districts in which I practice and can be used to help Debtors get the financial relief they need.

Here is an interesting case concerning the availability of a Health Savings Account to a Trustee for liquidation in a Chapter 7.

 

 

11th Circuit: Ch 7 Debtor could Not Exempt Health Savings Account. Debtor tried to use state law that exempted Pensions.

Debtor filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and claimed the assets in her health savings account (HSA) as property exempt from the bankruptcy estate. On appeal, the court certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Georgia: 1. Does a debtor’s health savings account constitute a right to receive a “disability, illness, or unemployment benefit” for the purposes of O.C.G.A. 44–13–100(a)(2)(C)? 2. Does a debtor’s health savings account constitute a right to receive a “payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract” for the purposes of O.C.G.A. 44–13–100(a)(2)(E)? Because the Supreme Court of Georgia answered both questions in the negative, debtor’s arguments on appeal are foreclosed. The court concluded that, under Georgia law, debtor was not entitled to claim the assets in her HSA as property exempt from the bankruptcy estate. The court affirmed the judgment.

The idea of Health Savings Accounts being accessible to a Trustee is somewhat baffling. Most HSAs will only disburse funds after showing proof of a medical expenditure. If a Trustee stands in the shows of a debtor, why does not the HSA administrator laugh as hard at the Trustee as they do to the individual when asked for a non-medical disbursement?

If a Trustee states they intend to cash in an HAS, shouldn’t the response be a respectful, “Good luck with that”?

 

Read the entire opinion here

 

About the blogger: Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!