If I file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can I keep my house?

Yes, often you can. However, if your house is worth much more than what you owe on it, there could be a problem.

A simple analysis is to deduct 10% of the appraised value from the house, and then deduct the payoff of the mortgages and home equity loans. In New Jersey, if it is your primary residence, you then deduct the exemption of $22,975.00  if one person owns the home, or $45,950.00   if it is owned by a husband and wife.

The 10% approximates the cost of sale, and the exemption is the amount a homeowner gets to keep as a homeowners exemption.  If the result is -0-, there is no equity in the house, and a Chapter 7 Debtor will be able to keep the house under Bankruptcy Law. Under NJ State Law, they must continue to pay for the house, or the Mortgage company might seek foreclosure.

Often times people who meet with me want to keep a home, they want to own a home. However, too often they don’t really own the home, the home owns them! The pressure of paying for a home, often mostly interest, is so great that it really sucks the emotional health out of a family. Is it worth keeping a home, and paying mostly interest, taxes and insurance, when you might be able to rent a home more affordable to you? Chapter 7 often does allow a debtor to eliminate the debt, and simply walk away from the house. Every case is different, of course, but often times there is a tremendous amount of relief provided by the Bankruptcy Code.




US Supreme Court says social sharing – distribution – of a small amount of Marijuana not an aggravated felony under the INA.

The US Supreme Court decision starts with the following paragraph:


[April 23, 2013]
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 66 Stat.163, 8 U. S. C. §1101 et seq., provides that a non citizen who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony” may be deported from this country. The INA also prohibits the Attorney General from granting discretionary relief from removal to an aggravated felon, no matter how compelling his case. Among the crimes that are classified as aggravated felonies, and thus lead to these harsh consequences,are illicit drug trafficking offenses. We must decide whether this category includes a state criminal statute that extends to the social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. We hold it does not.


Click here to read the decision…


When I look at many of the situations my clients face, business and personal, and their efforts and frustrations with obtaining success, one of the words that comes to mind is “process.”

Process is a series of continuous actions that bring about a particular result. Continuous means ongoing, such that the setbacks we face should be considered as just a single frame in the movie, the movie still pushing forward to that desired end result.

It’s important to be focused on the result, to have a good idea of where you would like to get, but guess what?

It’s much more important to be focused on the process, to continue the effort, to persevere, and to remain confident in spite of perceived setbacks.

Dont expect the process to be easy, quick, unnecessary or boring. Set a goal, set aside expectations, determine a process and channel your energy on the daily process, however small that incremental achievement might seem.


Desiderata – Comforting Words

When it comes to philosophy and inspirational quotes, I often visit the classics, and Desiderata is one of those. I have shared Desiderata with clients and friends, and many have found it to be comforting and inspirational.

I hope it is for you. If so, copy, paste and print a copy for yourself:


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.  But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927