Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Short post for employers and managers - words have meaning, managers should offer opinions based in facts

Words you would not want said or, even more, meant in your work place:

       "That 'they' just want someone younger for the position of ______________."

In this blog is the analysis of a case out of the 6th Circuit: It talks about how a case of a legitimate release of a subordinate can get bogged down in legal proceedings when managers offer off-handed opinions. Sometimes they are meant to make the person being release feel better. Sometimes people don't think about them at all. But when dealing with a problem employee, managers should be thinking about everything they say all the time.

If the statements in this case were stated because they were true, the manager stating the opinion should have been addressing them up the chain and not when releasing the employee. Just a short read for managers and things to keep in mind.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Is this a "one-off" for NY or the trend of the future?

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN
We have all seen the stories where police catch criminals because the criminals could not stay off social media. And we all think, how dumb can people be posting their criminal activity to the web? But, how would you like to find out you are being sued through your Facebook or through a Tweet? What if you get a photo of the court documents through a post on Instagram if that is a possibility?  (I don't use Instagram much). Congratulations! You've been served! Or have you?

Well it seems that may be the case in NY. In an article I read this morning, it seems a NY court in a Family Law case allowed a party to serve support papers through Facebook on a spouse that was dodging service. "You've got served!"

Of course the article indicates the normal means of service were unsuccessful. So the moving party requested alternative service and must have proved the deadbeat spouse was active on her page. The court, with what I think is sound reasoning, allowed service through the social media outlet.

While I appreciate the value of the internet and have used it in my practice to find information myself, I'm still not sure how I feel about serving legal notice this way. I guess if I was the party trying to serve someone dodging service, I'd like this. But, my concern is I have noticed people I'm connected with who use social media in bursts. I'm sure many other people have friends that do this too. They are on social media pretty heavy for a few weeks or months and then the just seem to disappear. They take a break, maybe traveling for work, or sometimes just stop.

You never know when, why or for how long ... they just drop off. So what happens if the drop off just before you serve them? I guess it is better than public notice in a newspaper. Courts in NY and California are known for starting legal trends. It will be interesting to see where this goes. I think Pennsylvania will be slow to follow this example but who knows.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My house is in foreclosure ... when do I have to move out?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono
This is another question I get often. I tell my clients not to move out until you are evicted. I have talked to them about the problem of vacant properties. Right now there seems to be too many for the banks to handle. For some people, it may take a couple years between a default in a mortgage and a sheriff's sale in the foreclosure. And in Pennsylvania, the new owner after a sheriff's sale still needs to take action to evict the occupant of the property.

There is no reason for a home owner to leave the house, allow it to deteriorate, and pay rent for a "second" home. People should know even after a bankruptcy, new bills and fees can add up as the bank works through the foreclosure process. On there is an article that discusses the vacant home problem in the region: "Zombie houses - vacated but not foreclosed - haunt the market" ( You can also read my previous blog "Even in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, returning your house to the bank isn't like taking a sweater back to the store" ( about staying in a home even after bankruptcy.

If you cannot stay in the home, you could consider other options like work with the bank on a short sale, rent it, or let a family member use it. But remember, the house is the owners' until it is sold at a sheriff sale or transferred through some other transaction. Use it to help you get back on track instead of being an anchor to continue to drag you down.

#bankruptcy #Chapter_7 #Chapter_13 #Montgomery_County #law_firm #Bucks_County #Pennsylvania

Friday, October 17, 2014

When will I be able to buy a new home after bankruptcy?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
"When will I be eligible to get financing for a home after bankruptcy?" is a pretty standard question I get when counseling people about bankruptcy. After talking to different loan agents and bankers, I usually tell my clients at least two years and depending on how things go maybe a little longer. This is what I've gathered from working and talking with lenders I know.

I found an article on that lays out anticipated wait times in a little more detail. While I don't know much about the author, his comments seem consistent with what I've been told.

He discusses three events and different time periods one may need to wait before they will be able to mortgage a new home. He talks about bankruptcy, both Chapters 7 and 13; foreclosures without bankruptcy; and foreclosures with bankruptcy. As you may recall, I wrote about surrendering a home in a chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year:

Depending on circumstances, it could be a little as a year or as long as seven years before someone may qualify for a mortgage. It will depend on the circumstances surrounding his or her financial trouble, the institution the person is seeking the mortgage, and the type of mortgage they seek.

