What You Need to Know About Bankruptcy
What is Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is legal procedure for dealing with debt problems of individuals and businesses; specifically, a case filed under one of the chapters of title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code). The three most common bankruptcies filed are Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11. Jim Gaudiosi is experienced and knowledgeable in all three of these chapters.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes called a straight bankruptcy or liquidation bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy’s intent is to give the debtor a relatively quick “fresh start.” The debtor turns over all non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee who then converts it to cash for distribution to the creditors. Most debts are dischargeable and the debtor usually receives a discharge in less than six months. In the vast majority of cases, the debtor’s assets are protected by state law exemptions, and are therefore out of the bankruptcy trustee’s reach. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is known as a reorganization bankruptcy and differs from Chapter 7 since there is no re-payment plan in Chapter 7.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is a form of bankruptcy that involves a reorganization of a debtor’s business affairs and assets. It is generally filed by corporations, which require time to restructure their debts. Chapter 11 gives the debtor a fresh start, subject to the debtor’s fulfillment of its obligations under its plan of reorganization. Chapter 11 may also be an option for those non-business debtors who may not qualify for Chapter 13.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is for individuals who want to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years and do not qualify for Chapter 7. This type of bankruptcy appeals to individuals who have non-exempt property that they want to keep. It is also only an option for individuals who have predictable income and whose income is sufficient to pay their reasonable expenses with some amount left over to pay toward their debts. In many cases, a percentage of the debt is discharged after the reorganization is complete. Both bankruptcy chapters 7 and 13 muzzles bill collectors and eliminates some or all of your credit card and unsecured debt. Filing bankruptcy stops a home foreclosure, car repossession and creditor harassment.
What if I don’t do anything?
If you have been threatened with a lawsuit or if you have been sued, you may choose to ignore such filing. This will not extinguish the debt or address the situation. This will only prolong the end result. Once the mandatory time has passed, action will likely be taken. After this the plaintiff will be able to proceed against your assets or your income. This is not usually the best option. If you have not been sued, remember that unsecured creditors usually have to sue in order to collect. They cannot garnish your wages or take other actions without suing you. You cannot be thrown in jail for not paying your debts and your creditors cannot collect money that you do not have. Before determining whether inaction is the best action, consider your budget. List out all expenses and all income. If you cannot pay your expenses with the amount of income received and cannot find a way for the numbers to match, it is a likely conclusion that your debt will someday overtake you. At this point bankruptcy is usually one of your best options.
How do I stop the phone calls?
A very effective way to stop the phone calls is to know your rights. If a caller threatens to sue you, judgments are normally as easily dischargeable in bankruptcy as credit card debt. After you have decided on bankruptcy, this threat really has little meaning. Additionally, if your only income is from social security or disability a lawsuit will do little to help collection efforts. At this point you may be judgment proof and may not even need a bankruptcy. Jim Gaudiosi will help you filter through the laws and tell you whether or not bankruptcy is a good option for you. If bankruptcy is not for you, Jim Gaudiosi will let you what your options are. Call today for a free consultation.
Am I still able to file?
Congress made changes to the bankruptcy laws in 2005, but bankruptcy remedies are still available for individuals. The well-publicized law changes have scarcely affected anyone’s ability to file bankruptcy. Rumors that bankruptcy is not available anymore or that your creditors can again pursue you in ten years are not true. Bankruptcy is still a right given under the United States Constitution. Most people that consider bankruptcy turn to their close friends or family and normally encounter at least one person who claims to know everything there is to know about bankruptcy and cannot wait to share it with them. However well you may know this person there is no substitute for a FREE consultation with Jim Gaudiosi. The cost is really minimal when compared to the risks involved. There is no reason to step into this kind of problem when you can have affordable, knowledgeable and experienced representation that is readily available.
What will happen to my property?
