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Author Archives: Michael J. Berger

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 […]

How the CARES Act Expands the Reach of Small Business Bankruptcy Protection

In February 2020 the Small Business Reorganization Act went into effect, creating a low-cost, streamlined procedure, known as Subchapter V, for small businesses seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors. No sooner had the law gone into effect than the COVID-19 virus hit the U.S., with a resulting economic recession that put thousands of businesses across the […]

What is the Right of Redemption in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is called liquidation because some of the debtor’s property is converted to cash to pay back creditors. However, property that is subject to secured loans is treated differently. The asset can be repossessed by the lender when the debt is discharged. But Chapter 7 filers may have secured personal property that they […]

Discharging Student Loans Based on Undue Hardship

Student loan debt now exceeds $1.2 trillion, meaning Americans have more student debt than credit card debt. About one third of all bankruptcy filers have student loan debt, yet less than 1 percent of these filers attempt to have their student loans discharged. This is due to the perception that it is impossible to erase […]

CARES Helps Bankruptcy Filers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 40 million U.S. workers have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the nation, and many who still have their jobs are understandably worried that layoffs could be coming anytime. Business owners, too, are feeling the pain. A recent BizFed survey found that approximately 90 percent of small companies in the […]

How Exemptions Help You Keep Your Property in Bankruptcy

One of the most persistent misunderstandings in bankruptcy is that you have to give up your assets to gain a discharge from debt under Chapter 7. The truth is, most Californians who file in Chapter 7 get to keep most of their property. Remember, the goal of bankruptcy is to help you get a fresh […]


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