Bankruptcy and Cash in Excess of New York’s Exemption

Sometimes clients come to me with while having cash or liquid bank accounts in excess of New York’s $2,500 cash exemption.  As a bankruptcy lawyer, it is my job to help the client retain as much value as possible for the fresh start after the bankruptcy.  So what can be done without running afoul of the Bankruptcy Code?

Initially, there is a difference between the way this situation is treated in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, any cash in excess of the New York’s $2,500 cash exemption is the property of the bankruptcy estate and is no longer the debtor’s property to use.  In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, any such funds are still property of the debtor, provided that the debtor’s Chapter 13 plan pays to the creditors a sum equal to the unexempt portion of the cash or other unexempt assets over the plan’s duration.  This is also known as the good faith test.

If the debtor will be filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the debtor can spend the money prior to the filing in such way that it would be accepted by the bankruptcy trustee.  Some of the things that can be done include the following:

Stock up on groceries
Fix the car
Make a mortgage payment ahead of time
Pay car or homeowner’s insurance
Repay retirement loans
Pay for medical or dental care
Pay delinquent child support or spousal support
Pay for child care
Pay overdue taxes

Having too much cash in a bank account can be a problem for a debtor.  Discussing these issues in advance with a bankruptcy lawyer and engaging in bankruptcy planning can preserve the debtor’s cash and help with the future after the bankruptcy.  Avoiding problems is the joint responsibility of the debtor and the debtor’s bankruptcy attorney. Timing is critical to minimizing your financial exposure.  An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you maximize the benefits of the bankruptcy laws and navigate around any problem areas.

If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.