Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Lawyer
Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Lawyer
At MartinWren, P.C., each Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer residents trust has seen how much people’s lives have been impacted by financial instability. For many, living costs are equal to or exceed their living expenses, making it difficult to pay off any debts they have accrued. When debt gets so large that it is no longer manageable, turning to a professional to explore your options may be the best possible choice. There are many resources out there for people who are seeking debt relief solutions. Bankruptcy is one of those options, but it should be considered a last resort. Filing for bankruptcy in Virginia may seem like an intimidating option. Few people want to go through the bankruptcy process, especially with the stigma and negative connotations attached to. The notion of bankruptcy often comes with a lot of shame and feelings of personal failure. However, for those who fit the criteria, it can set them on track towards recovering financially in the long run. In certain cases, bankruptcy is the best option for lifting you up and out of a challenging financial dilemma, positioning you on a path forward. If you have not talked with a lawyer yet about whether bankruptcy is the right option for you, we encourage you to reach out today to receive a brief, free initial consultation.
Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
There are six bankruptcy chapters: Chapter 15, Chapter 12, Chapter 11, Chapter 9, Chapter 3, and Chapter 7. But in most cases, a person is going to apply for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is often called “liquidation” bankruptcy, as it can discharge your unsecured debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, through selling off certain belongings. Chapter 13 allows individuals to establish an affordable payment plan and also allows them to temporarily stop the foreclosure process and keep their home. A lawyer will help you determine if you are eligible to file for bankruptcy and which type you can file for. Before being approved for bankruptcy, it will be necessary for you to pass a “means test,” which confirms you are eligible.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as the “reorganization” bankruptcy chapter. In this option, you will establish a plan for repaying at least a portion of your debts over several years. In addition, it comes with several benefits. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to save your home and halt the foreclosure process. You may even be able to remedy past due mortgage payments as well. Your property will not be liquidated to pay off your debts, but you will have to commit to a 3-5 year repayment plan based on what you can afford. After that, the rest of your debts may be discharged. To learn more about the short-term and long-term effects triggered by filing for Chapter 13, speak with a skilled bankruptcy lawyer who can provide you with more information.
Bankruptcy Will Impact Your Credit
As your lawyer for bankruptcy in Harrisonburg may tell you, filing for bankruptcy will likely affect your credit. One of the biggest deterrents to a bankruptcy filing is that it will cause your credit score to go down, in addition to a bankruptcy status remaining on your credit report for around ten years. Many individuals are concerned that their credit score will be ruined, and it may become more difficult for them to apply for the loans they need for a car or other types of purchases. You may also be required to declare a bankruptcy filing to employers in the future on related medical forms and other types of government or state reports.
Though it is true that filing for bankruptcy does negatively impact your credit score in the short-term, many people do find that their scores gradually improve over time. Some people have found that their credit score has recovered earlier than they expected it to, so it depends on the circumstances. After filing for bankruptcy you should make sure to practice good spending habits so that your credit score is within a positive range. While your credit score recovers, you should avoid excessive spending and make sure that you are always making payments on time.
Most lenders and landlords will look at your credit score when approving your application, so it is crucial to understand how this may impact your opportunities in the years to come. While some lenders will be more wary if they do discover that you have declared bankruptcy, there are multiple factors that they consider. With all that being said, it may still be worth filing, depending on the circumstances.
Many consumers assume that bankruptcy means that they will automatically have their debts eradicated. This assumption is not entirely correct, as in most cases, the debtor will have to pay at least a portion of their obligations back. It is possible to have all of your debts discharged, but this is less common and is not the general outcome. Bankruptcy can not wipe out all types of debt though. Debt such as student loans, fraud-related debts, or other debt accrued through a harmful act cannot be erased. Always make sure that you consult with a lawyer first to find out if your debt can actually be discharged.
There are many misconceptions about bankruptcy that deter people from filing. To truly understand the pros and cons of bankruptcy, you need to seek advice from a lawyer who can lay out your options and go through the context of your situation. It is best to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision, especially when it comes to your finances. If you require more information about bankruptcy, please call MartinWren, P.C. to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer in Harrisonburg today.
Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bankruptcy
As a trusted Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer will tell you, it will be necessary to carefully consider whether the bankruptcy process is the right step for you. For many struggling with debts, experiencing constant calls from creditors, and managing the emotional weight and stress debt can have on a person, bankruptcy may be met with some sense of relief. At Martin Wren, P.C., we want to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy by presenting you with your options and assisting you in making critical financial decisions for your future.
Advantages of Bankruptcy
While many people with debts can manage their finances without taking further action, others may need to consider bankruptcy for the many advantages it provides. Many people are not aware that bankruptcy may come with certain benefits. In cases of Chapter 7, bankruptcy offers those filing with a fresh start, free from the overwhelming debts they have managed. Typical benefits of bankruptcy are:
- The Automatic Stay: Once a debtor files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay will be granted. This means creditors must halt all efforts to collect debts. They must not contact you in any way. Meaning, all phone calls, letters, wages garnishments, home foreclosures must come to a stop. Creditors cannot resume these efforts until the automatic stay has been lifted or after the bankruptcy has been resolved.
- Discharge Some of Your Debt: While you won’t eliminate all of your debt through bankruptcy, you will no longer be responsible for the dischargeable debt. Our bankruptcy lawyer in Harrisonburg shares that this would include credit cards, mortgage payments, car payments, and personal loans.
- Exemptions: One of the benefits includes the exemptions that are allotted in the bankruptcy process. While it’s essential to keep in mind that this can vary depending upon the state where you live and the type of bankruptcy you file, having the ability to retain some of your assets can be a significant advantage. Keep in mind that bankruptcy intends to help people manage their debt, not leave them destitute.
Keep in Mind There Are Disadvantages
With advantages, there are also disadvantages to bankruptcy. In some cases, these can have a significant impact on your future. However, be aware that, while there are many disadvantages, bankruptcy can give you the opportunity for a fresh start:
- Your credit score will decline, and it will take time to rebuild
- A bankruptcy will remain on your credit for 7-10 years depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
- It may be challenging to obtain a mortgage loan
- Your ability to access credit through unsecured credit cards or personal loans will be impacted
- Many of the credit cards you hold will likely be canceled
- Some of your debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy
When weighing your options, there are a variety of things to consider. Timing is critical, and you won’t want to pursue bankruptcy as an option if you could have otherwise resolved debts on your own. The last thing any person wants is to lose property they would have been able to keep if they were to pursue a different process. Additionally, the bankruptcy process can be very complicated, and choosing the right type of filing will be critical to receiving the most favorable outcome possible. To learn more about our Harrisonburg, Virginia bankruptcy lawyer and how we can help, contact Martin Wren, P.C. to get started.
How Do You Bounce Back From Bankruptcy?
No matter if you recently filed for bankruptcy or are only thinking about claiming bankruptcy, it’s never too early to prepare to recover from the money move. A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer from Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law may offer you in-depth tips, but here are a few to get you started.
Check Your Credit Reports
A few months after you file for bankruptcy, check your credit report to see that it reflects all discharged debts and that it does not have errors. While reviewing your report, double-check that it lists debts as “discharged in bankruptcy” rather than “charged off.” If you have a mortgage or another debt that does not qualify for filing bankruptcy, check to see whether your report notes your payments.
Check Your Credit Score
While reviewing your credit report, check your credit score. Expect bankruptcy to lower your score, but do not let that keep you from checking the numbers. It makes sense to know how much work you have to improve your scores. Another reason to check your score after filing bankruptcy is so you know which financial habits to adopt or break to improve your financial health. Your Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer could offer helpful financial insights to get you back on track.
Recognize Why You Filed Bankruptcy
Do you know which monetary missteps led you to file for bankruptcy? While you may not want to think about it, evaluating past blunders helps ensure you do not repeat them. Perhaps you need to adjust your budget, pick up a part-time job or cancel subscription services you do not use or want. The only way to get a handle on bad financial habits is by facing them head-on and claiming them.
