Tag Archives: Chapter 13

Bankruptcy for Unpaid Workers

Bankruptcy for Unpaid Workers in Chicago Who Run Out of Money

The current government shutdown causes people to ask themselves what would happen if they did not receive their paycheck for several weeks or longer. For families living on budgets, not receiving pay means the bills are not going to be paid. Unpaid workers without savings to temporary replace regular income can lose their homes, cars and credit cards if payments are delinquent.

Even though currently unpaid government workers are promised to receive their back pay after the shutdown, they may not be paying their mortgage, rent, car payment, student loans, utilities and other financial obligations. How long would you be able to continue without pay and the immediate need to get another source of income.

In many cases the unpaid workers with specialized work skills and experience cannot find another job very easily, and not at the same pay grade.

Read an article by CNBC focused on 800,000 workers without pay and the impact of the shutdown: “Workers going unpaid during the shutdown owe $438 million in rent and mortgage payments this month.”

Examples of Situations Causing Unpaid Workers Who Consider Bankruptcy

Workers are unpaid for a variety of reasons. Layoffs happen in manufacturing due to slow business or problems. Companies with a cash flow problem may not be able to pay their workers on time. Sometimes a struggling company does not have enough money in the bank for all the payroll checks to clear. In other cases, the employers accounts could be seized or frozen. For people working as contractors for others, one party may refuse to pay because they have an issue with the work not being performed correctly. In each of these scenarios, the unpaid employee still needs to pay their bills.

Unless workers have several months of bill paying money set aside for cash flow emergencies, they may be considering their bankruptcy options. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies have features and options that will help people and their families.

The Automatic Stay Provision of the Bankruptcy Code Stops Creditors from Contacting You

Creditors and bill collectors are aggressive and persistent. Economic conditions like a government shutdown mean that many workers will not get their paychecks. After the bills come due and are not paid, collectors have options. Some waive late fees and extend due dates. Temporary relief runs out at some point. Aggressive bill collectors want you to pay them before you pay someone else. They will call you and send extra past due notices in the mail. When friends or relatives listed as references on loans getting phone calls about you not paying your bill it can be embarrassing and aggravating.

The “Automatic Stay” stops bill collectors in their tracks. When either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed, including a list of all the creditors the filer may owe, those creditors receive notice that they may not continue any collection activity so long as the bankruptcy case is ongoing.

Save your home from foreclosure and sale by filing for bankruptcy, taking advantage of the automatic stay. The bankruptcy postpones foreclosures and sales.

Our Bankruptcy Blogger article explains the automatic stay in further detail: The Automatic Stay: It Stops Bill Collectors in Their Tracks. Call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. today to get more information (312) 781-0996.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for Unpaid Workers

For some unpaid workers a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case might have already been on their mind. When people have debt, they cannot afford to pay, when they are making less income than before, and when the outlook for paying off all the debt is bleak, a fresh start with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can make a major difference for a family struggling with money and bills.

The point someone who already has financial troubles doesn’t receive their paycheck, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will help. Eliminate the credit card debt, the payments for a car worth less than owed. Eliminate the mortgage on the house that is too big and expensive.

When people start over after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they can control their budgets and not get behind in debt. And when people no longer owe money to so many creditors, they become a better credit risk. Rebuilding credit after a bankruptcy takes some time but is easier than people think.

Learn more about rebuilding credit. Read our article, Good Credit After Bankruptcy on the Bankruptcy Blogger section of the Joseph Wrobel, Ltd website. See also results for searching our site for the word “credit.”

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for Unpaid Workers

Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be attractive to unpaid workers who expect to receive their back pay but who need temporary protection from collections and foreclosures. When you file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you can “cure” your mortgage default by making up past payments over months.

A Chapter 13 “reorganization” bankruptcy can last three to five years, giving the unpaid employee time to catch up on debts when the paychecks stopped coming for whatever reason.

One misconception about Chapter 13 is that every dollar owed must be repaid. In fact, depending on a person’s financial calculations, they may only have to repay a percentage of the amount owed.

To save your home, car and other assets you don’t want liquidated, call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. and learn where you stand and for which type of bankruptcy you qualify. Call day or night (312) 781-0996.

Read Homeowners Keep Their Home Using Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Laws.

