What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a process in which consumers and businesses can eliminate or repay some or all of their debts under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. There are two basic types of bankruptcies: liquidation and reorganization. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation. If a person or business files for protection under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, the bankruptcy trustee may take and sell some of your property to pay back some of your debt. Property that is “exempt” under state law, however, cannot be taken and sold by a bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to repay unsecured creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization of debt for consumers. If a consumer files for protection under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, the consumer must propose a repayment plan that details how much of your debt you can afford to pay back and how you will pay it back over the next 3 to 5 years. To determine which chapter you should file or if you should file at all, contact Garner Law for a free initial consultation.
If I file for bankruptcy will I lose my house, vehicle or any of my property?
Through the use of the federal bankruptcy code and Missouri state exemptions, Garner Law can help ensure that you are able to keep all of the personal property and real property that you desire to keep. It may require that you pay back some portion of the property’s value, but if you desire to keep your property there are mechanisms in the bankruptcy code that can allow you to do so. Helping protect your assets is one of the most important functions of a bankruptcy attorney. At your free initial consultation, the attorney at Garner Law with whom you meet can help you determine how to protect your assets while relieving you of your financial stress.
Will filing bankruptcy stop garnishment, foreclosure, creditor calls, repossession or lawsuits?
Yes! When you file for bankruptcy all attempts to collect debts must cease. This includes garnishments, foreclosure sales (whether scheduled or not), creditor calls, collection calls, repossessions and lawsuits. In certain circumstances, filing for bankruptcy protection can even return to you a portion of funds garnished from your paycheck or your repossessed property, even if it was garnished or repossessed prior to filing. If you are being garnished, threatened with foreclosure or repossession, have a pending law suit or are tired of receiving collection calls, contact us to set up your free initial consultation to learn how filing bankruptcy may be able to help you achieve these goals and get you on the path to financial freedom.
How much debt do I have to have to file bankruptcy?
There is no minimum amount of debt to file for protection under the federal bankruptcy code. In some circumstances it is not the amount of the debt that is the problem, it is the interest rate at which the debt is growing. For example, some pay day loans may be small in amount but because of extraordinarily high interest, even making large payments will not pay down the balance owed. If you feel you may benefit from taking the protections offered by filing for bankruptcy, contact us for a free initial consultation to see if filing bankruptcy is right for you and your family.
What types of bankruptcy are available to me?
For consumers, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the most commonly utilized chapters of the bankruptcy code for filing. Both chapters can be used to wipe out all of your unsecured debt, like credit cards and medical bills.
Generally speaking, the only requirement to filing for relief under Chapter 13 of the federal bankruptcy code is a stream of income. Filing for relief under Chapter 13 can protect unexempt property from being seized by the bankruptcy trustee and sold to repay part of your debts. It can also stop foreclosure sales, if you are behind on your mortgage payment, or repossession of your car, if you are behind on your car payment. In a Chapter 13 case, you propose a repayment plan where you pay back the portion of your debts that you can afford (which can be 0% of your unsecured debt) over a period of 3 to 5 years. At Garner Law, we realize that if you are facing bankruptcy coming up with large sums of money for an attorney fee is not easy and that is why we will file your Chapter 13 case without you being required to pay any attorney fee up front. All attorney fees associated with your filing can be paid through you Chapter 13 plan over the 3 to 5 year period it runs.
In order to file for relief under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code, you must qualify. The main qualifier for being able to file a Chapter 7 case is income—you must make less than the median income for a family with the same number of people in your household for the state of Missouri. Chapter 7 cases are liquidation cases. If you have unexempt property, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case can take your assets and sell them for the benefit of your creditors to repay a portion of your debts. Chapter 7 cases are also quicker than a Chapter 13, on average only taking 4 to 6 months to complete. At Garner Law, we realize that if you are facing bankruptcy every penny counts. That is why we will beat any quoted fee to file a Chapter 7 case by $25.
To see which chapter of bankruptcy protection is best for your situation, contact us for your free initial consultation.
Which type of bankruptcy is best for me?
Which type of bankruptcy that is best for you depends on a variety of factors: your household income, what property you have, what property if any you want to keep, the value of your property, how many people reside in your household, what kind of debts you have, and what kind of debts you are behind on, just to name a few. At Garner Law, we can analyze you full financial and personal picture, explain to you the benefits and potential risks that each Chapter presents, and give you a recommendation based on your unique circumstances of which chapter of bankruptcy, if any, is best for you. This will help allow you to make an informed decision on how to not only get out from underneath your debt load but how to do so without losing the property you want to keep. Because every client’s situation is different, Garner Law always offers a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and determine how best to achieve your desired results.
How long will it take to file bankruptcy after I decide bankruptcy is right for me?
Assuming all required fees are paid and all required paperwork and information has been turned in, we are generally able to prepare your petition within a couple of weeks. If you are facing a nearing foreclosure or vehicle repossession that you would like to stop, we can expedite the process and have the petition prepared in as little as 24 hours. This expedited service may require additional attorney fees and may not always be possible, so if you believe you are foreclosure or a vehicle repossession that you want to stop, please contact us immediately to schedule your free consultation so that there is ample time to file your petition without the necessity of expediting the preparation, saving you money.
What documents do I need to bring with me to my free initial consultation?
You do not need to bring any specific documents to your first visit. You will want to know generally how much debt you have, what types of debt you have (i.e. credit cards, tax debt, mortgage debt), whether you are current on secured debt (i.e. mortgages and car loans), and how much money your household makes. If you have special circumstances like an upcoming foreclosure sale or vehicle repossession that you would like to stop, please let us know in advance so that we can tell you other documents that will be necessary to expedite the handling of your case.
Do I have to pay all of my creditors back if I file for Chapter 13 protection?
Not necessarily. In some cases, your repayment plan will only be proposing that you pay for your secured debt for property that you want to keep (i.e. house, car or furniture), any back taxes or domestic support obligations (i.e. back child support or alimony), the fee for your bankruptcy attorney’s services, and the Chapter 13 trustee’s fee for administering your case. In this circumstance, all of your unsecured debts (like credit cards or medical bills) would be wiped out and completely discharged. In other cases, a percentage of your unsecured debt may be paid back through your Chapter 13 plan. The determination of what percentage, if any, of your debts have to be repaid through your Chapter 13 plan is complex. At your free initial consultation, we can give you a general range of what your monthly payment through your Chapter 13 plan will be based on your debt and earning estimations.
Can my boss fire me for filing bankruptcy?
No. Federal law prohibits any employer from discriminating against you because you filed bankruptcy.
Do I have to have a lawyer to file bankruptcy?
No. You do not need to hire a lawyer to file bankruptcy any more than you need to hire a mechanic to rebuild the transmission in your car. Bankruptcy laws are complex and an attorney can help you navigate the process smoothly so that it is done right the first time, saving you time and needless headaches. At Garner Law, we know that having an attorney is more than about the knowledge of the attorney, it is also about the relationship between the attorney and the client. We offer a free initial consultation to not only show you your options but also to allow you to meet the attorney and staff with whom you will be working. Finances are stressful, dealing with your attorney should not be.