Charlottesville Bankruptcy Lawyer
We are living in uncertain times in Virginia and the rest of the country with massive layoffs, mounting debt, and desperate need for financial relief. Even though you lost your main source of income, the bills are continuing to pile up. If you are looking for a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer, the attorneys and staff at MartinWren, P.C. can help guide you through this difficult time.
Federal bankruptcy laws offer two general plans for individuals or families seeking bankruptcy.
One option is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is known as a “liquidation bankruptcy.” This means, in some sense, that your debts will be wiped clean. Just the act of filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition will immediately stop incoming calls from harassing debt collectors and creditors, and it will stop any debt collection actions that may be pending against you. Instead, any creditors will be required to work through an independent party, known as a trustee. A bankruptcy trustee will evaluate your income and expenses, as well as your assets. A Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer will represent you before the trustee and help guide you through this process. If Chapter 7 is granted, the debts will be forever forgiven.
To file a chapter 7 bankruptcy you will need to attend a financial management class, which can usually be done online. You will be given additional information to help determine whether you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Some factors to consider include the types of debt that you have incurred and the amount of your income and expenses. If your income is too high, you may be ineligible for a Chapter 7 but could consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a “wage earner’s plan,” allows you to consolidate your debts into affordable payments. Although debts are not wiped clean in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there will be a restructuring of your debt over a certain period of time to allow you to make manageable payments to your creditors. The amount and frequency of your payments will depend on your income and debt but it was typically be carried out over a three to five year period. And in many cases, the overall amount of your debt can be reduced. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may give you the ability to reasonably pay your outstanding debts and avoid harsh collection remedies. So long as you make the required payments, the outstanding debt will be concluded when the payment period ends. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be able to save your home from foreclosure and cure delinquent mortgage payments over time.
There are certain debts that are not forgiven under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Such debts may include student loans, child support arrearages, and most tax obligations. But there may still be options available to you which allow your other debts to be restructured and provide a plan for your financial success. It is worthwhile to speak with a Charlottesville bankruptcy attorney to explore and understand your options.
How to Get Started
Call MartinWren, P.C. today at (434) 817-3100 to have a free consultation with a Charlottesville Bankruptcy Lawyer. We will be happy to discuss your concerns and help you understand your options for moving forward. In this unusual time addressing COVID-19, MartinWren, PC would be happy to meet with you virtually through video conferencing if necessary.
Important Steps to Take Before Filing for Bankruptcy
If you’ve decided to file for bankruptcy, it’s important to be prepared. The more you plan for it, the easier the entire process will be. Here are several important steps a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer suggests taking:
- Stop Paying Some of Your Bills: If you want to file for bankruptcy, it’s time to stop paying any unsecured loans, like credit card bills and medical bills. If you borrowed money from family or friends, now is not the time to pay them back. If your creditors find out that you paid back your family and friends and not them, it could complicate things. However, you should still continue to pay your rent, utilities, insurance, and other essentials.
- Adjust Your Budget: When you file for bankruptcy, you can’t expect to live the same lifestyle for a while. You’ll have to adjust your budget accordingly and learn to live without luxuries for the time being. For example, you may want to stop dining out and cook at home instead. A Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer would advise you to do this as soon as possible. The sooner you adjust your budget, the easier it will be.
- Stop Using Your Credit Cards: Just because some of your credit cards may still work, doesn’t mean you should use them. If you use your credit cards within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy, you won’t be able to discharge them. It’s also considered fraud and can come with legal consequences.
- Obtain Copies of Your Credit Reports: It’s important to get copies of all your credit reports so that you know all of your creditors. As a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer can confirm, you must list all of your creditors as you file for bankruptcy. If you don’t include a creditor, you will still owe that creditor money after you file for bankruptcy.
- Make a List of Your Assets: Another step you must take before filing for bankruptcy is listing all the major assets you own, such as real estate and vehicles, and the dollar value of that property. It’s also a good idea to obtain copies of your bank statements and statements for other financial accounts.
- Don’t Be Tempted to Transfer Property: A Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer has witnessed many people make the mistake of transferring property to family members before filing for bankruptcy. While this may seem like a good idea at first, it’s actually illegal and should be avoided.
- Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer: Bankruptcy law is quite complicated. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer on your side. He or she knows the ins and outs of bankruptcy law and will prevent you from making costly mistakes that could jeopardize your case. A bankruptcy lawyer can also help you determine if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is better for you.
Is Filing for Bankruptcy Your Best Option?
No one wants to file for bankruptcy, but millions of Americans are forced to make that decision each year due to overwhelming debt. While there is sometimes a negative connotation that is associated with bankruptcy, the truth is that it is often the best choice for someone who is struggling financially to help them get back on their feet and get a fresh start. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, call a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer to find out what legal options you may have.
Trying to determine if filing for bankruptcy is the best choice for your situation can be confusing. If you have come to a point where you are unable to pay back your debts after you have paid the necessary living expenses, such as housing, food, living expenses, and healthcare then filing may be your only choice.
There are, however, other situations where filing for bankruptcy may also be the best option.
- You are at risk of losing your home or your vehicle. If you are behind on your mortgage payments and the bank is threatening foreclosure or you are behind on your vehicle payments and the bank is threatening foreclosure, filing for bankruptcy will place a stay on any collection activity. This means that the foreclosure or repossession will be placed on hold while you go through the bankruptcy process. While the automatic stay will not stay in place indefinitely, it will give you time to figure out options that will rectify the situation. Your Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer can explain what your options are.
- You have investigated debt consolidation, however, even by consolidating your debt to a lower interest rate, you still cannot afford the monthly obligation. In this situation, filing for bankruptcy could be your best option.
- You have a low credit score. A common objection people have to filing for bankruptcy is that it will lower their credit score. But if you have been consistently late or missed payments for your debts, then your credit score has already been negatively impacted. Banks, credit card companies, and other debtors report late and missed payments to credit bureaus, and this affects your credit score. If your credit score is already low, filing for bankruptcy can actually help you by discharging your debt and allowing you to start with a clean financial slate. This will allow you to increase your credit score over time.
Let Our Bankruptcy Law Firm Help You
If you would like more detailed information on how bankruptcy may be able to help you in your situation, call MartinWren, P.C. to speak with a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer. Call our office to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We can help you determine whether filing for bankruptcy will be in your best interest and what type of bankruptcy is the right one for your situation.