July 23, 2019

This is no April Fools’ Joke: Means Test Numbers are Going Up as of April 1, 2019!

After your initial consultation, I will analyze your financial circumstances and perform your Means Test. A Means Test is an assessment used to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Before 2005 it was easy to file for bankruptcy; virtually anyone could do so. In 2005 Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA)1 and added the Means Test requirement to prevent abuse of the Bankruptcy process. Simply put if you “pass” the means test, you are a qualified candidate and can file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. If you “fail” the means Test, you may not file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy but you may enjoy other alternatives such as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The Means Test primarily encompasses a two-step analysis:

STEP ONE: Your (the “debtor’s”) gross income is calculated on an average over a six month period prior to filing for Bankruptcy. Gross income for means testing purposes includes wages, salary, tips, bonuses, overtime and commissions. It does not include social security benefits. The figure derived from taking the average is than considered the Debtor’s Current Monthly Income which is then compared to the median income for your state and household size. If your current monthly income is less than the median income for your state and household size, than you “pass” the means test and are allowed to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. If, however, your current monthly income is greater than the median income for your state and household size, you may proceed to Step Two.

STEP TWO: If your current monthly income is greater than the median income for your state and household size, there is, in technical terms, a “presumption of abuse.”2 In order to rebut the presumption, or in other terms, to pass the means test by using the second step, the means test’s second section allows you to subtract from your current monthly income certain allowable and deductible expenses.3 These allowed deductions include, but are not limited to, expenses for living (mortgages and property taxes), transportation (car loans and car taxes), health insurance and charitable donations. After the calculations are performed, and the allowable deductions are taken, and if you then have no disposable monthly income available, you will then have passed the Means Test and may file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If, on the other hand, you do have remaining disposable income, you may consider a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The discussion above is an overview of the Means Test in basic terms and is in no way intended as a specific analysis of your personal financial circumstances.

For an analysis of your own financial circumstances, please contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray, to schedule your free consultation today!

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1See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)

2See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(2) and 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(3)

3See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(2)(A)

GOOD NEWS: Updated Census Bureau Median Family Income Data

March 14, 2019

The Census Bureau’s Median Family Income Data accessible through the “Means Testing Information” page has been updated. The U.S. Trustee Program will apply the updated data to all cases filed on or after April 1, 2019.

SOURCE: https://www.justice.gov/ust

BANKRUPTCY COURT OPEN DURING PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

EVERYONE NEEDS A WILL!

If you are over the age of 18, you need an “Estate Plan,” especially if you have children.

A basic estate plan consists of three documents:

  1. A “Power of Attorney,” which appoints someone you choose who will have the power to do things on your behalf such as banking, real estate and other transactions if you are unable to do them yourself; please note that the only “power” this documents does not include, is the power to make health care decisions;
  2. A “Living Will,” which does two main things: appoints a health care agent (or someone to make your health care decisions) and designates organ donation; and
  3. A “Last Will and Testament.” This document only operates upon your death and it has two or three main functions, depending on your circumstances. First, it designates an “executor” to administer your estate in the Probate Court. Secondly, it directs your executor how to distribute your possessions. And lastly, if you have minor children, it appoints a guardian for your children to make sure they are taken care of by someone you trust instead of someone you don’t want to care for your children, like the state/DCF.

 

Contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray to discuss your personal Estate Plan today!

 

Mindful Money Management: 3 Strategies for Financial Success | By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

How do you feel when you think about your financial situation? If you experience anxiety, uncertainty, or other unpleasant symptoms, you are not alone. Finances are a significant concern for many people. A 2017 study by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America entitled “Mind, Body, and Wallet,” found that money is cited as the #1 source of stress for a majority of American workers. The same survey showed that worry about personal finances is the leading cause of emotional stress and contributes to lower physical wellness.

