Bankruptcy Can Help You!
- Get debt free
- Stop the nasty calls
- Stop repossession
- Stop foreclosure
- Stop garnishments
- Lower monthly payments
You can do all these things and more with the use of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law is a consumer protection law. It is a federal process that allows you to have your qualifying debts forgiven. The law recognizes that bad things can happen to good people, and sometimes you simply do not have the ability to comply with your creditor’s repayment demands. It recognizes that there are sometimes circumstances that are beyond your control, which can only be addressed through the cancellation of debts.
Arrington, Oduola-Owoo & Mason P.C provides reliable and responsive bankruptcy services. Our lawyers and staff are dedicated and well-trained professionals with a deep knowledge of bankruptcy law and procedure. We offer free consultation, which allows potential clients to thoroughly explain their situation to our lawyers and have their questions and concerns about filing for bankruptcy promptly addressed.
Most individuals can file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In either case, it is essential to have a lawyer fully evaluate your situation to determine your eligibility, advise you as to the benefits or disadvantages of filing, and explore possible alternatives to filing. Our objective in this respect is to provide you with useful information so that you can make an informed decision in light of your specific situation.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, sometimes called “liquidation bankruptcy” or “straight bankruptcy” is generally the simplest and quickest form of bankruptcy. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is available to individuals, married couples, corporations and partnerships. In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy your non-exempt assets can be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee and sold for cash distribution to your creditors. However, most people have no assets to offer to pay off creditors; in this case, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is quick and painless, and it will give you a clean financial slate in a relatively short time. You will have no personal liability for discharged debts after the filing and completion of your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case. However, a Chapter 7 discharge is available only to individual consumers, not to partnerships or corporations. Instead, a Chapter 7 for partnerships and corporations is an orderly liquidation and dissolution under the direction of the trustee.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is a section of the Bankruptcy Code that helps qualified individuals, or small proprietary business owners (NOT a corporation or partnership), who desire to repay their creditors but are in financial difficulty. Among other things, it offers great opportunities to pay off past due mortgage arrearages or car payments over 36 to 60 months, giving you time to catch up and keep your property. To be clear: Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a debt repayment plan for individuals, but often times the repayment can be anywhere from zero to 100% of your unsecured debt. At the end of the repayment plan period, any unpaid portion of your unsecured debt will be discharged.
Ten Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I file Chapter 7 or 13?
The answer depends on a few variables such as: Are there secured assets you want to keep (home/car)? Do you have steady income? Do you have any monthly disposal income left over once all of your necessary living expenses are paid? Normally, if you have steady income, but you’re behind on a mortgage or car payment, and you want to keep those items, then Chapter 13 may be best because it allows you to keep those items and get caught up on your past due amounts over time. On the other hand, if you don’t have assets you want to keep, and/or your income is unsteady, then Chapter 7 may be best because it will allow you to quickly discharge your qualified debt and have a fresh start. We will evaluate your situation and inform you of what option is best for you.
2. Can filing bankruptcy get rid of all my debt?
Filing bankruptcy will probably get rid of most of your debt, but not all of it. Debt from credit cards, car loans, mortgage loans and medical bills can be eliminated (discharged), but debts such as student loans, certain taxes and court ordered payments such as child support may not be discharged. We will look at all of your debt and let you know what is dischargeable and what is not. The answers may determine whether bankruptcy would even be advantageous for you.
3. Can filing bankruptcy stop a home foreclosure or car repossession?
Yes. Once a bankruptcy case is filed, an automatic court injunction is put in place that prohibits creditors from taking any collection action against you or your property, including home foreclosure and car repossession. This is called an “automatic stay.” This is a temporary relief that is very helping in giving us time to work things out with your lender before the bankruptcy process concludes. Also, under the right circumstances, we can get your car back even after it has been repossessed.
4. How can I keep my home in a Chapter 13?
Under Chapter 13, you can keep your home by: 1.) continuing to make your regular monthly mortgage payments, and 2.) make your scheduled payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee. Any past due amount that you owe on your home will be included with your payments to the Trustee. As long as you make those two payments over the life of your Chapter 13 payment plan, keeping your home should not be a problem. At the end of your Chapter 13 payment plan, you should be completely current on your mortgage payments.
5. How can I keep my home in a Chapter 7?
To insure that you can keep your home under Chapter 7, you would first need to be current on your mortgage payment. If current, then you can sign a separate agreement with the bank called a “Reaffirmation Agreement,” whereby you will agree to continue to be liable for your mortgage despite your bankruptcy discharge. It is essentially a new contract with the lender. However, you have another option as long as you are current on your payments, which is to continue being current on your mortgage payments without signing a Reaffirmation Agreement. As long you are current on your payments, the likelihood of your lender foreclosing on your home after the bankruptcy discharge is minimal, but this option is not 100% safe, so there is a slight risk involved. We will fully inform you on the advantages and disadvantages of both options so that you can make the best and most comfortable decision.
6. Will bill collectors stop calling me if I file bankruptcy?
Yes. Once bankruptcy is filed, an automatic court injunction is put in place that prohibits creditors from taking any action against you, including collection calls. Your creditors will only be able to contact the courts or us, your attorneys, on your behalf.
7. Will I ever be able to get more credit after filing bankruptcy?
Yes. You will be able to get some credit after bankruptcy. The fact that you have no more debt may even make you more of an appealing candidate for some creditors. However, your credit score will be affected negatively, so any credit you may receive immediately after bankruptcy may offer an interest rate that is higher than what you received before. But, over time you can raise your credit score and be in a position to receive the kind of credit and interest rates that you desire.
8. How long does the bankruptcy process take?
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process can be completed in approximately four (4) months. Depending on your income, the Chapter 13 payment plan process will be three (3) or five (5) years.
9. Will people know that I filed bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy filings are public record, in addition to being on your credit report. Thus, unless someone has reason to search the public records or your credit history, only the court, your attorney, your creditors and potential creditors will know that you filled bankruptcy.
10. How much does bankruptcy cost?
The Chapter 7 court filing fee is $299.00, and the Chapter 13 court filing fee is $274.00, plus reasonable attorney fees. Our attorney fees range from $1000.00 to $3000.00, depending on the Chapter you file and the complexity of your case. We do offer payment plans.