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According to a recent survey from Gallup® Politics, six of every 10 Americans polled believe the federal government holds too much power. Over 1,500 adults, age 18 and above in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were surveyed via telephone, and the new statistics were the highest recorded percentage since Gallup® first posed the question in 2010.

The concern over government power is warranted. For instance, the United States Department of Justice houses 53 different in-house agencies, beginning with the Antitrust Division and concluding with the U.S. Trustee Program.

If you are an Illinois native recently considering bankruptcy, you may wonder what role the U.S. Trustee Program may play in your personal bankruptcy proceeding. With the passing of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (11 U.S.C. 101), a pilot program was administered by the federal government covering 18 districts with expansion later encompassing a total of 21 regions, Illinois included. Further legislation, called the Bankruptcy Judges, U.S. Trustees, and Family Farmer Bankruptcy Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-555, Statute 3088) empowered the agency to serve as “the watchdog over the bankruptcy process” and to protect the integrity and efficiency of our bankruptcy system for all parties involved in the process.


As Chapter 20 bankruptcy rulings are rounding the circuit court system and gaining momentum, there is one instance where the application of lien stripping second or third property liens may be hitting a snag.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit concluded that if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed within four years of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the Chapter 13 would wipe out second and third junior mortgages as unsecured debt, eliminating the requirements of repayment via a Chapter 20 bankruptcy ruling.

This is welcomed news to those facing financial hardship and possible foreclosure of their homes due to upside down mortgages. Who is entitled to take advantage of this new bankruptcy option poses another issue, especially for married couples seeking financial relief.


Many people who are struggling financially to pay their mortgage, vehicle payments, medical bills and/or credit card debt also end up getting very behind in their utility payments. Disconnect notices from the electric, water, gas and telephone companies fill the mailbox and even payment arrangements become impossible to keep.

Filing for bankruptcy protection is usually a last resort for people in financial crisis, but if shutoff of utilities is an imminent threat, filing for Chapter 7 or 13 is an option. As soon as your bankruptcy is filed, utility companies are prohibited from terminating your service. This is referred to as an automatic stay. It's the same legal protection that stops the bank from foreclosing or any other lawsuit or legal action because of debts you owe.

Once you file for bankruptcy, you have twenty days to show to the utility company that you will pay future bills. This is referred to legally as “adequate assurance.” If you don't, then the utility company can shut off your service, so it's important to act quickly. Forms of adequate assurance can be a deposit on your account or a co-signer. If the utility will not accept your adequate assurance, you can request the court issue an order that they accept.


Posted on in Bankruptcy

Every month, people have to pay bills. They can be credit card bills, utility bills, and other bills for education or a house. There can be times when these debts become unmanageable due to factors like personal injury, loss of a job or just overspending. If you are experiencing a financial crisis, then there are certain steps you can take to mitigate any damage.

The first step is to account for how you are spending your money and create a budget you can follow. You may know the monthly bills that you have to pay, but not the other ways that you spend your money. Having a full picture of your spending can allow you to prioritize how you use your money. Saving money on frivolous purchases can allow that money to be used on debts.

Generally, the bills that should be paid off first are the ones with the highest interest rates. It is important to make payments that are more than the monthly minimum. Making the least possible payment will only cover the interest being charged and not take care of the principal.


Now that mortgages rates have lowered, people are looking to refinance their homes in order to keep them. To be eligible for refinancing a mortgage, applicants must have good credit ratings and a steady income source. This presents a problem for older people who could really benefit from easier mortgage payments.

The AARP has released many figures that document the financial state of those considering retirement. More than 1.5 million individuals over the age of 50 have lost their homes since 2007. More than 3.5 million are currently at risk of foreclosure. More than 16% of homes owned by the baby boomers are underwater or lack the equity to refinance leading to foreclosures for those who are on a fixed budget.

It is also compounded by the fact that more people are still paying their mortgages after they have retired. “More older Americans are carrying mortgage debt than in the past, and the amount of that debt is also increasing…leading to their worsening situation,” said AARP vice president for policy Debra Whitman. “It's one thing if your housing value goes down in your 50s. It's another thing if you're 75. For some people, it's not like you can go back to work.”

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