Category Archives: Blog

You’re Bankrupt; Life Situations That Got You There

debt problems, debt attorney, situations that lead to debt, divorce, job loss, medical billsThere are challenging life situations that literally come out of nowhere and are impossible to control.  Debt can build up as a result of these life situations.  When life leads to bankruptcy, don’t despair.

Overcome Financial Burden

Sure, we don’t always have control over what is going to happen.  However, we do have control over how we respond and react to any situation.  No matter how financially devastating, there are ways to overcome financial burden.

Here are some of the most common life situations that can happen to anyone, and also lead to debt overload:

  • Medical Debt:  Medical debt is the largest of life events that can lead to bankruptcy. Medical debt doesn’t take long to acquire, especially for a devastating disease such as cancer.  In the news lately there has been a lot of talk about the rising cost of prescription drugs.  Drugs to treat cancer are some of the most expensive out there, not to mention the therapy and other medical expenses.  (10 statistics about the cost of cancer treatment in America.) With or without insurance coverage, serious diseases like cancer can quickly result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.  It is most important to treat your illness.  When you are ready and able to learn how bankruptcy may be able to help, one of our compassionate and experienced bankruptcy attorneys are here to help.
  • Job Loss:  According to recent state labor reports, Wisconsin’s economy is growing.  In April of 2017, the unemployment rate was at a 17-year low of 3.2%.  Although the economy is on the upswing, there are still people who experience job loss, or loss of income.  This life event is in the top three reasons why a person files for bankruptcy.  If you’ve lost your job and qualify for unemployment, the amount of money you receive may still be less than enough to get by.  (Not to mention, unemployment doesn’t last forever.)  Living on far less than what you had prior to the loss may make it impossible to cover bills or general living expenses.  These expenses add up.  Creditors start to call.  Your utilities get shut off.  Before you give up hope, contact Debt Advisors for your free consultation; your first step towards overcoming the debt problem.
  • Divorce:  Researchers have found that divorce rates peaked in 1980 and have since been on a slow decline. This may seem like great news, but not so much when we consider how financially complicated divorces have become. There are a whole bunch of factors involved with divorce, and they often add up to big financial distress.  If you have gone through a divorce, you may already know how devastating they can be financially. What you may not know is the truth about life after bankruptcy.  You can still buy a home, you can still buy a car, and you can repair your credit score…after filing bankruptcy.

How to Know If You Should File Bankruptcy

How you respond to financial hardship, and how you fix it is where you’ll find your power.  You’re best move may be to gather information about bankruptcy to determine whether or not it may be right for you. To find out if you are a candidate for bankruptcy, reach out to Debt Advisors today.

How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost?

You have the right to ask questions about the costs involved in filing bankruptcy.cost of bankruptcy, how much does it cost to file bankruptcy, cost of bankruptcy in wisconsin

There are firms who are quoting outdated pricing online.  Be sure to get verbal quotes during your first meeting with a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy lawyers in Wisconsin will expect a small retainer fee, then fees from that point will be charged either by the hour or as a flat rate per case.  Often times, the attorneys who have flat fees will charge that for the bulk of the case, then charge hourly for additional required work.

Choose your attorney based upon the combination of cost, bankruptcy specific experience, comfort-level, client reviews, convenience, etc.

Cost of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is pretty cut and dry.  Courts within judicial districts have set guidelines for what Bankruptcy Attorneys can charge.  (This means that bankruptcy law firms in our area will have similar charges.)  Those charges, otherwise called attorney fees, are built into the Chapter 13 debt consolidation plan.  Before filing bankruptcy, you should only be responsible to pay for court costs and small portion of the attorney fees.  Pre-filing cost out of pocket should be less than $500.  However, we always recommend asking for the exact amount while talking to your attorney in person.

Get your Free No-Obligation Consultation

If you’re considering filing bankruptcy, we expect that you’ll have many questions.  The simplest and cheapest way to receive solid legal advice is to ask for your one-time, no obligation, and free consultation with a Debt Advisors attorney.  During your consultation, we’ll gather general idea of your financial situation, and answer your questions about bankruptcy, including questions about what bankruptcy will cost.

If during this consultation you chose to hire a Debt Advisors bankruptcy attorney, the retainer fee can cost as little as $100.

Cost of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you’re thinking about hiring a lawyer to file chapter 7 bankruptcy charges can vary much more than filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  The differences in fees may depend upon the complexity and specific details of your case.  Some larger firms may charge more to cover advertising, overhead, and experience level.  In general, attorney fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will range from $900 to $2,500.  It is during your free consultation that more accurate costs can be determined.

