Life after bankruptcy

July 1st, 2015

Life After Bankruptcy

Life after bankruptcy is truly a fresh clean financial start.   Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy erases all unsecured debt, which includes medical bills, credit cards, personal loans, and even loans on secured items that are surrendered back to the creditors.

What happens after bankruptcy?

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Your financial world is back in your hands after filing bankruptcy.   Creditors cannot legally contact you or pursue collection against you.    In fact, there is no debt to collect.   As a bankruptcy lawyer in Asheville, North Carolina, I often see clients who are worried about what will happen after they file their bankruptcy case.   How will they get credit or buy a house or car again?

Bankruptcy shows that you were responsible enough to confront your debts and deal with them.   When you apply for credit, you will not have old debts creeping up on you.   It is true bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.   However, most people are inundated with credit card applications after filing!   Life after bankruptcy means that you can still get credit, but you must handle it wisely so you do not end up in debt again.   Have one credit card and pay it off in full each month.   This will help show creditors that you can handle the debt and help increase your credit rating.   Pay a little extra each month on secured debts like your home or car payments.   And, most importantly, never be late on a payment.   See this article for more helpful tips:  http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/5-ways-to-rebuild-credit-after-bankruptcy.aspx

Life after bankruptcy also can be a time to simplify your spending.   Try to establish a budget and an emergency fund.   Live within your means as much as possible.   Consider what brought you into bankruptcy and how to use this time in your life to make positive financial change.

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Should bankruptcy be filed before or after divorce?

May 28th, 2015

Should bankruptcy be filed before or after divorce?

As a bankruptcy lawyer in Western North Carolina, I see all kinds of people every week that need the help of the Federal bankruptcy laws.   They seek legal protection from their creditors because they can no longer pay their debts.  One of the main reasons people file bankruptcy is because they are separating from their spouse and wish to end their marriage.

Divorce and Bankruptcy

Financial debt puts a huge strain on a marriage.    Add an affair, loss of a job, or illness, and many couples struggle to keep their marriage afloat. divorce-619195_640  For some people, the only option is to end the marriage and separate from their spouse.   In North Carolina, a married couple is required to remain separate for a period of one year before they can file for divorce.   That one year period is very helpful for the couple to organize their affairs, child custody options, etc.

More often than not, the couple has shared debt.   They contact a family lawyer who tells them to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer.   Then, they come to my office.   The benefits of filing bankruptcy with your spouse are that 1) you pay only one set of legal fees and court costs, 2) you both get rid of your unsecured debt and 3) you each get the benefit of a fresh financial start in your future independent lives.    This option is a good choice if you are amicable, can work together, and mutually agree on what will happen to your assets.

Reasons not to file bankruptcy are: 1) you cannot agree on what will happen to your assets; 2) you are not able to be in the same room or communicate with one another in a reasonable way; 3) you have equitable distribution claims in your divorce proceeding; and 4) you have potential alimony/child support claims in your divorce proceeding.

Bankruptcy law is usually not intended to be contentious.   It is a legal tool to deal with financial debt.   It is not a place to fight with your spouse or bicker about assets.   In fact, majority of bankruptcy lawyers will not even represent both parties if there is any sense of conflict at all.

Should you and your spouse need to file bankruptcy, meet with a lawyer and consider your options.    If you can work together, it may be fine to file bankruptcy together.   If you cannot, it is best to conclude your divorce matter first and then each party can file bankruptcy individually.

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Bankruptcy Provides a Fresh Financial Start

April 29th, 2015

Bankruptcy provides a fresh financial start.   Spring has officially arrived in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.    Springtime is indeed a special time of year in the Western mountains of North Carolinatulipa-366661_640  Trees and flowers are blooming, vegetables are sprouting, and birds are excited that the world is waking up from winter.   Similarly, bankruptcy provides a fresh financial start.   Springtime is a time to clean out the old and make way for the new.   Bankruptcy can also help you clean out old debt and give you a fresh financial start to your life.

Bankruptcy provides a fresh financial start

One of the best reasons to file bankruptcy is unsecured debt.   Old credit cards, maxed out credit cards, repossessions, even old medical bills that are keeping you from financial stability can all be discharged in bankruptcy.    Congress designed the bankruptcy laws specifically to help the consumers who are consumed by too much debt and cannot pay it back.   Bankruptcy provides a fresh financial start because once you file bankruptcy, you get a fresh clean slate.   Essentially, you have no more unsecured debt.   Rather than spending your paycheck on minimum payments to credit card companies, you can start saving that money to buy a house, a car, send a child to college, or just build a savings account.

Starting over with a fresh financial slate

Many folks that we see for bankruptcy consultations feel badly that they cannot pay their credit card debts.   It is important to remember that MANY people feel the same way.   Bankruptcy laws were designed to protect and provide a fresh financial start for people.   With a fresh financial start, many people who file bankruptcy are better able to control their future finances, have a better understanding of debt and debt scams, and are able to save more money since they are no  longer trying to pay off unsecured debt.

Consider seeing a bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation to discuss your options this Spring.   That is the best way to see if bankruptcy might be an option for you.

 

 

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Bankruptcy & foreclosure

April 8th, 2015

Bankruptcy & foreclosure often go hand in hand.   Foreclosure varies from state to state, but it is the legal process by which a bank or mortgage lender legally takes a piece of real estate back because the buyers are not current on monthly payments.  Bankruptcy is the legal process of protecting consumers from lenders for a variety of reasons including helping them save their homes.

Bankruptcy & Foreclosure

When it feels like all your money is flying out the door and you have bill collectors pursuing you, it can be very stressful.   dollars-31085_640

But when the missed payments also include house payments, it is stressful and can also mean losing your home…literally the roof over your head.   Bankruptcy can stop foreclosure.   Once you file for bankruptcy protection, the automatic stay goes into effect.  The automatic stay prevents creditors from suing you or proceeding with legal action against you for your debts.

In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, this means that you can save your home from foreclosure.   Bankruptcy can also help you catch up on missed payments on your home, often with no interest on those payments.   When life circumstances cause your family to miss house payments, but you think you will be able to fix it if only you could catch up, bankruptcy can help give you that option of catching up your mortgage and saving your house.

Additionally, if you know you don’t want to keep your home, bankruptcy can also help you discharge the deficiency and loan so that you can get a fresh financial start.

Always discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney before you let your home go to foreclosure.   Most likely, bankruptcy can help you.

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Credit Card Debt

February 4th, 2015

credit-card-309613_640Credit card debt usually begins as an innocent mistake.   You have to make ends meet and so you use the credit card.  You plan to pay it off next month, but then something else happens and you have to use the credit card again.  Credit card debt is a balancing act.  If you can pay credit card debt off every month, your credit score will improve.  But, in most cases, people have a very hard time paying off credit card debt.  Here are some options that can help you get out of credit card debt.

Credit card debt and bankruptcy

Credit card debt can be good and bad.  It is helpful to have a credit card for emergencies and it can also help your credit score to use and pay off debt on credit cards.  However, if you get into the cycle of using your credit cards when you know you can’t pay it off in full next month, you begin the never ending minimum payment scenario.  Making minimum payments on credit cards means that you will carry the credit card debt with you for a long time.  This is because credit card companies charge fees and increased interest rates.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges all unsecured credit card debt.  Chapter 7 can provide a fresh start and help you get out of the credit card debt.

Credit card debt and consolidation

Another option for credit card debt is to consolidate the debt.   Never pay any debt company online or otherwise to consolidate your credit card debt for you.  There are plenty of local nonprofit organizations that can help you consolidate debt for free.  Consolidation usually  means you set up payments to get out of credit card debt.  Settling with creditors by paying lump sum payments on the credit card debt can also be an option.  Check your local community organizations for more help consolidating your credit card debt.

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Bankruptcy help

November 5th, 2014

Bankruptcy Help

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As a bankruptcy lawyer in Western North Carolina, I get quite a few phone calls and inquiries asking for bankruptcy help.   Most often, a person has just lost their job.  Sometimes, the person is getting separated from his/her spouse.  And, there is also the person who has fallen ill or suffered a medical emergency.  Many folks need to talk to a bankruptcy professional just to know what their rights are.  The internet does provide all kinds of bankruptcy help information.  However, the bankruptcy help information on the internet is not always the best for getting answers to all of your questions.

Bankruptcy Help Starts With Your Consultation

Majority of bankruptcy lawyers offer a free initial consultation.  The reason it is free is because the potential clients are in financial distress!  We believe at my Firm that bankruptcy help should be provided to everyone.  As such, we feel it is important to offer a consultation to discuss your unique situation in bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy help you can get on the internet can be really confusing.  Although it is a Federal law, the bankruptcy laws are also unique to each state. And sometimes, even to each district within the state.   That is why getting valuable bankruptcy help begins with your consultation with a lawyer.  In this consultation, you will learn the facts of filing bankruptcy.  You will also learn how bankruptcy can be filed and whether or not your property will be protected.   Whether you choose to file bankruptcy after getting the bankruptcy help in the consultation is up to you.  Once you have met with a lawyer for your consultation though, you are empowered with what bankruptcy can do to help you.  Taking that first step to meet with the lawyer will be very valuable even if you do not file bankruptcy.

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Filing Bankruptcy

October 15th, 2014

Filing bankruptcy is not a glamorous topic.   People do not like to discuss their financial burden or stress.   Most people do not like to even discuss it with spouses.   Financial stress can put a damper on your happiness.   The historical wisdom of “money cannot buy happiness” is true.   But, not having money and desperately trying to  make ends meet can definitely leave a person unhappy.

Bankruptcy filings are down across the country.

This is a good thing and also a bad thing.  It is good because perhaps it is a sign of our economy getting better.  It may also be bad because perhaps people who really need help with their debts are not getting the advice and help that they need.  No one wants to file bankruptcy.   But, sometimes it is the best choice to help you get the fresh financial start that you need.   This fresh start isn’t just for your finances, but is also for your emotional well-being.

The first step to filing bankruptcy is contacting a bankruptcy lawyer.

As a bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina, I see a lot of folks who really need help.   They are good, honest people who have gotten into debt because of medical, familial, or even business reasons.   Meeting with a good lawyer can help you take a breath and get an objective picture of your finances and what you can and can’t do to improve your financial position.   Take that step, not only for yourself, but for your family.   Even though filing bankruptcy is not an easy choice, it may be the best choice.town-sign-96612_640

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Bankruptcy and co-signing debts

August 27th, 2014

Bankruptcy is often triggered by co-signing your name to debts.  These debts are usually not your personal debts.  The typical situation is the parent co-signing on debts for their children.  We all want to help our children.  The goal is to help them get a car or put a down payment on a house.   Sometimes we want to help our aging parents with a car or a loan to help them with retirement.  Then there is the boyfriend/girlfriend who needs financial help and so we sign our  name to loans to help them get out of debt.worried-30148_640

Bankruptcy and co-signing debts can be a difficult situation.

I had a client come in today who co-signed her son’s car loan.  He stopped paying the loan and she could not afford to make the payments.  The car was repossessed.  Now, she owes over $10,000.00 in deficiency fees for a car that was not her own.

When you agree to be a co-signer on a loan, make sure the primary borrower can make the payments.   Otherwise, try to maintain your credit and not enter into additional debt.  If you do find yourself facing bankruptcy as the only option, go see a bankruptcy lawyer for a consultation to determine your rights.  Fortunately, bankruptcy can discharge debts that you are a co-signer on.

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How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

June 18th, 2014

How much does it cost to file bankruptcy? This is really one of the most important questions people ask when trying to decide whether or not to file bankruptcy. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, but that meeting is designed to summarize the bankruptcy options available to you. The consultation is a 30-minute introduction to the bankruptcy process. The meeting is meant to help you understand your legal options. The act of filing bankruptcy is much more detailed and will require the payment of legal fees.

What will the total cost be to file bankruptcy?money-256312_150

Filing bankruptcy gives you the ultimate protection from creditors and in some cases, discharges all of your unsecured debt. When your case is filed, the automatic stay goes into effect. The automatic stay prevents creditors from contacting you and makes it illegal for them to do so. Bankruptcy is a highly technical field of law. It is best to have an attorney help you file your case. A lawyer provides the knowledge and experience in this complex field to make sure your assets are properly protected. A lawyer will also make sure that all of your debts are properly included in your case. Throughout the process, the lawyer is there to make it a smooth experience for you and to help you get your ultimate benefit, your legal discharge from your debts.

Keep in mind that even borrowing the legal fees to file bankruptcy can be worth getting out from under the debt load. Unless you qualify for legal aid assistance, you must pay the lawyer fees and the filing fees with the court. The typical cost for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1875.00 including all fees and costs. The typical cost for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is about $4200.00, but this amount is paid usually over the course of five years as part of your monthly payment plan.

These costs may seem daunting at first, but remember that this bankruptcy filing is erasing all other unsecured debts in most cases. It is the end of creditor harassment.  It means the stress of financial burden will be lifted.  You can get the financial fresh start you need by making the effort to meet with a lawyer and pay the costs associated with filing bankruptcy.

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Bankruptcy and creditor collection methods

May 28th, 2014

Bankruptcy and creditor collection methods are commonly grouped together when talking to financially distressed individuals.  As a bankruptcy lawyer, I see lots of people who cannot take the creditor harassment anymore.  Creditors can call you day or night.  Creditors can call you at your house, work, your parents’ house, etc.  Creditors say a lot of mean things, most of which are not completely true.  They also will send you nasty letters.  Eventually, the creditors may even sue you in state court to get the money owed to them.

What relief is available in bankruptcy from creditor collection methods?

First, know your creditor and what legal remedies are available to them.  A car lender, for example, has different ways to collect on a car loan then a credit card company can.  Bankruptcy strives to protect the debtor from creditor harassment and help the debtor get the fresh financial start they deserve.

Second, know what bankruptcy can and cannot do for you as far as creditor collection methods go.  Creditors cannot contact you after you file bankruptcy, but some creditors can request permission to collect on debts through the bankruptcy court after you have filed.

Third, know what happens if you settle on a debt, secured or unsecured.  Creditors now issue Form 1099 for any debts for which the creditor accepts less than the total amount owed.  Please see an interesting article entitled “Bankruptcy and Form 1099″, which I wrote on the subject here:

http://www.lawfirms.com/resources/bankruptcy/the-bankruptcy-forms/bankruptcy-form-1099

For bankruptcy and creditor collection methods, this article can really help you understand what happens with Form 1099.  If a creditor issues this Form to you, you will be responsible for a tax debt.  Once a tax debt is created, it is difficult to discharge it in bankruptcy.  Contact us today for more information and a free bankruptcy consultation to learn more about bankruptcy and creditor collection methods and your legal rights.

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