May 2007

31 May Ninth Circuit Tags Software Provider for Unauthorized Practice of Law

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that a web-based software provider was a bankruptcy petition preparer and was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The decision was based to a large extent on the relative sophistication of its operation:
The court found that several features of the software and how it was presented to users constituted the unauthorized practice of law. First, the vendor advertised itself as offering legal expertise. The software-provider's web site offered advice on loopholes in the bankruptcy code, compared its services to those of a "top-notch bankruptcy lawyer," and described the software as an "expert system."
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31 May Florida Personal Property Exemption Increased to $4000

The following information is vital for Florida bankruptcy lawyers and non-homeowners on the verge of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida. The Florida legislature recently passed bill CS/SB 2118, which amends Florida Statutes Section 222.25, to increase to $4,000 from $1,000 the amount of personal property exempt from creditor claims, provided that the debtor does not receive the homestead exemption under Florida's Constitution. The exemption for persons with homestead property will remain at $1,000 as provided in the Florida Constitution Article X, Section 4(a)(2). An argument can be made that the new exemption for non-homeownersis in addition to the $1,000 exemption available to all residents. That would bring the total exemption to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a couple. However, the bill provides that this exemption does not apply to debts for child or spousal support.
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30 May Power to Avoid Judgment Liens

The Bankruptcy Code gives individuals a powerful tool for a fresh start: the power to eliminate judgment liens on assets otherwise exempt. So, where in most cases bankruptcy deals with the assets and debts that the individual has on the date they file bankruptcy, the power to avoid liens allows the debtor to turn the clock back to a time before the lien attached. These are the ground rules:
  1. The lien must be a judicial lien. The debtor can't avoid a lien they granted voluntarily or a tax lien that arises by operation of law (a statutory lien).
  2. The lien must impair an exemption in the asset that the debtor would otherwise enjoy.
  3. The debtor must file a motion with the bankruptcy court asking that the lien be avoided.
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29 May How Can I Rebuild My Credit After Bankruptcy?

I have always referred to bankruptcy as a tool in the toolbox. In other words, bankruptcy is but one step toward fixing your financial troubles. You must also think in terms of life after bankruptcy, and rebuilding your credit will help to stabilize your financial future. However, attorney Justin Harelik notes in his recent article on Bankrate.com that, by the time the bankruptcy is completed, "debtors are so fed up with credit and debt issues that they wait forever to re-establish their credit." Don't wait! Start rebuilding your credit now! Here's how:
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