Joseph Wrobel Can Help if Bankruptcy Makes Sense and Will Help Unpaid Workers Get a Fresh Start

When you call Chicago bankruptcy lawyer Joseph Wrobel and make an appointment at one of the conveniently located offices around the Chicago area you are taking the next step in finding out if bankruptcy is the right thing to save you from money problems.

At your meeting with Joseph Wrobel when your financial information is processed, he will tell you about your options under the bankruptcy law. If you or a friend is an unpaid employee because of a shutdown, lack of business, layoff or any reason, contact online or call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. today and get the information about bankruptcy for unpaid workers, to turn off the bill collectors and turn on your fresh financial start. The main Chicago office telephone number is (312) 781-0996.

Chicago Bankruptcy Podcast with Joseph Wrobel: December 2018

Chicago Bankruptcy Podcast with Joseph Wrobel: December 2018

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel answers real people’s questions about their financial situations and what options they might have to fix their financial problems.

Click here to listen to the Bankruptcy Podcast on our Blog Talk Radio channel

Real questions answered in this 30-minute show:

If I took out a $4,000 loan today to help my son, can I file bankruptcy in three months?

Can I discharge my SSA over-payment with Chapter 7 bankruptcy? I have been told by an SSA representative that I can, but I was not sure.

Can a person withdraw from a bankruptcy, whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?

My cell phone is disconnected, will a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy help reinstate my account?

I am in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy; can I refinance my mortgage?

I live overseas and want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Massachusetts.

I have already filed bankruptcy, it was discharged this June. Can I get a house on a land contract?

Can a person apply for a credit card now after 8-9 years after bankruptcy has passed?

If I sell my house will defaulted student loans take the money at closing?

If you are already working with a debt relief company are you able to decide to do bankruptcy instead?

Can I stop foreclosure on my mother’s home if it is in bankruptcy?

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.

About Joseph Wrobel, Ltd:

Keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!  Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Joseph Wrobel Limited is a small law firm of attorneys and staff experienced in consumer bankruptcy. They are not a bankruptcy law factory and you will not get lost in their office. You will be treated as a human being with courtesy, dignity, and respect.  The mission of Joseph Wrobel Limited is to have you take control over your finances through the proper use of the bankruptcy laws.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. has offices located in the Chicago-Loop, Chicago-Rosemont, and in the suburbs of Burr Ridge, Deerfield, Gurnee, Naperville, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Skokie, St. Charles and Westchester. They can represent Illinois clients in Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Kane County, LaSalle County, Kendall County and Lake County.

Filing for Bankruptcy After Divorce?

Whether to File Bankruptcy After Divorce: Consider These Scenarios

Divorce is difficult enough without also worrying about finances after the divorce and whether filing for bankruptcy after divorce makes sense and will help you out. In some situations, the spouse ordered to pay the other doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain in the settlement or divorce decree. You can go back to court and try to order the deadbeat spouse to pay what they were ordered but that doesn’t stop the creditors who want their money. When you cannot pay them, you may wonder if a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will save you.

The creditor knows one thing, it wants to be paid. The creditor could care less whether you have a court order that says your spouse is ordered to pay the credit card, when you are liable for the debt and it remains unpaid you risk damage to your credit, collection efforts, lawsuits and wage garnishments.

Few people will criticize you for filing bankruptcy after a messy divorce where you and the former love of your life are left to fight over debt. In some cases, the former spouse just wants to punish you by not coughing up the money they owe you to pay off debts.

Read our blog article: 7 Bankruptcy Repercussions Are Myths Not to Worry About.

A Personal Bankruptcy Only Affects Your Credit, Not Your Spouse

Bankruptcy laws are there to protect you when you cannot afford to pay debts. Chapter 7 is the typical full discharge we think of and Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy where you repay a portion of your debts over a three to five-year period. While you and your spouse may be jointly liable on a debt, you both have independent personal credit ratings and those scores are totally separate.

When you are looking for bankruptcy answers and call Joseph Wrobel’s Chicago Bankruptcy Firm, he will find out whether you and your former spouse are both liable on certain debts. Mr. Wrobel can tell you what happens when one spouse files bankruptcy and the other has not and is still liable for the debt.

Is the debt discharged if two people are listed? Or, simply, is the obligation for one party to pay the debt discharged and the other is on the hook? What happens if the debtor comes after the other party to pay the debt when it was ordered to be paid by the other by the divorce court? Call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. in Chicago if this is your problem. (312) 781-0996.