Take Your Time Rebuilding Your Credit
After working with a legal representative from Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law, create a strategy to rebuild your credit. For instance, you could apply for a secured credit card. These cards require a deposit, but they help repair your credit and establish a history of on-time payments on your credit report.
If you have a local credit union, consider taking out a credit-builder loan. The credit union places the loan funds in a special savings account. You cannot access the funds until you pay the loan in full, but the account accrues interest. Depending on the credit union, you may keep all or a percentage of the interest. To make the most of the loan, consider asking for the longest repayment period available. Even if this increases the amount of interest you pay, it may not matter if you get to keep the interest, anyway.
FAQ’s of Filing Individual Bankruptcy
Will I Lose My House if I File Bankruptcy?
If you own your residence, you may be concerned that you will lose your house if you file a bankruptcy. Whether or not you will lose your house depends on how much equity you have in the home and what chapter of bankruptcy you file. The amount of equity is determined by the house’s value less any mortgages and liens that are present on the property. A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer with the firm of Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law can review all the information related to your residence, including value and liens, to help you determine how much potential equity is available in the property. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Trustee has the right to try to sell your house to benefit the bankruptcy estate. If your home has very little equity, the Trustee is not likely to force a sale of the residence as there would not likely be any gain to the bankruptcy estate from the liquidation. In addition, any proceeds would have to cover the Trustee’s expenses associated with the sale.
What Will Happen to My Car?
If you owe money on a car, you will likely be able to keep your car if you can continue to make the loan payments. A Chapter 7 Trustee might try to seize your vehicle if you do not owe money on the car and it is worth more than your available exemption amount. Otherwise, your Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer can advise you on the amount of equity you will be able to exempt under bankruptcy law. If the vehicle still has value after the loans and any exemption amount, you may want to consider relinquishing the car. You might also be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and offer plan payments that will allow you to retain your vehicle. An attorney with Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law, can advise you on your options.
Can I Discharge Tax Debt in a Bankruptcy?
You may be able to discharge some of your tax debt in bankruptcy. Whether or not a tax is dischargeable depends on the type of tax. Income tax is dischargeable if there are no tax liens and the requisite amount of time has passed since you filed your tax return. A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer can review your tax debts to determine if any liabilities might be dischargeable in your bankruptcy.
Most Common Bankruptcy Chapters
Bankruptcy is declared in a number of different ways, but there are a couple of bankruptcy chapters that are more often used than others. Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 are a few of the most common types of bankruptcy that you will probably be looking into for yourself and your bankruptcy needs. These bankruptcy types have a couple of different functions that could be beneficial to you or your company. While bankruptcy can certainly be something that causes you stress and possible shame, these chapters can help get you back to where you want to be financially and assist you with possible affairs at your company.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally used by those who are looking to settle debts quickly by liquidating their assets. Individuals generally can benefit more from these than companies as different chapters like chapter 11 can benefit large companies and organizations more. Chapter 7 is used to settle debts with creditors and get you back to being as debt free as possible. Properties and other items that you no longer wish to keep or need to sell can be liquidated to settle some of that debt that you owe. This chapter is generally the most commonly used and is also quite quick compared to chapter 13, which may take up to 5 years. Speak with a Harrisonburg Bankruptcy lawyer from MartinWren, P.C., today to learn more about the stipulations and other rules that you must follow in order to file for chapter 7.
A chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used for companies and organizations that are looking to restructure themselves. That restructuring entails the company’s finances and finding new ways to handle them. Negotiations with agreements in place can be re-negotiated and the company is also protected from litigation for as long as it is in chapter 11 or under whatever agreement that the company and lenders make. The thing that really makes chapter 11 useful is that the company does not have to shut down and stop its operations but can continue on functioning quite normally. Contact a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer today to learn more about which bankruptcy steps that you and your company should take.
This bankruptcy type is similar to chapter 7 in that it is more often used by individuals rather than companies or organizations. It does have a major difference from chapter 7 though, in that chapter 13, you generally do not sell off belongings and liquidate assets. You will instead have to prove that you make a steady income and after proving this, you will then be put on a repayment plan where you seek to repay your debts over a 3-to-5 year period. Chapter 13 is useful for those who do not have the assets to settle as in a chapter 7 plan. Contact a MartinWren, P.C. attorney today to learn more about chapter 13 and how it may help you.
