Facing Crippling Dept?
You Need a Different Kind of Help. You don't just need answers, you need serious protection from the pitfalls of credit, tax, and financial crisis as well as the caveats of bankruptcy in Utah. You need the calls to stop. You need to be able to check your mail without fear and end the sleepless nights.
You need someone who doesn't just run you through the motions, but someone with an edge who can squeeze every advantage out of bankruptcy for you.
To start, we'll answer your questions and arm you for your situation at no cost. Wan't us to just handle it all for you? Even facing bankruptcy, we'll make arrangements so that you can afford it no matter what your situation is.
Struggling to pay bills while still maintaining other obligations such as putting food on the table can be one of the most stressful events in ones life. All too often people wait too long to take control of their situation and continue to ride the rollercoaster of financial uncertainty.
The most common cause that we see for people to continue living in financial misery is simply that they don't know what their options are, or they know they have options but don't really understand how they work. Filing for bankruptcy is a tool to help you take control of your life. Bankruptcy is not game-over, it is another chance.
- Stop Foreclosure
- Stop Collection Calls
- Stop Garnishments
- Stop Repossessions
- Stop Tax penalties and interest
Our bankruptcy attorneys understand that the poor condition of the economy over the past several years has caused many Americans to lose their jobs and struggle financially. Learn the options at your disposal:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Provides financial relief by discharging your debts and allowing you to keep most or all of their assets. It can stop wage and bank garnishments, repossessions, annoying and harassing phone calls. Keep your home, cars and assets in most cases.
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy: Enables you to manage your company debt without having to close your doors.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Allows you to pay back your creditors, often at a discounted rate or lesser amount than the original debt. It is advantageous in order to protect non-exempt property that you may own in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Davis, Weber, Box Elder and Cache County.
Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer Vs. Do-it-yourself
Recently we saw You Tube video on how to file bankruptcy for yourself. The presenter listed five easy steps that you must follow to file for bankruptcy and which your attorney has to follow as well. The point the presenter was making is that if you follow these five steps, which you can do yourself, you don’t need to have an attorney represent you in bankruptcy. Of course, this person was peddling his bankruptcy preparation software, so he wanted to make it sound easy.
While it is true that you can file for bankruptcy on your own, the companies and individuals that sell DIY bankruptcy kits usually don’t mention all of the other things you must do in order to actually get a discharge, which after all is the ultimate goal of a bankruptcy filing.
With a discharge, you do not owe any of your creditors (with some exceptions) and so creditors cannot sue you, they cannot collect on their debt, they can’t even call you on the phone and request payment. This is the benefit of a bankruptcy.
Nearly every time we appear in bankruptcy court and observe individuals who have filed for themselves, the trustee tells them what they have not done everything correctly and that their bankruptcy will be dismissed if they do not remedy those mistakes. The trustee, however, cannot tell the individuals HOW to remedy, only what the remedy is. A good bankruptcy attorney will be sure to the discharge that you so desperately need. Our team has over 50 years of experience in helping people file for chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy can help low to no income individuals or a married couple obtain relief from their debt. A chapter 13 bankruptcy can help any individual or a married couple save a home from foreclosure and even obtain relief from creditors if they have previously filed chapter 7 within the last eight years.
Either type of bankruptcy will bring you relief from garnishments, pending law suits, foreclosure, harassing creditor phone calls and judgments. Did you know, that in some instances a chapter 13 can even relieve you from second mortgages if you have no equity in your home? A discharge from bankruptcy will “right the ship” so to speak and allow you to take steps to re-build your credit.
The Downside to Bankruptcy
So what’s the downside? First of all, a bankruptcy is reported on your credit record for 10 years. That does not mean, necessarily, that your credit score will be poor for 10 years. We regularly hear from former clients, that they have qualified for a home loan even though the bankruptcy is still being reported on their credit. Second, you could lose some property through a bankruptcy. The rules regarding what can be taken depend on value and whether your state has an exemption to cover the property. Our firm can safely guide you through questions regarding your property and what may or may not be at risk. Third, you do not get a discharge on certain types of debt, with taxes, certain types of student loans, child support/alimony and debts owed to governmental agencies leading the list.
