Crown Point Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer
Have you encountered a point in your life where your bills are unmanageable? Are you continually receiving calls from creditors? Has a lawsuit been filed against you by your creditors, causing your wages to be garnished? Are you approaching repossession of your vehicle or mortgage foreclosure?
It’s time to talk with a bankruptcy lawyer. We are here to help you get the debt relief you need and get you back on the right financial track. Adam D. Decker, Attorney at Law, P.C., is a law firm located in Crown Point, Indiana, and represents people living primarily in Lake County and Porter County, Indiana. The law firm represents clients in consumer bankruptcy law, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy may not be the right thing to do for everyone and the decision to file should not be taken lightly. The bankruptcy filing itself will stay on your credit report for as long as ten years. Moreover, even after you emerge from bankruptcy, it may become more difficult to borrow money on credit because lenders view past bankruptcy filers as greater credit risks. Thus, if you were able to obtain a bank card with a 12% interest rate before bankruptcy, you might not be able to get a card with an interest rate better than 18% afterward. Because of these drawbacks, bankruptcy should only be an option of last resort.
At the same time, bankruptcy is the best option for many people suffering financially. Bankruptcy can eliminate debt and be the first step to a new life. It allows filers to protect some of their most important assets from creditors, and requires creditors to immediately stop most debt-collection efforts. And although bankruptcy will adversely affect your credit scores, your credit may already be suffering if you are consistently late on debt payments or missing payments altogether. Filing for bankruptcy may offer the quickest route to a full financial recovery.
The bankruptcy laws are intended to assist hardworking, responsible people that have become victims of the current economy, unfortunate events such as medical emergencies that unexpectedly create unmanageable debt, or loss of income from sudden unemployment. If you are struggling financially, the most important decision that you can make to get your financial life back on track is to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer that specializes in consumer bankruptcy work.
Most people who have a choice traditionally have opted to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because it is relatively fast, effective, and doesn’t require payments over time. In the typical situation, a case is opened and closed within four (4) to six (6) months, and the filer emerges debt free except for a mortgage, car payments, and certain types of debts that survive bankruptcy (such as student loans, recent taxes, and back child support).
What happens in a Chapter 7?
The answer depends on the type of debt. Generally, there are three kinds of debt: priority, secured and general unsecured. Priority debt consists of recent tax debt and domestic support obligations such as alimony and child support. Priority debt is not dischargeable in a Chapter 7. Unless it’s paid in full during the case, you still owe it after you get a discharge. Most secured debt, that is, debt where you pledge something as collateral, such as mortgages and car loans, are changed from “recourse debt” to “non-recourse debt.” What does this legalese mean? It means that if the lender could sue you for a deficiency or shortfall after a foreclosure or repossession if the sale of the collateral doesn’t bring in enough to pay the debt in full, the bankruptcy discharge stops them from going after you. All they can go after is the collateral, and if it doesn’t bring in enough to pay the debt in full, they cannot come after you for the balance. This means that you can walk away from the house or car if you want to. If you don’t want to, just keep the payment current and you’ll be able to reaffirm. Upon the entry of a discharge, most general unsecured debt, such as credit cards, medical debt, personal loans, foreclosure and repossession deficiencies, unpaid rent, unpaid HOA and condo fees, unpaid utility bills, etc. (but not student loans), will be discharged and are wiped out. You don’t need to pay these debts at all.
If you have any secured debts, such as a mortgage or car note, Chapter 7 will allow you to keep the collateral as long as you are current on your payments. However, if your equity in the collateral substantially exceeds the exemption available to you under Indiana law for that type of property, the trustee can sell the property and use the proceeds to pay off the loan, pay you your exemption (if any), and pay the rest to your unsecured creditors. If you are behind on your payments, the creditor can come into the bankruptcy court and ask the judge for permission to repossess the car (or other personal property) or foreclose on your mortgage, in which case you may need to consider filing under Chapter13. As a general rule, however, most Chapter 7 debtors are able to keep all their home and personal property, either because they don’t own much to begin with or because any equity they own is protected by an exemption.
Eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Current Bankruptcy law significantly restricts eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by imposing a “means test” to ensure that only individuals who lack the means to repay their debts can obtain a discharge. If your average monthly income during the six (6) months before you file for bankruptcy is higher than the median income for the State of Indiana, based on the size of your household, you may not be able to use Chapter 7. If your average income is more than the median, you cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your disposable income would allow you to pay your unsecured creditors at least $11,725 over a five-year period (about $195 a month).
How Will a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Affect Me?
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court automatically issues an order preventing most creditors (with some exceptions) from taking action to collect a debt against you or your property. So, for example, if a credit card company has filed a lawsuit against you and is taking steps to garnish your wages or place a freeze on your bank account, the automatic stay will prevent that creditor from taking any further action. Immediately after filing the petition, you will begin to see the benefits, including:
- Phone calls and letters from collection agencies will stop
- Wage garnishment will stop and you will receive your full wages or salary
- If you are eligible, the discharge will release you from liability for most of your debts and prevent creditors from taking future actions to collect those debts.
Making a Decision That Gives Your Family a Fresh Start
Before an attorney can advise an individual on whether or not bankruptcy is an option, it is necessary for the person to truthfully disclose their financial circumstances. At our law firm, we begin this process by providing a prospective bankruptcy client with our bankruptcy worksheet and ask that it be completed and returned to our office. This worksheet helps us get a basic understanding of your bills, employment, mortgage payments and other debts. Once we have a clear understanding of your financial situation, we can make certain you have the legal information necessary to make an informed decision about your situation. See our Chapter 7 bankruptcy FAQ page for more details and answers to commonly asked questions.
Under Federal law, all persons are entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus on an annual basis. We recommend that all prospective bankruptcy clients provide us with a copy of their credit report. You may order your free credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/.
Contact Our Merrillville Debt Elimination Attorney
Are you interested in speaking with a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer about your debt relief options? We are here to help. Please contact our Crown Point chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney online or by calling 219-306-4837 or 888-497-5102 to schedule a free initial consultation.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.