West Law Office Coronavirus COVID-19 Bankruptcy Court Update Page – Updated Hourly

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Gov DeWine “Stay Home” order does NOT affect Bankruptcy Court or West Law Office.

We are considered “Essential Services”  under the order and our office remains 100% fully functional, with normal hours.

We take this crisis seriously, and are now scheduling new client conferences by video chat and by telephone conference.

There is no need to leave your home to chat with us.

We are helping our clients create plans to deal with this crisis, on top of, for many, already strained financial situations.

Effective March 22, 2020

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Currently most 341 meetings are continued. If your meeting is to be held, it will be by phone, with you either at home or in one of our branch offices, Sharonville for Cincinnati Chapter 13, or Reynoldsburg for Columbus Chapter 13.

Here is the official notice:
Effective immediately, all in-person chapter 7, 12, and 13 section 341 meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020, are hereby continued until a later date to be determined. Absent special circumstances, section 341 meetings may not proceed during this period except through telephonic or other alternative means not requiring personal appearance by debtors. Appropriate notice will be provided to parties in accordance with bankruptcy law and rules.
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We at West Law Office will continue to operate and support our clients, accept new clients, file cases and continue to support our hundreds of clients in Chapter 13 cases.
We are now conducting signing appointments by phone, and our staff will provide details about the process.
Our process has been approved by the United States Trustee’s office.
You do not need to come to the office, nor appear personally in front of a trustee, until further notice.
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Trustee English in Columbus has issued instructions for attorneys to conduct 341 meetings by telephone.  It is our understanding that clients shall appear in our office, and the attorney will conduct the questioning, along with the chapter 13 hearing examiner.  19Mar2020.

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Columbus Ch 7 341 meetings are all continued until a future date to be announced.

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Trustee Pat Friesinger has indicated to us that she will permit us to conduct 341 meetings with our clients available at home provided that they have a visual connection, like skype, facetime, or gotomeeting.  We have all of these available to us.  This is exactly what we are doing for our Dayton chapter 13 341 meetings.  Pat’s next docket is next week.   We will be contacting our clients who are on this docket to arrange to go forward as scheduled if they have access to a video connection.  19mar2020

Erin Renneker’s docket will be by video or phone.

George Leight has a process for telephonic meetings.

Trustees may require that client/attorney file an attestation in addition to the normal documents we file.

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Dayton Chapter 13 Trustee information –  COVID-19

Tax return deadline has been extended to July 15th.  But, please get your returns to us as soon as you can. (notice date: 22mar20)

DEBTORS’ WITH SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED PAYROLL WHEN PLAN PAYMENT WILL EXCEED INCOME AND/OR WILL LEAVE VERY LITTLE INCOME FOR THEM AFTER IT’S DEDUCTED

If your income has been reduced to a level where there will not be enough funds there to cover the plan payment, your employer should not be taking the payment out of your check. If you can afford to make the payment yourself, please send in a cashier’s check or money order directly to the Trustee at the following address:

John G. Jansing, Chapter 13 Trustee, P.O. Box 6002, Memphis, TN 38101-6002

If you fail to make the plan payment, the Trustee will not be filing a motion to dismiss your case immediately. However, when/if these motions are filed, the Trustee will be willing to work with you through our office in an effort to resolve the motion and avoid dismissal of your case. We will contact you through our HelpDesk system to discuss any motion to dismiss, and work to resolve it in a manner that makes the most financial sense for you and your family

If your income is reduced to the point that you have sufficient funds to cover your plan payment, but it leaves little to no money for you to live, please send us a HelpDesk ticket to inform us. In order for us to request relief from the trustee, we will need a copy of your paycheck stub, as well as paystubs for your spouse or anyone else who may be assisting with expenses. We will also need a list of expenses that you feel you are unable to afford.

The Trustee has informed us that he intends to leave payroll orders in place, but, on a case by case basis, issue a partial or complete refund of the plan payments he receives from clients, so that living expenses can be met. The Trustee will issue these plan payment refunds to clients based upon need and expenses listed in your budget. What that means is that if you are stating you need funds for food, utilities, cell phone, the Trustee will be reviewing your petition (specifically Schedule J) and will issue a check to you in amounts that match those listed in your filed budget. If you are unsure of the amount you listed, please refer to the copy of the petition we provided to you at your signing. If you cannot locate it, let us know and we will send you an electronic copy.

The Trustee will also be reviewing your entire case prior to issuing any checks.  That means if you are currently behind in payments or have a history of being behind in your plan payments, this might affect the trustee’s decision. Also, it may affect our advice to you. We, along with the trustee, will review everything, and carefully consider what might be the best course of action for you individually.

Notice date 20mar20

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Cincinnati Chapter 13 – 341 Hearings  COVID-19 PROCESS

Cincinnati Chapter 13 341 meetings will be held by telephone/skype/facetime.

The case attorney will set this up with the trustee in advance.

West Law Office has already had several of these hearings, and the process went smoothly.

There will be additional documents for the clients to sign and so these need to be dropped off at the attorney office the day of the hearing.

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Dayton Chapter 13 – 341 Hearings  COVID-19 PROCESS

Dayton Chapter 13 341 meetings will be held by telephone/skype/facetime.

The case attorney will set this up with the trustee in advance.

West Law Office has already had several of these hearings, and the process went smoothly.

There will be additional documents for the clients to sign and so these need to be dropped off at the attorney office the day of the hearing.   And, the clients are required to call the trustee after the meeting to finish up the meeting by speaking with one of the chapter 13 clerks.

effective 19 Mar 2020

 

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF SALES AND TAX SALES SUSPENDED

The Montgomery county sheriff’s website just posted a notice that all mortgage foreclosure sales and tax sales are suspended until further notice.