Read another article: Don’t Believe the Hype: Get the Real Truth About Bankruptcy, Ignore the Rumors.

You and Your Former Spouse Accumulated Debt During Marriage

When you were married, you and your spouse worked hard and spent money keeping up with your friends and neighbors. As you approached your divorce your divorce lawyer asked you to complete paperwork listing all your assets and debts. Shocked, you realize how much your debts outweighed assets. Yes, your marital home was beautiful, but everything was financed.

Most couples approaching divorce are dividing debt at the end of the marriage. Houses are mortgaged with second mortgages and lines of credit. Credit cards are carrying transferred balances from other high interest cards. Vehicles are financed or leased. In many divorces, the only assets available are vested funds in retirement accounts.

The High-Income Earner Paying for Two Residences and Child Support

Divorce is very expensive, especially for the spouse making more money. The higher income earner may be ordered to pay alimony. When there are minor children, there is also an obligation to pay child support. Even a professional earning significant income feels the immediate reduction in their income needed to pay bills and live from day to day.

Many people simply run out of monthly income when paying alimony, child support and other debts ordered to be paid by the court. Is it a surprise some people simply stop paying? No.

You Are the Higher Wage Earner and Want to File Bankruptcy After Divorce

With a few options on the table you owe lots of money and have some decisions to make. In most cases any child support obligation will be automatically withheld from your paycheck. With what is left you simply cannot make it. Maybe you want to file bankruptcy to eliminate the credit card debt you were ordered to pay. Maybe you realize you can no longer afford the mortgage on the expensive house or financed luxury vehicle. It is time to downsize.

Before you take advantage of the bankruptcy laws consider your obligations to your former spouse and children and ask Joseph Wrobel about your obligations in the family court. He can talk to your divorce lawyer and help you make the best financial decision that gives you a break without hurting your former spouse and your children.

You Are the Dependent Lower or No Wage Earner and Need to File Bankruptcy After Divorce

If your former spouse and co-parent identified in the paragraph above did not heed our advice not to hurt you or the children by leaving you high and dry, you can get the help you need with the bankruptcy laws. Depending on your settlement agreement and divorce decree you might need to consider whether to include certain debts to be discharged in your bankruptcy. Like your former spouse would, you too should ask Joseph Wrobel to help figure out what to do with post-decree divorce financial obligations.

When you do file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your phone should stop ringing as debt collectors are prevented from collecting or contacting you during bankruptcy. The “Automatic Stay” provision also stops a Wage Garnishment. Helping you keep money in your pocket during the bankruptcy is what we do for you at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd.

Have you seen this one from a few years back? Credit Scores, Cards and Reports: What You Might Not Know.

Your Spouse Files Bankruptcy After Divorce, How Does Joint Debt Impact You?

Joint debt means joint responsibility. If you and your former spouse are both named on a financial account, then you both are jointly responsible, regardless of what it says in the divorce decree. If your ex-spouse is ordered to pay and they stop paying, the obligation becomes yours, 100 percent.

With so much uncertainty about Filing for Bankruptcy After Divorce, talking to both your divorce lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer such as Joseph Wrobel is necessary, so you don’t worsen your financial position and future if things do not go as planned after the divorce.

Call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. in Chicago today at (312) 781-0996 and learn your rights and options under the law if you are considering filing for bankruptcy after divorce.

 

 

 

 

Bankruptcy and Financial Freedom Podcast for October 2018

Are you tired of being harassed by collectors and worrying about your financial future? Joseph Wrobel is someone you should listen to when he talks about bankruptcy and financial freedom. (312) 781-0996.

This is the October 2018 Chicago Bankruptcy and Financial Freedom Podcast! Joseph Wrobel is the principal attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., with office locations all over the Chicagoland area.

On this bankruptcy and financial freedom podcast, Mr. Wrobel answers real questions that real people just like you are wondering about bankruptcy and what happens in certain situations where people are concerned about keeping their home, car and stopping collection activities and wage garnishments.

Want to stop the collectors dead in their tracks with the Automatic Stay provision while you pay back a portion of your debts over three to five years with Chapter 13? Listen and learn.

