How much does a consultation cost? All of our initial consultations for a possible bankruptcy are free of charge.
How long is the free consultation? Unlike some firms that limit your initial consultation to a few minutes, we believe it is important to discuss with you everything that needs to be covered in order to determine whether a bankruptcy is right for you and your financial situation, however long that takes. Most initial consultations last about an hour, but the time is not limited simply because the consultation is free.
How much does a bankruptcy cost? Unlike other firms that will quote a price and then add "plus costs", all of the bankruptcy cases we handle are done on a Flat Fee basis. We will quote a flat fee that covers the entire cost for your bankruptcy, from start to finish, including all out-of-pocket costs. The exact flat fee that will be quoted will be based on many factors, such as whether your case will be a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, whether you will be filing individually or jointly with a spouse, whether you own your own business or are employed by someone else, and whether there are any special circumstances involved in your case, such as liens that will need to be removed, income taxes to be discharged, or junior liens on your residence that you would like to try to remove. After consideration of all those factors, you will be given a firm quote for a total flat fee for your case.
Can I get rid of credit card debt? Yes. Even though the credit card companies would like you to believe otherwise, all of you unsecured debt can generally be discharged/eliminated, including credit cards, medical bills, and any other unsecured debts.
Do I have to give up my car? No. If you own your car outright (it is not being financed), it generally can be "exempted", meaning it can be protected from your creditors. If you are financing your car, then you have the choice to "re-affirm" the debt and keep the car, and keep paying on the debt, or you can choose to surrender the car to the lender and discharge the debt.
My credit is bad because of all my debt. Won't bankruptcy just make it worse? Usually, NO. In fact, in many cases, eliminating all of your unsecured debt through a bankruptcy will actually improve your credit score.
Can I do anything about back income taxes that are owed? YES. If your fact situation meets certain requirements, such as the tax year involved being over 3 years ago, and other factors, in many instances your back tax debt can be discharged.
What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13? There are too many legal differences to be able to explain here, but in general a Chapter 7 is a straight "liquidation" bankruptcy, while a Chapter 13 is a consumer reorganization chapter, where your debts are reorganized and paid through a payment plan over several years. Why one chapter might be better for you than the other, and why, is one of the main things to be decided at your initial free consultation.
My house is "upside down" and I owe on both first and second mortgages. Can anything be done to help? YES. In a Chapter 13, when you have a situation where you owe more on your 1st Trust Deed, by itself, than your home is worth, then it is possible to discharge your 2nd Trust Deed (i.e. a Home Equity Loan) and any other junior liens that may be recorded against your property, and keep your home, having to only continue paying on your first mortgage.
Do I need to be current on my debts before they can be discharged? NO. You do not need to be current. In fact, once you decide that a bankruptcy is right for you, and you want to file a bankruptcy petition, you should immediately stop paying any of your debts that you are intending to discharge. Since you will be discharging those debts, any payments you make just prior to filing bankruptcy is just wasted money. Any debt you plan to keep, such as a home mortgage or car loan, should be kept current though.
How long does a bankruptcy take? Generally, a Chapter 7 will be completed, and you will receive your discharge of your debts, in about 4 months after filing. A Chapter 13 is a payment plan / reorganization chapter that requires a 3 or 5 year payment plan to be completed before you will receive a discharge of the remaining unpaid balances on your debt.
Will I have to go to court? How many times? In most bankruptcies you will only need to appear in front of the Bankruptcy Trustee, not a Judge, only 1 time, and that meeting will take place about 30 days after your bankruptcy petition is filed. The Flat Fee discussed above includes the cost of having an attorney appear with you at that meeting. We are with you every step of the way through the Bankruptcy process.
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