Bankruptcy Lawyer

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Bankruptcy Lawyer
Serving The WNY Area

Stephen K. Underwood is a New York Bankruptcy attorney serving Buffalo, Niagara Falls, West Seneca, Amherst, Depew, Clarence, Cheektowaga, Orchard Park, Angola, Lackawanna, Alden, East Aurora, Boston, Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Grand Island, Hamburg, Holland, Lancaster, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins, Sardina, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, Blasdell, Kenmore, and Williamsville.

If you just can't pay your bills as they come due, you probably need a fresh start with Bankruptcy. You may also need to STOP Ceditor Harassment, STOP a Lawsuit, STOP a Foreclosure, STOP a Repossession, or STOP an In-Rem Tax Foreclosure.

Stop Debt Collector Harassment

If you have debt collectors hounding you at home or at work Bankruptcy may be the answer to make it stop. Once your bankruptcy has been filed creditors must stop calling you. Usually they will stop after they have been notified that you have retained an attorney to file your bankruptcy.

Stop Credit Card Lawsuits

If you have been served with a credit card lawsuit, a bankruptcy can stop it. Once the petition is filed the plaintiff credit card company must terminate the action. Sometimes debt buyers and collection agencies bring these lawsuits hoping that you will simply call and make some sort of unfair payment arrangement.

Save Your House from Bank Foreclosure

If you have been threatened or served with forclosure papers by the Bank, a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can save your home. So long as you are working, and you have enough disposable income in your Budget, you can pay off the mortgage arrears over time.

Save Your House from an In-Rem Foreclosure

If you are behind in your property taxes, and have been advised by the taxing authorities, that your house is going up for Auction in the next In-Rem Foreclosure Sale, a Bankruptcy can save your home. So long as your bankruptcy petition is filed before the sale your house can be saved.

Stop Your Car from being Repossessed

If you have been threatened with repossession, or your car has just been repossessed, a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can allow you to get your car back from them. The Chapter 13 may allow you to pay off the arrears over time, so you can catch up on your payments.



1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224


Bankruptcy Chapters

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Bankruptcy Chapters

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation proceeding designed for those experiencing financial difficulty that do not have the ability to pay their existing debts.

The debtor turns over all non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee who then converts it to cash for distribution to the creditors.

In the vast majority of cases the debtor keeps all of his property because the debtor has no non-exempt assets for the trustee to distribute. This is called a "no asset case".

In about four months the debtor receives a "discharge" of all dischargeable debts, providing the debtor with a "fresh start".

Although there have been predictions of gloom and doom regarding the new law, Chapter 7 remains a viable option for most individuals that seek it.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a wage earner's plan. Chapter 13 allows individuals with regular income to propose a plan to repay all or part of their debts. The plan sets forth an agreement to make installment payments to creditors over a three to five year period.

After the plan is confirmed by the Court, the law forbids creditors from starting or continuing collection efforts.

After the plan is paid in full the debtor(s) will be granted a "discharge" from all dischargeble debts.

Why do debtors choose Chapter 13 over Chapter 7?

Primarily, individuals choose Chapter 13 to save their homes from foreclosure by curing delinquent mortgage payments over time in the plan (however, regular mortgage payments must still be made on time outside the plan).

Secondly, individuals can reschedule other secured debts reducing the payment by extending the payment over the life of the chapter 13 plan.

Thirdly, Chapter 13 sometimes protects third party co-signers who are also liable with the debtor on consumer debts. Lastly, Chapter 13 consolidates unsecured debt because individuals pay the trustee directly a percentage of the overall unsecured debt (as low as 5%) and will not be dealing with the creditors.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 is a reorganization proceeding, usually for Businesses. Individuals, generally do not file Chapter 11 unless their debts exceed the limits of Chapter 13.

In Chapter 11, the debtor usually remains in possession of the assets and continues to operate any business, subject to the oversight of the court and the creditors committee.

The debtor proposes a plan of reorganization, that upon acceptance by a majority of the creditors, is confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court and binds both the debtor and the creditors.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224

Automatic Stay

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Automatic Stay

What is the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy?