Some of the questions covered in this month’s bankruptcy and financial freedom podcast include: (1) If I file for bankruptcy, will the funds levied in my bank account be released? (2) Will my roommates’ items be liquidated if I file for bankruptcy? (3) How can I retrieve my forfeited house, after a property tax foreclosure? (4) How long does a bank have to pick up a vehicle if I stop making payments? (5) Can a bank short sell a house after the owner declares bankruptcy? (6) Can a bank refuse to sign a release of lien, demanding payment in full? and (7) Can I eliminate income tax debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Joseph Wrobel is an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney with over 40 years’ experience. When you call his office, he will help analyze your financial information and let you know whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief, so you can get a fresh start.

Remember, what is most important is what you do after a bankruptcy filing. Most people have great credit and can easily buy homes and cars sooner than they realize after getting rid of their bad debt.

Thank you for listening to the Bankruptcy and Financial Freedom Podcast for October 2018.

Call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. today and learn more about your options. (312) 781-0996.

What Everybody Should Know About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Has Unique Advantages Over Chapter 7

When you go to Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. to talk about your rights and options in the Bankruptcy Code you will learn about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and all how it solves the problem of limitations you may face with Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The main differences between Chapter 7 (discharge) and Chapter 13 (reorganization) are: 1) The total amount of debt discharged versus repaid; 2) Immediate discharge versus three to five years of debt repayment; 3) Chapter 13 is an option if you don’t qualify for Chapter 7; 4) You want to keep your home and certain assets, protecting them from sale.

The bankruptcy code is complex and applies specifically to everyone’s unique financial situation. Whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 can be determined when you meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., and your specific financial details are properly analyzed.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Stops Bill Collectors

When you file a petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you immediately get protection with the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code. The automatic stay immediately prohibits most collectors from continuing activities to collect a debt. Therefore, during your reorganization bankruptcy you should not receive phone calls and mail from collectors.

The automatic stay is especially useful if you are facing eviction, foreclosure, losing basic utilities, losing unemployment benefits, being found in contempt for failure to pay child support or losing your job because of wage garnishments.

The consumer bankruptcy attorneys and staff at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd can explain how you can stop bill collectors in their tracks while you get back on track financially. Read more articles about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the automatic stay provision on our website, ChicagoBankruptcy.com, tag archives: automatic stay.

Keep Your House and Get Caught Up on the Mortgage with Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 and 13 are different as they address issues of asset ownership and debt repayment. Where in Chapter 7 you must qualify for a bankruptcy discharge of debts and obligations, there is no real mechanism to help you keep a house in which you have equity. Also, if you make too much money and do not qualify for Chapter 7, you can still file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to pay back a portion of your debts over time.

With Chapter 13, you can stop the foreclosure process and keep your house while you catch up on your mortgage payments and get current. Some exceptions may apply where you have previously filed and dismissed bankruptcy cases, so it is important to talk to your experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., to find out your rights and options in the bankruptcy code to get you a fresh financial reboot.

Take Three to Five Years to Pay Back Portions of Your Debts with Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Financial emergencies can strike anyone at any time. When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy you can agree to a debt repayment plan, for an agreed portion of your debts owed (depends on your specific income and finances) over three to five years. The longer term for repayment afforded by Chapter 13 allows people to catch up on missed mortgage and car loan payments, for example, while they focus on paying off priority non-dischargeable debts, the ones that do not go away with bankruptcy.

Call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. and Learn How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Solve Your Financial Problems

When you call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. you can make an appointment to meet with an attorney in one of our multiple Chicagoland city and suburban office locations and learn where you stand. Joseph Wrobel wants you to take control of your finances, so you can decide if filing for a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy makes sense is valuable to you. For more information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy call us at (312) 781-0996.

July 2017 Chicago Bankruptcy Question and Answer Podcast with Joseph Wrobel

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. Click/tap here to listen to this podcast interview anytime.

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show:

  • Can you, and when should you include a title loan in your bankruptcy filing?
  • If you owe money to a business that files bankruptcy, do you still need to pay?
  • When you need to file bankruptcy and get a new car, what is the best plan?
  • What does someone need to do to prepare for a bankruptcy case?
  • Are Social Security and pensions safe from creditors when you file for bankruptcy?

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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Using credit cards and boosting your credit score after bankruptcy

 

After a bankruptcy discharge of those pesky debts you don’t miss, your available cash flow is increased and you should have more spending power. Your credit score is a function of several variables, not a mean person sitting in judgment of you. As you have more cash flow and spending ability, the decision to extend credit to you is easier because you are more likely to pay the bills when you can afford to. Once you get new credit cards there are a few things you should do to maximize your opportunity to boost your credit score.

