Financial stress can be relieved by declaring bankruptcy to regain control of your life. With Jerry E. Smith as your Plainfield bankruptcy attorney, you can ensure that the bankruptcy process is accessible to you. In addition to offering free initial consultations of up to one hour, we offer weekend and evening appointments to help you regain your peace of mind.
Federal bankruptcy courts are governed by federal law. State laws are allowed to be established regarding property that residents are allowed to keep when they file with a Plainfield bankruptcy attorney under the United States Bankruptcy Code. These items are called “exempt property.” The Bankruptcy Code and state law exemptions are both available in some states, but our area requires that you use its rules when filing for bankruptcy with a Plainfield bankruptcy attorney.
As bankruptcy lawyers in Plainfield, IN, we understand the difficulties that can arise when deciding to file bankruptcy and ascertaining whether it’s the right choice for you. There are typically many questions when it comes to bankruptcy, and the answers below will be a good starting point to help you gather the information you need to ease your mind.
Bankruptcy is defined as a legal process that the federal government administers. The purpose is to provide debt relief to people who are in real financial trouble, typically resulting from factors like health problems, divorce, credit card debt or unemployment.
Most Hoosiers meet the formal and informal bankruptcy filing rules and qualifications in Indiana.
Everyone who files bankruptcy must complete a pre-filing debt counseling class and a post-filing budgeting class. These classes, which are normally available online, usually last under thirty minutes and cost under thirty dollars. Additionally, Chapter 7 debtors cannot earn more than the state average for that family size. Chapter 13 debtors must be below certain secured and unsecured debt ceilings.
Informal qualifications vary in different jurisdictions. These qualifications usually involve Schedules I and J, the debtor’s monthly income and expense schedules. Chapter 7 debtors must usually be in the red every month to avoid unwanted questions from the trustee (person who oversees the case for the judge). Chapter 13 debtors must have sufficient disposable income to fund a monthly debt consolidation payment.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy quickly discharges most unsecured debts, allowing you to start over financially. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to repay a portion of your debts over a period of three to five years. If you have a very high income, Chapter 11 bankruptcy may provide you with creditor relief.
A partnership with a Plainfield bankruptcy lawyer is certainly an investment. But the investment is worthwhile.
Debtors who don’t have lawyers must try a do-it-yourself bankruptcy or work with a nonlawyer bankruptcy petition preparer. These alternatives are less costly, but you get what you pay for. Unless the case is a no-asset Chapter 7, a DIY bankruptcy is quite complex. It’s like filing a corporate income tax return and facing an audit without the form instructions and without an accountant. BPPs can only fill out paperwork. They cannot give you any advice, and they certainly cannot represent you in court.
A Plainfield bankruptcy lawyer does much more than fill out the forms and represent you in court if things go sideways. An attorney also runs interference with the trustee. A lawyer also knows how to unlock some advanced bankruptcy features that can save your family thousands of dollars a year.
People who choose to file for bankruptcy on their own tend to have their cases dismissed once it gets over their heads.
No. Indiana has some of the broadest bankruptcy exemptions in the country. Generally, nonexempt property only includes luxury items, like vacation homes and yachts. Exempt property in the Hoosier State includes:
Outside bankruptcy, creditors could seize these assets and sell them, without going to court in most cases. Inside bankruptcy, creditors cannot touch them, unless the judge gives them special permission.
A Plainfield bankruptcy lawyer knows how to maximize these exemptions. Home equity is a good example. There’s usually a significant difference between the fair market value of a home and its as-is cash value. Most home investors offer pennies on the dollar for an as-is cash sale.
A Plainfield bankruptcy lawyer saves your house in the short term and often makes it more affordable in the long term.
The Automatic Stay stops foreclosure proceedings in their tracks. Debtors don’t have to prove negligence or fraud. They just have to present proof of filing.
Advanced bankruptcy options are also available. HELOC reclassification is a good example. If the debtor has a Home Equity Line of Credit and the value of the debtor’s home has dropped, a judge could reclassify the HELOC as a dischargeable unsecured debt that doesn’t have to be repaid.
Medical bills and credit card debt can often be discharged, along with some back taxes or judgments. Some unsecured debts, such as child support or alimony, student loans, criminal fines, recent taxes, and personal injury judgments, are only dischargeable in some cases.
Once your bankruptcy petition is filed through your Plainfield, IN, bankruptcy lawyer, all creditors will be subject to an automatic stay. All debt collection and legal actions must cease, including repossession, foreclosure, wage garnishment and lawsuits. Creditors can no longer contact you or harass you about your debts.
You have to declare all of your debts, and you are not allowed to repay friends, family or any other favors in the months leading to the filing of your bankruptcy. The court will recover any preference payments.
The only case for which you and your spouse would both need to file together would be if your debts are jointly held. If the debts are in one spouse’s name, that person should file for bankruptcy separately in order to protect the credit and assets of the other spouse.
You can file for bankruptcy more than once, but keep in mind that there is a waiting period. The amount of time that must pass depends on which chapter you’ve previously filed under and what you’re seeking now.
While bankruptcy is a part of public record and there is no method to keep your filing a secret, consumer bankruptcies aren’t published in newspapers; therefore, it’s unlikely that people you know will find out inadvertently.
Despite the negative consequences, bankruptcy is an excellent opportunity to rebuild your credit if you learn to pay bills on time and live within your means. There are many people who receive new offers for credit cards within several months of filing for bankruptcy. It does, however, stay on your record for seven to ten years, but the impact lessens more and more over time.
Facing bankruptcy can be an incredibly overwhelming and difficult process to go through on your own. From dealing with complicated documentation to ensuring you are maintaining all your legal rights, you need the right representation from a qualified bankruptcy lawyer at your side.
With experience as a CPA and tax audit lawyer, Jerry E. Smith can walk you through the bankruptcy process from beginning to end. If you’re searching for affordable bankruptcy lawyers in Plainfield, IN, schedule a free one-hour consultation by contacting us at (317) 917-8680.