Dischargeability of Debt and Objections by Creditors

When debtors meet with me and tell me that they want to file for bankruptcy, I ask them questions about their debts, assets, and their financial affairs over the last few years. I also ask is how long ago they last used their credit cards. If they tell me that the credit cards were used within 90 days prior to the filing, I ask them to provide me with their credit card statements and information with regard to what was bought. All of this information helps me to assess whether I am likely to see potential objections from creditors with regard to dischargeability of one or more debts.

According to 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(2), a debt is presumed to be nondischargeable if a Debtor charges more than $600 for luxury goods on a credit card with in 90 days, or takes cash advances of more than $875 within 70 days of filing for bankruptcy. This presumption can be rebutted, but the burden is on the debtor to prove that the purchases did not involve luxury goods or services.

Another reason a creditor may object to the discharge is fraud and misrepresentation of debtors’ assets or income in order to obtain credit. If debtors misrepresent their financial condition in order to obtain a loan or credit line, and the creditor relies upon such misrepresentation when agreeing to extend credit, the creditor can object. For example, if the debtor earned $15,000 a year, but stated on the credit card application that he was earning $50,000 per year in order to get get approved, this would be a material representation likely to result in objections being filed.

Hiding an asset or failing to disclose it in a bankruptcy proceeding are also grounds to challenge a debtor’s discharge. For example, if you own an investment property, especially one with equity, which could not be protected under the Bankruptcy Code, and fail to inform the bankruptcy court of this asset, then a creditor may challenge debtor’s right to a discharge pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §727. Under such circumstances, a debtor may also get charged criminally.

Finally, the transfer of assets to family members or others just before filing bankruptcy can cause a creditor to challenge the bankruptcy case. It is particularly a problem if the asset transferred would not have been fully exempt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and the transfer was made with the intent to deprive a creditor of a benefit. If the debtor does this, either the bankruptcy trustee or any creditor who might have received a benefit from the sale of this asset may allege you committed a fraudulent transfer of an asset. The Federal look-back period under 11 U.S.C. §548 and New York’s look-back period is six years.

In view of the above, I always advise my clients to stop using any credit cards at least 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy, disclose all their assets, and be honest with regard to any financial transactions.

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.