When Do I Have to Pay for Bankruptcy?

If you are over your head in debt, bankruptcy is likely going to be far more affordable than to remain in your current situation.

Your initial consultation with a Debt Advisors bankruptcy lawyer is 100% FREE.  If you decide to hire Debt Advisors to represent you, some small fees may be expected prior to filing.  These filing fees, if any, will clearly be relayed to you during your consultation.  We have payment plans and we will do everything we can to help you and your family.

Read more about Hiring an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney

I Can’t Pay My Mortgage; What Now?

save your home from foreclosure, my home, keep my home, stop foreclosureCan’t pay your mortgage?  Wondering, “what now?” The good news is that there is a way to save your home and help get you out of debt, but timing is everything.

Defaulting on Mortgage Home Loan

When a mortgage loan is established, it basically means that the buyer agrees to pay back the lender within a determined time and for a specific cost.  When payment is not made, the lender has procedures to handle the situation.  Most mortgage lenders have some sort of “grace period.”   Even if you’re payment is late, if it arrives within the grace period, you may avoid a late fee.  However, if you have not attempted to contact the lender to negotiate payment and the grace period has expired, the lender will assume that your mortgage is “in default.”  They will make attempts to contact you, and to collect.  If these attempts are unsuccessful, the lender will begin the foreclosure process.

A mortgage loan is considered a “secured debt,” meaning that the lender can ultimately take back your property if the loan goes into default.  File for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save your home.

Home Foreclosure Facts

  • A foreclosure is started when a summons and complaint is filed by request of your lender.
  • Charges to your account continue, even after it has been deemed as “in-default.” Your mortgage company may charge for property inspections, property preservation services, legal fees, postage, etc.
  • The longer the mortgage is in default, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to bring the account current.
  • The bank may serve an eviction noticecannot take possession of your home until Foreclosure is complete.
  • You have a limited number of days to dispute information you have been served.
  • Contact a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible to discuss how to stop the foreclosure from proceeding, and save your home.
  • If you want to take advantage of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it must be done before the mortgage company sells your home.
  • All foreclosures must through a court.
  • There is a redemption period is the minimum amount of time you have in the home before the house is sold by auction.
  • If your property forecloses, it is public record.
  • Foreclosure will have a negative impact on credit score making it difficult to get loans in future.

Visit the Foreclosure Resource Center for answers to more of your questions.

The longer you wait to do something, the fewer options you may have.  Don’t fall victim to mortgage relief scams or home rescue scams.  Talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney today.  The consultation is free.

Your Free Bankruptcy Consultation

What to Expect from Your Free Bankruptcy Consultation

free bankrutpcy consultationIf you don’t feel comfortable talking to family or friends about your debt problem, you’re not alone. Many people who are considering bankruptcy have already tried to fix the problem on their own. The feeling of failure is as overwhelming as the debt itself.

At Debt Advisors, the attorneys don’t want you to feel like a failure. Desperate financial times are often a result of events which were unavoidable from the beginning. The attorneys understand your situation and ARE the people you can talk to without judgement during  your free consultation.  Given that understanding, feel proud that you have recognized the seriousness of the situation and reached out to find someone who CAN help. So, now that you have found Debt Advisors, you may wonder what to expect in your free initial consultation with an attorney. Have your questions ready.

Here are a few items that are commonly discussed during the free bankruptcy consultation:

Is bankruptcy right for me? There are many factors to consider. The attorney will be able to gather a decent amount of information about the details of your financial situation. You should receive solid guidance about potential choices, such as chapter 7 or chapter 13….pros vs cons, and what steps should be taken next. This call should provide you with lots of good advice.

Do I qualify for bankruptcy? After your initial consultation, and if you are interested in moving forward, your attorney will ask you to provide more detailed financial information including the completion of a bankruptcy means test. The test will determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Even if you think you make too much money your expenses may be high enough to qualify.

How much does bankruptcy cost? Debt Advisors Law Offices has represented thousands in Wisconsin fairly and responsibly. Online reviews are a good indicator regarding client satisfaction. During the free consultation, your attorney will explain fees and discuss easy payment options.

You’re likely to have lots of questions and the attorneys will as well. Be prepared for the call before you request it by gathering financial data and understanding basic bankruptcy terms.

Take a look at Debt Advisors online Google reviews and customer testimonials from real people…just like you. We hope that you find our website informative and your first call with us encouraging. Also note our professional licensing, time in business, social profiles, resources and six Wisconsin locations to serve you! Debt Advisors is a practice dedicated to bankruptcy and focused on providing each and every client with the fresh start that they deserve.