For a more detailed discussion of this topic, check out this article: "How Soon Can I Buy a House After Bankruptcy or Foreclosure?" While there are no guarantees how long or short of a time you will need to wait after a severe financial crisis, this article may put it in perspective for you.

#bankruptcy #Chapter_7 #Chapter_13 #Montgomery_County #law_firm #Bucks_County #Pennsylvania

Monday, October 13, 2014

Are you ready to take care of your parents?

Talking about the future care of a parent can be one of the hardest conversations people have especially if the parents are included in the conversation. It seems parents are reluctant to explain their finances to their children and children are feel they are intruding if they push. This can lead to unexpected expenses later in life for adult children.

Image courtesy of photostock
"A third of family caregivers spend over $10K a year," according to recent a article in the USA Today.  "About a third of family caregivers spend more than 30 hours a week on caregiving tasks, a new survey shows. And about a third spend more than $10,000 a year on caregiving expenses, such as medications, medical bills, in-home care and in some cases senior housing."

This is a short article. It might be just the ice-breaker someone needs to start a dialogue with the family. If families can get their parents to open up earlier, it could make their parents' remaining years much more comfortable.

Monday, October 6, 2014

WSJ - "How to Plan for a Divorce"

Here is another article I found that has decent information about preparing for divorce:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Many times I find clients don't know enough about their financial affairs. This article lists financial affairs as its first point. The article states:

"1. Know What You Own and Make Copies.
Gather as much information as possible, as early as possible, regarding your family's finances..."
This is one of the most important things you can do as you prepare to initiate a divorce. As they say, information is power. Knowing what you own and being able to prove it can short-circuit some litigation.

I'm not sure I agree with every point. The fourth point may not do much for party:

"4. Watch the Timing.
Mr. Gambaccini suggests looking to file your divorce in a year when you're earning less money—for example, when you get no bonus or there is a big decline in the value of your investments. While a court will typically look at income over many years, having a recent decrease in earnings may lower future payments, such as alimony, he says."
In fact, depending on why a person is earning less money, this can backfire. Courts in Pennsylvania look for those people trying to spite their spouse by taking a downgrade on their jobs. If the court believes a party intentionally cut his or her salary, the court may impute the hirer income to the party. Timing is important and people need to consider their financial positions when filing. But I'm not sure how much mileage you will get in this area. 
The article list 4 other points to consider. They are all worth discussing with an attorney as you plan your divorce. You can use this as a guide for discussion during your initial meeting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bankruptcy Roulette ... "What could possibly happen?"

Image courtesy of patrisyu at
When a client walks into my office to discuss bankruptcy, they usually ask what can happen or how long before creditors take action. These questions are not easy to answer. The answer to "what can happen" is everything from nothing to having a sheriff show up at your home to cease and sell your stuff. In Pennsylvania, creditors cannot garnish your wages but there is nothing from stopping them from garnishing your bank accounts and the chance at a paycheck if you have automatic deposit that hits before you know your account has been garnished.

In a previous blog, I talked about not panicking because someone threatens to sue you. I talked about and believe debtors and attorneys need to take time to understand the case they are getting ready to file. In addition to understanding the details, debtors should plan their bankruptcy when they can. The debtor should o work with an attorney and file the case on the debtor's timetable. Too many times people wait until a hearing is pending or a sheriff's sale is scheduled. It can be too late sometimes. If someone ceases money before the debtor files, the debtor may loose it. If a landlord wins an order for eviction or if a sheriff's sale on a house happens, the debtor may lose the ability to save their home.

If a debtor waits until the last minute, he or she may loose valuable assets they could have used for a new start. Within the last week, I've help or am helping people who almost lost two weeks pay in a garnishment action and had the power turned off in their home. They knew they were probably going to file for bankruptcy and that creditors were looking for their assets. They were hoping or betting the creditors would come this week.

Bankruptcy attorneys all over the internet tell people not to wait... not to throw good money after bad... not to put off the inevitable. If you know you are in financial trouble, talk to an attorney and make a plan. Don't let a creditor force you into a decision.