Non-lawyer Petition Preparer Botches Cases
by Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney Andy Miofsky
November 21, 2013
In separate cases, people using a non-lawyer petition preparer to file a bankruptcy case failed to list a piece of real estate and failed to list a huge debt. These two omissions caused one person to lose the property because it was not protected from creditors and the debt that was not listed was not discharged by the bankruptcy case because the creditor was not notified about the bankruptcy case and that creditor did not have an opportunity to object to the case or share in the payment of any money to other creditors. Bankruptcy documents, called the Petition and Schedules, must be signed by the debtor and under penalty of perjury. That means the stuff on those documents must be true and complete and accurate. Mistakes have consequences and errors are costly. Bankruptcy serves a useful purpose but misusing the bankruptcy system can have devastating effects. Proceed wisely.
Court Decisions Trend in Favor of Creditors
by Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney Andy Miofsky
January 14, 2011
Two recent bankruptcy cases indicate a trend among judges to require chapter 13 debtors to pay an increasing amount of money to creditors. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Turner, ruled a debtor could not deduct phantom expenses from disposable income for property the debtor was not going to keep and had no intention of paying for. By disallowing the deduction, the Court required an increased amount of money payable to unsecured creditors. Later, the Supreme Court of the United States, In re Ransom, ruled a debtor could not claim a deduction expense for ownership costs of a vehicle unless debtor made loan payments on that vehicle. Again, the decision limited the amount of money debtor could deduct from disposable income, resulting in an increase in the amount required to be paid to unsecured creditors.
Gift Card Law Takes Effect In Illinois
by Andy Miofsky, January 2, 2008
Among the many laws that traditionally take effect on the 1st of each year is one that requires gift card sellers to honor such cards for full value for a period of at least 5 years. For more info, see Illinois Rings In New Gift Card Law In 2008
at the Illinois-Bankruptcy-Lawyer Blog.
U S Trustee Program Keeps A Watchful Eye On Creditor Abuse In Bankruptcy Court
by Andy Miofsky, November 1, 2007
Mark Redmiles is an attorney. He is also the Deputy Director of the Executive Office of the United States Trustee Program. Part of his job involves traversing the county informing people that the US Trustee Program is charged with protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system and preventing creditor abuse of debtors.
Mr. Redmiles announced that his office is engaged in the prosecution of creditors who commit violations against debtors in bankruptcy. Such violations include the filing of false and inaccurate proof of claims, charging unreasonable post petition fees and misapplication of mortgage payments.
Mr. Redmiles says his office will handle cases that involve systemic or multi-district violations, while the local case trustees and private debtor attorneys are available to handle matters within the local districts.
News Item: SDIL Chapter 13 Staff Attorney Takes New Job
by Andy Miofsky, October 1, 2007
Ron Buch, the Staff Attorney for Chapter 13 cases in the East St. Louis IL division is leaving his position this month. In a bit of Who's On First, Ron has accepted a position as the new Staff Attorney for Chapter 13 Trustee Bob Kearney in the Effingham and Benton divisions of the Southern Illinois Bankruptcy Court. Ron makes this lateral move after serving several years as the Staff Attorney for recently retired Chapter 13 Trustee James W. McRoberts and lately, as the Staff Attorney for McRobert's replacement, Russell Simon. This is the first staff attorney assigned to Bob Kearney's office. Look for Ron to bring an aggressive but fair and honest style to that position. The Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney Blog wishes Ron good fortune is his new position.
Will I Lose My Pets If I File Bankruptcy?
by Andy Miofsky, September 30, 2007
Not one of my clients ever lost a pet due to filing bankruptcy. Illinois law allows a debtor to exempt any item of personal property, including pets, up to a total amount of $4,000. That brings us to an interesting question. How much is a pet worth? To its owner, priceless. But bankruptcy looks to a fair market value, a value that a retail merchant would charge for similar property. Here, the property is an aged pet. So how do you determine how much your 5 year old dog, cat, ferret, bird or lizard is worth? Believe it when I tell you that our friends at Bankrate.com have an answer.
Tamara E. Jones wrote a thought provoking article on valuation of animals. She looks at the subject in a personal manner, surpassing actual market value by considering the emotional value a pet brings to its owner and best friend.
Illinois has a number of state laws involving animals, none of which helps us determine value. After I assure my clients that they will not lose their pets, I ask them to give me their opinion of how much they think someone would pay them for their pet. Usually they tell me a number less than $50. When you realize most people want to buy a newborn rather than an older animal, this method of valuation appears fair and accurate. Even if your other assets took you over the exemption limit, it would cost more than it is worth to board and care for a pet. The bankruptcy court system is not set up for kennel duty. Rest assured, you most likely will not lose a household pet by filing bankruptcy.
FIVE EASY Things to Bring to Your First Appointment
by Andy Miofsky, September 6, 2009
Your bankruptcy attorney needs to collect information about you and your finances. Here is my list of five easy things you can do to prepare for your initial office consultation.
1. Your last two federal and state income tax returns, including your W-2 and 1099 forms.
2. Bills, all of them, showing everyone you owe, even the ones you want to keep. Yes, include information about your house and cars. I will show you how to keep these items.
3. If you do not know who you owe, you can request a credit report. My office will help you do that.
4. Miscellaneous documents such as Child Support or Alimony/Maintenance Court Orders, Deeds, Vehicle Titles, Proof of Home and Vechicle Insurance.
5. Pay Stubs or Receipts showing money you received during the previous Seven  Months.
DISCLAIMER: Reading this blog or site does not create a legal representative capacity. This site contains a general discussion of the law. For specific questions pertaining to your legal rights, you should speak to a licensed attorney.