When a debtor files a bankruptcy petition, the filing triggers an injunction against the continuance of any action by any creditor against the debtor or the debtor's property.

The Automatic Stay Prohibits Creditors From:

1) Starting or Continuing Law Suits.
2) Making Collection Calls.
3) Repossessing Secured Assets.
4) Having Foreclosure Sales.
5) Garnishing Wages.
6) Seizing Assets.

The automatic stay does not stop Criminal Proceedings, or Actions for Child Support or Maintenace

How Long Does The Automatic Stay Remains in Effect?

The stay remains in effect until a Bankruptcy Judge lifts the stay at the request of a creditor for cause, the debtor gets discharged, or an item of property is no longer property of the estate.

When the debtor gets a discharge, the automatic stay is replaced by a permanent injunction prohibiting creditors from all of the actions prohibited by the automatic stay.

Violations of the Stay?

Anyone who willfully violates the stay is liable for actual damages caused by the violation and sometimes for punitive damages.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224

Judgments

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Judgments

What if I have a Judgment?

If you have been served with a Summons and Complaint generally you will have 20 days to serve an Answer. If you fail to Answer, the creditor will take a Default Judgment against you.

Once a Judgment is properly recorded in the County where the Debtor owns Real Property, it automatically becomes a lien on the Debtor's real property.

After the Creditor receives the Judgment and it is duly recorded the creditor will usually start enforcing the Judgment by filing a Restraining Notice against your Bank Accounts.

The Creditor may also serve you with an Information Subpoena requesting that you answer questions about what assets you own, the location of the assets, and where you are employed. If you fail to answer the questions you may be held in Contempt of Court until you respond.

Once the Creditor knows your information the Creditor may Garnish your Wages, and Seize your assets.

Will the Bankruptcy get rid of the Judgment?

If all of the Debtor's assets are exempt, the Bankruptcy will prevent the Creditor from collecting on the Judgment. If the debtor owns real property, the debtor will have to file a motion to avoid the lien that is impairing the homestead exemption.

One year after the Debtor is discharged, the debtor should file a Motion to Cancel the Judgment pursuant to Debtor and Creditor Law §150 to prevent the Judgment from attaching to after acquired real property.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224

Exemptions

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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New York Exemptions

What are the New York Individual Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Homestead

CPLR 5206 - Real property, including mobile home, condominium, or co-op, up to $75,000 (Note: Joint Debtors $150,000 if property jointly owned).

Personal Property -up to $10,000

CPLR 5205 - Clothing, furniture, refrigerator, TV, radio, sewing machine, security deposits with landlord or utility company, tableware, cooking utensils and crockery, stoves with fuel to last 60 days, health aids (including service animals with food), church pew or seat, wedding ring, bible, schoolbooks, pictures; books up to $500; domestic animals with food to last 60 days and up to $1000; watch art, and jewelry to $1000; tools of trade $3000; spendthrift trust fund principal; 90% of trust fund income if not created by debtor; college tuition savings program trust fund; recovery for injury to exempt property up to 1 year after receiving. Exemptions cannot exceed a total of $5,000 including tools of trade and limited annuity.

One Computer and one Cell Phone

No Value Limit

CASH: Up to $6000

Debtor & Creditor 283 - If homestead exemption is NOT used and the aggregate individual bankruptcy exemption totals $5000 or less for personal property, may exempt up to $6000 in cash, $1000 if over $5000.

Burial plot

CPLR 5206 - up to 1/4 acre without a structure on it.

Motor vehicle

Debtor & Creditor 282 - up to $4000, $10,000 for disabled equiped vehicle; lost future earnings recoveries needed for support;

Personal injury recoveries

$7500 personal injury recovery not including pain and suffering or pecunary loss and wrongful death recoveries for a person you depended upon for support.

Wages

5205 - 90% of earned but unpaid wages received within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy; 90% of earnings from milk sales to milk dealers; 100% for a noncommissioned private, officer or musician in the U.S. or N.Y. state armed forces.

Pensions

11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts; Traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person.

5205 & Debtor & Creditor 282 - ERISA-qualified plans, Keoghs and IRAs needed for support.

