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 Mar Direct Deposit Requirement may Create Problems for Debt Laden Social Security Beneficiaries

bank account levySocial Security’s new rules requiring all beneficiaries to set up direct deposit could create significant problems for beneficiaries who owe money to creditors. Protected Social Security funds that are co-mingled with other monies will likely lose their protected status and could be seized by creditors. Federal law provides that Social Security payments are exempt from garnishment from civil creditors. If, for example, a credit card lender sues you and obtains a judgment, that creditor cannot ask Social Security to withhold funds from your government check. The only exceptions to this rules involve:
  • tax debts owed to the IRS
  • child support debt
  • all claims (including tax and child support) against SSI money. SSI is considered a welfare payment and not subject to seizure by anyone.
Social Security money that is co-mingled with non-Social Security money, however, may lose this special protection.
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06 Feb Do Not Rely on Speculative Income When Commiting to Your Chapter 13 Plan

rolling the diceI knew that my Social Security disability client had filed a bankruptcy with another lawyer but I was not aware that my client planned to use his lump sum past due benefit check to fund his Chapter 13 plan. Not surprisingly, my disability client was especially unhappy when his case was turned down by the judge. I was not surprised - my client’s case was weak and he had appeared before a Social Security judge with a higher than average rate of denials. I was shocked, however, to learn that my client had promised his bankruptcy lawyer that his case was a slam dunk winner, and equally shocked the lawyer built the hoped for lump sum payment into my client’s Chapter 13 plan.
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06 Nov Can You Cancel or Annul Your Bankruptcy Filing?

bankruptcy public recordMuch has been written on this blog about the need to think carefully about filing bankruptcy and all of the information you will need to gather when meeting with your lawyer. But what happens if you simply change your mind after you file? Can you cancel your bankruptcy filing and go back to where you were financially and legally the day before you filed? The short answer to this question is “no,” you cannot cancel your bankruptcy filing and somehow undo the process. You may be able to dismiss your case, or your case may be dismissed by the court, but a dismissal is not the same thing as undoing the process. In other words, you cannot annul your bankruptcy filing like you might annul a marriage.
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13 Oct Personal Loans, Revenge and Bankruptcy: Not a Good Combination

You are probably aware that the Bankruptcy Code includes Section 523 which sets out the rules whereby a specific debt can be deemed non-dischargeable in a bankruptcy case. Certain types of debt, such as damages arising from a DUI or past due child support, can never be discharged. Other debts, like student loans can be discharged only in very limited circumstances. In real life, the most common challenges to a debtor’s bankruptcy comes from credit card companies or other unsecured lenders. So called “credit card binge” debt serves as the most typical example of abuse of the bankruptcy process - most people would understand why a judge would not allow an unemployed debtor to buy a big screen TV and high end stereo system, then file a bankruptcy six months later, wiping out thousands of dollars of recent charges, while keeping all of his purchases. Other dischargeability challenge cases may be a little less obvious - for example, an unemployed debtor may use his credit cards to buy food, but also to purchase a new cell phone and to buy movie tickets. In these circumstances, your lawyer will most likely be able to negotiate a reasonable settlement of the challenge, leaving some debt to survive your case but payable under reasonable terms. Credit card and other vendor challenges can give rise to litigation, but usually in those cases I can see the problem coming and the resolution usually involves a financial settlement.
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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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