We are a Debt Relief Agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process authorized under federal law by which you can be protected from your creditors and relieved of your debts. Its goal is to give debtors a “fresh start” by giving the honest, but unfortunate, debtor a new opportunity in life, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement by pre-existing debt. Many times things happen through no fault of your own. Bankruptcy is not designed to be judgmental in nature. The bankruptcy code is designed to give you a fresh start and get you back on your financial feet. It is not illegal to file because it is allowed by statute. After your discharge, you certainly have the right to repay any creditors that you wish.
What are the benefits of bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can provide you with an opportunity to restart your financial life. You can stop lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions, telephone calls and foreclosures. You, rather than your creditors, will control your financial life—a fresh start from most debts.
Do I qualify to file bankruptcy?
You may not file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have filed one within the last eight years and received a discharge. However, you may still have the option to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Almost everyone can file some type of bankruptcy.
Do I need to file bankruptcy?
Every case is unique and only you can decide whether you need to file bankruptcy. It will be necessary for you to gather all of your financial information and carefully and honestly review it, preferably with an attorney experienced in bankruptcy law so that you may accurately assess all of the possibilities for your particular situation. The most common reasons for filing for bankruptcy are: extensive debt, loss or reduction of income, garnishments, foreclosure of home, repossessions of vehicles, litigation by creditors, and/or continued harassment, such as telephone calls by creditors.
What type of bankruptcy should I file?
Chapter 7, entire liquidation, is an orderly court supervised procedure by which a trustee takes over the non-exempt assets, reduces them to cash and makes distribution to creditors. Generally, all assets will be allowed to be claimed as exempt pursuant to the Federal bankruptcy law or the Wisconsin law. In almost all Chapter 7 cases, you will not lose assets that you wish to retain. Generally, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, payments will not be made on any of your debts except those items which you wish to retain which have liens associated with them, such as vehicles or homes. Chapter 13 is a debt repayment chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed a certain amount. You will usually keep your property, but you must earn wages or have some other source of regular income and you must agree to pay part of your income to your creditors. The court must approve your repayment plan and your budget. A trustee is appointed and will collect the payments from you, pay your creditors and insure that you will live up to the terms of your repayment plan. After the completion of the plan payments, which run between three and five years, you will receive a discharge of the remaining unsecured debts. Other Chapters. There are other chapters for filing bankruptcy, however, our firm does not file bankruptcies in those chapters as they are generally for businesses, farms, or individuals who have substantial debts to restructure and repay and do not wish to file either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The main factors that determine which type of bankruptcy should be filed are income and types of debt. A substantial number of the bankruptcies are Chapter 7 in order to provide a fresh start. Generally, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, upon conclusion, will eliminate the unsecured debts such as medical expenses, credit cards, deficiencies from foreclosure of real estate, or repossessions of personal properties such as vehicles. Monthly expenses must approximate monthly income. If monthly income exceeds expenses there will be an evaluation as to whether the case should be filed as a Chapter 13. Chapter 13 filing is most commonly used by people who wish to retain their vehicles which are in repossession or their homes which are in the process of a foreclosure or when their monthly incomes exceed their monthly expenses by enough to pay reasonable amounts to creditors over three or five years. Any balance left after that repayment period will be discharged. Chapter 13 also allows repayment of the debt to the value of a vehicle, rather than what is owed on the vehicle. It may allow second mortgages to be eliminated from securing your homestead.
What is the process?
You will bring all of your financial information to a conference so that your financial situation, your financial goals and the best ways to obtain those goals can be evaluated. If you retain our firm, you may tell your creditors to call our firm, rather than call you. Upon the filing of your bankruptcy case, your creditors are legally prevented from contacting you in any manner. Any such contacts would come through our firm. Filing of the bankruptcy will stop all collection efforts against you, including phone calls, lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions, and foreclosures. It will also be necessary for you to complete a prefiling counseling session which costs from $15.00 to $75.00, depending on the provider that you use. After your bankruptcy is filed, you will need to appear at a hearing presided over by a bankruptcy trustee who will ask you a number of questions to verify the information in your bankruptcy documents. You will also need to attend a second counseling prior to your discharge. About 60 days after the hearing with the trustee, your bankruptcy should be completed if it is a Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will also appear at a hearing presided over by a bankruptcy trustee so that the trustee may determine that your payment plan is satisfactory.