Divorce and Bankruptcy
Many times, divorce and bankruptcy share common circumstances. It is not difficult to imagine that in a household struggling with financial issues and feeling the pressure of exponential debt, divorce is usually an unfortunate byproduct. In fact, many divorcing couples cite financial issues as one of the main causes of their marriage breaking up. Alternately, divorcing couples may be considering bankruptcy due to the financial cost of obtaining a divorce and settling their personal property issues. No matter which scenario caused the other, it is certainly a difficult and stressful situation to be in. If you are considering bankruptcy while also considering divorce, a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer from our firm can help.
Timing Is Important
Whether you file for bankruptcy before or after you file for divorce can have a significant impact on the state of your finances going forward. If you and your spouse are in agreement about filing for bankruptcy before you file for divorce, you will likely be able to resolve your debt issues and seek relief prior to your divorce. The issue of your debt will not have to be addressed in connection with the property division and other financial matters that arise during your divorce.
It is also advantageous to file for bankruptcy before filing a petition for divorce if only one spouse of the couple has to be named in the petition for bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is not filed until after the divorce, it is likely that each spouse would have to file separately, depending on the nature of the debts incurred. If that were the case, both parties would be responsible for separate fees and costs associated with the bankruptcy petition.
Additional Issues to Address
A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer understands that not all legal issues are straightforward, especially those that may arise between adversarial parties. Many individuals facing both divorce and bankruptcy have many questions about both processes and how they interrelate. Some common issues that may arise in a situation involving both divorce and bankruptcy are:
- Child support and alimony payments after filing for bankruptcy.
- The status of marital debts and their repayment in the case of filing for bankruptcy before and after divorce.
- Avoiding foreclosure on the marital residence after divorce.
5 Reasons You Should Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you are planning on filing for bankruptcy, it can be tempting to file yourself without the use of a lawyer. While it is possible, and sometimes more affordable, to file on your own, there are many significant benefits to hiring a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer.
1. Decide if Bankruptcy is Right For You
A lawyer at Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law can help you decide whether filing for bankruptcy is right for you. They can also direct you towards other options to get back on track financially. Bankruptcy will significantly affect your life, so having a professional determine your need to file can help provide peace in your decision.
2. Determine Which Type of Bankruptcy to File
A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer will look at what you hope to accomplish and what assets you have and be able to provide you with an educated opinion on which type of bankruptcy to file. This will ensure you get the most out of your experience, and set you up for future financial success.
3. Evaluate Assets and Property
When filing for bankruptcy, it is important to value your property accurately. Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law will help you do this, as well as determine any exemptions that might be available to you. They can also help you understand which debts won’t be able to be cleared through filing bankruptcy and give you realistic expectations.
4. Complete Paperwork
Bankruptcy involves paperwork and submitting documents under penalty of law. It can be overwhelming to do it on your own and might cause additional stress and anxiety in your life. Using a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer who is specifically trained and confident in the process will ease your stress load. They can also save you money by helping you avoid the potential of having to redo paperwork and file again.
5. Guide You Through Your Case
Your lawyer will help prepare you for every step of your case, and make sure you always know what is happening and what is expected from you. They will also help you understand your rights, and how to deal with potential issues that come up. Their job is to advocate for you, negotiate with creditors, make sure your testimony is accurate, and ultimately feel safe and secure throughout the entire process.
Filing for bankruptcy is often an extremely stressful time in a person’s life, but you can relieve some of it by hiring a lawyer to walk with you every step of the way.
Qualities to Look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you plan on filing for bankruptcy soon, it’s in your best interest to work with a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer. However, if you’ve never hired a bankruptcy lawyer before, you might not know what to look for. Here are a few qualities you should consider:
- Specific Experience: You shouldn’t just hire anyone with a law degree to take your bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy laws are very complex and changing all the time, so it’s important to find a lawyer who has several years of experience handling bankruptcy cases. Additionally, you should try to find a lawyer who has experience in the type of bankruptcy you want to file. If you, for example, want to file Chapter 13, you don’t want to hire a lawyer who only has experience handling Chapter 7 cases.