Is It Right For You? Why People Avoid Bankruptcy

avoid bankruptcySome people avoid bankruptcy, and there are legitimate reasons to do so.  However, many people each year hire a bankruptcy attorney to resolve and eliminate their overwhelming debt. Those clients often express the relief they feel in knowing that their debt will be handled as quickly and painlessly as possible. However, we’re not going to say that the process is “easy” because we know that making that first call to your bankruptcy attorney can be a difficult first step.

Avoid Bankruptcy?

Reasons Why You May Choose Not to File Bankruptcy

• Fear of the unknown. We think you will find that the fear subsides when an adequate amount of information about bankruptcy is obtained to ensure a solid decision can be made. We can help you overcome fears, and gain access to information through a free initial consultation with one of our bankruptcy lawyers.
• Debt load is small. “Debt” levels may be interpreted differently from one household to the next. Debt compared to income will vary. Furthermore, if the ability to repay debt is not there, then bankruptcy may still be a good option. (Even if the debt is perceived to be small.) If you are unsure, seek an experienced attorney help make this determination with you.
• It will ruin credit scores. This is one of the biggest myths. In fact, if you are an ideal candidate for bankruptcy, your credit score is likely suffering right now. Bankruptcy can stop the downward spiral of credit ratings and help your scores to go up over time. In addition, we offer our clients the 720 Credit Score Program.
• It is open public record. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that is recorded in public court listings. But, unless you are a celebrity, a major corporation, or you have a family member who religiously reads public court records, there isn’t too much to worry about. The information isn’t printed every day. The financial future of you and your family should be more important than pride.
• We will lose everything. Even a chapter 7 bankruptcy, otherwise known as liquidation bankruptcy, ordinarily allows individuals to protect or exempt all of their property.  Depending upon your personal financial situation and the type of bankruptcy that is filed, you ought to be able to keep your car and your home.

Is Bankruptcy Right For You?

There are many myths about bankruptcy that put fear in front of facts. For many, declaring bankruptcy and committing to better money management are the best avenues towards ensuring a stable financial future. To find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you and your family, make the call today. The bankruptcy attorneys at Debt Advisors Law Offices will evaluate your situation and provide a best scenario or if available, alternative options to consider.

Bankruptcy Advisors Discuss Fraud

bankruptcy fraud, bankrutpcy advisors
At Debt Advisors, we provide a second chance to people who are in serious debt.  We aspire to share knowledge and insight.  Education is a key component. This includes outlining a clear understanding of the bankruptcy process, including the importance of honesty.  Bankruptcy fraud is a federal offense, and a very serious matter.  We think you will agree that the penalties are just not worth the risk.

Bankruptcy Fraud is a federal offense. A Federal Crime segment of the Department of Justice, The United States Trustee Program, (USTP), is responsible for overseeing the administration bankruptcy cases and private trustees.  USTP investigates and makes criminal referrals for bankruptcy fraud.  One who is found guilty of bankruptcy fraud may be charged with a civil or criminal offense, depending upon the severity of the crime.  If a guilty verdict is decided, it could include both prison time and hefty fines.

All assets need to be listed within paperwork to prevent bankruptcy fraud

When a law firm files a bankruptcy petition on your behalf, the courts need to know everything you own.  Sharing this information doesn’t mean that everything will be taken away.   It’s state or federal laws that determine what property can be kept and what will be used to pay creditors.  The assets that you are allowed to keep are considered “exempt.”  Exempt assets play a part in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  However, if it is proven that bankruptcy fraud has been committed, the courts will be less likely to work with the debtor.  They may let the creditors have property that would have otherwise have been yours to keep.

Understating the value of property and assets, or not listing them, are the most common ways in which people commit bankruptcy fraud.  We believe that people are, for the most part, honest in nature.  Here is a list of things to avoid.
These actions would be considered deceptive:

  • Fraudulent tax reporting or tax abuse
  • Falsified statements on bankruptcy forms
    or while under oath
  • Bankruptcy Fraud Schemes
  • Failure to report all Assets; hiding or transferring them
  • Using false identity including social security numbers
  • Intentionally abusing credit cards with no intention of paying them off
  • Bribing a court-appointed trustee

 

File with a reputable bankruptcy attorney

Debt Advisors Law Offices has been in business for more than ten years and has helped thousands of Wisconsin residents overcome serious debt.  When dealing with banks and creditors, accuracy is really important.  Forms are to be filled out completely and honestly, including truthful disclosure regarding assets.   Debt Advisors bankruptcy lawyers are knowledgeable regarding both state and federal laws.  We will walk with you through every step of the bankruptcy process to ensure it is efficient and thorough.  Find out if we can help you by requesting a free case evaluation.  We have six Wisconsin locations to serve you.

