Naples Disaster Relief

On September 29 2017 President Trump signed the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (HR 3823). Congress had approved the bill the day before.

This Act gives substantial relief to those affected by the recent hurricane disaster including: an exception to the 10-percent early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified hurricane relief distributions.

This Act may provide relief to you. Consult your attorney or tax professional!

-Jonathan Tolentino
www.NaplesBankruptcy.com

Florida Bar President’s Probono Award

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Florida Bar Presidents Award Winner!

How to Improve your credit and credit score (Part I)

It’s been a long time coming that I post on how to improve your credit and credit score.  There is a difference between credit and credit score.  It is possible to have a good credit score and not have credit.  Anyone reading this probably would like both, and luckily they are related.  For now, we’ll focus on credit score because in general if you increase your credit score you will increase your credit.  There are several if not dozens of books on how to increase your credit score and I’ve read many of them.  They all contain valuable information, however there is no substitute for experience.  As an attorney I’ve helped many of my clients correct their credit reports and I’ve always pointed out to them that they can do it themselves without too much hassle.  I decided to post this article so that in the future I can forward it to anyone that asks how to ‘do it yourself’.  Of course, there are no guarantees and every case is different.  In some cases you may need to seek the help of an attorney or other professional.  However, in most cases you can ‘do it yourself’!

Since this is ‘Part I’ we must first get ready to do the job.  To get started you will need a copy of your credit report as reported by all three credit bureaus.  It is important that you have a copy from all three bureaus:  Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.  I also strongly suggest that you subscribe to a credit monitoring service.  There are many services available, just be sure that the service you subscribe to allows you to pull your credit score.  Most services also allow you to pull your credit report and this will allow you to kill two birds with one stone.  The reason you will want a credit monitoring service is so that you can quantify your credit score improvements.  Lastly you’ll need access to a computer with a printer so that you can write some letters!

In ‘Part II’ we’ll take a look at your credit report and I will show you how to identify what may be holding your credit score down.  We’ll also look carefully at what information is being reported incorrectly.  With this information we’ll write our first letter to the credit reporting agencies asking to correct or ‘reinvestigate’ the incorrect information which should result in our first increase in credit score – I’ll post an example letter for you to follow.  I bet you can hardly wait to get started, so check my blog soon for ‘Part II’…..

Paying off your Chapter 13 early?

Several clients have asked me recently whether they can pay off their chapter 13 plan early.  Essentially they would like to conclude their bankruptcy prior to the time specified by their confirmed plan.  A Debtor in bankruptcy can file a motion to approve the early payoff of their chapter 13 plan, however these motions are not routinely granted.  Since being appointed to the Ft. Myers Division, Judge Delano has taken an equitable approach to these motions weighing how long the plan has been confirmed, how many payments the Debtor has made, whether the Debtor’s income could potentially increase and whether the confirmed plan calls for committing tax refunds to the plan.  Ask your attorney if your circumstances would allow you to pay your chapter 13 plan off early.     Here is a case that deals with this issue:  In re: Carreiro 11-17863 (Opinion by Judge Delano).

2013 View From the Bench Seminar

Held every year, this was one of the first I attended without Judge Paskay as a speaker.  Our newly appointed Judge Delano (Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division) was present along with nearly every Judge from the Middle District of Florida: Judge Jenneman, Judge Hyman, Judge Specie, Judge Glenn, Judge Williamson, Judge May, Judge McEwen, Judge Jackson.

A lot of consumer issues were reviewed.  I’ll update my blog to present some of these issues for anyone keeping tabs..

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Mortgage Modification in Bankruptcy

Did you know that you can received a court ordered modification mediation in Bankruptcy?

Many bankruptcy filers are having great success in having their mortgage modified at a bankruptcy court ordered mediation. A financial disclosure is required and the bank is required to appear in good faith and evaluate which modification programs you qualify for. The Mediator oversees the process and makes sure that all parties are doing the best they can to reach a modification.

If you have been having problems modifying your mortgage this is an additional option! Talk to a bankruptcy attorney today to inquire about how you can get a successful mortgage modification mediation!

Does Filing a Bankruptcy stop my divorce, support or child custody proceedings?

On occasion I have a Debtor who asks me if filing a bankruptcy will stop thier divorce or support case. When a chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy case is filed, an automatic stay immediately goes into effect stopping all creditors from proceeding with attempts to collect from the Debtor. This automatic stay does not apply to family law matters and exceptions are carved out under Bankruptcy Code Section 362(b)(2)(A). The code specifically provides that the filing of a bankruptcy does not operate as a stay to civil action proceedings including but not limited to proceedings for the establishment of paternity and establishment or modification of an order for Domestic Support Obligation such as child support. There many other exceptions, if you have questions contact a good bankruptcy attorney.

Mortgage Debt Relief Act Extended!

In January, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act which among other things, extended the Mortgage Debt Relief Act that was set to expire at the end of 2012. This was a big relief for many people who received a 1099C as a result of a foreclosure because in most cases it relieved the recipient of the 1099C from the potential tax liability. Talk to your accountant or attorney if you have further question!

Exceeding the Debt Limits may be OK!?

As a Naples Bankruptcy Attorney I have dealt with many situations where the property was valued at significantly less than the outstanding mortgages; underwater. In many of those cases the consumer was unable to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy as a result of the interpretation of the debt limits rule in our district – this was because often times the mortgage deficiency was added to the other unsecured debts. Many other districts had interpreted the debt limits rule much more liberally allowing many consumers to file a Chapter 13 even if they may have exceeded the debt limits.

As you may remember, Judge Delano recently took the bench in the Fort Myers Bankruptcy Division. After observing her address the debt limits issue and the pending motions to dismiss those cases (where the Debtor exceeded the debt limits), it is apparent that she follows the more liberal and majority interpretation of the debt limits rule. That being said, it appears that for the time being consumer Debtors in the Fort Myers Division will be allowed to present Chapter 13 cases where they may exceed the debt limit. This is not a guarantee that such a Chapter 13 will be confirmed by the Court but it allows consumer Debtors an option that was unavailable for some time. If you have any questions concerning this issue and how it may apply to you please consult your local bankruptcy attorney.

Judge Hopkins passes the torch…

Judge Hopkins, Judge Delano

Judge Hopkins passed the Ft. Myers Bankruptcy torch to Judge Delano this month. Judge Hopkins was the last remaining interim Judge presiding in Ft. Myers after Judge Adams departed. Judge Hopkins will continue to preside in the Southern District of Ohio.