Seven things to think about when starting a side business

The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.
The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.

Fixed wage and salary employees can control how much they spend and save. What they cannot control is their take home pay. Instead of finding new ways to stretch dollars, try new ways to make additional income. What do you have to lose? Consider whether you signed any agreements with your employer regarding doing work or conducting business outside the scope of your primary employment. If there is nothing holding you back and you have what you think is enough time to devote to secondary income, get a pen and paper or your text to speech tablet and take notes while considering a few questions a budding entrepreneur should ask when considering small business start ups.

  1. What do you love to do, so that when doing it you wouldn’t feel like you’re working? Why not make money doing something you enjoy? Think about all the things you like doing and let your imagination run. There must be someone, somewhere, who will pay for what you want to make or do.

  2. Is there something in demand that you know how to do/make that others don’t? Think of a prevalent industry where you live or work. Say you live in a college town and the delivery of food and services to students without vehicles is a big business. How can your skills and abilities improve the way people deliver, what they deliver or how students can find out about it? It may take some time for the right idea which may come to you in a dream or “Eureka!” moment.

  3. Do you have space and transportation available to manage inventory? Consider the existing resources to which you have access. Do you live on a large enough property you could raise chickens? Have you considered renting additional space to people looking for a space to park their boat? Aside from land, you might have a truck that can help local people move or pick up and deliver their furniture donations. Maybe you pick up and inventory of items on which you got a great (maybe free) deal. If you have room to store the items you can take your time selling it for income.

  4. Are your skills and abilities particularly in demand in performing a certain service? How many degreed professionals who cannot find jobs learned how to play an instrument? Could they teach other people how to play that instrument on the side? Start a social media page to sell guitar lessons and start telling your neighbors. Before long you may be the muse behind a new local garage band that could become the next big thing.

  5. How much liability are you willing to assume and what assets do you have to protect? There are several options for small business formations. If you have assets you want to protect, a corporation setup can shield you from personal liability for the business. On the other hand, if you are less concerned about asset protection in lawsuits and more concerned with saving money, you can operate a business as a sole proprietor and simply file the correct income schedule form when doing your taxes.

  6. Do you have management and human resource skills needed if you have employees? Sudden and swift business growth can create headaches for small business owners. If you cannot provide enough goods and services as requested by customers, they will go spend their money somewhere else. This might require hiring and managing employees, which includes its own challenges.

  7. How much of your work can you comfortably outsource where practical? Employee labor and liability concerns cause many small business operators to consider outsource solutions for some of the work duties. Consider a tree trimming business that can be very busy in the spring. Many small business owner operators hire contractors to manage the marketing and accounting to free up more time for serving tree trimming clients.

Even if you never start your own small business, considering responses to these survey questions puts you in a class of “thought about it” people, which is a step closer to having more money and being self sufficient. There are so many options available to people who want to earn more money as well as manage, organize and eliminate debt.

The U.S. Small Business Association also offers resources on their website. “The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.”

To learn more or, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

Chicago Bankruptcy Update: New Frequently Asked Question Podcast Series

Get the answers you need to make an educated financial decision!
Get the answers you need to make an educated financial decision!

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

The Chicago Bankruptcy Update is a monthly podcast featuring compelling information and stories about bankruptcy and how people get a fresh start after Chapter 7 and 13 cases.

Click to listen to our latest episode: Frequently Asked Questions in Bankruptcy – Part 1

Topics and types of questions we ask and answer in our FAQ series:

  • When you may file for bankruptcy protection and what kind of relief is available;
  • Reopening a bankruptcy when you need to add a creditor or make a correction;
  • Marriage, the birth of a child and life events as they can be affected by bankruptcy;
  • What happens to your debts when you die and how your children may be affected.

There are many people who still think that filing for bankruptcy means giving up and throwing in the towel – hardly! Just like big companies that take advantage of bankruptcy to restructure their debts and assets to increase profits, individual consumers can use the law to their financial advantage. You, me, them, everybody can discharge debt and reorganize the repayment of other debts.

