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Craig D. Robins, Esq. New York Bankruptcy Attorney, Longisland bankruptcy attorney

“ Craig D. Robins, Esq., has been a practicing Long Island bankruptcy attorney for over twenty-four years ”

Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Archive for August, 2009

My Favorite Bankruptcy Book

Posted on Wednesday (August 12, 2009) at 11:45 am to Bankruptcy Practice
Lawyer to Lawyer
Resources

book-consumer-bankruptcy-law-and-practiceWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Ever since I started practicing bankruptcy law over twenty years ago, I’ve relied on one law book more than any other:  Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice.
 
Published by the National Consumer Law Center, it is now in its Eighth Edition.  It is my favorite bankruptcy handbook and I often refer to it as the bankruptcy bible.
 
This is the definitive consumer manual and the must-have book for any attorney who practices bankruptcy.  It is now takes up two volumes for a total of well over thirteen hundred pages.  There are excellent summaries of almost every possible bankruptcy issue, together with case citations, sample pleadings, a full copy of the Bankruptcy Code and Rules and more.  It’s cost of $180 is well-worth it.  Also included is a CD-Rom.
 
The only downside for Long Island bankruptcy attorneys is that it does not focus on any New York issues or exemptions.
 
The publisher, the National Consumer law Center, is a not-for-profit operation that emphasizes education and advocacy to help and protect consumer rights.  You cannot go wrong with this book.
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New Bankruptcy Bill Cartoon: BAPCPA MAN

Posted on Tuesday (August 11, 2009) at 9:31 pm to Bankruptcy Humour
Issues Involving New Bankruptcy Laws

bankruptcy-bill-bapcpa-man-1Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Is Bankruptcy Funny?
 
New York bankruptcy attorney Steven Horowitz and artist Gideon Kendall, the geniuses behind the comic strip, Bankruptcy Bill, have come out with a whole new strip:  BAPCPA MAN, designed to entertain consumers and bankruptcy attorneys.
 
“BAPCPA”, an acronym universally known to all bankruptcy attorneys, stands for The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.  This is the new bankruptcy law that went into effect in 2005.
 
Their original strip, Bankruptcy Bill, is about the trials and tribulations of Bill, a hapless corporate bankruptcy attorney.
 
Although the first strip seeks to educate in a comical way, subsequent BAPCPA MAN strips will poke fun at some of the more ridiculous requirements of the new bankruptcy law.

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The strip is posted with permission from Bankruptcy Bill.
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Can Consumers Still File for Bankruptcy in New York?

Posted on Tuesday (August 11, 2009) at 4:45 am to Consumer Advice
Issues Involving New Bankruptcy Laws

Can Consumers Still File for Bankruptcy in New York?Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.

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Yes!  Bankruptcy Is Still Available in New York

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In 2005, Congress made drastic revisions to the bankruptcy laws.  Even though that was three years ago, clients regularly ask me if they can still file for bankruptcy.

Most people still qualify.  We find that 7 out of 8 people who would have qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the old laws still qualify under the new laws.

These laws make the bankruptcy process more involved, and impose many new obligations on both debtors and their attorneys.  However, most consumers, especially those on Long Island, are still eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The essence of the new laws is demonstrating eligibility for filing by using a series of formulas and calculations called the “means test.”

The new bankruptcy laws also require a 30-minute bankruptcy credit counseling session by phone with a court-approved not-for-profit credit counseling agency prior to filing, and a similar session, called debtor education, after filing.

Debtors must also produce copies of pay stubs and recent tax returns.

Here’s the bottom line:  Although the laws have made bankruptcy much more complex than it ever was before, the truth is that most people who would have qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the old laws still qualify under the new laws. Those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 can usually file a payment plan bankruptcy — Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

An experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer should be able to quickly ascertain which bankruptcy chapter is best.

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Newsday Editorial Criticizes Congress Over Long Island Foreclosure Problem

Posted on Monday (August 10, 2009) at 4:15 pm to Bankruptcy Legislation
Long Island Economy
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

Congress needs to get more involved with stubborn lenders to resolve the Long Island foreclosure problem.  Permitting mortgage modification in bankruptcy court may be the solution.Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Newsday calls on Congress to permit bankruptcy cram-down and bankruptcy modification of mortgages
 
An editorial in today’s Newsday commented that foreclosures on Long Island are still rising, pointing out that voluntary programs are not doing the job, and Congress needs to get more involved with stubborn lenders.
 
“Underwhelming” was the word Newsday used to describe federal efforts to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
 
The problem is that the two major initiatives — “Making Home Affordable” and “Hope for Homeowners” — both rely on lenders to voluntarily modify or refinance loans.  However this has not worked, especially on Long Island.
 
Congress needs to revisit proposed legislation to authorize bankruptcy judges to modify or “cram down” mortgages.  See my post,  Chapter 13 Mortgage Cram-down Still a Possibility Newsday believes that if mortgage lenders knew that homeowners had this ability, they would have greater incentive to work with the homeowners, rather than let the homeowners cram down the mortgage in bankruptcy court. 
 