- Good Listener: A good bankruptcy lawyer also takes the time to listen to his or her clients’ needs and wishes. Your lawyer should make the effort to hear what you say and then give you advice based on what the law requires. During your first consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer, pay attention to how he or she listens and responds to you. If the lawyer just seems to be going through the motions and isn’t really listening to what you have to say, you may want to hire someone else.
- Compassionate: Dealing with financial difficulties is tough and can cause a lot of stress. Making the decision to file for bankruptcy also isn’t easy. That is why it is important to have a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer who is compassionate. He or she should understand that you’re going through a difficult time and talk you through it. Although your lawyer shouldn’t make any promises, he or she should tell you that he or she will try hard to achieve successful results for you. When you know your lawyer cares and is on your side, it can make you feel more at ease.
- Available: Filing for bankruptcy takes a lot of time. It’s important to hire a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer who actually has the time to provide you with regular updates about your case. If your lawyer takes days to respond to your messages, it can add to your stress and make things more difficult. During your first meeting with a lawyer, ask about his or her preferred method of contact. Does he or she preferred to be contacted through phone or email?
Why You Should Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney
An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you address these issues and advise on what to expect in filing for both divorce and bankruptcy. The legal team at MartinWren, P.C. can work with you to properly and strategically plan and file for bankruptcy during your divorce. Our firm also handles family law matters, so we are also well-versed in Virginia divorce law and how bankruptcy could affect any distribution of marital assets, property, and debt. We can help you obtain debt relief and provide closure and guidance during a turbulent time. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer and find out how we can help.
How Does Bankruptcy Benefit You?
Filing for bankruptcy may seem like a scary prospect, but there are many advantages to hiring a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start financially and can provide relief from your debts. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, here are some of the advantages that you should know about.
Offering Protection from Creditors: Filing for bankruptcy provides protection from creditors and other parties who want to collect money owed to them. When you file for bankruptcy, all collection actions against you will be stopped or delayed until your bankruptcy case is concluded or the creditor gets permission from the judge to continue collections efforts.
Getting Closure on Debts: Filing for bankruptcy can also bring closure when it comes to debts owed. For example, if you have a lot of credit card debt, filing for bankruptcy can allow you to deal with only one creditor. This means you will not have to keep track of multiple debts and make multiple monthly payments. Having Wiped Out Credit Card Debt: When you file for bankruptcy, it is possible to wipe out credit card debt that has built up over time. Your Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer can explain the rules on how much you are allowed to keep in terms of consumer possessions when your case goes through the Harrisonburg bankruptcy court.
Lower Interest Rates: Banks are often willing to grant new loans once someone files for bankruptcy. New loans will be granted at lower interest rates, so borrowers can avoid paying high-interest rates on their debts.
Getting Rid of Second Mortgages: If your first mortgage is underwater, you can also file for bankruptcy on the second mortgage. When you go through Harrisonburg bankruptcy court, the judge will discharge the first mortgage, so it becomes easier to sell your property and pay off the second one.
Why Hire Martin Wren as Your Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Filing for bankruptcy can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be if you hire Martin Wren as your Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer. He has helped hundreds of people just like you through the process, and he will do everything he can to make sure that you get the best outcome possible under the circumstances.
With more than 25 years of experience representing clients who file for bankruptcy, Martin Wren knows how this process works inside out and backward. He also knows what judges look at when deciding whether someone should receive dischargeable debt forgiveness after Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceedings have been completed successfully by his clients. Choosing him as your attorney means choosing an expert who will ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly with no mistakes made, so everything runs smoothly.
You can rest easy knowing that your case will be handled by someone who knows what they are doing. With so much at stake, it’s important to have an expert on your side who understands all aspects of bankruptcy law. Don’t let another day go by without taking action! Call Martin Wren, P.C today to schedule a free consultation with our team! We know how stressful this time can be for you, and we want to help as soon as possible!