But managing your money does not have to be an upsetting experience that negatively impacts you. Applying mindfulness techniques to your finances can help you cultivate a deeper awareness of your total financial picture, enabling you to approach your financial decisions with greater conviction and calculated risk.

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an intentional focus on the present moment. It has evolved over time to become a secular, psychological practice of developing and sustaining attention to thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environmental stimuli that impact our experience of “now”.

Non-judgmental awareness of each moment is cultivated through mindfulness. Practitioners challenge themselves to attain a heightened sensitivity to the present through a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, meditation, pauses, and gentle movements. The impact of mindfulness on physical, mental, and social well-being is documented widely through scientific and academic studies.

Strategy 1: Create Space
Mindfulness promotes a consistent, ongoing process of using our senses to become more attuned to what is going on inside our bodies and outside us in our surrounding environment. This disciplined activity of “creating space” on a regular basis enables practitioners to experience feelings of groundedness and centeredness in the midst of racing thoughts and life’s busyness.

Try incorporating this strategy of “creating space” to your approach to your finances. Do you think about your finances beyond just paying the next bill that’s due? Do you know what you save and spend and check your statements? Do you review your insurance policies and ensure they continue to make sense for your needs?

Consider dedicating time – it can be as brief as a few minutes, or as long as 30 minutes, as long as it’s recurring – to pay your bills and consider questions like this as part of understanding your total financial picture. Formally reserve this time in your calendar and don’t cancel the appointment.

In the same way you go to the gym on a regular basis to take care of your physical health or ensure that you get a certain number of hours of sleep for your mental health, “create space” in your lifestyle to take care of your financial health.

Strategy 2: Plan with a Purpose
Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and non-judgment. Through mindfulness, we discover that our thoughts are narratives that we create as a result of our own unique perceptions and life experiences. Repeated practice of mindfulness empowers us to let go of the constant chatter – especially the negative thoughts – that monopolize our focus, and just be.

Adopt this same open, curious awareness to your financial situation. Without worrying about how you’ll do it, ask yourself “What do I want to do with my money?” Reflect on this question repeatedly during the spaces that you have created in your schedule, and observe what bubbles up for you. If the same priorities emerge each time you reflect on this question, these could be the goals that form the foundation of your unique financial plan.

When you are able to articulate clearly without judgment what is important to you and what you want to do with your money you can formulate a purpose-filled financial plan comprised of actions and behaviors that you can implement to make your financial goals a reality.

Strategy 3: Invest with Intention
Mindfulness facilitates sustained focus. It enables practitioners to cultivate greater clarity and improve their capacity to tune out distractions. As a result, mindfulness facilitates the ability to make decisions.

Apply this objective, intentional focus to your investment strategy. Do you know what you have invested your money in? Do you know why you chose the investments you selected? Are your investments in line with your values, comfort level with risk, and do they consider your tax situation?

When you invest with intention, you know what you invest your money in and why. This disciplined approach provides comfort and structure when the financial markets – and life – inevitably surprise us.

When you apply techniques promoted through mindfulness to manage your money, you can obtain greater control over your finances, confidence with your financial goals, and comfort that you are taking steps to realize your financial dreams.

By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Disclosure:

Caroline Wetzel is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) and Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor with Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC.  Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC and Procyon Institutional Partners, LLC (collectively “Procyon Partners”) are registered investment advisors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This article is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This article is derived from numerous sources, which are believed to be reliable, but not audited by Procyon for accuracy. This article may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. Procyon Partners does not provide tax or legal advice.

For more information:

Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Vice President

Private Wealth Advisor

Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC

1 Corporate Drive. Suite 225  |  Shelton, CT  06484

M: (844) Procyon |  D: (475) 232-2713 |  F: (475) 232-2736

cwetzel@procyonpartners.net   |  www.procyonpartners.net   |  https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-wetzel/

Ever wonder how to become a Notary?

The following is provided as a quick and convenient source of general information about the appointment of Notaries Public in the State of Connecticut.   For more detailed information, please consult the Notary Public Manual on the website below.

