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Bankruptcy is big scary word that most of us don’t want anything to do with. Yes, sure, it’s one thing to joke about Donald Trump and his propensity to file for bankruptcy protection, but it is not something many of us would be comfortable discussing with our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, or even our family. This is exactly where we all go wrong. The bankruptcy laws were enacted in order to protect YOU. Filing for bankruptcy should not be a source of embarrassment.
Just like the Constitution protects us all from unreasonable searches and seizures or an arrest without a warrant, the bankruptcy laws were created to protect us from becoming a prisoner of our own ambitions – a safeguard for when the American Dream hits a road block. This is exactly where Donald Trump has it right – sometimes, for his business to survive and thrive in the future, it is necessary for him to file for bankruptcy protection.
Granted, our typical client’s debt and asset structure is nowhere near comparable to Donald Trump, but that is not the point anyway. Our clients come to us because their debts are eating them alive. Their best intentions and ambitions have been undermined by unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, and they don’t even want to answer the phone anymore. This is not what the American Dream is all about …. is it?
If you cannot make ends meet and your current financial circumstances prevent you from paying all of your bills every month AND buying all the groceries and renting the occasional movie, then you may be in need of the protections given to all of us by Title 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protection
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is what most people think of when they think of bankruptcy. This is the type of bankruptcy that allows you to discharge all your debts and walk away free and clear. Well, not ALL of your debts, but at least all of your unsecured debts, which include credit cards, personal loans, and medical expenses, among others. You cannot discharge your mortgage or your student loan debt with Chapter 7, but you can get rid of these other overwhelming debts and get back on firm footing.
A little over a decade ago, big changes were made to bankruptcy laws, so it is not as easy to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy anymore. Now you are subject to a means test, which analyzes your income and your assets to determine if you really don’t have the money to pay back your debts (according to the law). The poverty level in Arizona is one of the means used to evaluate your income. The means test is complicated, and it takes numerous factors into account, so it is essential that you work with an Arizona bankruptcy lawyer to understand if Chapter 7 is truly an option or not.
A lot of people worry that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will cause them to lose their home or their car. Fortunately, the law allows you to protect a certain amount of assets when you file for bankruptcy. Therefore, if you do not have a lot of equity built up in your home or your vehicle, you will likely be allowed to keep them. Again, it is important that you work with your bankruptcy lawyer to understand how the laws apply to your circumstances.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Protection
Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection is more like a debt-restructuring plan than what you would think of as bankruptcy. You still get relief from your debts, but you are also responsible for paying some of them back. When you file for Chapter 13, your bankruptcy lawyer negotiates a repayment plan that includes a lower interest rate. Typically, you would repay the debt for three to five years, and at the end of that time, the rest would be discharged. You would only make one debt payment instead of several.
Chapter 13 is a good option for those who have a lot of secured debt, such as a mortgage or a car payment, or for those who have income or assets that disqualify them for filing for Chapter 7. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not the same as working with a debt consolidation company. You get a lower interest rate and eliminate some of your debt. You also put yourself at risk by working with a debt consolidation company, since many of them are known for getting you interest rates no lower than what you could get for yourself, making late payments, and wreaking havoc on your credit.
Working with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand the benefits of bankruptcy protection and help you get the best restructuring plan under Chapter 13.
Work with an experienced Arizona bankruptcy lawyer to get debt relief
Andrea Wimmer is the lead bankruptcy lawyer at Marco | Wimmer PLLC in Arizona. Wimmer works closely with clients to help them understand the bankruptcy laws and how they can provide debt relief. She helps clients decide between Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy file to get the maximum benefits and reach their financial goals more quickly. She understands that the decision to file for bankruptcy can be a difficult one, and she provides clients all the support she can to make the right choice. Call our firm today to schedule a free consultation in Arizona.