Saving Homes in Canton and North Eastern Ohio from Foreclosure

At our North Eastern Ohio bankruptcy law office in Canton, we frequently see people who are trying to save their home from foreclosure. They may have fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to credit card debts, medical bills, a lawsuit, job layoffs, death or disability, or numerous other reasons. We strive to seek the best possible solution for our clients to prevent their home from being foreclosed on.

Canton Ohio Attorney to Stop Home ForeclosureSome methods of preventing home foreclosure in Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne, Carroll, Columbiana, Summit, and Holmes County include utilizing the automatic stay of bankruptcy, procedural foreclosure defense, substantive foreclosure defense, and debt re-organization.

Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Prevent Foreclosure

While chapter 7 bankruptcy does require that your mortgage be current in order to keep your home, the act of filing begins the automatic stay, which prevents creditors from collection attempts and stops foreclosure until the bankruptcy is discharged. Once you have decided to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, this can relieve the burden of paying your other unsecured debts, thereby allowing you to apply that money toward catching up the mortgage.

Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to Save Home From Foreclosure

If you will not be able to bring the mortgage current for a chapter 7 filing and still want to keep the house, then a chapter 13 bankruptcy may be your best option. Filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy sets up a debt repayment plan that has a payment you can afford and lasts for 3-5 years, then discharges remaining unsecured debts. Because your home mortgage can be built into this plan, you will be able to keep your house. Upon discharge of the plan, you will begin to pay your mortgage directly to the bank or mortgage servicer again, and it will be current.

Ohio Foreclosure Defense

If proper procedures were not followed in the handling of your mortgage, we may look to a procedural mortgage defense in order to stop the bank from taking your home. There are also many substantive mortgage defenses for which we may argue in order to save your home.

Retirement Accounts and Filing Bankruptcy in North Eastern Ohio

When facing a personal debt crisis, the decision as to whether or not to utilize retirement accounts is an important one. Far too often I see prospective bankruptcy clients come in to my Canton bankruptcy office who have cashed in their retirement accounts to help them to survive debt issues. This decision can prove to be an unfortunate one, especially if the retirement funds only acted as a patch and not a cure for the financial problems. All too often I see individuals and families who have cashed in retirement plans, life insurance policies, and have ran themselves completely to a level of starting over prior to considering filing for bankruptcy. This usually comes from the common misconception that you cannot file for bankruptcy protection if you have money in retirement accounts.

Retirement Accounts Protected From Bankruptcy

withdrawal from retirement account to postpone bankruptcyThe fact is that most retirement accounts, pension plans, and even life insurance policies are protected from creditors and are not taken in a bankruptcy filing. This means that you don’t have to give up your retirement accounts when you file for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. ERISA qualified retirement accounts such as: 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, Keoghs, profit-sharing plans, money purchase plans, and defined-benefit plans do not impact your ability to file for bankruptcy, and are not taken in a bankruptcy to pay your creditors. In most cases these retirement plans are fully exempted from a bankruptcy filing.

Tax Implications of Early Withdrawal of Retirement Funds

In addition to risking the loss of your hard earned retirement, there are Tax implications and penalties which must be considered when deciding whether to use your retirement account to help with debts. If you take a withdrawal from your qualified retirement account prior to the age of 59 ½, there is a 10% early withdrawal penalty, so you automatically take a ten percent loss on the money set aside for retirement. Additionally, you will also be taxed on the money that you take as a withdrawal from the retirement account.

If you are considering taking a withdrawal on your retirement accounts to pay bills, it is in your best interest to schedule a free consultation with a Canton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney and debt relief lawyer to learn your debt relief options and protect your financial future. As your bankruptcy lawyer I can help you to decide what your best options of debt resolution are and help you to put a plan in place to secure your financial future while protecting your retirement.

Canton, OH Senior Citizen Debt and Bankruptcy Options

Seniors in Wayne, Summit, Tuscarawas, Carrolton, and Stark County often find themselves facing debts that are higher than their retirement or Social Security income can support. While they may have worked their entire life earning money, paying bills, and paying into retirement and Social Security, changes in the economy, work environment, healthcare and health, or the loss of a loved one can have the senior citizen struggling with the stress of overwhelming debts. This often leads to the senior citizen taking a low wage job, skipping meals, or forgoing needed health care in order to survive financially.

You Can Keep Your Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance Policies When Filing For Bankruptcy

Debt relief and bankruptcy filing attorney in Canton, Ohio helping senior citizensIt is unfortunate that it is common for seniors not to speak with a bankruptcy attorney about debt relief options before draining retirement accounts, cashing in life insurance policies, and borrowing from friends or family. Whether it is a matter of pride or just a lack of realization that help is available, it is a shame to see a senior citizen facing financial difficulties. Often seniors don’t realize that there are Federal and Ohio exemptions when filing bankruptcy that may protect their retirement and life insurance accounts, and could help them get back to living their life without the constant stress of dealing with debt.

