Thursday, October 19, 2017

Always check the numbers ... Bankruptcy

I always tell my clients to check my work. Like every professional I know I do my best not to make mistakes. But I am human and sometimes I divide when I should multiple and transpose numbers just like every other normal person. Never assume something is correct just because someone else did it for you. Clients should understand and agree with the work an attorney has completed for them. Legal work is a team effort.

I had two cases this week I initially made small errors. The first case was a simple case and it was easy to turn around rather quickly. The first error was the way I was reading my client's paystubs. Unfortunately, paystubs are not universal. They contain most of the same information but the layout and abbreviations can vary greatly. I misunderstood some deductions.

As I was going through everything with my client, she stopped me at one point and said, "that doesn't sound right." Sure enough, as she went over the paystubs with me, we found the issue. It was an easy fix and everything is good.

The second case dealt with paystubs as well. This was a much more complex case with business records and two different sets of paystubs. It was further complicated because it was "on again and off again" over the last year.

My clients thought they wanted to do it and then they thought the could handle their finances without bankruptcy. I found myself with almost a year worth of records. I had duplicate and gaps. I had documents that became too old and I had to collect updated documents as time passed. I finally thought I had everything I needed.

I did all my calculations and sent the everything to my clients to review before our meeting. They said they went through it all and we were ready to meet. We went through it again line by line and page by page. Before we ended the meeting we found a couple more things I needed but nothing major.

I received the information, starting conducting my final review before filing, and started preparing the final documents. I had this little buzzing in my head thinking, "something isn't right." Sure enough I was not accounting for all the income. I do not know if my clients just missed giving me all the paystubs or I missed them in all the e-mail and record exchanges. Again, an easy fix but I would have like to have caught it earlier in the process.

I'm not sure how closely they reviewed the calculations I sent them. But the client needs to sign the filing. They also need to testify at the creditors meeting that they reviewed the documents, understood them, and they were accurate.

If you are in that position, you really need to make sure that is true. So do not hesitate to question things if they do not seem correct. Your attorney should be able to explain everything to you. No one wants to make mistakes but we all do. Always check the numbers...

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

 #bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

I found this article on ProPublica written by Paul Kiel









 





The article has good information and gives a reader a broad sense of bankruptcy. Keep in mind different states and district courts may have different local practices.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

 #bankruptcy Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania


Friday, July 14, 2017

Why does my bankruptcy attorney ask me for this - Auto and other personal property valuations (pt 3) final

Like real estate, attorneys need to have values for vehicles, electronics, furniture, and other personal property to determine whether any of the property is outside the debtor's exemptions. For the most part, personal property is covered by the federal exemptions. But we still need to go through the process of valuing it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The value of the property is the value at the time you are preparing to file bankruptcy and usually not the original purchased price. Also, items should be valued separately when possible. For instance, many people buy a "bedroom set" for a single price, which may include a bed, dresser, two nightstands and maybe lamps. They pay one price for it all. But each item has its own value.

Cars are pretty easy. Our trustees accept print outs from Kelley Blue Book and NADA. NADA also value other motor vehicles and recreational vehicles. Other items are a little more difficult. Valuing things like computers, bicycles, and exercise equipment pose a bigger challenge. This is a website that will give you values for Apple products. I have used websites like eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist to estimate values on other personal property. Sometime you just need to be creative.

For basic necessities like clothing, kitchenware, etc., I ask my client to tell me how much they would pay for the items if they were buying them in a second hand store or how much they would deduct from their taxes if they were to donate the items.

Whatever values you use for your bankruptcy, you need understand how you arrived at the values and to be able to support them. It is important to have accurate values.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

 #bankruptcy Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Friday, July 7, 2017

"Does your mother have a living will?" a personal account - Estate Planning

My mother went into the hospital for semi-elective surgery. It wasn't necessary for her survival but she wanted the procedure hoping it would improve the quality of her life. She wanted to repair injuries to her body left from other surgeries after a serious illness two years ago.

Image courtesy of artur84
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My sister is a nurse and works in the hospital where my mother was being treated. She is my mother's designated healthcare agent.

After the surgery, things did not go as well as we expected. She was in the hospital about two weeks with some good days and some bad days. My sister is usually calm, cool, and collected but I could tell even she was concerned.

One morning she called me to tell me the hospital called her at 3 AM and ask her, "does your mother still have a living will?" As my sister was talking the hair on the back of my neck raised up. Obviously, my mother was having some serious issues and they wanted to preform a procedure.

Two issues arose immediately. First, my sister knew (and I agree) my mother probably would not have wanted the procedure the doctors were recommending. Second, my sister knew my mother was aware and capable of making her own decision. The doctors may have known my mother would reject their advice.
 