There have been 6,274 foreclosure filings so far this year on Long Island.
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The Back-Door Politics Behind Trustees Pursuing Non-Exempt Assets

Posted on Monday (August 10, 2009) at 12:33 pm to Bankruptcy Exemptions
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The Back-Door Politics Behind Trustees Pursuing Non-Exempt AssetsWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
I recently attended a dinner for an attorneys organization that I am a member of and sat with a bankruptcy judge and two Chapter 7 trustees.  During the dinner, we had an interesting discussion over whether trustees should liquidate vehicles that had some, but not too much, non-exempt equity.
 
This conversation began when the judge asked the trustees why they weren’t going after more cars that appeared to clearly have value over the exemption amount.  The trustees explained that from time to time the Office of the U.S. Trustee puts pressure on the trustees to either go after, or not go after, certain non-exempt assets.
 
Apparently, for a period of time, some trustees were seeking to liquidate vehicles with very little non-exempt value, thereby resulting in a very small distribution for creditors in the bankruptcy estate.  The primary beneficiaries of such sales were the trustees, who received commissions and legal fees, rather than the unsecured creditors, who barely received pennies on the dollar.  Apparently, this was giving trustees a bad name.  One of the trustees said that trustees were being called “money grubbing trustees” and other not-so-nice names for doing so.
 
This trustee explained that at other times, the U.S. Trustee’s Office actually issued totally opposite directives, calling on trustees to be more vigilant and aggressive.
 
In the meantime, the judge questioned the fairness to creditors if trustees let such assets go.  My trustee colleagues countered with these comments:  it is simply not administratively convenient to go after an asset that produces such a small recovery for the estate.  Also, some debtors do not have the financial ability to offer any settlement to the trustee.  The trustee commented that he never saw so many debtors in a destitute situation.
 
I pointed out the inequity of the New York State exemption statute for vehicles, which, not having been changed in over 25 years, hardly gives consumers any protection at all.
 
So when a trustee is considering going after a non-exempt asset, the trustee will be guided by comments and directives from the U.S. Trustee that are not made public, comments they receive from the bankruptcy judges, and their own assessment and determination as to whether doing so is feasible and economically worthwhile for the bankruptcy estate.
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What are the Different Bankruptcy Chapters?

Posted on Monday (August 10, 2009) at 1:45 am to Bankruptcy Terms
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

What are the Different Bankruptcy Chapters?Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
There are essentially three bankruptcy chapters that consumers and businesses will consider:  Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11
 
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:  This is the most common and simplest type of bankruptcy and the one most utilized by consumers.  Chapter 7 gives a debtor the opportunity for a fresh new financial start by discharging most debt, such as credit card debt and medical bills.  Over 99% of Our Long Island Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Clients Eliminate All of Their Credit Card Debt .
 
Most assets are protected, but if the consumer has a lot of assets, such as more than $100,000 of equity in a home, then Chapter 7 would not be the best choice.  Bankruptcy Exemptions in New York .
 
Also, because of the 2005 Bankruptcy Amendment Act, a consumer must demonstrate eligibility by passing the means test.  The Means Test is Often the Key to a Successful Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case .
 
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:  This is a payment plan bankruptcy.   It is most often used by homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages and need a payment plan to stop foreclosure and catch up with the missed mortgage payments.
 
It is also used by those consumers who have relatively high incomes and do not qualify for Chapter 7 because they do not pass the means test.  Even so, it is often possible to file Chapter 13 and pay credit card companies as little as 10%.
 
Finally, Chapter 13 is used by consumers who have a large amount of non-exempt assets and want to keep and protect those assets.
 
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy:  This is a plan of reorganization and is usually used by businesses who desire to resolve their debts and continue in business.  In addition, some individual consumer debtors who may not qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, can use Chapter 11 for consumer debts.
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Considering Bankruptcy?  Then please read my post:  Should I File Bankruptcy?
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Paying the Price of Putting Off Filing for Bankruptcy

Posted on Friday (August 7, 2009) at 5:45 am to Benefits of Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice

Putting off filing for bankruptcy can often be a big mistakeWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Several times a month, without fail, clients come running to me to urgently file for bankruptcy relief because they put it off.  Why did they come running?  A creditor froze their bank account.
 
When a consumer has significant credit card debts, being sued is almost inevitable — it’s just a question of time.  After being sued, it’s also just a question of time before the creditor (or their collection lawfirm to be exact), seeks to enforce the judgment.  This often involves issuing a restraining order which freezes all bank accounts.
 
I wonder why these clients wait until the last minute to file bankruptcy.  Some of them had even retained me months before, but then put off finalizing their bankruptcy petition and paperwork.
 
I suppose to many, bankruptcy is perceived of as an unpleasant experience, and it is human nature to put off unpleasant events.  However, most of my clients feel extremely relieved once we do file their petition, and many comment that the proceeding went much smoother and painlessly than they anticipated.
 