A Canton, Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney May Be Able To Protect Your Assets And Relieve Debts

It is important for Canton, Ohio Seniors to understand that the Federal Bankruptcy Code and Ohio bankruptcy exemptions are designed to protect them. Filing bankruptcy is not asking for a handout, and they should never be ashamed to explore debt relief and bankruptcy protection options. By speaking with a Canton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney about their financial situation and debt relief options early on, seniors may be able to protect their assets and relieve the stress and worries about debts that they are not able to afford long term. That being said, it is never too late to explore debt relief alternatives with a Canton, OH bankruptcy lawyer at Sheppard Law Offices. We are here to help individuals, small business owners, families, and seniors to explore and implement the debt relief option that best fits their particular situation. The fact is that most people feel a large financial relief from the understanding of their financial options that they gain in a free initial consultation with Canton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney Ken Sheppard, Jr. At Sheppard Law Offices bankruptcy filing office in Canton, we are here to help.

Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Job

Will bankruptcy affect my job search or current employment in Canton, OhioIf you currently are working and considering filing for bankruptcy, it is reasonable to be concerned how your employer will react if you file or even if your employer will find out that you filed. My clients will frequently ask: Can I be terminated from my job for filing bankruptcy? The short answer to this question is NO, your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you due to filing for federal bankruptcy protection. Your employer may not reduce your salary or job responsibilities, and they are not allowed to demote or fire you due to you having filed bankruptcy.

Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Job Search For Government Jobs?

It is common for my Canton, Ohio bankruptcy clients to ask how filing for bankruptcy will impact their ability to gain employment. First of all, federal, state, and local government agencies are not allowed to take bankruptcy into consideration for purposes of hiring you.

Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Job Search With Private Employers?

While private employers do not have this same restriction, most positions are not impacted by having filed a bankruptcy. Important to note is that filing bankruptcy may even help you to get the job when compared with having derogatory credit. Filing bankruptcy does demonstrate that you are able and willing to take the necessary and appropriate action to resolve your debt issues. Additionally, filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy can put you into a position where you can begin to quickly rebuild your credit, and remove you from the stress of the vicious cycle of debt.

New Median Income Helps More Canton and North Eastern Ohio Residents Qualify to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Whether you are living in Canton, Massillon, New Philadelphia, Akron, or anywhere else in Ohio, the new median income for Ohio may help you to qualify to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. The median income for Ohio is taken into consideration when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and as of November 1, 2015, the median income for Ohio used in the bankruptcy means test calculation has increased. This may help more Ohioans to qualify to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Note: It is common for those who don’t qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio to choose to file chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.

The new Ohio median income figures begin utilization for the Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test on November 1, 2015. Therefore, if you were not able to qualify in the past to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio, you may be able to qualify now. When filing for bankruptcy, if your income is lower than the median, you are presumed to qualify to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is higher than the median, and you still wish to file chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio, then your disposable income needs to be calculated in order to determine if you can qualify under the extended means test.

New median income figures for Ohio

Family Size          Income Threshold Amount

1                              $44,796
2                              $55,705
3                              $64,165
4                              $78,889

These numbers represent that if a family size of 3 has household annual gross income less than $64,165, the debtor(s) automatically qualify to file for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. These income numbers have been increased about $800 from the previous figures. In essence, the increase in Ohio median income will allow more Ohio individuals and families to qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you are outside of Ohio and looking to file bankruptcy, the Median Family Income based on State/Territory and Family Size can be found of The United States Department of Justice website by clicking here.

Bankruptcy Forms to Undergo Major Changes in December

New revised forms will be required to be used in all bankruptcy filings beginning On December 1, 2015. What effect will this have on bankruptcy filers? It is my professional opinion that the changes to the bankruptcy forms will not likely have the intended effect.

Canton Ohio bankruptcy formsMany of the current Official Bankruptcy Forms will be replaced by substantially revised versions to go into effect on December First. The intent of revising these forms is to help aid “pro se” (self-represented) filers so that they will be able to provide the bankruptcy trustees and the bankruptcy court with more detailed and accurate information when filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcies. The revised forms are to be easier to understand and complete by debtors than the current bankruptcy forms.

Unfortunately, I am of the opinion that this attempt at making the bankruptcy filing process easier will be counterproductive. I fear that it may be difficult for “Pro se” filers to complete the voluminous pages of paperwork and submit everything that will be required in order for the bankruptcy petition to be accepted by the bankruptcy court. Having practiced bankruptcy in Ohio for over a decade, it is my concern that debtors will not answer all of the required questions thoroughly enough to satisfy the court, in addition to failing to provide all required information correctly.  If all of the instructions on these revised forms are not followed correctly, the bankruptcy court will most likely dismiss the case. Therefore, even after the bankruptcy filer puts forth all of the efforts to complete the forms, they will still likely need to go to a bankruptcy lawyer in order to get help to get their chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy accepted by the court.