My sister told the doctors, "my mom can make her own decision and we can talk to her later." Later that day, the hospital offered my mother three options. The first option and their recommendation would have significantly increased her chance of survival but would have further diminished her quality of life. To what extent we were not sure. The second option was a temporary solution which would give her body time to heal if it was able. The third option was to do nothing and the doctors were pretty sure she would not survive.
 
My mother selected the temporary option. We knew she would terminate the treatment as scheduled no matter what the result. If fact, she terminated the temporary treatment five days early anyway. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact my mother decided to risk death over surviving but with a degradation in her quality of life. But that was her choice.
 
My sister may not have made the decision for her as her healthcare agent but she did protect my mother's right to decide for herself.  Without the living will giving my sister authority to answer for my mom, the hospital may have imposed its judgment upon my mother.

By the way ... my mother survived this ordeal and has more mobility than she would have if she followed her doctors' advice. She is a tough old bird ... living on her own ... raising cane as she always has.

It is good my sister had the authority of the living will and that we knew what my mother wanted for her life and in her death when the time comes. It made a tough experience less stressful. 

If you want to work on your estate plan, need assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#Bucks_County #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #Law_Firm #Wills #Power-of-Attorney #Living_Will #Healthcare #Trusts 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

USCIS Introduces Redesigned Form for Green Card Applicants

Direct from the USCIS Bulletin:

"Today [06/26/2017] we published the following news release, available here on our website.

WASHINGTON U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today published a revised Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). The new Form I-485 and instructions have been substantially updated to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders.

The revised version gives applicants better information to accurately complete Form I-485, including clear navigation to the parts of the form and instructions that are relevant to the applicants’ specific situations. These updates should increase the efficiency of the adjudication process by reducing errors and requests for evidence.

Applicants living in the United States file Form I-485 to adjust their immigration status and become lawful permanent residents, which allows one to live and work permanently in the United States.  Adjusting status is a critical step for those seeking U.S. citizenship.

USCIS also revised the Form I-485 Supplement A and Form I-485 Supplement J (as well as each supplement’s instructions), to provide applicants with more detailed information about how to properly complete, file, and submit evidence if those supplements are applicable to their situation.

Beginning today, there will be a 60-day grace period during which USCIS will accept both the  01/17/17 and 06/26/17 editions of Form I-485 and Supplement A and J. Beginning Aug. 25, USCIS will only accept the revised Form and Supplement A and J of Form I-485 and will no longer accept earlier versions of either form.

What’s New? USCIS improved Form I-485 to include:
  • Better flow and organization of questions to make it user-friendly for both the applicants and USCIS. In addition, readability has significantly improved due to new spacing, columns, flow, white space, and formatting.
  • The questions about biographic information (Form G-325A) so applicants will no longer need to file a separate form;
  • A list of 27 immigrant categories, which allows applicants to identify the specific immigrant category under which they are applying; and
  • A comprehensive, updated list of admissibility-related questions. The added questions to ensure USCIS officers have the necessary information to better assess the applicant’s admissibility and eligibility.
What Remains the Same

While both Form I-485 and its instructions may look different from earlier versions, the process for filing Form I-485 and Form I-485 Supplement A and Form I-485 Supplement J remains the same. Applicants must still submit their paper applications to the location listed in the form instructions.

Further information

Visit the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status  page and the Form I-485 Supplement A page for further information about the new forms and instructions.

Applicants can visit the USCIS Green Card Eligibility Categories page for information on eligibility requirements for each immigrant category.

All USCIS forms are free on our website at www.uscis.gov/forms.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis), and Instagram (@uscis)."

 If you want to know more about Mark Medvesky or Medvesky Law Office, LLC, check out my website at www.medveskylaw.com.

#BucksCounty #Immigration #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #Law_Firm

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why does my bankruptcy attorney ask me for this - Tax Returns (pt 2)

The bankruptcy law requires debtors to be current with their tax filings. The most current year must be filed with the trustee 7 days prior to the creditors meeting. Also, the bankruptcy attorney needs to verify annual income the two previous years of income for the filing of the case. The easiest way to confirm this is to see the tax returns. I request the last 4 years of tax returns.

If debtors do not have copies of their tax returns, they can request transcripts of their returns from the IRS on this webpage - https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript. Transcripts are acceptable.

Asking for documents is not to make people crazy. These documents are the proof requested by the trustee.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Friday, May 12, 2017

Why does my bankruptcy attorney ask me for this - Bank Statements (pt 1)

I think ... sometimes ... my clients think I am nuts for asking for some of the documents I ask for and the way I need them. One set of documents I need are bank statements. That sounds easy enough, right? In this day and age, it is harder than you think.

