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What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows an individual or a business (the debtor) to get a fresh financial start by forgiving debts that the debtor cannot repay while allowing creditors to obtain some repayment through liquidation of the debtor’s assets. Federal bankruptcy courts manage cases according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Bankruptcy law includes several types of bankruptcy. Chapter 7, chapter 11, and chapter 13 bankruptcies are the most common.
- Individuals typically file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to clear their unsecured debt, such as credit card balances and medical bills. The debtor must liquidate nonexempt assets, such as a second home, stocks, and bonds, to repay some of their unsecured debt. The remaining unsecured debt is typically discharged. The debtor is not required to liquidate exempt assets, such as household goods, clothing, and a personal vehicle (up to a particular value).
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a business to reorganize and remain in business to become profitable. This type of bankruptcy allows the business to continue its activities while working on a debt repayment plan under court supervision.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individuals who make too much money to qualify for chapter 7 to create a workable debt repayment plan. Repayment plans typically require installment payments over a three or five-year period. Debtors who repay their creditors can keep all their property, including nonexempt property.
How Do I Find A Bankruptcy Lawyer Near Me?
Bankruptcy law provides individuals and businesses a second chance by helping them get out of debt. However, bankruptcy cases can be complex and confusing. Bankruptcy attorneys are well-versed in the various aspects of bankruptcy law, so hiring an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can make navigating the bankruptcy process easier.
This directory contains a list of trustworthy bankruptcy lawyers and law firms in your local area. Read the law firm overviews and attorney profiles in this section to learn which attorney is a good fit for your employment case.
The Lead Counsel logo next to a law office or employment attorney listing can help your search. This logo indicates that LawInfo has verified that the attorney has experience in their field of practice, is in good standing with the state entity that governs attorney licenses, and has a clean disciplinary record.
What Can a Bankruptcy Attorney Help Me With?
Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process requiring a thorough knowledge of state and federal bankruptcy laws so you can decide what chapter to file under and which exemptions to claim, among other things. A bankruptcy lawyer will help guide you through this stressful and time-consuming process. Some of the ways a bankruptcy lawyer may be able to help you include:
- Explaining and guiding you through the bankruptcy process,
- Analyzing your financial situation,
- Evaluating your assets and obligations,
- Advising you regarding which exemptions to claim,
- Preparing and reviewing your bankruptcy petition,
- Attending meetings with your creditors (341 meetings),
- Following up with your creditors to stop any post-filing collection efforts,
- Representing you in any litigation that may arise out of the bankruptcy, and
- Attending hearings on your behalf.
Because filing for bankruptcy can affect you for many years, it would be beneficial to speak to a qualified bankruptcy lawyer today.
How Much Does a Bankruptcy Attorney Cost?
Bankruptcy lawyers charge from $200/hr to $400/hr depending on the issue, the attorney’s skill, and location. In complex cases, rates can exceed $1000/hr.
How Do I Declare Bankruptcy?
Since bankruptcy is a legal process, it begins when you file a petition with the bankruptcy court, often with the help of a bankruptcy lawyer.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Filing for Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can relieve your debt burden and save your home and business while putting you in a position to function financially.
However, bankruptcy can be damaging. It can lower your credit rating, making it harder for you to buy a vehicle, get a mortgage, or rent an apartment. A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for seven to ten years. There is also a social stigma that comes with bankruptcy where some people may view it as an indication that you are irresponsible or untrustworthy.
What Kind of Debts Cannot Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can discharge unsecured debts; however, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code lists 19 categories of debts that cannot be discharged, such as the following:
- Alimony and child support,
- Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and
- Debts the debtor failed to list in their bankruptcy filing.
Will I Lose My Car If I File for Bankruptcy?
It depends. Each state has its own motor vehicle exemption amount. If that amount exceeds your vehicle’s equity, you will likely be able to keep your car. If you are still paying off your car loan, you must also ensure that you continue making the loan payments.