Is bankruptcy worth it? Only you can decide that. But we’re here to make sure what you decide is a well informed decision. We don’t recommend bankruptcy to everyone who seeks our council. However, if bankruptcy seems the right move in your situation, then we know how to get you through the process, to back you up, and make sure the decision works for you. We want bankruptcy to work for you and to give you the best outcome possible.
The Advantages of Chapter 13
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows people with regular income to present a plan to pay all or a portion of their debt. A repayment plan is proposed wherein the debtor will make monthly installment payments to a Chapter 13 Trustee who in turn will distribute a portion of each payment to the various creditors. The plans range from 3-5 years in time. The length of the plan will be determined by the income of the person filing. During this time period, the law forbids creditors from commencing to continuing collection lawsuits or other means of collecting debts.
Filing for Chapter 13 offers many advantages over filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, otherwise known as a liquidation bankruptcy. Maybe the most obvious and important to many people is that you can stop a foreclosure on your home and pay back your delinquency or the amount you are behind over time, and not in one lump sum. This means that you must start making your normal house payment, but the back portion will be paid over time.
Another benefit of Chapter 13 is that it lets you reschedule your debt (your mortgage for you primary residence is not included in this) and extend them for the life of your Chapter 13 plan. This may lower your payments. Chapter 13 can protect co-signers and co-makers.
Also, for individuals you owe back taxes, Chapter 13 offers a great way of dealing with what is owed. Once you file, the fees and interest stop accruing. Many people use Chapter 13 when dealing with tax issues.
A great way to think about Chapter 13 is thinking about it kind of like a consolidation loan. In Chapter 13 you make one payment each month to the Chapter 13 Trustee, he then takes that money and pays your creditors the portion of money they are owed through your repayment plan. You will have no direct contact with your creditors throughout the plan. In Chapter 13, in most cases, you end up paying only pennies on dollar. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is looked at differently by many credit institutions and some employers.
The Chapter 13 case begins by filing a petition (individually or jointly with your spouse) with the bankruptcy court. Included with the petition are: schedules of assets and liabilities; schedules of current income and expenses; schedule of unexpired leases and executory contracts (things like cable TV, cell phones, etc.); and a statement of financial affairs. Also, the certificate showing you have participated in credit counseling is also required when filing along with your last 60 days pay stubs and last years filed tax return.
The Chapter 13 plan payment which you are proposing is also included when you file. Remember, this plan sets out how you plan to pay back the debts you owe and how much each creditor will get. A Chapter 13 Trustee will administer the case, he/she sits between you and the creditors. The Trustee will collect your monthly plan payment and distribute a portion off each payment to the creditors you are owed money under your plan. For example, if you are behind on your home or car payment, the arrearage, or portion you are behind, will be paid back over time. You will be in your plan for 3-5 years depending, the length of your plan depends upon your income and what you are trying to accomplish. However, the plan will be for at least 3 years and no longer than 5.
Besides the monthly trustee payments, you need to expect to contribute your tax refund for three years to your plan. Generally, you are allowed to keep the first $2,000 of the refund and the rest will be required to given to the trustee. During the time of your plan, you are protected by the "automatic stay", which acts as a barrier between you and pre-petition creditors, they are not permitted to contact you or take any action against you.
Once your plan payments are complete and you take another credit counseling class you will receive a discharge from all your debts. (They are wiped out!) Learn; how fast can Chapter 13 stop foreclosure, where to find cheap bankruptcy in Utah, Utah affordable bankruptcy.
Common Mistakes and Misconceptions
- CONSOLIDATING MY DEBT IS BETTER THAN FILING BANKRUPTCY.
- In theory, consolidating seems like a good and viable option. However, in practice, debt consolidation rarely works out, and experience shows that in the long run, people don't save money but in fact it ends up costing them more. Learn more about why debt consolidation rarely works: Debt Consolidation Truth.
- DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE BROKE BEFORE CALLING AN ATTORNEY.
- If you aren't going to be able to catch up on all your bills and get ahead, you are wasting your money. Filing bankruptcy will get rid of all your debt. There is no point paying bills that will be wiped out anyway. Save your money to pay the fees of filing anyway, that will much cheaper than paying bills you can't afford to pay.
- BANKRUPTCY WILL RUIN MY CREDIT.
