Bankruptcy is a federal law which provides relief for those unable to pay their debts. Bankruptcy is a last resort. There are positive benefits and negative consequences which should be very carefully considered before filing.
If you are presently unable to pay your bills or have a significant amount of debt, you may wish to seek professional financial advice. Here are some other warning signs:
- Are you behind on or always asking for more time to pay your mortgage or car payment?
- Are you being contacted by bill collectors?
- Have you been sued or threatened with a lawsuit for failing to pay your bills or other obligations?
- Are you borrowing from family members, friends or high interest credit sources to meet your present bills or expenses?
- Has a divorce or separation left you unable to pay bills?
- Have you lost income due to loss of employment, overtime, or a downturn in business?
- Do you have significant medical bills?
- Do you have a significant balance on credit cards or high interest obligations?
- Are you facing an IRS tax lien or levy?
- Has any of your property been repossessed?
- Are your wages or bank accounts being garnished?
- Are you thinking about obtaining a high interest consolidation loan?
- Can you only afford the minimum payment on credit card obligations?
- Are checks bouncing?
I offer a free, no obligation, confidential initial consultation to advise you about your options. In particular, before you take steps to mortgage unencumbered property, cash in retirement funds, or transfer property, I strongly urge you to obtain advice from a qualified bankruptcy specialist. This small investment of time may save heartache in the future.
I can assist you in trying to reach an out-of-court repayment plan with your creditors (called a "workout"). However, for individuals without a business, I suggest that you first contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service for assistance. This is a nonprofit organization which specializes in repayment plans. There are links to several other similar resources on my "Helpful Links" page.
Upon the filing of your petition, almost all creditor actions are "stayed" or stopped until further order of the bankruptcy court.
I will advise you about which chapter is most appropriate. Here is a summary of chapters 7, 11, 12, and 13.
- Chapter 7--Liquidation. A chapter 7 trustee is appointed after you file. The trustee may ask you to turn over property. The property is sold and the proceeds are paid to your creditors. In Wyoming, the trustees make a finding in the majority of chapter 7 cases that the debtor does not have to turn over any property (called a "no asset" case). The chapter 7 discharge covers most debts, other than child support, certain taxes, most student loans, court fines and restitution, claims for personal injury caused by driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, and a few other types of claims.
- Chapter 13--Individual Debt Adjustment. Instead of turning over your property, you make payments to a trustee on a monthly basis over a period of 3-5 years. You must have a regular source of income. The total amount of your debt must be below certain amounts.
- Chapter 12--Family Farmer Reorganization. Similar to a Chapter 13--but only for "family farmers."
- Chapter 11--Business Reorganization. This is primarily used by businesses to reorganize and sometimes to liquidate. You continue to operate your business. I will prepare a repayment plan. If we satisfy a number of elements, the court will confirm the repayment plan. Filing under this chapter is usually expensive.
Yes--but it is usually more difficult and expensive to represent someone who does not live in Southeastern Wyoming. Also, I am committed to providing personal representation. In some firms, you may not meet your bankruptcy attorney until you go to your 341 meeting. In most of my cases, I personally meet with my clients several times before the filing. When you reside far from Cheyenne, I will usually require that you visit me at my office unless I happen to be in your area for other reasons. While a bankruptcy filing may be done by telephone calls and mailings, I would prefer to meet you in person. Also, because I have to travel to your 341 meeting, I have to charge extra for my time and expenses. If you can find a competent attorney in your community, you are better off to have local counsel in most cases. As with any professional, make sure your attorney is qualified to represent you. Please call for an estimated fee quote.
It depends on the complexity of your case. However, my practice is limited to bankruptcy and I keep abreast of changes in the law and new cases. I am Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification and I am a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute. I also subscribe to a specialized computer legal research service called Bankruptcy PRO provided by Lexis.