Listen to our monthly podcasts on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update and learn answers to many of the questions people ask. The FAQ series, in several parts, periodically addresses real questions asked by potential bankruptcy clients. As Nick asks Joe to answer the individual inquiries it becomes quickly apparent how many different complex financial situations can arise.

If you listen to our shows and decide you want to ask us more about bankruptcy, great! If you decide you would rather re-adjust your spending habits, that is also great! If neither option applies to you, “Share” our entertaining educational bankruptcy podcasts with others. You just never know who is looking for answers to the questions we ask on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update, and sharing is great!

To learn more or, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

Credit Unions: Offering members opportunities to easily and affordably earn positive credit scores

Many are turning to credit unions to take advantage of their credit rebuilding programs and features. Americans are working hard to rebuild their credit scores after enduring financial challenges like the great recession. Many are turning to credit unions to take advantage of their credit rebuilding programs and features. Credit unions are different from banks in several ways. While banks are largely publically owned and designed to generate profit for owners and shareholders, credit unions are not-for-profit and their purpose is to serve their member-owners, as opposed to maximizing profits. Members of credit unions all have a vote in how the credit union will operate to best serve its member’s needs. A currently compelling need is the ability to rebuild credit.

A recent Fox Business article highlights four ways credit unions help raise credit scores[i].

1.  Credit Builder Loans. Members who want to rebuild their credit over time with little cash outlay can take advantage of credit builder loans. These loan amounts can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. When a credit union member applies for a credit builder loan, they agree to make payments on the loan against the full loan amount that is held by the credit union in a secured savings account the member cannot touch. As the member makes monthly loan payments, which are reported to the credit bureaus, the member’s credit score can improve.  Once the loan payments are all made on time and in full,[ii] the loan amount is transferred to the member. Credit builder loans are new types of credit repair options and are growing in popularity as more credit unions adopt the model.

2.  Free Credit Counseling. Unlike most banks, credit unions make credit counseling services available to their members without additional charge. The better educated credit union member should be able to borrow and repay more small loans to increase their credit score and purchasing power. The more successful loans the credit union has, the more it can lend to members who need new homes, vehicles and cash to cover out of budget expenses or investments. Managing member finances may not be widely advertised so it is smart to ask your local credit union relationship manager about their counseling services to help manage cash flow, pay debts and build savings.

3.  Online Tools. Enhancing credit counseling, the credit building tools and features of a credit union’s website can assist a member who doesn’t have time to visit the credit union in person, or who wants to crunch numbers at home. Online financial management and educational programs help members increase their financial health with the education and strategy tools it takes to create and work at the right financial plan that produces the best results. As members benefit from these tools, they can often see their finances improving and are encouraged to maintain better money management habits.

4.  Secured Credit Cards. When credit union members deposit a few hundred dollars into a secured savings account they cannot access, they can get a real credit card, guaranteed by the amount on deposit. If a member’s secured deposit is $300, that will be the credit limit on the card. As the bills come due and are paid, the reporting bureaus are notified and credit scores can be improved. Since there is no real risk of loss, credit unions can more liberally issue secured credit cards, despite a member’s challenged credit history.

To join a credit union, an interested customer must become a member. Unlike many other groups, credit unions allow new members to join at nominal rates. It is relatively inexpensive to become a credit union member. Some people keep their main account at a traditional bank with whom they have a relationship but also hold member accounts at the local credit union to take advantage of member benefits and opportunities to keep building credit and buying power.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.


[i] Fox Business: 4 Ways Credit Unions Help Raise Credit Scores. By Constance Gustke, Mar. 4, 2014.

[ii] Terms of credit union loans vary by institution and are determined by individual credit union policies.

How do I know if I am a good candidate for bankruptcy protection?

When to take advantage of Chapter 7 and 13 is circumstantial. Here are a few things we hear from clients who tell us how and when they decided to move forward towards a fresh financial start.
When to take advantage of Chapter 7 and 13 is circumstantial. Here are a few things we hear from clients who tell us how and when they decided to move forward towards a fresh financial start.

