I represent individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases filed in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes Atlanta, Newnan, Gainesville and Rome. I publish several informative web sites, including https://www.atlanta-bankruptcy.com and an Atlanta bankruptcy blog, https://www.thebklawyer.com/thebkblog. Please mention Bankruptcy Law Network when you call.


Author: Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.

06 Sep Can a Person in a Coma File Bankruptcy?

Several times a year, I get calls from potential clients who want to know how they can get a bankruptcy filed on behalf of a parent or other relative who is incapacitated because of dementia, or who is unconscious and/or in a coma. Usually these situations involve a pending foreclosure, where the homeowner is not competent to file a bankruptcy case, but an adult child wants to use Chapter 13 to stop the foreclosure. The bankruptcy law does allow a living, but incompetent person to file bankruptcy. Ideally, the relatives should first obtain an order of guardianship from the local probate or appropriate state court in the jurisdiction where the incompetent person lives. If an order of guardianship has been issued, it means that a state court judge has reviewed the affected person’s medical records and has made a finding that the person does not have the capacity to make decisions. Most guardianship orders specifically identify the powers assigned to the guardian. If the concerned relatives anticipate a bankruptcy filing, they should ask the state court judge to specifically include the authority to file a bankruptcy case. Bear in mind, however, that your state’s rules about filing for a guardianship may require various notices and a hearing and that the process could take several months.
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06 Aug If You Need to File Chapter 7, Don’t File Chapter 13

choosing the right bankruptcy chapterYou might not think that a visit to a dry cleaner would give rise to insight about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, but I was reminded of several very relevant issues while chatting with the two women who worked behind the counter. I have been a customer of this laundry service for several years and the staff people know that I am a bankruptcy lawyer. While waiting for my order, one of the counter clerks mentioned that she was currently in a Chapter 13, but that she was trying to dismiss it because she could not afford the payment She stated that she had filed her case because she had overwhelming debt and that her attorney “had given me one price, but three weeks later, the price went way up.” Further, she called the attorney to ask him to “cancel my case” but the attorney said that it would take three days to process a dismissal. She wanted to dismiss to avoid another payroll deduction. I asked her if she was trying to protect a car or a house by filing Chapter 13, and she replied that she was not - she filed Chapter 13 because her attorney advertised that she could “start bankruptcy protection” for less than $100 and she did not have the $1,300 it would have cost to file Chapter 7.
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06 Aug Accident Injury Claims and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

bankruptcy special counselWhen I meet with a potential Chapter 13 client, I always emphasize that the five year term of a repayment plan can be a very long time and that something unexpected will almost certainly happen. One of the more common unexpected events may very well be injury claims of some type. If you have ever watched daytime television you know that there is no shortage of lawyers ready, willing and able to help you pursue injury claims for money damages if you are injured in a car accident, at work, due to a product defect, or if you need to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. What happens if you need to pursue one of these accident injury claims after you have started your Chapter 13 repayment plan?
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06 Jul Attorney’s Fees Awarded in a State Court Support Proceding: Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

alimony, child support and attorneys fees in bankruptcyThe United States Bankruptcy Code clearly states that domestic support obligations such as alimony and child support are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Section 523(a)(5) excepts from discharge a "domestic support obligation." But what about attorney’s fees awarded to the spouse who is awarded this support? Often, when a state court awards child support or alimony it also awards attorneys fees to the prevailing spouse. Should this attorney fee award also be non-dischargeable, or are attorney’s fees a separate category of debt, and treated like any other unsecured debt? Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code does not address the fate of this class of attorney’s fees but bankruptcy judges have weighed in. In the 11th Circuit, where I practice, attorney’s fees arising from a post-dissolution custody [or alimony] action constitutes support for the former spouse where the award is based on ability to pay.
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06 Jun Octomom’s Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Dismissed – Why and What Does it Mean?

Chapter 7 dismissed for incomplete filingsYou may have read news reports that Nadya Suleman, otherwise known as “Octomom,” recently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, only to have her case dismissed because she failed to file the required financial disclosure schedules. Ms. Suleman, as you may recall, made headlines in 2009 for giving birth to 8 children following fertility treatments, and adding to her existing family of 6 kids. Octomom is both unmarried and without any regular source of income. Ms. Suleman has been living in a four bedroom, three bath home she had purchased in 2009 from a gentleman named Amer Haddadin. Ms. Suleman’s purchase agreement was with Mr. Haddadin - he remained the sole borrower on the mortgage note, and she agreed to pay him $3,000 per month, which he would, in turn, use to pay the mortgage company. When Ms. Suleman failed to make her mortgage payments to Haddadin for 11 months, the mortgage lender initiated foreclosure proceedings. This pending foreclosure apparantly prompted Ms. Suleman to file Chapter 7 and thus stop the foreclosure.
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06 May Increase in Homestead Exemption Good News for Georgia Bankruptcy Filers

Georgia homestead exemption increasedGeorgia bankruptcy filers got two pieces of good news this past week - the Governor has signed Senate bill 117 increasing the bankruptcy homestead exemption from $10,000 to $21,500, and the median income tables for Georgia families has been adjusted upwards, reversing a steady downward trend. By far, the new homestead exemption is the most significant of these two events. Georgia, like several other states, has opted out of the federal exemption statute, substituting in its place Georgia Code Section 44-13-100. For the past 10+ years, Georgia permitted bankruptcy filers to shelter or exempt $10,000 of equity in real estate ($20,000 for a married couple filing jointly).
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