Educ.524 - Teachers.

Ins. 4607 - Public retirement benefits.

Ret. and Soc. Sec. 10 - State employees.

Unconsolidated 5711-o - Village police officers.

Vol. Amb. Wkr. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer ambulance workers.

Vol. Fire. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer firefighters.

Public Benefits

Debtor & Creditor 282 - Unemployment benefits; veterans' benefits; Social Security; aid to blind, aged, and disabled; crime victims' compensation; home relief, local public assistance; public assistance; worker's compensation.

Tools of Trade

5205 - Professional furniture, books, instruments, farm machinery, team and food for 60 days, up to $3000 total; arms, swords, uniforms, equipment, horse, emblem and medal of a military member.

Alimony and Child Support

C.P.L.R. 5205 - Alimony and child support - no limit.

Insurance

Debtor & Creditor 283 - Annuity contract benefits due to the debtor if he or she paid for the contract up to $10,000, if purchased within 6 months of filing for bankruptcy and not tax-deferred.

Estates Powers & Trusts 7-1.5 - Life insurance proceeds left at death if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.

Insurance 3212 - Disability or illness benefits up to $400 per month; life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value if beneficiary is not the debtor or if the debtor's spouse has taken out the policy.

Miscellaneous

Partnership 51 - Business partnership property.

Federal Exemptions

What are the Federal Exemptions?

Homestead

522(d)(1) - Real property, including mobile home, condominium, or co-op, up to $21,625 (Joint Debtors $43,250, if property jointly owned).

Household Goods

522(d)(3) - $11,525, Joint $23,050

Motor vehicle

522 (d)(2) - up to $3450, $6900 Jointly owned vehicle.

Jewelry

522 (d)(4) - up to $1450

Any other Personal Property - includes CASH

522 (d)(5) -$1150 plus up to 10,825 of the unused portion of the homestead exemption.

Tools of Trade

522 (d)(6) - $2175

Cash Value Life Insurance

522(d)(8) - up to $11,525, $23,050 Jointly - Unmatured Life Insurance Contract - no Limit (d)(7).

Social Security, disability, and Veterans benefits, illness alimony, support, maintenance, reasonably necessary for support

522 (d)(10) - No Limit

Personal Injury - not including pain and suffering

522(d)(11)(d) - 21,625, $43,250 Jointly

Qualified Retirement Funds

522 (d)(12) - No Limit

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224


Payment Advises

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Payment Advises

What is the Payment Advises Requirement?

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 requires debtors to file all paycheck stubs for the sixty (60) days immediately preceding the filing of the petition, or some other proof of income from employer.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224r

Credit Counseling

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Credit Counseling

What is the Credit Counseling Requirement?

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 requires most debtors, who's debts are primarily consumer debts, to get a Certificate of Credit Counseling from a government-approved organization within 180 days before they file their petition.

Debtors must also complete an approved Financial Management Course before discharge can occur.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224


Budget

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Budget

What is the Budget?

When you file for Bankruptcy you will be required to file certain schedules. Among the schedules are Schedules I and J. Together, Schedules I and J make up the Budget. These Schedules are used to determine the debtor's Disposable Income.

Schedule I is where the debtor sets forth family income. The debtor's monthly income is determined by taking the Gross Income less payroll deductions including medical insurance, and payments to pension plans.

Schedule J is where the debtor sets forth family expenses. The debtor's monthly expenses are determined by adding together all of the debtor's necessary monthly expenses. The payments for unsecured debt are not included in the expense list.

Once the Schedules are complete, your lawyer will calculate the debtor's Disposable Income by subtracting the total on Schedule J from the total on Schedule I.

If the debtor's disposable income is very low the debtor may qualify for a Chapter 7. If the debtor's disposable income is high the debtor may be forced to file a Chapter 13.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224


Client Documents

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Client Documents

What Documents Do I Need to Give My Lawyer?

Creditors:

Statements from Each Creditor that Debtor owes money too OR Credit Report OR List of Creditors with Name, Address, Account Number, and balance owed.