Most clients do not receive their bank statements. They relay on electronic banking. They belief the screen print is a bank statement. It is not and most if not all of the trustees in this jurisdiction will not accept the electronic summary. I need the statement. It can be electronic and most times in can be found on the client's on-line banking site but it is not always easy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The next caveat is it must be the full statement. After people find their statements, they tend to remove the blank pages or pages with "required" disclosures and announcements. I appreciate the effort to not load me up with unnecessary information. But the trustee wants the complete statement.

The statement is not just for the trustee though. Bankruptcy attorneys need to scrub them as well. The trustee will look for money transfers, influx of cash, and anything that is inconsistent with the documents the client filed to start the bankruptcy. The attorney should try to have the answers before the trustee asks.

Asking for documents is not to make people crazy. Statements are required to protect the client during the bankruptcy and required by the trustee.


If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Can I keep my home ... or other property in a Bankruptcy?

The answer is ... it depends. Most of the time, there are ways to keep a home and other property. But a debtor needs to be ready to help his or her attorney. Debtors need to gather and produce the documents for their bankruptcy attorneys to show value and ownership. Sometimes, these documents can be a hassle to obtain.

The first issue is to determine the value of the real estate. This can be a simple as using a couple real estate websites that estimates property value for free. A debtor usually has a sense if these sites are accurate. If the sites are not accurate, a homeowner can work with a real estate agent to work up a market analysis on the home. This usually take a little time with an agent. Finally, some jurisdictions may require a full appraisal, which will require paying an appraiser a fee.

The next consideration is the mortgage balance or payoff amount. The balance can be found on the most recent mortgage statement. Most mortgage companies have a place on their website to calculate a mortgage pay off figure. A debtor should provide these documents to his or her attorney.

Subtracting the mortgage balance from the property value will give the debtor the amount of equity he or she has in the property. Equity is the part of t
he house or property that is free of the mortgage lien and the value you want/need to protect. Once it is determine what value of the house or property is free of the mortgage, the debtor has to determine how or what type of ownership he or she has.

If the debtor owns a home alone, that is easy - a single person usually owns a house or real property in "fee simple." That means the person owns it completely with no other owners. The debtor would own all the equity.

It becomes more complicated when a debtor owns a house with someone else. If they are not married, they are generally "tenants in common" or "joint tenants." If the debtor is married and lives in Pennsylvania*, the home could be owned as "tenants by the entireties." This type of ownership provides the strongest protection from creditor and can offer a great advantage is a bankruptcy.

The only way to know for sure the type of ownership a person holds is to review a copy of the deed. Many people lose track of their deed. A copy can be found at the county recorder of deeds. Again, a fee is usually charged for the copy. But it is an important document and should be provided to the debtor's attorney. The chances are the trustee will ask for it at the creditor's meeting if not provided sooner.

While gathering these documents may be a hassle, debtors need to be ready to work with their attorneys to get this information.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Sunday, April 16, 2017

You've been sued ... now what!

Image by hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of my clients contacted me in a panic after receiving several letters from other bankruptcy attorneys informing him he had been sued in civil court for one of his credit card debts. Imagine opening a letter from an attorney and the top line reads something like:

"CREDITORS HAVE THEIR ATTORNEYS. SO SHOULD YOU!"

This letter went on to explain a law suit was filed in county court and it was time to act. Of course the attorneys sending the letters were offering their services. Different people have different thoughts about this practice but the letters were right, it was time for my client to act. 

The operative word here is "act" and not "react." In Pennsylvania, people still have time to think and plan after a law suit is filed. As an attorney, I prefer to have more time to plan but the filing of a complaint in county court is not the end of the process... actually it is a beginning.

The Plaintiff (the party bringing the suit) must serve the complaint on the Defendant (debtor being sued). In Pennsylvania, a defendant in a law suit usually has 20 days to answer. If he or she doesn't answer, the Plaintiff must give the Defendant 10 days notice that the Plaintiff intends to ask the court of a judgment if the Debtor fails to answer the complaint. So a debtor in Pennsylvania usually has at least 30 days to consider his or her options.

While waiting until you are sued to consider bankruptcy can limited your options, I suggest it is not the time to panic and jump at the first option offered. I recommend, if a person receives a letter like I describe above, he or she pause, be grateful for the "heads up" and act ... not overreact.  Take a moment to assess the situation and seek legal help. It may be in one of those letters and maybe not. Take a little time to educate yourself and find the help that makes you feel comfortable.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Do you think you make too much to ever need to file bankruptcy?

"A Six-Figure Income May Not Shield You From a Shock - Monthly income and spending bounce around more than many people realize—or prepare for." Bloomberg by Suzanne Woolley;

Do you think you make too much to ever need to file bankruptcy?

