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Inherited IRAs Are Not “Retirement Funds” for Purposes of Chapter 7 Exemptions

A case originating out of the Western District of Wisconsin has brought fame to one of our local trustees, William Rameker. In the recent U.S. Supreme Court Case, Clark v. Rameker, the Court held that “funds held in an inherited IRA were not ‘retirement funds’ within the meaning of sec. 522(b)(3)(C)” of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Therefore, the Debtor in that case was not able to use the exemption usually used for traditional IRAs to protect her inherited IRA. Of course, this would not prevent you from exempting all or part of your inherited IRA with the wildcard exemption.

Filing Fees Increase

Starting June 1, 2014, bankruptcy filing fees across the country went up. The Chapter 7 filing fee is now $335. and the Chapter 13 filing fee is now $310. If you are not able to pay your filing fee at the time of filing your case, you can apply to the Bankruptcy Court to pay your filing fee in monthly installments. In the Western District of Wisconsin the Court usually approves payments to be made in 4 monthly installments, and in the Eastern District of Wisconsin the Court usually approves payments to be made in 3 monthly installments. Both districts require the first payment to be made 1 month after filing the case.

Legal Term of the Day – Chapter 7 Trustee

“A person appointed in a chapter 7 case to represent the interests of the bankruptcy estate and the unsecured creditors. (The trustee’s responsibilities include reviewing the debtor’s petition and schedules, liquidating the property of the estate, and making distributions to creditors. The trustee may also bring actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate.) The Trustee works under the general supervision of the court and the direct supervision of the United States Trustee.” From website of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey,

Legal Term of the Day – Setoff

A setoff occurs when a debtor owes a debt to someone ( a creditor) who possesses funds owned by the debtor, and the creditor then uses the debtor’s funds to pay off all or part of the debt. For example, you have a loan with a credit union where you also have a checking account. You fall behind on your loan payments. Your credit union then takes funds from your checking account to make the late payment. This kind of setoff may be allowed under Wisconsin law, and might be allowed after the debtor files for bankruptcy if the creditor makes the requisite motion and the court allows it. Debtors can avoid this scenario by simply keeping their depository accounts in separate institutions from where they borrow. Legal Action of Wisconsin, Bankruptcy, 16 (2012).

Legal Term of the Day – Trust

“A trust is an arrangement by which a person (typically referred to as the “grantor”, “donor” or “settlor”) transfers property to another person (the “trustee”) who holds the trust property for the benefit of certain person(s) (the “beneficiaries”). Priebe, Using Trusts in Estate Planning, Step by Step Estate Planning I, Priebe-1 (2013).