Bankruptcy is designed to give a fresh start, not to leave you destitute. You are entitled to keep certain property. This property is commonly referred to as exempt. The exemptions allowed in Arizona protect a majority of the property that is important. For example, you can protect $150,000 of equity in your home and $6,000 of equity in your car. You can exempt $6,000 worth of household goods and 100% of your qualified retirement account. I find a majority of people I meet with would not be forced to liquidate any of their property in a bankruptcy filing. In addition to not losing your property, you may be able to “redeem” or “reaffirm” your secured personal property. I will help you negotiate with your secured lender to get you to the best option available to you.
Where do I start? When will it end? These are common questions people have when thinking about personal bankruptcy. More importantly, many people constantly worry and wonder what impact filing for personal bankruptcy will have on their credit, their reputation and their life in general. The truth is, the answer is different for everyone. But one thing remains the same, having an experienced personal bankruptcy lawyer on your side can be the difference between the process being agonizing and things running smoothly. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, we encourage you to contact us today to set up a free initial consultation at our office. While your credit may be adversely affected, this will not last forever. By paying bills on time, you can start rebuilding your credit rating right away. Personal bankruptcy does not carry the same stigma that it once did. Jim Gaudiosi can help you through these tricky situations.
What about my business?
Regardless of if your Business is old or new you can still discharge the business debts either in a personal bankruptcy or reorganize the business debts in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
How will my debt be affected by Bankruptcy?
Debts are commonly separated into at least two categories, Secured and Unsecured. Secured debts are those where you have pledged something as collateral such as a home or a car loan. An unsecured debt is one where you have not pledged collateral or in which a lien has not been filed against you. Unsecured debts include credit cards as well as most other debts. Most judgments are also unsecured and can be easily discharged in bankruptcy. Unsecured debts are normally dischargeable within a bankruptcy. There are exceptions to the rule such as if the debts were incurred in anticipation of bankruptcy or incurred within 90 days of filing, or if there is some fraud associated with the transaction. In addition, some debts such a student loans and some tax debts may be deemed non dischargeable. Secured debts are treated completely different. If you want to retain your house or your car and you are current on your payments you will normally be able to keep them as long as you want to continue to make the payments. If, however, you want to forfeit the property and not make any more payments or incur any more debt associated with the property, you may return the property to the lender without any recourse to you. Jim Gaudiosi knows how to help you with these options and will give you expert advice.
Do I need to list every credit card?
No, unless the trustee tells you to list them all. You must list all of your debts. If you have a credit card with no balance, it is not considered a debt and does not need to be listed. The credit card may or may not survive the filing. Keep in mind that these days most credit card companies run periodic credit reports. Once the lender notices a bankruptcy filing, it will likely cancel or reduce the available spending limit on open credit accounts.
Will my bankruptcy discharge be granted?
Bankruptcy is a right under the Constitution as a way to relieve your debts. As a citizen, you are eligible to take advantage of filing bankruptcy and obtaining a “fresh start.” It is not something you have to invent or talk them into. As long as you follow the rules, your bankruptcy discharge will more than likely be granted to you.
Do I need an Attorney?
Determine your comfort level with the bankruptcy procedure. If you feel you can represent yourself with the trustee or that your bankruptcy is not that complex you may be safe simply consulting an attorney to have your petition prepared and representing yourself from that point. Most people would rather have representation throughout the entire process and the additional expense is minimal. It does cost money to file bankruptcy, but my firm has the most lenient payment plans and other suggestions to help fund your representation. We will work with you to set up a payment plan with a low down payment to get you started. Bankruptcy lawyers work with bankruptcy every day and as such are better suited to help your through the bankruptcy process.
Life after Bankruptcy?
For many people, credit scores actually increase after filing bankruptcy. It is untrue that you will not be able to buy anything on credit or obtain a loan after filing bankruptcy. Being diligent and proactive is the key to rebuilding your credit score. You can very likely secure a credit card shortly after your discharge. Often, car loans are easier to secure. Keep in mind that credit card limits may be smaller and interest rates may be higher, but by making regular payments on these loans, you can rebuild your credit score over time. It will not happen overnight and there are no tricks involved. A steadily growing record of regular payments over time will restore and rebuild your credit even higher.
For more information about the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, please click here: Difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy