If you are reading this you are considering bankruptcy. You probably do not feel comfortable talking about it. I want you to know that I help people in your situation all the time. Most people who file bankruptcy have suffered an illness, divorce, job loss or they took financial risks that they hoped would lead to success but things did not work out. Many people you would consider a success today have had to file bankruptcy in the past. Bankruptcy is meant to give you a fresh start so you can go out and try again. Let me help you start over.
We handle bankruptcy cases for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities, Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline as well as in Clinton and Muscatine.
If you call me I can make a determination if you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or if you would have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most people will want to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy allows most people to keep all their property and get rid of all their debts. There are debts that you cannot get rid of and there are situations where you can lose property but I can explain how you would be affected after we determine if you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To determine if you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy I need to know how much you, and if you are married, your spouse made in the last six months and if you have previously filed bankruptcy. You can fax or e-mail me your pay information and I can calculate whether you are eligible from an income standpoint. There is no charge for me to make this determination. I may have to ask you some questions to see if you still qualify even though you initially make too much money. Also, if you filed a bankruptcy and received a discharge before I will need to know when you filed and whether it was a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate most unsecured debt, but some debt has been designated as nondischargeable under the Bankruptcy Act, such as most student loans, most taxes, child support, alimony, and maintenance. Under Chapter 7, you can also manage your secured debt, you can cancel that debt and surrender the security, if you so choose, or keep the secured debt and reaffirm the debt under the Bankruptcy Act. Each Chapter 7 is unique, and to determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 and how it will affect you, please contact our office for a free consultation at (563) 355-8846 or email us at hatchlaw.com
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in that you have to make payments to a Bankruptcy Trustee for between 36 and 60 months. This is something people usually would like to avoid. However, there are things you can do in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that you cannot do in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you are losing your house to foreclosure but believe that you have enough income to allow you to pay a monthly amount over and above your normal monthly mortgage payment that would pay off the amount you are behind in your mortgage over three to five years you could use it to save your home. You can also get rid of some debts in a Chapter 13 that you cannot get rid of in a Chapter 7.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Don’t take out a second mortgage or increase your credit line to pay off bills.
- Don’t transfer any property to any family members within a year.
- Don’t take out any new debt you know you can’t repay. No new credit card debt etc. The Courts will not act favorably to you.
- Don’t file bankruptcy if you are going to receive an inheritance within 6 months after filing.
- Don’t cash in your retirement funds to pay debt.
- Don’t give anything away or sell anything for less than the market value.
- Don’t put off calling about a bankruptcy because you are embarrassed.
- Don’t get married before the bankruptcy is filed as the spouse’s income could disqualify you.
- Do list all debts and all assets.
- Do tell everything to Hatch Law Firm, PC even embarrassing things. We don’t want any surprises in court.
- Do attend your hearing with Hatch Law Firm, PC or your petition will be dismissed.
- Do tell Hatch Law Firm, PC about any money due or owed to you.
- Do relax, after you get this over with you will feel sooo much better!
- Do call or e-mail this office for an appointment today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Own Anything after a Bankruptcy?
Yes, you can keep your exempt property, your home and vehicles if the debts are reaffirmed, and you own no equity above your state’s limits in the secured items. If you receive an inheritance, divorce property settlement, or life insurance benefit within 180 days after your bankruptcy filing, that money or property may need to be turned over to your creditors.
Once you file bankruptcy all efforts to collect from you are “stayed”. That means everything stops until the bankruptcy is finished. So, getting sued? It will be stayed. Foreclosure? It will be stayed. Evicted? It will be stayed. Debt collection calls? No more.
And after the bankruptcy, most of the time those debts are gone forever. You refer all of those matters to me and get a good night’s sleep.
After the petition is on file, there is one mandatory court appearance for you to attend. You don’t have to lose your house or car. You can reaffirm secured debt if you want to and keep the secured property like a house and/or a car. In most cases clients are able to keep everything they own based on the exemptions. This can be further explained and reviewed at your free initial consultation.
Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out My Debts?
Yes, with some exceptions. Those exemptions are specifically listed under the Bankruptcy Code, but include: alimony, child support, certain taxes, fines, and student loans. Lenders can also claim that a debt is nondischargeable under Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code.
How Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?
The fact that you are considering bankruptcy is already a clear message your credit has been effected. A bankruptcy will stay in your credit report for 10 years, but the filing of a bankruptcy will cause those creditors on your credit report that have been discharged to show a zero balance owed after your discharge. This should help you improve your credit score.
Can I Avoid Listing a Creditor or Credit Card?
You are required after the Bankruptcy Code to disclose all assets and all debts. You cannot pick and choose who you list. You have to list all your bills and debts you owe.
Can I Rebuild My Credit after Bankruptcy?
Yes, in the past it was difficult to rebuild your credit, but after a bankruptcy if you watch how you use your credit, and pay your bills on time, you can rebuild your credit. The filing of a bankruptcy does not prevent you from getting credit in the future.
What do I need to bring to my free consultation?
When you come to your free consultation we will need you to bring the following:
- Your last two years State and Federal Income Tax Returns with w_2’s and/or 1099’s.
- Documentation of your last six months of income, your last 60 days of paystubs and your last paystub from any income you have had this year.
- Your most recent bill or collection letter from any debt.
- If you own land the legal description for the land.
- If you are divorced, your Decree of Dissolution
- If you have a child support obligation, the Order setting out your child support and ability to claim a child as a dependent.
- The make, model, year and mileage of any vehicle you own.
- Your most recent value statement for any retirement account or cash value for any life insurance.