Citizen Status and Bankruptcy

citizen status, illigal immigrantPersons who file bankruptcy are basically saying they have incurred a considerable amount of debt that they intended to pay for, but in good faith, have not been able to pay.  Accurding to Census Bureau studies and other statistics over the past several years, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. A good number of them are working and paying taxes. With over 790,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in 2016 alone, some cases are going to be assoicated with an illegal immigrant or other citizen status. Bankruptcy is a common solution to large debt problems. If you have not filed bankruptcy, you’re still likely to know or work with someone who has filed bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy is public record, many people have gone through the process without people in their inner-circles finding out.  They simply do what they need to do, and get on with their lives.

 

Immigration, Citizen Status and Bankruptcy

The democracy of the United States is to protect the rights of all individuals, not just the majority of individuals.  Therefore, bankruptcy does not discriminate against race, language, occupation or status of citizenship.  There is nothing in the bankruptcy code that eliminates illegal immigrants from filing.  Regardless of whether or not a person has legal or illegal immigrant status, anyone can look into the process of bankruptcy to eliminate debt.
 

How an illegal Immigrant Can File for Bankruptcy

If the illegal immigrant has come into the U.S. with a tourist visa, student visa or other type of visa, they may obtain a social security number that is still valid, even if they over-stay their visa.  Many illegal immigrants are employed in some way and pay taxes; sales, property and employment.  Temporary citizen status can quality for bankrutpcy. So, even without a social security number, taxes can be paid through obtaining a tax identification number from the IRS.  This number, a (ITIN) can be used in place of a social security number to prove identify in a bankruptcy petition.

 
Start an Honest Bankruptcy Process
Honesty is a two-way street.  Before filing bankruptcy, be prepared to be very honest because you never want a trustee to suspect fraud.  If the bankruptcy court suspects it, your case can be thrown out of court.  If fraud is proven, there are serious penalties.  First, shop around and chose a bankruptcy lawyer you can trust.  Then, return the sentiment by providing truthful information to your attorney.   More on Bankruptcy Fraud

 

Debt Relief Regardless of Citizen Status

Filing bankruptcy is intended to provide financial relief to those who are overwhelmed with debt, regardless of race, language, occupation or citizen status.  If you need assistance with the bankruptcy process in Wisconsin, contact Debt Advisors for a free initial consultation.  During this consultation, our attorneys will answer your questions and set your mind at ease.

Taxes and the Collection of Unpaid Debt

taxt debt, tax debt collection, debt collectionSoon the holidays will be over and tax season will be staring us in the face.  The average tax refund in the United States is around $3,000, but not every tax payer will receive a refund.  Many people will procrastinate preparing taxes because they fear how much money they may owe.  After all, who wants to write a big check to the government?  Most people would rather owe money to their creditors than to owe Uncle Sam.  Maybe this is because they know that the IRS can garnish wages and levy or seize your property.  The IRS can even charge interest and fees on the collection of unpaid debt such as back taxes.

 

What If I Can’t Pay Tax Return Amount Due?

There are always tax-payers who are shocked in disbelief after seeing the dollar sign at the end of their tax form.  Many find that the taxes due are more than they can’t afford to pay.  What next?  The worst thing you can do is to ignore or run from your taxes.  There are stiff penalties for not paying taxes and it will cost a lot more in the long run.  If you can, file for an extension or make a partial payment.  Then, call the IRS to setup a payment plan.  Lastly, don’t forget to adjust withholdings or quarterly payments to ensure that you’re not going to owe more than you can afford to pay next year.

The IRS has payment options.  Try to work with them to resolve your tax debts.  If not, the IRS has the right to enforce collection of unpaid debt.  Eventually, you will hear from the IRS, or in some cases, from a private collection agency hired by the IRS.  You may begin to see wage garnishments coming from your paycheck.

 

How Bankruptcy May Eliminate Some or All Unpaid Debt

If you find that none of the tax return payment options reflect what you can pay, then you may have some larger debt problems that need to be addressed.  This is where we may be able to help.  Filing bankruptcy with a bankruptcy attorney at Debt Advisors can stop wage garnishments in most cases.  Wage garnishments stop due to the bankruptcy “automatic stay.”  This means that the IRS, or any collection agency, must cease all collection activities associated with the debts that you owe during the bankruptcy process, and as long as the bankruptcy is in effect.  This may include debt from unpaid taxes as well as other debts such as credit cards and medical bills.  There are some exceptions that can be discussed in detail with one of our lawyers.

