At Sodoma Law, we understand that anyone can find themselves in a less than desirable financial position. Whether it is due to a job loss, underemployment, foreclosure, illness, divorce, loss of a valuable business prospect or simply bad luck, we at Sodoma Law are here to help.
One of the tools available to consumers and corporations is the protection of filing for bankruptcy relief. Bankruptcy for most is a scary thought and may seem like a drastic measure, perhaps even a last resort, but in many cases filing for bankruptcy is simply the best decision one can make to deal with their finances. It is that “fresh start,” a second bite at the apple that we all deserve when we find our lives controlled by our financial position. During our free initial consultation, we will clearly explain to you the difference between the types of bankruptcy filings, including the approximate time involved, qualifications for certain bankruptcy cases, and more importantly how your specific situation and debts would be affected by each type of filing. During our meeting and throughout your case, our Bankruptcy Group will provide a detailed expectation of each stage of the bankruptcy process. Additionally, we will provide alternatives to filing for bankruptcy, including, but not limited to debt negotiation, loan modification, short sales and other methods in dealing with your current financial situation. Should you decide to file for bankruptcy relief, there are several types of filings but generally the most common are Chapter 7 (liquidation for individuals or corporations), Chapter 11 (reorganization for individuals or corporations) or Chapter 13 (reorganization for individuals only) of the Bankruptcy Code. The goal of any bankruptcy case is to have most, if not all, of your debts “discharged” (see below) while being able to exempt as much of your assets as possible. Our goal is to provide you with all of the information and assistance needed so that you can make an informed decision about your specific financial situation. At the end of the day, we will diligently work with you every step of the way so that you can decide what is best for you, your family and your future.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I know whether bankruptcy is the right choice for me and my family?The choice to file or not to file bankruptcy, as well as which type of bankruptcy you should file, depends on your current financial situation. For example, if your primary residence is in foreclosure proceedings or you are in danger of losing your car to repossession, then you are possible going to be a candidate for filing Chapter 13 so that you can try to keep your primary residence and/or car. Conversely, if you have large amounts of credit card debt and/or medical bills but otherwise are current on your mortgage and/or car payment, then you possible would be primed for filing Chapter 7. Our office will sit down with you and go over your current debts and assets to help determine if bankruptcy is the right choice for you. We help you assess the benefits and risks of a possible bankruptcy filing compared to that of completing a debt workout with your various creditors outside of bankruptcy.
2. Will I lose all of my assets or “stuff”?The law affords bankruptcy debtors the opportunity to have a “fresh start.” In order to do so, a bankruptcy trustee, who is appointed by the Bankruptcy Court, reviews a list of all of your debts and assets. The trustee, regardless of chapter 7 or chapter 13, will administer / oversee your bankruptcy estate. Part of that process is determining whether the trustee can sell any of your assets or “stuff” to satisfy your various debts. That being said, a debtor is afforded certain exemptions allowing them to possible keep their property while still having that “fresh start.” For example, debtors are allowed to exempt $3,500.00 of equity in their vehicle. Thus, an individual who owns a vehicle worth $10,000.00 but has a car loan in the amount of $6,500.00 would be able to exempt (assuming you are current on your payments) the difference of the vehicle’s value with the loan amount, and keep their vehicle.
3. Do you offer free consultations?Yes, our office offers a free initial consultation during which we explain to you the bankruptcy process as well as the various other options which may be available to you.
4. What types of debts are there?There are generally two types of debt: (i) Secured, and (ii) Unsecured. A secured debt is one in which a creditor has an interest in some form of property whether it be real (ie. real estate) or personal (ie. car). The most common form of unsecured debt is credit card debt. Each debt is treated differently under the Bankruptcy Code. Our Bankruptcy Practice group will assist you in preparing for how each type of debt will be handled during your case.
5. What does it mean to have my debts discharged?When certain debts are discharged, the creditor holding such a debt cannot come after you personally for that debt at a later time. While certain debts are non-dischargeable (ie. debts owed to the IRS and other related tax agencies, student loans, etc.) generally a large majority of debts are forgiven once an individual receives their discharge.
6. Is my bankruptcy public record?Yes. Generally, just like any legal proceeding, the relevant filings become public record. However, personal identification information such as your social security number, bank account number(s), and other sensitive personal and financial information will be protected.
7. How long does the bankruptcy process take?Should you decide to file for bankruptcy, the amount of time your case will take depends initially on which type of bankruptcy you choose to file. A Chapter 7 case, generally takes about three to four months from the time you file your case to the time receive your discharge and potentially another three to four months until the case is closed. However, a Chapter 13 case, typically takes about three to five years to complete and have the chapter 13 plan consummated. Before you file your case, our office will work with you to gather all the necessary documents as well as prepare the paperwork required to file your case.
8. How much does Bankruptcy cost?The cost of your bankruptcy depends on the type of bankruptcy you decide to file. The legal fees associated with each type of bankruptcy filing also vary depending on the complexity of your case. During the firm’s free initial consultation, our Bankruptcy Practice group, will be able to quickly discern approximately how much a bankruptcy case will cost.
9. Will bankruptcy ruin my credit?Typically when potential clients ask this question they are already facing foreclosure, repossession, lawsuits from creditors and annoying debt collector calls, so the reality is that your credit is already either in trouble or your credit score is quickly falling due to the financial setbacks you are facing. Bankruptcy in many cases is the quickest way to get back on track and begin rebuilding your credit.
10. What do I need to get started?First contact a qualified, passionate bankruptcy attorney like the attorneys in our Bankruptcy Practice group here at Sodoma Law. Next, you will want to gather information concerning your monthly income and expenses so that we may properly evaluate your financial situation. Lastly, you will want to take an inventory of all of your property and assets. This will assist our Bankruptcy Practice group in assessing what assets you may be able to keep and the other possible complexities of your particular case.
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