Qualifications, Fee & Examination

Section 3-94b of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) provides that any person eighteen years of age or older, who either resides in, or has a principal place of business in Connecticut may apply for appointment as a Notary Public.

All applicants must submit a completed application form, pay the application fee of $120.00, and pass a written examination administered by the Secretary of the State’s Office.  The examination is contained in the application form and the applicant completes the examination under oath.  Successful applicants will receive a certificate of appointment.

The Term of Appointment

Notaries in the State of Connecticut are appointed for terms of five (5) years.   Each term is separate

The Oath of Office & Recording the Certificate and Oath

All notaries, whether new or renewal appointments, are required by Section 3-94c CGS, to take an oath of office before they can perform any notarial acts.  The notary’s certificate of appointment contains a panel for recording the administration of the oath.   The oath may be administered by any official having the authority to administer oaths (see Section 1-24 CGS), but notary’s may find it convenient to take the oath of office from the town clerk at the same time they record their certificate, see below.

Section 3-94c CGS also requires that the oath and the notary’s certificate be recorded with the town clerk in the town in which the notary resides, if the notary is a Connecticut resident.  Nonresidents who have qualified for appointment because their principal place of business is in Connecticut, must also record their oath of office and certificate.  That recording is made with the town clerk of the town in which their place of business is located.  It is very important for all notaries to remember these requirements, which must be completed within 30 days of receiving the Certificate of Appointment.

Renewal of Appointment

All five year terms of appointment expire on the last day of the month in which the notary was originally appointed.  Renewal applications are mailed three months in advance of the expiration date to the address recorded in the Notary Public Database.   If a notary fails to record changes of address, it will be unlikely that they will receive the renewal application.  As a consequence, the notary’s term may expire.   For further information see “Changes of Name & Address” below.

Changes of Name or Address and Replacement Certificates of Appointment

If a notary who is a Connecticut resident changes his or her name or residence address, the notary is required to report that change to the Secretary of the State’s Office within thirty days. Nonresident notaries must maintain a principal place of business in Connecticut and must report any change in their business address, as well as changes in residence address. Forms for reporting such changes are available from this web site’s forms page. When completed, the forms must be filed with the Secretary’s office with the appropriate fees ($15.00 for Change of Name and Change of Address, $5.00 for Duplicate Certificates).

When the form has been processed, a new certificate will be issued. It is not necessary for the notary to take an oath of office upon receiving a replacement certificate, but if the notary has relocated to a new town of residence or principal place of business, the replacement certificate must be recorded with the town clerk in the new town of residence.

Resignation

A notary may resign his or her commission at any time, by advising the Office of the Secretary of the State, in writing, of his or her intention to resign and the effective date of that resignation.

Complaints

Any person may file a formal complaint against a notary public. All complaints must be submitted in writing to the Notary Public Unit of the Secretary of the State’s Office. A complaint must allege a specific violation of Connecticut Notary Public Law. It must also include photocopies of relevant documents.

SOURCE: http://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Legislative-Services/Applying-for-Appointment-as-a-Connecticut-Notary-Public

Not an April Fools Joke: Means Test Numbers Going Up!

2Means Test Numbers April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find out if you qualify for FREE:

Qualification for Bankruptcy is based solely on income. It is calculated using your last six months of income. The Means Test used to determine qualification allows you to make up to certain amounts of money based on your state and household size. We’re excited about the new Means Test Numbers (above) as they are going up, therefore allowing many more people to file for Bankruptcy relief.

Please click here to schedule your free consultation which includes a FREE Means Test.

New Medicare Cards Start Mailing in April 2018

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and keep taxpayer dollars safe. They will mail the new Medicare cards from April 2018 through April 2019. Learn how they will mail the new Medicare cards in phases by geographic location below.

New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new, unique Medicare Number will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on each new Medicare card. Starting April 2018, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare on a flow basis by geographic location and other factors.