Your credit score is determined by a variety of financial factors:

  • Credit card utilization
  • Payment history
  • Derogatory marks
  • Age of credit history
  • Total accounts
  • Hard inquiries

When you use credit cards and are working on boosting your credit score to qualify for a new home, many credit advisors will tell you to use your credit cards but not more than 30 or 40 percent of the available credit rating. It’s a good idea to pay your fixed expenses such as phone or internet with the credit card. Since you know you must pay that bill anyways, why not build your credit?

The next step with the credit cards is setting up automatic minimum monthly payments to be made by your debit card or checking account so you never have to worry about a late payment. When you pay your bill, which is easy to do now on apps on your phone, do not pay the entire balance. It is better to leave a few dollars on your balance so that it appears you are actively using the card – once a month the credit cards send a report to the credit bureaus and if your balance is zero it may look like you are not using the card and that can damage your credit score.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Can my college transcripts really be withheld if I owe the school money?

At various times in life we may be asked to produce our college transcripts for a new job or an application to a program or further education. This issue arose in a question covered in the Chicago Bankruptcy Update podcast series where real questions are asked and answered by Chicago bankruptcy attorney, Joseph Wrobel. The individual seeking guidance needed a copy of their college transcript and the school refused their request, stating that an outstanding amount of $3,000 was still owing for tuition.

In this case the individual seeking their college transcripts filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge. The short answer to the question as to whether the school may withhold the transcripts is a function of the automatic stay provision in the Bankruptcy Code.

When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay provisions protect you from collection activity.

The automatic stay takes effect when the petition for bankruptcy is filed with the bankruptcy court. The automatic stay provision prohibits creditors from engaging in collection activity while a bankruptcy case is active and until the case is over. While Chapter 7 discharge cases can be completed in a matter of months, a Chapter 13 reorganization case, involving payments to the trustee to catch up on debts, can be structured with three to five years of scheduled payments, thus the automatic stay is effective for a longer period of time.

The school’s refusal to tender the college transcripts is a collection activity. If the student does not pay the outstanding tuition, the school may refuse to offer the transcript. If, however, the request for the transcripts is made during a period when the automatic stay is active, the school is prohibited from collection activities and would be required to turn over the transcript.

You may be able to obtain a discharge of your duty to pay a debt, but the creditor may still want payment and in this case, can continue withholding the transcript, even after bankruptcy.

As soon as the bankruptcy case were to end and the automatic stay naturally terminates, the school could resume the position that they will not tender the transcripts until payment is made. Understand that the bankruptcy discharge may have the effect of terminating the school’s legal right to collect the debt, the debt still exists insofar as the school may still want the debt repaid before they tender the transcript.

A word to the wise: it is a good idea to keep copies of academic transcripts just in case a situation like this were to happen to you. While most people never plan to file for bankruptcy protection, financial emergencies and other bad things can happen to good people.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Aging parents and questions about bankruptcy and finances

Many of us have aging parents and as adult children we find ourselves in the position to advise and assist our parents when they have financial troubles they might not be able to handle on their own. For purposes of this article we are focusing on the scenario involving a question we received and addressed on our recent monthly Bankruptcy FAQ podcast show – click/tap here to listen to the program.

Our hypothetical parent is your widowed mother who does not work but collects Social Security. She has some cash savings but not so much a creditor is likely to sue her to collect and try to enforce a money judgment. Mother obtained a reverse mortgage and the current equity in the home is less than its fair market value in the real estate market. Over time mother has almost $25,000 in credit card debt and fell behind on payments after she had an unexpected and expensive car repair. Mother was researching bankruptcy online and learned that filing for bankruptcy can stop the annoying creditors from calling during her favorite programs. Mother does not have cable recording or DVR so she cannot pause her favorite programs when the phone rings. What can we do to help her?

Note that you have some concerns about mother’s capacity to handle a bankruptcy case own her own and you are afraid she is going to need your help if she decides to file for bankruptcy.

You may need to be a court-appointed guardian if you want to help mother.

Most of us on a good day are nervous hiring lawyers or appearing in court for something like a bankruptcy case. The good news is that unlike some other types of court actions, a bankruptcy does not require the petitioner to attend frequent court appearances. Once you meet with your bankruptcy lawyer and they file the case, you must appear at one court appearance and that is all. Of course there could be more required appearances if the case ends up in contested litigation; not a concern for most people.

