Monday, September 30, 2019

When Not to Approve a Compromise

Compromises are favorites of the law.   A compromise and settlement can avoid expensive litigation and as more than one judge has pointed out, the deal that the parties make will generally be better for them than the ruling the court provides.  However, bankruptcy involves many stakeholders so that when two parties reach a settlement which affects rights of the estate, the parties must go to the court for approval of their compromise under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9019.   

In submitting motions to compromise, the cases and standards are well-established.  My standard 9019 motion refers to the four factor test set out in  In re Cajun Electric Power Coop, Inc., 119 F.3d 349, 355-56 (5th Cir. 1997) and many other Fifth Circuit decisions.   Most opinions dealing with motions to compromise relate to settlements which were approved which is great help if you are on the compromising side, but not so much on the objecting side.    Bankruptcy Judge Ronald B. King who is notoriously reticent to publish, has provided an opinion demonstrating when a settlement should not be approved.   Case No.  16-51448, In re Jorge R. Alfonso and Naydimar Diaz (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 9/6/09), which can be found here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Undue Hardship Test Is Really Harsh

The Fifth Circuit has released a new opinion which underscores just how hard it is to discharge a student loan under the undue hardship standard.   Thomas v. Department of Education (In re Thomas), 931 F.3d 449 (5th Cir. 2019).    

A Sympathetic Debtor

Vera Thomas wanted to improve her station in life.  She was working at a call center in Southeastern Virginia earning $11.40 per hour with benefits.  In 2012, she decided to enroll in a local community college.   She took out two loans for $3,500.00 each for her first two semesters.   She did not return for a third semester and her loans went into repayment.   In spring of 2014, she paid back about $82 on her loans.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Beware the Living Trust! You May Lose Your Homestead

A living trust is a legal document that states who you want to manage and distribute your assets if you're unable to do so, and who receives them when you pass away. Having one helps communicate your wishes so your loved ones aren't left guessing or dealing with the courts.
This is what Legal Zoom says about Living Trusts.   What it does not say is that unless a living trust is set up properly, it can result in loss of the Texas homestead exemption as the Debtor found out in Case No.  18-50102, In re Steven Jeffrey Cyr (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 7/16/19) which can be found here.