With financial problems, the longer you wait, the worse the problems become.  Wage garnishment, repo’s, harassing phone calls, lawsuits and frozen bank accounts all come to an end once a bankruptcy petition is filed.
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Interpreters in Bankruptcy Court

Posted on Thursday (August 6, 2009) at 3:45 am to Bankruptcy Practice
Bankruptcy Tips Consumers Should Know
Central Islip Bankruptcy Court & Judges
Info on Bankruptcy and the Court
Lawyer to Lawyer

Interpreters are now available in Central Islip Bankruptcy Court and Brooklyn Bankruptcy CourtWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.

What happens if you are a debtor in a bankruptcy case and you can barely speak English?
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Free English translation services now available in our Long Island Bankruptcy Court
 
The U.S. Trustee Program recently began offering free translation services.  The service is limited to assisting non-English speaking debtors at the meeting of creditors, which is also known as the section 341 hearing.
 
The first time I saw this in action I was amazed at how smoothly the process worked.  I was at a meeting of creditors a few months ago with some Spanish-speaking clients.  The trustee was Andrew Thaler who had never utilized the service before.  Using a telephone in the meeting room, the trustee called a central translation service switchboard, provided some info, and within minutes was connected to a Spanish-speaking interpreter.
The interpreter methodically translated through the speaker phone, and there were no problems at all. 
 
In the past, a debtor with limited English proficiency would have to bring their own interpreter with them, who was often a family member.  Although this had worked smoothly with most trustees, some trustees were not too willing to let family members serve as interpreters because of potential bias.
 
The new system, which is in accordance with an Executive Order from the President requiring federal agencies to have a Language Assistance Plan, provides interpretation services in as many as 196 languages.  Currently the service is only available in some areas and we are fortunate enough to have it in the Central Islip and Brooklyn Bankruptcy Courts.
 
To minimize delays at the meeting of creditors, debtors wishing to take advantage of this free service are encouraged to have their bankruptcy attorney contact the trustee in advance of the meeting. 
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When it Comes to Bankruptcy, Don’t Listen to Uncle Joey

Posted on Wednesday (August 5, 2009) at 6:30 pm to Bankruptcy Tips Consumers Should Know
Consumer Advice

Getting good reliable bankruptcy advice is importantWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
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Getting good Long Island bankruptcy legal advice is extremely important
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I can’t tell you how many times a bankruptcy client comes in to meet with me, and after I explain how a bankruptcy filing would work, the client says, “But that’s not how it worked with my Uncle Joey’s case.  He gave me special advice and told me what to do.”
 
Even worse is when a client tries to get away with something improper in bankruptcy court because a friend or relative told them they could.
 
There is only one person who can give good bankruptcy legal advice and that is a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Don’t listen to Uncle Joey.  Don’t listen to friends or co-workers.  What may or may not have happened in their cases has nothing to do with your case.  Facts can be different; the law might have changed; circumstances are never identical.
 
Even well-intentioned friends and relatives can provide bad advice.  When it comes to considering bankruptcy relief in a United States Bankruptcy Court, you need to get good, proper and correct bankruptcy legal advice.
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Don’t Call the Bankruptcy Trustee, “Your Honor”

Posted on Wednesday (August 5, 2009) at 2:15 am to Bankruptcy Tips Consumers Should Know
Central Islip Bankruptcy Court & Judges
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Info on Bankruptcy and the Court

Don't Call the Bankruptcy Trustee, Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
After hearing so many debtors at the meeting of creditors address their trustee as, “Your Honor,” we need to set the record straight.  The trustee is not a judge, nor is the trustee a judicial hearing officer.  Do not call the trustee, “Your Honor.”
 
I usually tell my clients about this in advance of their hearing, but I see so many clients of other attorneys address the trustee with more respect than the trustee deserves.
 
Only judges should be referred to as, “Your Honor”; not trustees.
 
Interestingly, many of the trustees do not correct the debtor when so addressed, although some certainly  do.
 
Judges have come a long way to ascend the bench and deservingly warrant a certain degree of respect.  Chapter 7 Trustees, on the other hand, are simply bankruptcy attorneys who have sought to be placed on the panel of  trustees.  There are nine Chapter 7 trustees on Long Island.  There are two Chapter 13 trustees. See What Is a Bankruptcy Trustee?
 
For a list of all Long Island bankruptcy trustees, please see my earlier post Long Island Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees or Brooklyn Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees .
 
Although all New York trustees are bankruptcy attorneys, in some other parts of the country, there are non-attorney trustees.
 
So when addressing the trustee, simply call them by their name:  “Mr. Smith”, for example.
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About Us

Craig D. Robins, Esq. is a Long Island bankruptcy lawyer, who is focused primarily on helping individuals and families, find solutions to their debt problems. Read more »

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Craig D. Robins, Esq.
35 Pinelawn Road, Suite 218E, Melville, NY 11747.

Tel : 516 - 496 - 0800

CraigR@Craigrobinslaw.com