These mailings will follow the sequence outlined below. Additional details on timing will be available as the mailings progress. Starting in April 2018, people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings in their area on Medicare.gov.

New Medicare Card Mailing Waves Wave States Included Cards Mailing
1 Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia April – June 2018
2 Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon April – June 2018
3 Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin After June 2018
4 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont After June 2018
5 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina After June 2018
6 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming After June 2018
7 Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands After June 2018

 

SOURCE: CMS.GOV

Basic Principles of the CT Child Support Guidelines

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“The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model. The Income Shares Model presumes that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income as he or she would have received if the parents lived together. Underlying the income shares model, therefore, is the policy that the parents should bear any additional expenses resulting from the maintenance of two separate households instead of one, since it is not the child’s decision that the parents divorce, separate, or otherwise live separately.

The Income Shares Model has proven to be the most widely accepted, particularly due to its consideration of the income of both parents. Thirty eight states follow the Income Shares Model. Four states and the District of Columbia have shifted over to the Income Shares Model since Connecticut last revised its guidelines in 2005. The other models used by states are “Percentage of Obligor Income” (ten states) and “Melson Formula” (three states). The Income Shares Model reflects presently available data on the average costs of raising children in households across a wide range of incomes and family sizes. Because household spending on behalf of children is intertwined with spending on behalf of adults for most expenditure categories, it is difficult to determine the exact proportion allocated to children in individual cases, even with exhaustive financial affidavits. However, a number of authoritative economic studies based on national data provide reliable estimates of the average amount of household expenditures on children in intact households. These studies have found that the proportion of household spending devoted to children is systematically and consistently related to the level of household income and to the number of children.

In general, the economic studies have found that spending on children declines as a proportion of family income as that income increases. This spending pattern exists because families at higher income levels do not have to devote most or all of their incomes to perceived necessities. Rather, they can allocate some proportion of income to savings and other non-consumption expenditures, as well as discretionary adult goods. This principle was reflected in past guidelines, since 1994, and is continued in these guidelines. Again, following the pattern of prior guidelines declining percentages at all levels of combined net weekly income begin outside the darker shaded area of the schedule. However, the commission had no economic data that supports a conclusion that this pattern continues when parents’ net weekly income exceeds $4,000. This commission therefore decided to not extend either the range of the schedule or the application of the concept of declining percentages beyond its current $4,000 upper limit.

Economic studies also demonstrate that a diminishing portion of family income is spent on each additional child. This apparently results from two factors. The first is economy of scale. That is, as more children are added to a family, sharing of household items is increased, and fewer of those items must be purchased. The second is a reallocation of expenditures. That is, as additional children are added, each family member’s share of expenditures decreases to provide for the needs of the additional members.

Based on this economic evidence, adjusted for Connecticut’s relatively high income distribution (as explained later in this preamble), the guidelines allow for the calculation of current support based on each parent’s share of the amount estimated to be spent on a child if the parents and child live in an intact household. The amount calculated for the custodial parent is retained by the custodial parent and presumed spent on the child. The amount calculated for the noncustodial parent establishes the level of current support to be ordered by the court. These two amounts together constitute the current support obligation of both parents for the support of the child. Intact households are used for the estimates because the guidelines aim to provide children the same support they would receive if the parents lived together. More than this, however, support amounts would be set unduly low if based on spending patterns of single-parent families, as they generally experience a high incidence of poverty and lower incomes than intact families.”

Source: The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines

For more information, please contact us here.

Alimony in Divorce & Bankruptcy

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In Divorce:
“In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall consider the evidence presented by each party and shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability and feasibility of such parent’s securing employment.” -Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-82

In Bankruptcy:
Alimony is treated as ordinary income or a necessary expense (depending if you are receiving it or paying it) in Bankruptcy. Back-owed alimony is not discharge-able in Bankruptcy.

If you have questions about Divorce or Bankruptcy, please contact me here for a free consultation.

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.