The federal government has bailed Wall Street firms out to the tune of $700,000,000.00. This is a form of corporate welfare. The restructuring was done to prevent large Wall Street firms from going bankrupt. Instead of amending the Bankruptcy Law to help these Wall Street firms, the government simply gave them $700,000,000.00 in loans.

Recently, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and Lloyd Blankfein received millions of dollars in salary packages. The government bails out Wall Street and the Wall Street tycoons get richer and richer. During this period of time, between 7.1 million and 7.9 million households according to mortgage bond trader, Amherst Securities, fell behind in their mortgage payments and are subject to losing their home.

It is estimated that as many as 25% of all the homes in the United States have mortgages on them that are greater than the value of their home. The term used to describe this situation is calling the home “under water”. President Obama had initially asked that when individuals do mortgage modifications with their banks that the banks restructure their mortgage so they only have to pay an amount equal to the value of their home. The banks have refused to do this. The mortgage modifications by banks in the United States modify the payments but do not reduce the amount that is owed. 

The Bankruptcy Law Needs to Be Changed

The United States Constitution reserves all rights to make laws concerning bankruptcies to the federal government. Congress passes all laws that deal with bankruptcy.

Congress needs to strengthen the bankruptcy court’s ability to restructure mortgage loans when individuals file bankruptcy. Congress has already bailed out Wall Street. Now they need to bail out the American homeowner. Unfortunately, the large financial institutions in this country oppose any modifications to the Bankruptcy Law to help out homeowners.

Congress needs to help the American homeowner and modify the Bankruptcy Laws to deal with the issue of restructuring mortgages that are under water. Congress has already bailed out the financial industry to the tune of $700,000,000.00, now they need to bail out the American homeowner!

Should you have questions concerning bankruptcy or mortgage modifications, feel free to contact the Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel to discuss these matters at 1-800-344-6431 or email us at schlissel.law@att.net.

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq.

Picture courtesy of grassland properties.

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The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday in the case of Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz v. the United States. The specifics of the case were discussed in a series of articles in the New York Law Journal Monday and yesterday by Marcia Coyle.

The Milavetz & Gallop firm, based outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, along with some of their clients, challenged certain provisions of the amendments to the Bankruptcy Code of 2005, called BAPCPA (Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Consumer [credit card company, actually] Act) on First Amendment grounds, only one month after it became law.

The Milavetz firm most prominently challenged provisions of the Code which demands that they place a notice on all Bankruptcy related advertising that indicates that the firm is a “debt relief agency,” thus equating law firms with the fly-by-night debt counselors you hear about on the radio. The firm argued that this is insulting to lawyers and an unconstitutional regulation of true, non-misleading speech.

They also challenged the Code’s new requirement that attorneys representing clients contemplating bankruptcy may not advise those  individuals, if they are below a certain income level, to take on any new debt. Milavetz asserts that this rule unconstitutionally interferes with the lawyer/client relationship. It also prevents attorneys from advising clients to consolidate debt by taking out a new loan, a strategy which may help keep some people out of bankruptcy altogether.

Milavetz even said that if the high court doesn’t come down on their side, holding the challenged provisions of the Bankruptcy Code to be unconstitutional, “we will handle no more consumer bankruptcy cases…”

Hopefully the Supreme Court will indeed find these overeager provisions of the 2005 Bankruptcy Code amendments unconstitutional.

If you need help with a Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and Mortgage Modification matter in the New York area, please give us  a call at 800-344-5431 or you can click here to contact us by e-mail.

Picture courtesy of  Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, P.A.

clock alarm tickingIf you have already completed your Chapter 13 payment plan or Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, and have received a discharge, you will hopefully be in good shape to begin a new financially unencumbered life. You will hopefully have taken our advice and attained financial health.  But life does not always cooperate with our plans and so you may need to know whether you can refile for bankruptcy protection again.

In the event that this does become necessary, it is worth noting that a second (or third or fouth) Bankruptcy filing is possible and may be advisible, based on circumstances. However, time limits do apply. 

The waiting period after a Chapter 7 Bankrutpcy discharge is 8 years for another Chapter 7 discharge, but only 4 years for a Chapter 13 discharge. However, if you received a Chapter 13 discharge, the waiting period is 2 years for another Chapter 13 discharge and 6 years for a Chapter 7 discharge.

As always, it is worth noting that our firm has a significant bankruptcy practice and can assist anyone with information and help with filing for bankruptcy. Just contact the office.

Picture courtesy of markettalk.

co-signorMany people have loans or debts where a friend or relative has guaranteed or co-signed a loan. In these situations, individuals considering filing for Bankruptcy are often concerned whether any discharge of indebtedness would absolve co-signors of their responsibility for the debt.

Generally, Bankruptcy discharge does not absolve a co-signor or guarantor of the responsibility to pay a creditor for any deficiency owed by the party who filed for Bankruptcy.[1]  Creditors can still go after a co-signor for any unpaid balance after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge. Similarly, under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, at the conclusion of the payment plan, a creditor can still go after a co-signor for the difference between the amount paid under the payment plan and the original contract amount of the debt (the “deficiency”).[2] 

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing stays actions by creditor against co-signors during the pendency of the Bankruptcy case,[3] but this is not the case in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals explained that “[g]enerally, discharge of the principal debtor in bankruptcy will not discharge the liabilities of co-debtors or guarantors.”[4] Explaining that “[t]he bankruptcy court ‘has no power to discharge the liabilities of a bankrupt’s guarantor,” the court clarified that “‘[t]he bankruptcy court can affect only the relationships of debtors and creditor. It has no power to affect the obligations of guarantors.’”[5] 

The New York Appellate Division further clarified that “a defendant’s liability as a guarantor generally is not impaired by the discharge of a principal’s obligation in a bankruptcy proceeding and, thus, plaintiff may seek recovery from defendant notwithstanding [the debtor’s] bankruptcy petition.”[6] 

The exact language of the agreement in which the co-signor or guarantor took on the obligation is important. If the co-signor only assumed the obligation to pay the debtor’s indebtedness where the debtor himself was still obligated to pay the loan, then the debtor’s discharge would probably absolve the co-signor of her obligation to guarantee the loan as well, pursuant to the terms of that original guarantee. But where the guarantee never says that the co-signor’s obligation is contingent on the primary party’s obligation, or where it states explicitly that the co-signor is obligated regardless of any discharge of the primary party’s indebtedness, the creditor can still go after the co-signor for any amount still due.[7] 

Based on these rules, it is imperative that anyone who would like to help out a business associate, family member, or friend by co-signing a loan or guarantee should carefully consider whether they are willing and able to pay that person’s debt off if the person who asks for help becomes unable to fulfill his financial obligations or files for Bankruptcy.

Picture courtesy of e-how.com


[1] 11 U.S.C. § 524(e).

[2] Id.

[3] 11 U.S.C. § 1301(a), (c).

[4] Underhill v. Royal, 769 F.2d 1426, 1432 (9th Cir. 1985), rev’d on other grounds 494 U.S. 56, 64 (1990).

[5] Underhill, at id. (citations omitted).

[6] Culver v. Parsons, 777 N.Y.S.2d 536, 538 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004).

[7] First National Bank of Scotia v. Proem-a-Net Economics Corp., 652 N.Y.S.2d 405, 407 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997).