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Author Archives: Michael J. Berger

How Chapter 13 Helps You Pay for Your Bankruptcy Attorney

When you are considering filing for bankruptcy protection, you have to decide whether the best option is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Either way, the assistance of a qualified attorney is vital to a successful outcome, which raises another question. How do you pay legal fees when you’re bankrupt? The answer may lie in the […]

New Law Increases California Homestead Exemption up to $600,000

There is good news for California homeowners who are considering filing for bankruptcy protection. A new state law raises the homestead exemption — the amount of home equity that can be shielded from creditors in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 — to a minimum of $300,000 and a maximum of $600,000. The increase was […]

Using Cramdowns to Advantage in Subchapter V Bankruptcy

Subchapter V is a simplified form of Chapter 11 bankruptcy that was created to make the reorganization process more accessible to small businesses. One advantage of Subchapter V is the reduction of a company’s debts through use of a procedure known as a cramdown. Subchapter V bankruptcy has become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. […]

Chapter 11 Relief Is Well-Suited to Times of Economic Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has been financially devastating to individuals and businesses alike. The purpose of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is to give companies in financial crisis the ability to continue operating while restructuring their debt payments over time. In short, it gives a business the pause it needs to catch its breath and start working to […]

Using Lien Stripping to Reduce Secured Debt in Chapter 13

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, unsecured debts are discharged after successful completion of a partial repayment plan. However, secured debts — those based on mortgages and other liens — remain in force. Fortunately, there is procedure called lien stripping that allows you to convert some mortgage debts to unsecured ones and thus to discharge them. […]

Grounds for a Trustee Objecting to a Chapter 13

When a debtor files a Chapter 13 petition seeking reorganization of debt, the bankruptcy court appoints an impartial trustee to oversee the case. Part of the trustee’s job is to evaluate and approve the proposed plan for partial repayment of debts over a three- to five-year period. In some cases, a trustee will object to […]

Changes in Consumer Bankruptcy Since COVID-19 Struck

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the U.S. economy, leading many Americans to grapple with job losses, furloughs and other financial setbacks. While there has not yet been a surge in consumer bankruptcy filings in 2020 — most likely because they have been offset by stimulus payments and other government assistance programs — changes to […]

What Tax Liabilities Can Be Discharged in Chapter 7?

The Bankruptcy Code strictly limits the ability of debtors to discharge tax liabilities in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Taxes are considered priority debts, which means they are among the first to be satisfied from any funds derived from liquidation of the debtor’s assets. However, there are exceptions to the general rule. Certain income tax debts can […]

How Does California’s Homestead Exemption Work in Chapter 7?

California debtors who own their primary residence and are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection can take advantage of California’s homestead exemption to shield at least part of the equity in their home from creditors. However, the exemption has limitations and restrictions. Any debtor considering filing for Chapter 7 should consult an experienced bankruptcy […]

Using the Business-Debt Exception to the Bankruptcy Means Test

Debtors who are considering filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 must meet the means test, which is designed to make this remedy unavailable to people with sufficient incomes to pay off all or a portion of their debts. If the debtor’s income for the prior six months is higher than the median income in […]


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