What will it cost?
The cost of your bankruptcy will depend on the type of bankruptcy you file and the complexity of your case. If you are a member of Hyatt Legal Services or ARAG, the legal plan will pay the attorney fees of the attorneys participating in the plan, and you will be responsible for only the filing fees, which are $335.00 for a Chapter 7 and $310.00 for a Chapter 13.
What are exemptions?
Bankruptcy laws allow debtors to keep a certain amount of property after going through bankruptcy proceedings. This property is called exempt property and it is exempt from the bankruptcy estate. This is a very important area that must be done correctly so that property will not be lost in the bankruptcy. If done correctly, this can usually save most of the property of someone filing bankruptcy. In Wisconsin, the list of exemptions can be based on Federal law or Wisconsin law and you may choose which is most beneficial to you. A married couple may each claim their own set of exemptions. However, both must use either the Federal or the Wisconsin exemptions.
What is a reaffirmation?
A reaffirmation is an agreement to essentially remove a debt from the bankruptcy and enter into a new promise to pay the debt. Any reaffirmation agreement must be voluntary, must not place too heavy of a burden on you or your family, and must be in your best interest. It can be cancelled any time before the court issues your discharge or within 60 days after the reaffirmation is filed with the court, whichever gives you the most time. The most common instance is a vehicle that has a lien on it that you wish to keep. The creditor will usually request that you file a reaffirmation agreement agreeing to make the payments. If you do so—and if you do not reject that reaffirmation agreement within the time period allowed—that will be a binding agreement on you to make the payments to the completion of the reaffirmation agreement. You would not want to make a reaffirmation agreement on a vehicle with 200,000 miles on it. You probably would want to make a reaffirmation agreement on your sole family car that you wish to keep for your transportation. In many cases, as part of a reaffirmation agreement, creditors will agree to lower the amount that is due on the loan simply because the creditor does not want the asset back to resell.
What is a discharge?
A discharge is a court order which states that you do not have to pay all or most of your debts and is received at the conclusion of either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. However, some debts cannot be discharged. For example, debts for child support, alimony, maintenance, most student loans, tort claims, most recent tax obligations, court fines and criminal restitution and personal injuries caused by drunk driving or the influence of drugs.
Can I obtain a Credit Report?
You can obtain a free Credit Report. Be aware, however, that not all creditors report outstanding indebtedness to the credit reporting companies. You may use the credit report as a start, but it is necessary to list all of your outstanding debts, including name of creditor, address of creditor, last four numbers of the account, and a list of the names and addresses of all collection people who have had contact with you, including collection companies and attorneys.
What happens to my credit rating?
The filing of a bankruptcy will be reported on your credit report for ten (10) years. The filing of a bankruptcy will drop your credit score. However, most people who file bankruptcy are already past due in their debt obligations and their credit score has already been significantly dropped because of those nonpaid obligations. There are ways to rebuild your credit rating by continuing to pay on a timely basis the secured debt on assets that you retain and by using small amounts of credit cards from companies that specialize in credit for people with impaired credit. You cannot file another Chapter 7 for eight (8) years.
Will the means test prohibit my bankruptcy?
The means test is used in nonbusiness bankruptcy to determine whether the current monthly income exceeds the state’s median income. It uses the average income received over the six-month period prior to the filing of the bankruptcy and, if that calculation shows a greater monthly income than the expenses (which are determined by IRS guidelines, rather than your expenses), it can be an “abuse presumption” and the United States Trustee will then determine whether a Chapter 7 case should be dismissed or converted to a Chapter 13 repayment plan. The IRS guidelines are partially dependent on household size, which is different from the number of exemptions claimed on tax returns. The means tests for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are not the same.
Where do I go for my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy hearing?
Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy hearing is determined by which county you live in.
The Green Bay State Office Building, located at 200 North Jefferson St, Green Bay, WI 54301, is the location for the following counties in Wisconsin:
The Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 415 Jackson St, Oshkosh, WI 54901, is the location for the following counties in Wisconsin:
- Fond du Lac
- Green Lake