Image courtesy of chrisroll
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Paying big medical bills had a lasting impact on financial stability. Many families have to turn to credit card debt to cover big medical payments. "A year after the extraordinary medical payment families still have 9 percent more revolving credit card debt and 2 percent lower cash reserves than baseline levels, according to the report." 

Think about hitting several of these stress months in a short period. It can start a downward spiral. Stuff happens and sometimes people need a break.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Powers-of-Attorney, Wills,Trusts; Agents, Executors, Trustees - What do they do and when do they do it?

Many people are not clear on the differences between Powers-of-Attorney, Wills, and Trusts. This is a quick basic explanation. I hope it helps.

A Power-of-Attorney (POA) is a document that grants one person the authority to take action and enter into commitments for another person. The person giving the authority is known as the Principal. The person given and exercising the POA is known as the Agent for the Principal. The POA is only good while the Principal is living. Once Principal passes, the POA is extinguished.

A Will is a document that directs the distribution of a person's assets, their things, after they pass.  The person having the Will prepared for their assets is the Testator. The Executor oversees the distribution. The property of the deceased is the Estate. The handling of the Estate is known as administering the Estate or the Administration of the Estate. A Will has no effect until the Testator passes.

A Trust is an agreement between a property owner and a second person or entity to take possession of the property and maintain it for the benefit and use of a third person, group of people, or an organization. The property owner establishing the Trust is the Settlor. The property usually includes money and investment accounts. It can include real property and other assets as well. The person who manages the Trust is a Trustee. The Trustee owes a special duty to the Settlor. It I called a fiduciary relationship. The Trust can be established before or after the settlor's death.

This a simple description to help people understand the basic concepts.  If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.


#Bucks_County #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #Law_Firm #Wills #Power-of-Attorney #Living_Will #Healthcare #Trusts 

 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bankruptcy Creditors Meetings - proof of social security number

Over the past several weeks, this has become an issue. It is simple to address but can stop a creditors meeting before it starts. One of the requirements the trustee has during the meeting is to verify the debtor's Social Security Number (SSN). It is important because most financial data in our lives keys off our SSN.
Photo from Social Security gov site. For more general
info on social security cards and numbers


The main document used to verify is our actual social security card. Since identity theft has become so prevalent, that number has been stripped off most other forms of ID. So I always ask my clients if they have their social security card available and advise them up front they need to present it at the meeting. The meeting of creditor notice from the court also states at the top of the notice the debtor's social security card is required and I try to sent at least two e-mails stating to my clients they need their social security card. But with all the emotion going on during this time, people will still forget their card or realize too late they do not know where it is.

There are other forms of ID that contain your SSN. Medicare cards have your SSN and I have had clients use them to verify their SSN. I also know as a retired military reservist, my retiree card has my SSN though I have not had anyone use a retiree card yet. If you do not have some proof to verify your SSN, the creditors meeting stops then and generally, will be continued to give debtor time to replace their social security card if they need to. No one wants to have their creditors meeting continued.

Bottom-line, prepare for your creditors meeting and pack everything up in a file you are asked to bring. If you do not have a document available to prove your SSN, let your attorney know so he or she can deal with it before you are sitting in front of the trustee. If none of this works for you, remember, "Hey it happens!" You should be given a little time to fix it the first time.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania


Sunday, January 22, 2017

USCIS ... New fees and forms ...

USCIS Fees changed in December 2016. USCIS Forms change all the time. I always advise my clients to check for new forms before they do anything on their own. I also explain to them the reason I look up the forms in their presence is to make sure we have the most current version before we start.

Direct from the USCIS Bulletin:
"Previous Editions of Forms Accepted Until Feb. 21, 2017, but Must Include New Fees
12/29/2016
When new fees for most USCIS forms went into effect on December 23, 2016, we published updated versions of the forms at uscis.gov/forms. We strongly encourage customers to submit these new versions, which are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of 12/23/16. 
 
We will accept prior versions of forms, with the exception of Form N-400, until February 21, 2017.  However, all filings postmarked 12/23/16 or later must include the new fees or we will reject them.
 
We will accept only the 12/23/16 edition of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
The updated forms are currently available only at uscis.gov/forms, where all of our forms can be downloaded for free. We will issue another alert when paper copies become available through our forms request line (800-870-3676) and forms by mail service.
 
Remember, the wrong help can hurt! To get information on protecting against immigration services scams, visit uscis.gov/avoidscams.
 
For more information, visit our [USCIS] website."

If you want to know more about Mark Medvesky or Medvesky Law Office, LLC, check out my website at www.medveskylaw.com.

#BucksCounty #Immigration #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #Law_Firm