If you are overwhelmed by debt, and can’t pay your taxes, find out if you are a candidate for bankruptcy. Some of your unpaid debt may be dischargeable. Reach out to Debt Advisors Bankruptcy Attorneys for legal advice.  Don’t procrastinate.  It’s always best to resolve debt issues as soon as possible.  At Debt Advisors Bankruptcy Law Firm, the initial consultation is free.

Financial Literacy Skills Develop Early In Life

financial-literacy, bankruptcy, eliminate debt, managing moneyFinancial literacy pertains to an understanding of how money works in our lives, and how to manage it effectively. There is a correlation between financial literacy and one’s ability to a achieve long-term financially successful life.  Early education may provide a logical and responsible approach to money matters wich could, in turn, minimize emotional attachments to money and prevent bad money decisions in the future. Education about money begins early in life, including exposure to financial transactions, earning a paycheck, saving money, paying taxes, and responsible spending.

Math & Money
Recent studies have found that strong math skills result in a more natural understanding of money. However, few states require schools to offer classes such as economics or personal finance. This means that parents are mostly responsible for the financial education of their children.  It’s not as difficult as it may seem; much of the learning process comes from observing, listening, and mimicking the way parents handle money.

Teaching Children Financial Skills
Simple purchase transactions are a great way for kids to learn and experience counting money. The goal is to ensure that money matters are relatable and not intimidating. Help your kids determine long-term and short-term goals, combining current knowledge with hands-on action for practice. It’s our responsibility as parents to share real financial situations as soon as they are old enough to understand. Once they have a means to make money, show them how to follow a budget and open an entry level bank account. Building a savings account is rewarding at any age. On top of that, some banks even offer special children’s savings accounts with age-appropriate perks.

Money Priorities, Obligations & Debt
Money obligations are part of life. Outline financial priorities that apply to the present, and shine a light on what is to come. Be frank about the difference between good debt and bad debt and how to steer clear from debt traps such as payday loans. Talk about why credit scores are so important. Review the pros and cons of having a personal checking account, automatic deductions, and what can happen if fiscal responsibilities such as paying taxes are not followed. Honest conversations may include sharing some of our mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others. Learning about money, how to stay out of debt, and how to get out of debt, are sometimes a process of trial and error. If there is an ambition to succeed, mistakes and resolutions can become a large part of the learning process.

 

Bankruptcy to Eliminate Consumer Debt

consumer bankruptcy, consumber debt, consumer bankruptcy attorneyIn bankruptcy lingo, the term “consumer debt” is often used to clarify how debts have been incurred. Different from business debt, consumer debt involves funds used for consumption rather than investment. Consumer debts are typically classified as such based upon the purchase of consumable goods that do not appreciate in value, such as those things that are purchased to pay personal or household expenses.

More about Consumer Debt
You’ll hear some other terms associated with consumer debt such as secured, unsecured, variable interest rate, fixed rates, and deductibles. It is helpful to understand the meaning behind these terms. It is also important to understand that not all consumer debt is considered to be negative. (Your mortgage is a good example of this.) Any debts that have high interest rates, such as credit cards, auto loans and some student loans, are typically considered bad consumer debt. Most recent studies indicate that the average U.S. Household Debt is increasing. For the first time, credit card debt is approaching one trillion dollars. In 4Q of 2015 alone, consumers racked up more new debt than in 2009, 2010, and 2011 combined. There is a level of economic concern when consumer spending goes far beyond what can be paid back.

Consumer Debt and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The good news is that if your debts are mostly consumer debts, half or more of your total debt, then you may be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate debts. A Debt Advisors bankruptcy attorney may administer what is called, “The Means Test.” This, among other factors, will help determine what kind of debt you have, how much, when the debt incurred, what the purpose was, who made the purchase, etc. During the calculation of consumer debt, both spouses and debt incurred by children living in the home will be included. There are some surprises too, like the fact that medical bills are usually classified as non-consumer debts.

When filing bankruptcy, the determination of which debts are business or consumer can get a little tricky. Hire an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney to ensure that your bankruptcy is filed correctly the first time. Your attorney will conduct a thorough debt analysis and cover all the bases to avoid any potential bankruptcy disputes in court. (The bankruptcy trustee and court will review each debt closely, and you will need the appropriate documentation.) Ask for our free consultation to get information you are looking for right now.  Bankruptcy may turn out to be the best financial decision you have made regarding oustanding consumer debt.