Many people attach value judgments to bankruptcy. Meanwhile, others understand that Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy protections are financial planning tools when things do not go as planned. Starting a small business is risky. Working as an employee at will is risky. Life is risky. Because there are no guarantees, our federal laws allow us to discharge debts we will never be able to pay. At some point, people who are under extreme financial pressure decide that enough is enough. When they start talking to others who have taken advantage of bankruptcy laws, they learn that the process is not as scary and dire as some would suggest.

When to take advantage of Chapter 7 and 13 is circumstantial. Here are a few things we hear from clients who tell us how and when they decided to move forward towards a fresh financial start.

1. I do not have enough savings to make it through a financial emergency. At some point people stopped saving while they increased spending and opening up new lines of credit. When the Joneses lost their million-dollar home in foreclosure after corporate downsizing, we all hit the brakes! Knowing the bottom can fall out and accepting reality means that more people are trying to put money away in savings. We all know that the stock market is not a sure bet, but for many people, the crash came without enough time to prepare. Once your burden is lessened you may be able to save again, knowing it is the better way to get ahead.

2. I am living on credit cards because the costs of daily life exceed monthly income. It is easy to run into unexpected car repairs and buy the plane tickets to Cousin Jill’s wedding in Florida in early March. The minimum payments tend to increase and most people keep up with the minimums. What happens is the fees and charges keep building and eventually the cards are maxed out and the minimums are still due. Have you done the math to figure out you will be long gone before you can ever pay off these credit cards? Many people who get a fresh start will also get new credit cards after a bankruptcy.

3. Bill collectors call me more frequently than do my friends and family. The creditors seem to know when you come home from work, when you sit down for dinner with the family, and when you have something good to say, only to be knocked down a peg by the late payment calls. Have you had the call from the nasally sounding collector, “Sir, can I ask you why the payment was late?” The harassment is more than most people can take with a grain of salt. Some of the creditors get nasty and threatening too. The automatic stay provision in bankruptcy makes them stop – as a matter of federal law.

4. My income is fixed or was recently terminated or reduced. Self-employed people can lose clients. Employed professionals can also find themselves out of a job or working less hours or with reduced pay. Are you going to turn down reduced pay/hours if job loss is the alternative? People with fixed incomes know quite well how to divide and pay bills. When that fixed income is reduced and the debts are still there a tough decision must be made. While some people are lucky enough to borrow from rich Aunt Edna, others have less choices. A fresh start in Chapter 7 or 13 can help cash-strapped families with temporary and longer term income issues.

5. A serious accident threatens my ability to keep up with the bills. What happens if the driver without insurance injures you in an accident and your own policy payouts are limited? Incidents of financial emergency are not always fault based. The mortgage and rent are still due, even when we cannot work on a temporary basis. If a lawsuit is involved there are pre-settlement funding companies who advance money on “sure bet” settlements but the interest rates are often sky high and not worth the initial price of admission.

If you want the collectors to stop calling and want to eliminate debts and fees you cannot afford to pay, and if you want to keep your house and car and some property, we can help you with the right Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy option.

To learn more or to move forward, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

PODCAST – Bankruptcy Basics: Taking the Mystery Out of The Median Income/Means Test

What may seem to be the simplest of cases turns out to be more complicated than a client can imagine. Filing a bankruptcy on your own is pennywise and pound foolish. The peace of mind of knowing the case is done properly from the outset is worth far more than the cost of the attorney fees. Our consultations are always free.

On today’s episode of the Chicago Bankruptcy Update show, we take the mystery out of the median income/means test to qualify for bankruptcy.

Click here to listen to the podcast recorded 02/18/2014.

Bankruptcy issues covered on this show:

1) How does the Chapter 7 means test limit bankruptcy protection to only the individuals who need it?

2) What happens if your income is more than the median income but you still cannot pay your debts?

3) If I repay or agree to repay some of my debts, can I then pass the income means test for Chapter 7?

4) If I do pass the income means test, under what circumstances is a bankruptcy most beneficial?

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm.

Everyone might want to know what most people experience when filing for bankruptcy protection

Filing bankruptcy will provide debt relief, eliminate bill problems and stop creditor harassment.
Filing bankruptcy will provide debt relief, eliminate bill problems and stop creditor harassment.

