Proudly Helping Debtors Obtain a Fresh Start
Are you struggling with debt? If so, know that Agins Law Firm, PLC is here to help you identify which bankruptcy chapter you qualify for and why it would be the right choice for you. Our experienced bankruptcy team knows how you currently feel if you can no longer afford to pay your bills. We also understand that filing for bankruptcy can be a stressful situation. Just know that you are not alone, and this is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, the founders of our country, remembering the horrors of debtors' prisons in Great Britain, resolved to include bankruptcy protection among the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.
Over the course of U.S. history, many famous Americans and reputable companies have filed for bankruptcy protection. From Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Henry Ford to Toys R Us and Guitar Center, countless people and businesses who filed bankruptcy went on to realize great success because of the financial fresh start they obtained.
The two major types of bankruptcies for consumer debtors are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. The first step when it comes to filing a successful bankruptcy petition is to accurately evaluate your goals and your eligibility for bankruptcy relief:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The objective of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to eliminate all or some of the debtor's unsecured debts through a court order stating that they don’t have to pay those debts. In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your income generally must be less than the median income for the geographical area in which you live.
To determine this, bankruptcy petitioners must take the "means test." If your income exceeds this amount, you might have to file under Chapter 13. If you do not meet the requirements for a Chapter 13 filing, you might be eligible to file under Chapter 11, but the requirements and costs are much greater.
Most Chapter 7 cases are "no-asset cases," because the debtor's assets are exempt and not included in the bankruptcy estate. This is not always the case, though, so contact Agins Law Firm, PLC to discuss the exempt status of your assets.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Just like consumers, when businesses are in debt beyond their ability to repay, their owners can look for relief by filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a reorganization case, which means the debtor can present a plan to repay their debt and restructure the business and its finances to accomplish that repayment. Chapter 11 bankruptcy plans must be approved by the courts..
Any business or individual can file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Businesses include anything from a sole proprietorship to a national corporation. Because it's commonly known by the public as a tool for large companies, individuals are often surprised that they can also use Chapter 11.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor files a repayment plan with the Bankruptcy Court proposing to repay all or a portion of their debts over time. The amount the debtor will have to repay depends on how much they earn, the amount and types of debt, and how much property they own.
The length of the repayment plan is either 3 or 5 years depending upon whether the debtor’s disposable monthly income is greater than or less than the median income of the geographical region where they live.
Although Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not permit you to keep your primary residence if you are behind on your payments, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you by "stripping" away your second mortgage and rolling the arrears on your first mortgage into the payments under the approved Chapter 13 plan. This will reduce your monthly payments and the related stress of carrying two mortgages.
Bankruptcy is not the only method of debt relief, although it might be the best and most straightforward method with the most clearly foreseeable results. One thing remains clear: if you’re behind on your debts, then anything short of full repayment will have major credit reporting consequences. So, whether you choose bankruptcy, default negotiation, debt forgiveness, or debt consolidation, your credit rating will take a hit. With that understanding, let's explore some of these non-bankruptcy options:
- Default: If you decide not to pay your debt, then your creditors might choose to sue you. A judgment against you can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years from the date of the judgment, “or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is the longer period.”
- Debt Negotiation: You can try to negotiate your debts with creditors, but this requires individual negotiation with each creditor and can have varying results depending upon the amount and nature of the debt.
- Debt Forgiveness: If you do not have a current source of income and it appears that you won't have one in the near future, then you can ask your creditors for debt forgiveness. If they forgive the debt, you will not have to repay it. However, you will have forgiveness of debt income, which is taxable.
- Debt Consolidation: If you are currently employed, or are unemployed but will soon resume working, then you should consider debt consolidation. This is similar to a repayment plan, however, you must sign-up with a debt-consolidation service or consolidate the debt into a home equity line of credit (HELOC) at a lower interest rate.
- Short Sale: If you own your home, then short sale might provide the way to get out from under your mortgage debt while avoiding foreclosure and the related adverse credit reporting effects. A short sale is negotiated with your mortgagee so that they allow you to sell your home to a purchaser for less than the amount outstanding on your mortgage.
Get in Touch with Our Bankruptcy Team to Discuss Your Situation
Our bankruptcy and debt relief lawyers can guide you through all of your options for tackling debt and taking control of your future. Our team at Agins Law Firm, PLC, understands the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with being in debt, which is why we make it our priority to do everything in our power to help you feel more comfortable throughout each phase of the bankruptcy process.
Our experienced bankruptcy lawyers strive to make the legal process as straightforward and understandable as possible, so you can feel confident you have all of the information that you need to make informed decisions. Please call our law office today to speak with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate legal professionals about what we can do to help you get a fresh financial start.
To set up a case consultation with Agins Law Firm, PLC call (480) 447-9058 or contact us online. We will gladly take the time to answer your questions about filing for bankruptcy and other forms of debt relief.
How we do itAgins Law Firm is a local firm focused on the needs of our neighbors. We are committed to helping you realize your goals in caring for seniors and special-needs family members, protecting your assets and conveying them to future generations, taking advantage of various business opportunities and coping with financial problems involving debt relief and filing for bankruptcy.
What we doWe have chosen to focus our practice in the specific areas of estate planning/elder law, business law and bankruptcy/debt relief. We are a full-service firm that is equipped and eager to help our neighbors throughout the East Valley with comprehensive business and personal legal services.
Who We areWe have dedicated ourselves to gaining substantial expertise in our chosen practice areas and concentrating our efforts in those areas to provide you with current, focused and prudent legal counsel.