- The harsh truth is that if you are unable to pay your bills, your credit probably already stinks. Filing bankruptcy is not going to make your bad credit any worse. To the contrary, by filing and getting rid of the debt your credit will begin to rebound if you're smart about building it after you file. Bankruptcy is a way to fix your credit and debt problems, it did not cause them.
- DON'T PAY OFF YOUR PARENTS AND FRIENDS BEFORE YOU FILE.
- Now we know what you’re thinking, but by not paying them you are saving them from a big headache and problems. In bankruptcy, the trustee (the person overseeing your case) can go after your parents and friends and take the money back to pay that money to other creditors. Your family and friends won't be happy if you get them involved in a legal proceeding because you paid them.
- DON'T PAY OFF YOUR CAR LOANS BEFORE YOU FILE A BANKRUPTCY.
- By having a lien on your car, you protect yourself from losing the car in the bankruptcy. The trustee is trying to find any asset (like your car) you own that he might be able to sell and use the money to pay back your creditors. The loan on your car, usually makes that option not attractive to a trustee and most likely will deter him from pursing it because he won't get any money by selling it.
- DON'T TRY TO HIDE ANYTHING, DISCLOSE EVERYTHING YOU OWN.
- Failing to list any property you own can potentially lead to criminal action against you for bankruptcy fraud and make it so you lose your discharge (the thing that wipes out all your debt) in bankruptcy. Plus it’s like the trustee is magic, he usually ends up finding out about everything, it's just not worth it considering the penalty you face if you're caught lying.
- DON'T PUT YOUR MONEY IN SOMEONE ELSE'S ACCOUNT OR GIVE THEM YOUR PROPERTY.
- In the list of the worst things you can do when filing this may be 1(b) coming in just behind the one we just talked about. The trustee could very likely go take the money and property back. This goes for any transfer within a year of filing. Like number 6 above if you do this you risk not being able to have your debt forgiven.
- DON'T LIQUIDATE YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS.
- Your retirements are protected, by liquidating them you take them from being a protected asset to a general asset than the trustee can come after to pay debt with. You are still going to need retire someday so save if for what it's there for.
- FILING BANKRUPTCY DOESN'T MAKE YOU IMMORAL OR A BAD PERSON.
- Look, this isn't meant to be a philosophical or religious statement. If you're broke, your number one responsibility should be to your family's needs. The law allows people to file bankruptcy as a way of dealing with debt. The creditors use the law to help themselves in the same way through tax subsidies, charge offs and law suits. Whether or not this is a justification for filing it's the reality, it's you're right to file.
- I DON'T HAVE A TENTH BUT THOUGHT TEN SOUNDED BETTER THAN NINE.
Take time to think about your options, but not too much time. You're wasting your money and stress on things that can be taken care of so easily with our help.
Dealing with Creditors
There are few things which can be more stressful in your life than having to deal with debt creditors. They love you when you have money but when your life takes a turn and something happens which really affects your ability to pay them they turn on you and begin to demand money from you.
You would like to believe that creditors would understand, that they would help work something out to get you back on your feet. The fact of the matter is that few creditors will help you when times get tough. They only care about their investment and getting their money back. They have a way of making you feel that they control your life and there is nothing you can do.
BUT, they do not control your life and there are things you can do. There are laws which regulate how people you owe money to can go about collecting it from you and when they can do it. Both federal and state laws give you the consumer rights when it comes to debt and debt collection.
For instance; a creditor cannot call you before 8 in the morning nor any later that 9 at night. They can't curse or insult you. They can't threaten you with consequence which can't legally happen because you didn't pay them. They can't lie about anything nor make you pay more than you owe.
Also, did you know that you can make a debt collector stop calling you? If you notify them in writing, this should stop the calls. Remember though that the debt does not go away.
When you file for bankruptcy, you benefit from what is called the "automatic stay", the automatic stay is a statutorily provided period where no creditors are allowed to contact you regarding the debts you owe. Any correspondence to you regarding your debts must be direct to your attorney's office. Think of the automatic stay like a giant force field put up around you and your estate which protects you from creditors.
Debt Consolidation as Alternative
Having lots of debt is stressful and for many the thought of getting to a position where you think you will be able to pay it all off seems pretty much impossible. Debt consolidation is the process of taking all or some of your debts and putting them all together. The thinking behind this is that by lumping all your debt into one loan with reduce your interest rate and make it more "affordable" or "payable".