March 20, 2020

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Student loan payments suspended.  Collections suspended if in default.

  • The Department has confirmed that payments on government-held federal student loans will be suspended through Sept. 30, 2020. The suspension is automatic. Borrowers do not have to request it.
  • The Department has confirmed that the suspended months will count for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, even if payments are not made. The months of suspended payments will also count towards loan forgiveness associated with income-driven repayment plans, and for rehabilitation programs for borrowers who are in default. Borrowers should not request a forbearance, since periods of forbearance may not count towards loan forgiveness.
  • Borrowers in default will have their wage garnishments, Social Security offsets, and tax refund seizures suspended. This will be retroactive to March 13, 2020. Any tax refund seizures, Social Security offsets, or wage garnishments that occur between March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2020 will be refunded to borrowers.
  • Loan servicers will be instructed to suspend billing and all automatic debits starting on April 10, 2020.
  • The payment suspension is retroactive to March 13, 2020. Borrowers who made a payment — or had a payment auto-debited from their bank account — between March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2020 can contact their loan servicer to request a refund.
  • For borrowers on an income-driven repayment plan, recertification deadlines will be extended by six months.

These relief programs apply only to government-held federal loans. This does not apply to FFEL-program federal loans and Perkins federal loans not held by the government, nor does it apply to private student loans.

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Eviction cases and jury trials are on a temporary hold in Dayton Municipal Court until April 30.

also utility shutoffs remain paused.

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Chapter 13 plans and student loan IDR payments  – updated 10 APR 20

Department of Education provided this additional guidance regarding IDR payments during the pandemic:  “All federal student loan accounts were placed into administrative forbearance effective 3/13/2020 with a zero interest rate until 9/30/2020.  Education is not requiring payments during this period and would not oppose a temporary change in Chapter 13 plans if Debtors don’t want to make their IDR payments during this period. All IDR repayment plans will be automatically reinstated effective 10/1/2020.”

To prevent default once this suspension lifts, please ensure orders for temporary reduction of plan payments provide that the Debtor resume timely IDR payments into the plan before the IDR is reinstated on 10/1/2020, so the Trustee has funds to restart IDR payments with the October distribution schedule.

The full policy for Education’s coronavirus contingency plan can be found at:  https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

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More info on Dayton Chapter 13  date 17APR20

Cases where Debtors are on Probation

If you have cases where debtors are currently on probation and are being impacted by

the COVID-19 pandemic, we request that a status report be filed explaining debtors’

situation as it relates to their employment and how they are affected by COVID-19.

Include an estimate of the time debtors may be off of work and their efforts to secure

unemployment and the any PPP grants, if applicable. Also, indicate that a further status

report will be filed within 60 days or sooner should debtors return to work. Also, indicate

that the debtors will agree to extend probation by the number of months that their

Chapter 13 payments are in forbearance (for want of a better term). Scott will make a

notation in the file not to dismiss the case for debtors’ failing probation during this

forbearance period. The Trustee will NOT dismiss a case for debtors that follow this

procedure. However, failure to communicate with the Trustee’s office could result in the

debtors’ case being dismissed. Depending upon the situation, a modification may be

required, for those cases that qualify, to extend the 60-month time limit up to 84 months.

Federally-Held Student Loans

The CARES Act requires the Secretary of Education to “suspend all payments due” for

federally-held student loans until September 30, 2020. Also, “interest shall not accrue”

on any loans for which payments are suspended. Finally, the Secretary shall deem each

month for which a loan payment was suspended under the CARES Act as if the borrower

of the loan had made a payment for the purpose of any loan forgiveness program or loan

rehabilitation program.

 

IDR Payments in active Chapter 13 cases

We recently received the following information from Angela Trumbauer, in the US

Attorney’s office:  “All federal student loan accounts were placed into administrative

forbearance 3/13/2020 with a zero interest rate until 9/30/2020.  Education is not

requiring payments during this period and would not oppose a temporary change in

Chapter 13 plans if Debtors don’t want to make their IDR payments during this period.

All IDR repayment plans will be automatically reinstated effective 10/1/2020.” To

prevent default once this suspension lifts, please ensure orders for temporary reduction

of plan payments provide that the debtor resume timely IDR payments into the plan

before the IDR is reinstated on 10/1/20, so the Trustee has funds to restart IDR

payments with the October distribution schedule. The full policy for Education’s

coronavirus contingency plan can be found at:

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus#forbearance-questions

Disclosure of Stimulus Monies on Schedules

In new case filings where the debtors have already received stimulus monies and those

monies are on deposit in a bank account at the time of filing, make sure to explain on

Schedule A/B that those funds are “recovery rebates” issued under the CARES Act.

Such payments are excluded from that statutory definitions of current monthly income

and disposable income.

Employer information on Schedule I

When you or your staff prepare Schedule I, please make sure to include accurate

information regarding the debtor’s employment information, including employer’s

name and employer’s address. We need the correct address for the payroll

department in order to expedite payroll deduction orders.

Correspondence sent to lockbox by Debtors

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finding that more and more debtors are putting

notes and other information in the envelope with a payment.  Although we receive this

information from the lockbox and make notes in the debtor’s file, some of the notes

include time sensitive legal issues that need to be addressed by counsel. Please reach out

to your debtors and advise them to talk to your office about such issues, rather than

including a note with their payment.

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Telephonic 341 meetings are expected to continue for all cases filed before July 10, 2020, for chapter 7.  

date: 30APR20

 

 

We will update this page within hours of receipt of all new information from the Court of the

United States Trustee’s Office.

Richard West