If mother cannot sign the documents or appear in court, you may be appointed by the court as a guardian to represent your mother’s interests as the bankruptcy petitioner. The guardianship appointment is an additional step, but it is not a difficult process.

Mother might be considered judgement proof and may not need to file for bankruptcy.

Creditors take action against debtors, suing and collecting money judgments when there is a likelihood of successful collection. The amount of resources necessary to sue and collect a judgement from someone who does not have money to collect simply does not make sense for most creditors. If mother does not have wages to garnish or significant assets, it is unlikely mother will ever get sued on the outstanding credit card debt; more likely the creditor may write it off as a loss.

With the reverse mortgage and mother’s house being worth less than the fair market value there is nothing for a creditor to pursue. Also, in many instances it may be difficult for a creditor to sue to foreclose on a property to collect a debt, especially with a reverse mortgage in place to be repaid before any following creditors.

Even if mother qualifies for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it might not be necessary, although it can stop those annoying phone calls.

Depending on the equity in the home, mother may or may not qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge – the means income testing might show that she only qualifies for a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy where she repays the credit card debt over a three to five-year payment plan. Even based on the facts set forth in this situation, the bankruptcy attorney may need additional information to determine which chapter, 7 or 13, would be available to mother.

Mother is probably judgment proof and does not need to file a bankruptcy. She may tell you she wants to file one anyways, simply to stop the credit card companies from calling during her shows. At her age, you might just want to indulge her wishes and help however you can.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about their aging parents.

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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Taking the sting out of bankruptcy: You may be surprised how liberating it can be

There are many people who consider filing for bankruptcy for a while before they finally decide it is time to go ahead. Some of the common fears people have is that everyone will find out about the bankruptcy and shun them or talk behind their back. In all likelihood, the people you think may be doing so well may also be considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy does not mean failure – a bankruptcy means you are smart enough to take advantage of the law to protect you and give you a fresh start. People may be hesitant to file for bankruptcy because a friend told them incorrect information about the trustee coming to take and sell everything they own; this is a false myth. Credit scores are another concern many have, and they fear they will never get credit again, when in reality many lenders may look more favorably on you after you no longer are buried under a mountain of debt. While it is not the most common topic of conversation, many will tell you the relief they experienced after they filed for bankruptcy and got the mountain of debt and creditors off their back.

People are not likely to find out about your bankruptcy unless you tell them.

In years past, there may have been a more negative stigma to bankruptcy and small town newspapers published names and cases, possibly for the benefit of any creditors and providing them notice. In reality today, there are so many bankruptcy filings, especially in major cities like Chicago, that the newspaper would be massive if bankruptcy filings were posted. Unless you decide to tell people, your friends and neighbors will never know you filed for bankruptcy protection. There is a federal bankruptcy website where you can look up your own bankruptcy information and it will appear on your credit report and on background checks. Do now worry however, as more people have bankruptcies than you may realize and they still find new jobs, buy homes and cars.

It is not an immoral or unethical decision to take advantage of financial laws like bankruptcy.

Say you are sued by a creditor and they obtain a court judgement against you for $50,000. Yes, you can list that money judgment in your bankruptcy and wave goodbye to paying that off. For many people, the threat of a judgment being collected by wage garnishments and asset seizures is enough for people to decide to file for bankruptcy. Some people worry that the judge or court may be mad at you, but that is of no concern. A money judgment is just a court order to pay someone. The obligation to pay a debt can be discharged in bankruptcy – the whole point is to eliminate debts you cannot afford to pay so you can have a fresh financial start.

You can keep your car, house and belongings despite filing for bankruptcy.

There is a qualifying financial test called the Means Test and a bankruptcy lawyer can review your financials and advise you whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge, the traditional bankruptcy most of us think about, or a Chapter 13 reorganization, in which you can make payments to catch up on your debts over a three to five-year period. If your vehicle is financed, you can sign a reaffirmation agreement and keep making payments despite the bankruptcy. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of equity in your home and personal belongings and assets up to a certain exemption value, despite filing for bankruptcy.

One of the best things about a bankruptcy filing is that by law, the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy laws kicks in when you file your petition for bankruptcy – creditors and collectors must stop all collection activity and they can no longer call you while you are in bankruptcy. The stress relief of the automatic stay provision alone may bring you to a major sigh of relief.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!