In theory, consolidating seems like a good and viable option. However, in practice, debt consolidation rarely works out, and experience shows that in the long run, people don't save money but in fact it ends up costing them more. Learn more about why debt consolidation rarely works here, Debt Consolidation Traps.
It is true that there are reputable consolidation services, but many so-called debt consolidation companies are just scammers doing what they can to take advantage of people who are drowning in debt and are looking for help. Many of our former bankruptcy clients have tried debt consolidation companies and they all reported the same thing: it cost them a lot of money for the service but balance of their debt did not change. Rather than waste your time, money and sanity on debt consolidation, Congress has provided another option whereby people who are in debt with no foreseeable end to paying it off can get help and have a fresh start.
By filing for relief under the Bankruptcy Code, people have a variety of options to get their financial lives back on track. Chapter 7 allows for a complete fresh start, lets you just start over with a clean slate. Chapter 13 lets you make a plan to pay back some debt in a way which you can afford. Also, the time frame for getting your life back through bankruptcy is much quicker than using unproven debt consolidation.
Our No Money Down Bankruptcy Solution
Did you know you may be able to file for bankruptcy without having to pay your attorney any money down?
Here’s what usually happens when a person considers getting help from a bankruptcy lawyer: The lawyer tells the potential client all the perks of bankruptcy and how it can help them get back on their feet. The client signs up and the lawyer asks for his fee. But usually the client is broke. Makes sense since he needs bankruptcy help of course. Client thinks, "how am I going to come up with the money to pay a lawyer for bankruptcy when if I had the money I probably wouldn’t be here in the first place!”
There is a solution! People can find relief from the constant harassment of creditors by filing bankruptcy and the lawyer can still earn his fee and help the client, without requiring them to come up with money they obviously don't have.
How? In Chapter 13, the lawyer's fee can be paid through the chapter 13 plan payment which is already a part of the bankruptcy process. This means that the chapter 13 trustee will distribute a small portion to your attorney with each payment you make. You lawyer gets the money he has earned by representing you, you get the relief and fresh start you need to get your finances back in order. This allows you to get a case filed right away without having to come up with a bunch of money you may not have at the moment. Now, there still is the court filing fee of $281, this fee does not go to the attorney but goes to the court. Did you know that some people don't even have to pay that fee all up front? The court now allows some people to pay that fee in installments.
- HOW MUCH DOES BANKRUPTCY COST IN UTAH?
- Filing for bankruptcy includes separate fees, 1) the filing fee paid to the court and 2) the attorneys fee. There is also a $20 fee for doing a required credit counseling fee, but that is taken from the attorney fee.
- Chapter 7: The filing fee for a Chapter 7 case is $306, this fee is the same regardless of the case being individual or joint. The attorney's fee with Richards & Godfrey, PC., generally starts at $799, however, it can be case dependent and we have filed for less and even for more. Regardless, it is free to talk with us about your potential case, let us see what we can do for you and let us show you how we can work with you.
- Chapter 13: The filing fee for a Chapter 13 case is $281, this fee is the same regardless of the case being individual or joint. The attorney's fee is set by the state and depends on a few factors such as your income and debt load. However, this fee does not need to be paid up front but can be paid through your bankruptcy plan. You can file for Chapter 13 with no money down today!
- IF I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY WHAT HAPPENS?
- The moment you file, it's like a protective force field is put up around you, this protection is known as the "automatic stay". The automatic stay stops creditors from being able to contact you, continue to garnish your wages and even stops a pending foreclosure. All of your assets and debts become part of what is called the bankruptcy estate. What happens after these two things automatically happen depends largely on the type of case you file.
- Chapter 7: In Chapter 7, all of your debt is wiped out. You can't pick and choose between things you want to get rid of and things you don't. If you have a car or home for example that has a loan on it, you can choose to keep that item by signing what is called a "reaffirmation agreement" if you were current on your payments when you filed. Generally if you can show the ability to keep making the payment you will be able to keep that item. Some exceptions do apply. Between 60-90 days after you file you will have a hearing with the bankruptcy trustee, this meeting is known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors, in this short hearing the bankruptcy trustee will ask you some questions regarding why you filed, your assets and debts. After this hearing, there may be a few things that your attorney will need to take care of. Once these items are taken care of, you will wait for your "discharge", this usually takes place within another 90 days. Generally you are in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for 6-8 months.
