Monday, June 24, 2024

Collections: Interest on Accounts

Virginia Code §8.01-382 addresses pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, and provides that:

In any action at law or equity, the verdict of the jury or judgment by the court may provide for interest on the entire principal sum awarded or any part of that sum, and fix the period at which the interest is to commence.

The judgment order entered provides for the accrual of interest until the principal sum is paid. This code section further provides that if no interest is provided on a judgment, the statutory rate of interest shall be applied as of the date of entry of such verdict or judgment. The statutory judgment rate of interest is presently set at an annual rate of six percent, unless otherwise provided by a written contract, agreement or note.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Foreclosure: Default

Question: When is a loan in default? Answer: Under one or more of several circumstances. The most common way that a borrower is in default is monetary – e.g., the borrower fails to make a required payment. However, default can be for a non-monetary reason as well, such as:

  1. Failure to pay taxes.
  2. Failure to pay insurance.
  3. Failure to remove or bond over mechanic’s liens.
  4. Failure to perform requirements unique to the loan.

If you have questions about default, please call us at 545-6251.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Real Estate: Using Lis Pendens to Secure an Interest in Real Estate

In recent editions of Creditor News we have been discussing the benefits of using real estate to improve creditors’ positions. As I have emphasized, properly securing debts through real estate could make the difference between collecting the funds and incurring a loss. In this edition, we will review the benefits of using lis pendens in litigation cases to aid in the collection of your debt.

A lis pendens is a legal memorandum which places parties on notice that litigation is pending which affects the title or ownership of real estate. The lis pendens is filed in the circuit court of the county or city in which real estate lies.

Virginia Code §8.01-268 B states that “No memorandum of lis pendens shall be filed unless the action on which the lis pendens is based seeks to establish an interest by the filing party in the real property described in the memorandum…”. 

Virginia Code § 8.01-268 A provides that a lis pendens does not affect a subsequent bona fide purchaser of real estate for valuable consideration until actual notice of such lis pendens is properly filed with the required information. Requirements include: the title of the cause, the general object thereof, the court wherein it is pending, the amount of the claim asserted, a description of the property, the name of the person whose estate is intended to be affected thereby.

We have experienced attorneys and staff who can examine title, file lis pendens, and litigate to enforce the same.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 Case Dismissed Due to Substantial Abuse

In the case of In Re Norris, Judge Tice of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, ruled that although the debtors, a married couple, did not lead a lavish lifestyle and saw their financial woes mount over a ten year period before they filed their Chapter 7 petition, which was filed in good faith, their petition was nevertheless dismissed for "substantial abuse" under Bankruptcy Code §707(b).

Judge Tice found as fact that the debtors did not lead an extravagant or excessive lifestyle, at least not in the terms of acquiring large amounts of personal property. The Debtors did, however, remain in a large and expensive home which they have managed to retain, rejecting the prospect of moving to a smaller abode that would have been less costly to keep. Also, the debtors testified that some credit card debt resulted from dining out. Significantly, Judge Tice found that the debtors used their 401(k) plans to create a reserve for future expenses, thus diverting funds that could have otherwise been used to pay to creditors.

In evaluating all the factors for determining substantial abuse pursuant to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals case Green v. Staples, Judge Tice stated that the Court must consider more than just the debtor's ability to fund a Chapter 13 plan. In evaluating all the Green factors together, Judge Tice stated that he was left with a rather close decision. The debtors certainly had the ability to repay a substantial portion of their debts, and this is the primary factor to be considered. Their ability to repay, however, was mitigated in part by the debtors' good faith and forthrightness, the relative accuracy of their bankruptcy schedules, and their lack of intent to deceive the Court. Judge Tice stated, on the other hand, that the debtors clearly took on debts while being unable to repay them, were not forced into bankruptcy due to a sudden, unexpected turn of events, and have included unreasonable expenses in their budget (including the deduction for income for deposit in their respective 401(k) plans, totaling nearly $500 per month) in order to make funds unavailable to their creditors. Judge Tice found that the debtors lived far beyond their means and could easily fund a significant Chapter 13 plan to discharge their debts and provide their creditors with some payout. Instead, the debtors propose by filing Chapter 7 to maintain their more-than-adequate lifestyle at the expense of their creditors. In addition, the debtors continue to try to retain money for future expenses to their creditors' detriment. The debtors' actions smack of the "unfair advantage" over creditors sought to be proscribed by Bankruptcy Code §707(b). Judge Tice stated that while the Court was sympathetic to the debtors' plight, and even taking into account the prescription of granting the debtors the relief they seek, the Court found that the debtors' Chapter 7 case should be dismissed for substantial abuse.

The lesson in Green - look closely at a debtor’s available assets in a Chapter 7 case, especially retirement benefits.