Monday, August 27, 2018

Bankruptcy: Exemption - Ownership of Realty by Tenants by the Entirety

     In In Re Scialdore, the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Tice sustained a creditor's objection to a debtor's claimed exemption of real estate as "tenants by the entirety" under Bankruptcy Code §522 (b)(2)(B). The creditors objected on the ground that the debtor and his wife did not own the property as tenants by the entirety. 
     Under Virginia law, creditors of one spouse may not attach property held by the entirety; only joint creditors of both spouses may reach entireties property. If property owned by an individual debtor and nondebtor spouse is not held by the entirety then the debtor's interest is an asset of the bankruptcy estate. 
     In Virginia, estates by the entirety are abolished except where the deed or will manifests an intent of survivorship. When real property is conveyed to a husband and wife, the deed must specify that a tenancy by the entirety is intended, or this intent must otherwise appear in the deed. 
     In Scialdore, the objecting creditor claimed that the deed did not create a tenancy by the entirety because the grantors did not acknowledge the tenancy by the entirety language inserted by the debtor, nor was the deed re-executed by the grantors after the insertion. Consequently, the debtor's interest was not exempt under Virginia law and not entitled to exemption under Bankruptcy Code §522(b)(2)(B). The debtor argued that the deed, although altered, specifically conveyed a tenancy by the entirety and is thus exempt under Virginia Law. 
     In Allen v. Parkey, the Virginia Supreme Court held that an unsigned memorandum, attached to a deed that was complete and duly signed, had no effect. The facts in Parkey are substantially similar to Scialdore
     In Scialdore, the debtor altered the delivered deed, seeking to establish a tenancy by the entirety which was not specified originally. Accordingly, the language added by the debtor, "as tenants by the entirety with right of survivorship as at common law," had no effect on the type of estate conveyed to the grantees. The Court ruled, "Once the tenancy by the entirety language is removed, the deed does not manifest intent to create a survivorship estate. To the contrary, the deed unequivocally states that the conveyance was made to the debtor as his sole and separate estate free of any interest of his wife." 
     The creditor's objection to the exemption was therefore sustained.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Collections: Confessed Judgment, Power of Attorney and Required Signatures

     The Fairfax County Circuit Court, in the case of Cardinal Concrete Co. v. White, ruled that where the debtor signed a power of attorney appointing an agent selected by the creditor to confess judgment on a note in the event of default, and the attorney-in-fact did not sign the instrument, the confession of judgment would not be set aside because the debtor ratified the creditor's selection of the agent, and the attorney-in-fact was not required to sign. 
     The facts of White were that the debtor executed a promissory note in favor of the creditor. The note contained a power of attorney stating that the creditor appointed an agent to confess judgment on behalf of the debtor. Only the debtor signed the power of attorney. After the entry of a default judgment, the debtor moved to set aside the confessed judgment on the ground that the creditor selected the attorney-in-fact, and that the attorney-in-fact did not sign the power of attorney. 
     The motion to set aside was denied. The Court ruled that even if the creditor had no authority to designate the attorney-in-fact, the debtor ratified the appointment by executing the power of attorney. Also, the court found that Virginia Code §8.01-435 did not require the attorney-in-fact to execute the instrument. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Collections: Payroll Deduction

     Payroll deduction is still an excellent way to ensure timely payments. Debtor payments become virtually painless, and the debt is reduced without the debtor having to write a separate check. 
     Traditional payroll deductions (from company to employee's credit union) are not the only way to achieve this result. Voluntary wage assignments can be prepared and submitted through almost any payroll office. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Foreclosure: Trustees in Foreclosure

     Trustee under a deed of trust are agents for both the lender and the borrowers. Accordingly, a trustee must act fairly and impartially. The lender must not let either the lender or the borrower influence the manner in which a trustee carries out the terms of the deed of trust, especially if this would be detrimental to either party. If any question arises as to the existence of the default or the amount in default, a trustee should seek the aid and direction of the court. The powers and duties of a trustee are governed by the deed of trust and Virginia Code Section 55-59.1 et seq. The code provides when the deed of trust does not. A trustee has no right to exercise the power of sale or to obtain possession until such time as the borrower defaults under the note or deed of trust, and, then, only for the purpose of selling the property at foreclosure or preserving the property until sale. When a default occurs, there is no change in title – the property merely becomes eligible to be sold under the powers originally conferred to the trustee by the owner. Thus, the noteholder has the right to have the property sold and the proceeds of the sale applied to the debt.