Additionally these newly revised forms may cause the cost of bankruptcy attorney fees to increase due to the added paperwork.  The current bankruptcy petition typically ranges from 45 to 60 pages.  When these new bankruptcy form requirements begin in December, the number of required pages will substantially increase, thus creating more work for bankruptcy attorneys to file the petition and increasing attorney fees.

Lastly, there will likely be a negative on chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy trustees. Imagine this… a “pro se” filer turns in their petition, schedules, etc. to the bankruptcy trustee on these revised forms, only to find that the forms are not completed correctly. A bankruptcy trustee earns about $60 per bankruptcy case, therefore it is unlikely that the trustee is going to take the time to walk a bankruptcy filer through the process. Thus, considering that the bankruptcy trustee has a large caseload, the case with incomplete or insufficient paperwork will either be dismissed or will cause the bankruptcy filer constant headaches trying to get your case to discharge status.

For additional information on these new forms, visit http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/pending-rules-amendments/pending-changes-bankruptcy-forms.  Please take a look at this link to see the many forthcoming revisions of numerous forms.

As a bankruptcy attorney serving Canton and North Eastern Ohio, I am here to help individuals, families, and small business owners to seek the method of debt relief which will provide the best resolution to each specific financial situation and to make the process as painless as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact my Canton, Ohio bankruptcy office located in Belden Village Tower at (330) 409-2876 with any questions or to schedule a free initial debt relief consultation.

Healthcare Insurance, Medical Debts, Doctor Bills and Bankruptcy in Canton Ohio

Attorney for filing OH bankruptcy due to medical debt and billsAccording to an article on Nerd Wallet, 1 of 5 adults are likely to struggle to pay medical debts. This article goes on to state that medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.

With the inception of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) more Americans now have access to health insurance. Due to the expected increase in the amount of people who have health insurance, you could anticipate that there would be a reduction in the quantity of chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies being filed due to medical debts in Canton and North Eastern Ohio. On the surface this seems to make perfect sense, however as a Canton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney we still are seeing quite a few people who are struggling with medical debts. One possible reason for this occurring could be that a large number of providers are choosing not to contract In-Network for many of the health insurance plans off exchange. It is unfortunate, because this information is far too often catching Ohio medical patients by surprise and leading to unanticipated medical debts.

One example of this is an Ohio small business owner who subscribes to an individual health insurance plan from Aetna off Exchange. Even though he has health insurance, this gentleman has found himself facing large medial debts. In the beginning of 2015 he was migrated from the Aetna Advantage and Basic Dental Plan-Ohio to the Aetna Advantage Plans Off Exchange. Since this transition was a migration from his previous plan, which was In-Network for his family doctor as well as a specialist he was seeing, he assumed that the new Aetna health insurance coverage still would have these doctors as In-Network providers. Unfortunately after several visits to the doctors’ offices he began receiving medical bills and collection notices for over $200 per visit to his family doctor. He thought that these medical bills were going to be paid by his health insurance coverage, and all he would be responsible for was the stated $20 copay. After running up several thousand dollars of medical bills, he contacted Aetna to try to figure out why his bills were remaining unpaid. When he spoke to the Aetna representative, they told him that his doctors, which were part of Ohio Health and Ohio State University, were Out-Of-Network on his new plan Off Exchange. So now instead of being covered he found that he now owed for several medical bills. Additionally, the money he had to pay for these medical billings was not being applied to meet his In-Network deductible.  All of his costs were now coming out of his own pocket and applied to his Out-Of-Network deductible.

The point of this story is to help patients to understand that it is vital to confirm with your health insurance company as well as your doctor’s office if they accept your insurance as an In-Network provider. By doing a little research up front, you could save yourself a substantial amount of money in the long run. This could be the difference between avoiding going into debt over medical bills, and finding yourself facing large unexpected medical bills. This due diligence could help you to avoid a situation where you need to consider Ohio Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get out from under overwhelming and unexpected medical debts. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you owe large medical debts, the Canton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney at Sheppard Law Offices is here to help with your financial situation.

Welcome to the Debt Relief and Bankruptcy Blog of Canton, Ohio Attorney Ken Sheppard, Jr.

Canton, Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney Ken Sheppard, Jr.Welcome to our debt relief and bankruptcy blog. Here we will regularly create and update posts with the goal of helping Ohioans who are struggling with debt. As a Canton bankruptcy attorney serving clients from throughout the state of Ohio, it is our intent to provide useful information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as debt relief options which may be available in Ohio.

Please check back frequently for new debt help topics. Additionally, please feel free to contact our Canton, Ohio bankruptcy law office if you are in need of debt help or would like to see us write about a particular topic.