All clients at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. will meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will help them evaluate their entire current and near future financial picture to determine which chapter of bankruptcy protection (Chapter 7 or 13 most often) would help solve the client’s financial crisis. If it does not make sense to file a bankruptcy petition, clients will be offered other financial and credit repair options. Clients who are ready to proceed are given a list of instructions on what to do next so the attorneys can move forward with the bankruptcy with very little further action required of the client.

Everyone deserves a fresh start and most people who have already received a bankruptcy discharge would tell you the experience was more comfortable than expected.

Most people are not going to find out you filed for bankruptcy protection unless you tell them. While some local papers in smaller towns might print the names of local residents who have a bankruptcy filing, most of the clients in the Chicagoland area will proceed through bankruptcy without friends and neighbors knowing.

Most of your debts will be eliminated if you file a petition for a Chapter 7 discharge. Certain debts, as a Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., attorney will tell you, cannot be discharged. Examples of non-dischargeable debts include student loans, child support and maintenance.

Want to stop the annoying phone calls by credit card companies and bill collectors?

Most of the annoying collection phone calls will stop. While bankruptcy cannot eliminate all unwanted phone calls, the collection agencies who love calling during lunch and dinner will have to stop bothering you because of the “automatic stay” provision. While the bankruptcy case is active, there is a federal order of the bankruptcy court that “stays” (prohibits) collection activity including those annoying phone calls.

Most of your personal belongings, your car, 401(k) account, and the equity your home can still be yours after a bankruptcy discharge. If you live in the State of Illinois, there are homestead exemptions allowing you to keep equity in your home, a vehicle and other personal property up to a certain amounts. When you have certain assets worth more money than exemption limits, and when you have assets you consider irreplaceable, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will give you options not included in the Chapter 7 full discharge most people think about when considering bankruptcy.

Anyone can make a full financial recovery from a bankruptcy in less time than many people think.

Most people can get credit cards (pre-paid credit and debit cards are easy to obtain) and buy homes and cars on credit within a few years of a bankruptcy discharge. Do not think that a bankruptcy means you are giving up and throwing in the towel. By eliminating debt you were never going to be able to pay, you get fresh start to rebuild your assets and credit rating, a fresh start.

The attorneys at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. are available to talk to you and answer most of your questions over the phone and will treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve, despite their temporary financial circumstances. If you want to learn more about bankruptcy and credit management, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

Credit scores, cards and reports: What you might not know

Credit cards and our credit scores have become parts of our lives and daily business to the extent that losing them can paralyze people experiencing financial hardship. Financial troubles leading people towards a bankruptcy filing are not always the individual’s fault. A divorce, injury or job loss can happen and leave good people in peril with their credit scores and credit cards. There is a saying among bankruptcy attorneys – what happens after the bankruptcy is more important than what brings the client to seek bankruptcy in the first place. There are plenty of options to restore credit and the ability to make online payments. Do not give up and throw in the towel or go off the grid because creditors suggest that if you file bankruptcy you will never be able to swipe a tank of gas or cover an emergency expense.

Why is credit important and why do we need credit and debit cards to pay?

Fair or unfair as it may seem, the American system of issuing credit is what keeps the economy moving. Do you remember the problems our country experienced at the beginning of the recession? One of the biggest problems was failure and refusal of banks to issue credit for consumer goods, homes, cars, and to businesses with fixed expenses. The method of payment nowadays is plastic. We pay our bills online and over the phone using debit and credit cards. When was the last time you went to a local utility to pay with cash or check? The reality is that it is easier and sometimes only possible to pay using plastic. People considering bankruptcy should know there are easy alternatives to what we often think about when talking about credit and debit cards.

Filing for bankruptcy in most cases will not affect most people’s checking accounts and the debit cards used to pay for bills and daily expenses. If however, the account is overdrawn and no payment is made, the account can be sent to collections and opening a new account could be difficult. An alternative is the pre-paid debit cards now offered by many banks. They work just like a traditional checking account based debit card. A difference can be that the pre-paid cards, just like gift cards, prevent the user from overdrawing the account. Prepaid debit cards holders can access their accounts online, deposit, withdraw funds, and continue despite credit and bank account options.