- Chapter 13 : In Chapter 13, your debts are treated differently depending on what kind of debt it is and whether or not the debt is secured by some piece of property. A plan is presented to the court which shows how your debts will be repaid over the next 3-5 years. The length of your Chapter 13 plan depends on a computation or your debt and income. Chapter 13 allows you to get caught up on house payments which your are behind on, car payments, back taxes owed, amongst other things. Chapter 13 is a great option because it gives you leeway to propose a plan to the court which is affordable AND can allow you to keep things you have fallen behind on. Also, remember, unlike in a Chapter 7, you can get filed right away, with no money down. Your fees and costs for filing can be paid through the bankruptcy plan you propose to the court.
- Obviously this is just a brief overview but the kind of case to file really depends on your situation. The process can be done without an attorney, but research shows that cases filed without the help of an attorney are less successful, if successful at all. Besides all that, you don't need the added stress. Let us use our experience to help you.
- I AM LOSING MY HOUSE IN FORECLOSURE, CAN FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY HELP ME KEEP MY HOME?
- If you are behind on your house payments and your lender is foreclosing or you fear they will soon, filing for relief under Chapter 13 can help you keep your home. Chapter 13 allows you to make payments on the "average" or the amount you are behind over the next 3-5 years. As long as you can continue to make your house payment once you file, the back portion you owe will be made up in small installments over the course your bankruptcy. We can file up to the morning of your foreclosure sale to stop the sale. Remember, for this to work, you will need to be able to make your ongoing normal house payment.
- I AM AFRAID OF MY CAR BEING REPOSSESSED, CAN FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY HELP ME KEEP MY CAR?
- Chapter 13 can allow individuals who are behind on car payments to keep their car and get caught up. Once you file, your car payment will be made through your Chapter 13 plan payment, the payments will be made over the next 3-5 years, and by the time you are done with your bankruptcy, your car should be paid off.
- I OWE LITTLE ON MY CAR LOAN OR I OWN MY CAR OUTRIGHT, WILL I LOSE IT IF I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
- No, however what will be required for you to keep your car through a Chapter 7 will vary depending on the amount of equity you have in your car. If there is no equity you will be able to keep it. If there is $3,000 or more equity in the car the trustee may be able to access the amount of equity over the $3,000. Remember, if you still owe money on a car, you can choose to "reaffirm the debt" and continue to make payments under the existing terms of the loan; or you can buy the car from the lender in a single payment for its present value, this is called "redemption". You can always choose to surrender the car to the lender without any responsibility to pay anything more for it.
- SHOULD I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
- People who file for bankruptcy generally have experienced a job or income loss, divorce, or accident or injury. However, there are many reasons people are forced into filing bankruptcy. There are times in our lives when we wish we could just start over, if we just had another opportunity to do it over again we would do it better the next time around. Filing for bankruptcy can be this second chance for many people. When you file for bankruptcy and get a "discharge" of your debts, your debts are erased, you are not responsible for paying them any longer. Imagine if you actually got to keep all the money you are paying to creditors, do you think you would be in a better spot financially? When you file for bankruptcy you get an opportunity for a fresh start.
- HOW BAD WILL FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY EFFECT MY CREDIT?
- Initially, filing bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit. However, if you are thinking about filing your credit is probably less than stellar as it is, for many people filing for bankruptcy is a tool which can help to rebuild credit.
- How long will it take to rebuild credit?
- You can begin to rebuild your credit right away by obtaining a secured loan or credit card. Many people are able to obtain these while going through the bankruptcy process. Interest rates will understandably be a bit higher for a while but by making on-time payments and using credit responsibly your credit will strengthen and your rates will come down.
- DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER TO HELP ME FILE BANKRUPTCY?
- The simple answer is no, there is nothing which states that a person must have an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. However, research shows that many who choose to file for bankruptcy without the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney will be unsuccessful in completing their bankruptcy. Aside from this, the paper work and calculations can be complicated and stressful. No one would chose to do surgery on themselves, everyone wants the best doctor when they are sick to make sure they get better. Why should filing for bankruptcy be any different? Using an experienced bankruptcy attorney puts the odds more in your favor, probably best to let an expert help you.