We all age in different ways. One 85-year-old man runs marathons while another is wheelchair-bound due primarily to the inevitable aging of his body. But no matter how we age, it tends to be an unavoidable truth that we require more medical care as we advance significantly into our elderly years. It is of little surprise then that both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both recently published stories about how more elderly Americans than ever are grappling with unmanageable medical bills.
People who are faced with overwhelming debt may be good candidates for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a way for a consumer to have most debts discharged, and emerge with a fresh financial start. Many Ohio consumers, however, might not understand exactly what it means to have debts discharged.
Owning a small business in Ohio can be an immense source of pride. Unfortunately, even the most responsible, dedicated and optimistic small business owners can find themselves struggling with seemingly insurmountable debt loads. Whether you acquired the debt by investing in your business, protecting business assets by fighting necessary legal battles or some other means, if your debt is growing beyond your control, you need to act in one way or another.
When individuals age, their finances do not necessarily mature at the same rates as they do. As a result, it is certainly possible and increasingly common to reach the age of retirement and beyond while still wrestling with seemingly unmanageable debt. Frustratingly, if this debt is not dealt with in a constructive way, not only will those in debt be potentially plagued by creditor harassment but their loved ones could also be burdened with certain debts after the elderly debtors have passed on.
When an individual's debt becomes overwhelming, everyday decision making can be affected by that reality. People struggling with debt may have less active social lives because they are trying to avoid spending money out on the town. College students may consciously try to eat every meal in the cafeteria in order to avoid food costs not associated with pre-paid meal plans. And, as a recent study confirms, people navigating debt challenges including medical bills and credit card debt are more likely to forego or delay necessary medical care.
When individuals decide to file for bankruptcy, they may face a myriad of emotions as a result. Though bankruptcy can be a frustrating process and the prospect of a temporary credit score dip can be scary, filers also often find relief in knowing that certain assets are almost always protected during the process and will remain intact. Unfortunately, interpretation of bankruptcy law can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This inconsistency can make it difficult for bankruptcy filers to know just what to expect from the process.
In the case of Connor v. Carroll, Case No. 12-1139 (6th Cir., 1/15/13)(unreported), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati, held that proceeds from a personal injury claim which was pending at the time of the filing of the debtors' chapter 13 bankruptcy could not be deemed disposable income under 11 USC §1325(b) because the funds were "neither known nor virtually certain at the time of the confirmation of the plan. . ."
This is no joke - the tri-annual adjustment of exemption amounts set forth in Ohio Revised Code section 2329.66 goes into effect on April 1, 2013. Exemptions are laws which allow people who file for bankruptcy to protect their assets. After this change, more of an individual's assets can be protected from judgments and creditors. The most notable change is the homestead exemption. An Ohio resident can now protect up to $132,900.00 in equity in his or her home, according to the Ohio Judicial Conference. Other exemptions have been increased too, including the exemptions for motor vehicles ($3,675), cash ($450), household items ($12,250 total), personal injury awards ($23,000), etc. Under the new law, people who file for bankruptcy in Ohio can have a greater degree of certainty that their assets will be protected.
Ohio House Bill 479 goes into effect on March 27, 2013. This law amends Ohio Revised Code Section 2329.66 and allows an individual to protect up to $125,000 in equity in a parcel of property used as a residence. Under prior law, an individual residing in Ohio could only protect $21,650.00 in equity in his or her homestead. This is a very positive development for individuals seeking to protect their most important asset, their home, both in bankruptcy and outside of bankruptcy. The new law also expands protections for IRA and 529 College Savings accounts. And it gets better: the tri-annual automatic adjustments go into effect on April 1, 2013 which will increase the amount of equity to be protected. Please follow our blog for updates.
Many young adults just starting out in the job market often carry a large debt burden due to low salaries, student loan payments, and the temptation to finance desired goods through excessive credit card purchases. If you are in this position, there are steps you can take to pay down your debt and thereby secure a more profitable and stable future for yourself.