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Does the signup bonus for a job obtained after filing count as a windfall?

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    Does the signup bonus for a job obtained after filing count as a windfall?

    I'm finally about to file Chapter 7 because money has run out, and will need to get a job afterwards. The pay will be above the means test amount for California, so I can't get the job before filing.

    I received conflicting advice from attorneys as to when to start applying for jobs:
    - some said after filing (because the BK is a point in time thing)
    - some said after the 341 meeting, to not risk conversion to a Chapter 13
    - some said only after discharge

    So that's a preamble question.

    But either way, even if I get the job after discharge, it will likely come with a signup bonus in the 5 digits. Would that constitute a windfall?

    Related post here refers to a bonus obtained from employment secured before filing, so that doesn't apply. Off-forum, I've only found this attorney's blog post relevant, and it says a windfall becomes part of the estate if received through inheritance, life insurance policy payout, or divorce case. Nothing about job income.

    I wasnt employed 60 days+ prior to filing nor throughout my entire bk. I was asked at the 341 if i was still unemployed. I made sure i had some cash on hand to cover rent/bills through the bk. I figured out how to exempt that cash so i could legally keep and use it.

    From what i researched and learned, any income from work after the filing date is outside the estate to claim. The conditionals are the tax refunds, inheritance, etc... which didnt apply to me.

    From what i understand, if you signed a contract prior to filing date, that bonus should be available to trustee even if start date was after. Its a signing bonus after all so the sign date would be important. But if you get hired after it shouldnt be.

    To be on the safest side, id just stay unemployed or very under employed after filing or especially after the 341. And i would make sure to have cash on hand prior to filing to cover all my expenses throughout the bk. Make sure to properly exempt the cash and/or learn how to move that cash into a bank account for more protections. A good lawyer should advise you on this.

    tldr; me personally, id remain unemployed or under employed through bk and have enough cash reserves exempted to pay all my bills until discharge. Then put the pedal to the metal after discharge to gain income with your middle finger high in the air as you sprint away in your new signing bonus lambo!
    Last edited by bornfree2; 06-20-2022, 07:14 AM.


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