Be sure to include Mortgage Statements that show a current balance and secured statement's/balances on car loans and other secured loans on assets.

Do not list utilities and other monthly expenses unless you have a balance that is past due that you will not be paying. Expenses and monthly payments belong in the monthly expense list below.

Monthly Expense List:

A list of all monthly expenses with a total at the bottom. (Note: If you pay a bill quarterly, or annually list monthly amount.)

Payment Advises from Employers:

Paycheck Stubs/other payment advises for the 60 days prior to filing the petition.

Education IRA:

Any Interest Debtor has in an Education IRA OR Qualified State Tuition Program - Gather related Documents.

Certificate of Credit Counseling:

Certificate from an approved Credit Counseling Agency that the Debtor received the "Briefing" required by §109(h) of the Code within 180 days of the filing of the petition, AND if a debt repayment plan was developed through counseling, a copy of the Plan.

Form 23 - Certification of Personal Finance Management Course:

To be filed within 45 days from 341 meeting if individual debtor(s) in chapter 7 and no later than the date of the last payment in chapter 13 plan or motion for entry of discharge in Chapter 13 case.

Tax Return:

Tax return for most recent year before petition was filed To be provided at least 7 days before 341 meeting (send with copy of petition).

Note: In Chapter 13 cases, the Debtor(s) must file all tax returns required to be filed with taxing authorities in the four(4) years before the filing of the petition.

Bank Statements

Rule §4002(b)(2)(B) - Bank Statements, Checking, Savings, Money Market, Mutual Funds, Brokerage Accounts for the period of time that includes petition date that debtor possesses (don't have to get them).

Other Documents Needed:

a. Tax Returns for the last 2 years.
b. Mortgage Payoff or Statement that shows principle balance of Mortgage.
c. Payoffs/Statements on Secured Personal Property (Cars, Trucks, etc.).
d. Titles to cars and toys.
e. Social Security Cards (Bring to 341 Meeting).
f. Picture id (Bring to 341 Meeting).
g. Appraisals on Real Property and other Personal Property Appraisals (done in the last 2 years).
h. Statements on Retirement Accounts (Pension, IRA's, etc.).
i. Statements on NON-Term Life Insurance that shows cash value).
j. Stock/Bond Certificates and other investment statements.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224


Discharge

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Discharge

What is the Discharge in Bankruptcy?

The Bankruptcy Discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for debts. The debtor is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the debtor from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.

Although a debtor is no longer personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien on secured debts that has not been avoided in the bankruptcy case will flow through Bankruptcy.

Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien if the debtor fails to continue making payments.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224

Client's Rights

Stephen K. Underwood

Attorney at Law

716-656-7676

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Statement of Client's Rights

1. You are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times by your lawyer and the other lawyers and personnel in your lawyers office.

2. You are entitled to an attorney capable of handling your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession. If you are not satisfied with how your matter is being handled, you have the right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time (court approval may be required in some matters and your attorney may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered to you up to the point of discharge).

3. You are entitled to your lawyer’s independent professional judgment and undivided loyalty un-compromised by conflicts of interest.

4. You are entitled to be charged a reasonable fee and to have your lawyer explain at the outset how the fee will be computed and the manner and frequency of billing. You are entitled to request and receive a written itemized bill from your attorney at reasonable intervals. You may refuse to enter into any fee arrangement that you find unsatisfactory.

5. You are entitled to have your questions or concerns addressed in a prompt manner and to have your telephone calls returned promptly.

6. You are entitled to be kept informed as to the status of your matter and to request and receive copies of papers. You are entitled to sufficient information to allow you to participate meaning fully in the development of your matter.

7. You are entitled to have your legitimate objectives respected by your attorney, including whether or not to settle your matter (court approval of a settlement is required in some matters).

8. You have the right to privacy in your dealings with your lawyer and to have your secrets and confidences preserved to the extent permitted by law.

9. You are entitled to have your attorney conduct himself or herself ethically in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility.

10. You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.

If you live in the Western New York (WNY) area, near Buffalo, and would like to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, and are searching for an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, look no further and contact me above by getting your FREE phone or email consultation.

1395 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224