Bankruptcy legislation allows people who are overloaded with debt to erase a large part of their burden and make a new start. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are two procedures that can help you sort out a financial crisis arising from unemployment, failed business, medical expenses, overextended credit, divorce, or any other financial difficulty. Once bankruptcy is filed, creditors cannot pursue lawsuits against you, garnish your wages, or harass you with phone calls or letters. Once you have retained a bankruptcy attorney you can ask that creditors only contact your attorney, so that the harassing phone calls stop.
Not all forms of debt can be discharged by bankruptcy. The bankruptcy will be reported on your credit history however you may be able to qualify for credit within a couple of years if you are employed and appropriately manage what debt you have appropriately. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every eight years; however, a successful bankruptcy can often improve your credit situation, and the impact of a bankruptcy on your creditworthiness decreases over time.
Another option for consumer debtors is to file a Chapter 13 wage earner's reorganization. This form of bankruptcy allows you to cure defaults on your home mortgage or vehicle so that you do not lose them to foreclosure and repossession. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can also be used if you have nonexempt assets, or your income exceeds your monthly living expenses so that you can afford to repay some of your debts over three to five years. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed even if you have previously filed a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Additonally, debtors in a bankruptcy are now allowed to discharge second mortgages and other liens if there is no equity in the property after taking into account the amount of the first mortgage. In order to "lien strip" these junior liens, you must file a chapter 13 bankruptcy. You are not allowed to lien strip if you are in an existing chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding unless you can show there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This means that the change from the original filing to the motion to modify must be "a substantial and unanticipated change". In Re Johnson, 458 BR 745 (BAP 2011).
Bankruptcy law is a very complicated legal topic, and recent changes are having wide-ranging impacts on debtors. Having an experienced bankruptcy attorney assist you with the process is very important to achieve the best results. We will be able to help you maximize the amount of your assets that are protected under bankruptcy exemptions, preserve or avoid secured debt, and be relieved from most unsecured debts. You will also be able to begin to rebuild your credit.
Perry A. Berg has over 26 years of experience in helping both debtors and creditors in bankruptcy and other financial matters. We are happy to place this experience and the rest of our resources at your disposal. Daryl Bail and Carol Hanks are also available to answer your bankruptcy questions.
If you are facing a financial crisis and believe that bankruptcy may be an option for debt relief, contact us using our online intake form, or call our Waseca, Minnesota office at 507-835-5240, our Owatonna, Minnesota office at 507-451-9000, our Janesville office at 507-234-5106, or toll-free at 1-888-835-5244.