Pre-paid credit cards, also known as secured credit cards, are similar to prepaid debit cards with the exception that the applicant prepays a certain amount (often under $500) and that money is held in a separate savings account. The card is “secured” by the deposit and the use may proceed to use the card just like a regular credit card and pay the monthly bills. If the bill is not paid, the deposit is forfeited. A major benefit of the pre-paid credit card is the positive effect on the credit score. If the person is in a bankruptcy and some of the immediate financial pressure is off, it is easier to use the pre-paid credit card for common monthly bills. As the credit card is used and paid in a responsible manner the credit score should improve.

Getting back on track can also include challenges to inaccuracies on credit reports.

In cases where damage to credit scores are a provable fault of another, the damage to the credit score can be translated to a specific dollar amount using a credit damage expert who prepares a report for court hearings where the credit damage is at issue. There are also credit repair companies who, for a reasonable fee, help people find and attack inaccurate marks on a credit report including something referred to as “zombie debt,” which often indicates collection amounts that are frequently bundled and sold among collection companies. Note that debt repayment companies offer different services and it is important to get the right answers before making important decisions that can affect the future.

How can Joseph Wrobel help?

Joseph Wrobel and the attorneys at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. have relationships and can help clients with everything from stopping harassing collector calls to helping clients get new forms of debit and credit cards to keep moving and paying bills as well as attack bad credit report marks and scores.

If you want to learn more about bankruptcy and credit management, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

What should we know about unsecured debt when considering bankruptcy?

Most unsecured debts are the common bills we all incur such as credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, utilities, unpaid rent and taxes.
Most unsecured debts are the common bills we all incur such as credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, utilities, unpaid rent and taxes.

Unsecured debts are the debt obligations we incur that are not secured by property like an automobile or home. Secured debts, on the other hand, are protected by the collateral connected to the loan. If you do not pay your car loan, the bank may obtain a court order to seize and repossess the car if you default. Likewise, with your home, unpaid mortgages can be collected by foreclosing on the home. With the unsecured debts, the unpaid creditor can send your file to collections or file a lawsuit to obtain a money judgment to enforce and collect the money owed. If the creditor enforces a judgment, they may attempt to seize money in your bank account or another asset. Filing a petition for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or 13 can stop seizures and collections of money judgments for unsecured debts. See our blog article discussing the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code. The automatic stay prevents collectors from continuing any collection activity during a bankruptcy case.

What are the typical types of unsecured debts and how to banks and creditors collect them?

Most unsecured debts are the common bills we all incur such as credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, utilities, unpaid rent and taxes. If you do not pay the unsecured debts most creditors call you frequently to negotiate a payment or some sort of arrangement to bring the debt current. Some creditors will accept a lesser amount than what is due, but be careful because you may find that the forgiven amount ends up being taxable income to report to the IRS.

If you fail to respond or negotiate a fair deal with the creditor, they will most likely send their unpaid account to a collection agency. These phone calls will make most people’s hair stand on end. The collectors are often rude and will try to trick you into doing something foolish such as paying them from your 401(K) retirement funds – don’t do it! Qualified retirement accounts are safe and in most cases, creditors cannot seize and collect that money. The collectors will also likely tell you, if you suggest you are considering a bankruptcy, your financial life and future will come to an abrupt end – also not true! In fact, many people who do seek protection from the bankruptcy courts are able to borrow money, establish credit and finance cars and homes within a few years of a discharge.

In the event you and the collection companies cannot strike a deal, or you dispute the validity of the debt they are trying to collect, your creditor may file a lawsuit against you. A local county sheriff or special process server will likely stop by your home or place of employment to serve you with a summons to appear in court to answer the complaint they file with the court asking for a money judgment. At that point, you can appear in court, by yourself or with a lawyer, and try to settle the lawsuit. If you decide not to appear and do nothing, the court may continue your case one time or enter a default judgment against you. Eventually the creditor will obtain a money judgment and start enforcement.

How can bankruptcy laws protect you from unsecured creditors, collectors and court judgments?

Most unsecured debts can be completely eliminated or reduced in either a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcies. Again, as soon as a bankruptcy petition is filed, the creditors must stop almost all collection activity. To learn more the basics of bankruptcy you can listen to several 30-minute podcasts in which Joseph Wrobel explains a variety of bankruptcy subjects – click/tap here for the page on the firm’s website with links to the podcasts. Many people will tell you that the most important thing about a bankruptcy is what you do after a discharge, meaning keeping up with bills and not getting behind unmanageable debt anymore. After a bankruptcy, if you owe less money to creditors, you may look more creditworthy. Many people start re-establishing their credit buy easily obtaining a secured credit card to use for gas, grocery and basic daily living expenses.

If you want to learn more about bankruptcy proceedings, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

Examples of the automatic stay and how it operates in bankruptcy law

“Automatic stay” is protects you from creditors during bankruptcy. While a bankruptcy case is active, be that a Chapter 7 or 13, no creditors or collectors may contact or harass the individual or organization in bankruptcy. Specifically the definition of automatic stay on the U.S. Courts official website is, “An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.[i]” As soon as creditors receive the initial notice of the bankruptcy, they may not continue any collection activity during the bankruptcy case or they would violate the automatic stay, a federal offense.

Examples of protections from creditors during an automatic stay.

Many individuals and business owners seek the protection of bankruptcy laws and the automatic stay provision to prevent multiple wage garnishments, evictions and foreclosures. In addition, some people worry their utilities might be disconnected. The automatic stay applies to these scenarios in varying degrees. For example, if the electricity is about to be cut off it might make sense to prevent a disconnection for at least 20 days. Garnishments also hurt the ability to keep up with the bills. No more than 25% of an individual’s wages may be garnished directly, but when multiple creditors come calling with garnishments, the automatic stay may look really good to someone who really doesn’t want the human resources department at work getting involved in responding to multiple creditors.

Examples of automatic stay limitations and ways creditors and collectors try to get around the law.

When the tax man shows up at your door you cannot send him away with an automatic stay. In fact, the IRS may audit you, issue tax deficiency notices and otherwise use all the available tools at their disposal to proceed with taxing you. Notwithstanding, the IRS may not seize your income or property while you are in bankruptcy with an active and enforceable automatic stay. The automatic stay does not affect Child support and matters affecting the family. Likewise, a criminal court may proceed with matters involving the criminal component of certain actions involving debts and an order to pay a fine or comply with court orders may still be effective despite the automatic stay. Additionally, multiple bankruptcy filings and violations of bankruptcy court rules can affect the automatic stay.

Just as a petitioner, seeking the protection of the automatic stay wants to maximize their rights under the law, the creditor and collector on the other end may seek to circumvent the automatic stay and find a way to collect their debt and proceed under an exception to the law. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help clients whose creditors ask the bankruptcy court to “lift” the automatic stay when they argue to the court that the automatic stay is not being used within the spirit of the law and legislative purpose the stay intends to satisfy.

Chicago attorney, Joseph Wrobel, has decades of experience working with complex bankruptcy issues including those touching on automatic stay issues and the legal challenges that can arise, including violations of automatic stay and federal bankruptcy laws. To learn more about bankruptcy and your options, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. on Twitter. If you need legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.


[i] U.S. Courts Website Glossary.

Bankruptcy Basics: What Happens at the Meeting with the Trustee?

MEDIA RELEASE

Bankruptcy Podcast Series

By Joseph Wrobel, Ltd.

On today’s program, we cover bankruptcy basics, focusing on what happens at the meeting with the trustee.
On today’s program, we cover bankruptcy basics, focusing on what happens at the meeting with the trustee.

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. On today’s program, we cover bankruptcy basics, focusing on what happens at the meeting with the trustee.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN (Listen Live 12/20/2013 at Noon CST or Recorded Anytime Afterwards On Demand)

Bankruptcy issues covered on this show:

1) What is a meeting with the trustee meeting, also known as a 341 or creditors, meeting?

2) What are the specific purposes for trustee meetings in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases?

3) How should I prepare for meeting with the trustee, who will be there and what will I be asked?

4) What happens after meeting with the trustee, and may you challenge a trustee in disagreement?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm.