Tag Archives: Bankruptcy

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There are firms who are quoting outdated pricing online.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

Recent Foreclosure Settlement: How Does it Affect Wisconsin?

Recent Foreclosure Settlement: How Does it Affect Wisconsin?

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

A recent settlement with the State Attorney General of Wisconsin and 48 other states looked like a light at the end of the tunnel for homeowners who face foreclosure or went through a foreclosure from 2008 to 2011. However, officials are now saying that the proceeds from the settlement may only make a small dent in efforts to decrease the number of foreclosures, and may only help a small number of homeowners who are struggling financially.

The suit that brought about the recent settlement was instituted against the nation’s five major mortgage lenders. State officials brought the action to recover a portion of the money received by banks from federal government bailouts. These dollars were intended to help stimulate a sinking economy and help homeowners stay in their houses after the loss of jobs. But most homeowners did not receive financial assistance, and many are still dealing with tight finances. The settlement may offer a small boost for a short time.

Homeowners behind on their mortgage payments may receive enough to cover one or two months of payments. But for those dealing with unemployment, a decrease in available jobs, and the prospect of waiting six months or more until the next paycheck, two mortgage payments will likely not be enough to keep them in their homes.

Other options exist for individuals facing credit card debt, job loss and high medical bills. One is bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure proceeding during the pendency of the case. This can give homeowners time to work out a plan that allows them to stay in their homes. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, it may be possible to negotiate a payment plan with the lender, or the discharge of other debt may allow the homeowner to meet future mortgage payments.

When facing foreclosure, it is important not to ignore what is happening in the hope that creditors will just go away. Taking action and seeking legal advice is the best way to explore options and improve outcomes before it is too late.

Source: Channel3000.com, “Experts say Wisconsin’s foreclosure windfall feared not enough,” 4/23/12.

Homeowners: Beware of Foreclosure Fraud

Undoubtedly, Wisconsin residents are familiar with the difficult financial times our country has been experiencing. Many individuals experiencing financial hardship are filing for bankruptcy and facing home foreclosure. The economic crisis has also resulted in an epidemic of foreclosure fraud taking place across the country and here in Wisconsin.

As the home foreclosure rate increased in Wisconsin and nationwide, banks struggled to keep up and as a result cut corners. One of the tactics used by large banks included the use of “robo-signers” who signed foreclosure documents en masse without proper review of the filing paperwork and often without any authority to sign the document initiating the proceeding. Other fraudulent practices include the recreation of lost documents or backdating records in the favor of the party initiating the foreclosure.

Many homeowners did not contest the fraudulent foreclosure practices and simply accepted the information presented to them at face value. Despite the illegality of such acts, this has become common practice in many cases. Whether it was greed, laziness or malice that began this trend of fraudulent foreclosure, it has taken place nevertheless.

There are ways to fight the ever-present foreclosure fraud. Perhaps the simplest thing to do is request documentation and authority for a mortgage owner to begin foreclosure proceedings. Often, lenders cannot produce this documentation because they either have no authority or, through the process of selling and reselling the homeowner’s mortgage, the paperwork has been lost. In addition, some homeowners seek legal representation to help protect their rights and ensure that the appropriate legal steps occur at the initiation of the foreclosure process.

Bankruptcy and home foreclosures are sometimes necessary and may even be the best course of action for all parties involved, but when there is misrepresentation or when fraud takes place, even the best of intentions can turn ugly. Foreclosure fraud is not an issue likely to go away any time soon, but through an understanding of this common practice, homeowners will have a greater understanding of their rights and how to protect themselves.

Source: LoanSafe.org, “Foreclosed Homeowners Challenge Banks to Prove They Still Hold Their Notes,” Alex Ferreras, 3/5/12.

Wisconsin Courts Crack Down On Bankruptcy Petition Preparers

Wisconsin Courts Crack Down On Bankruptcy Petition Preparers

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

If you live in Wisconsin and are considering enlisting the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer to help with your bankruptcy petition, you might want to think again. Due to the poor quality of their work and shady business practices, bankruptcy judges are cracking down on bankruptcy preparation services.

Bankruptcy petition preparers are services where a non-lawyer assists bankruptcy filers, for a fee, with putting together the necessary paperwork. Unlike attorneys and other legal professionals, state law does not require training or set minimum standards for petition preparers. These services often target low-income consumers through flyers and advertisements, promising that they can stop wage garnishment, foreclosure and calls from debt collectors.

Court Angered by Unscrupulous Preparers

Wisconsin bankruptcy judges say that there have been many instances where bankruptcy petition preparation services have done a very poor job with bankruptcy filings. One filing was so lacking that the bankruptcy filer’s name was listed incorrectly on the petition and required paperwork was missing, causing the judge to reject the bankruptcy petition.

In other instances, some petition preparers charged their clients preparation fees, but did not complete the work that they were supposed to do. There have also been instances where the preparer overcharged their client. Despite the fact that courts have ordered preparers to issue refunds for overcharged clients, many preparers have not complied.

Angered by the problems the petition preparers have caused, Wisconsin judges have responded by imposing fines and holding some preparers in contempt of court. In addition, judges have capped the maximum fee preparers can charge at $75. Court officials say that tough economic times have made people down on their luck easy prey for unscrupulous petition preparers.

A Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, the seemingly inexpensive services of bankruptcy petition preparers may seem tempting. However, proceeding into bankruptcy without the advice and guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney can ultimately cost you more. Unlike petition preparers, a bankruptcy attorney can review your situation and recommend the best debt relief option for your individual circumstances.

Source: Journal Sentential, “Bankruptcy Filings Botched,” Cary Spivak, 11/30/2011.

Foreclosure Rates for Most Expensive Homes on the Rise

Foreclosure Rates for Most Expensive Homes on the Rise

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

It seems as though no home value is safe in the current market, and the current crisis is affecting people from all degrees of wealth. While it may be easy to assume that the most expensive homes were the first homes foreclosed upon in the housing market crisis, that is simply not the case. In fact, even though the foreclosure rate in general has recently gone down, the rate on the most expensive of homes has gone the opposite direction and spiked.

In 2011, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the drop in foreclosures was at a rate of 28 percent. While this may be long awaited good news in a housing market seeing record lows, the foreclosure rate for the most expensive properties has skyrocketed since 2007. In this five-year span, the foreclosure rate has gone up by 115 percent for homes that are valued at least $1 million dollars. Even more startling is the facts that homes valued at $2 million or more saw the foreclosure rate increase by 273 percent.

So what’s responsible for these increasing numbers? One explanation may be that banks are not as open to mortgage negotiations as they were in the past. Also, some homeowners are left with no choice but to abandon their properties because the home’s value is significantly less than its purchase price.

Whatever the reasons may be, home foreclosure and bankruptcy will continue to be an issue that defines our nation’s economy. For many in Wisconsin and across the United States, bankruptcy or foreclosure may be the best options for the future.

Source: CBS News, “Foreclosure rate up on priciest homes,” Constantine von Hoffman, 02/28/12.

Wrongful Foreclosures: Reincarnated Mortgages Rising from the Dead

Wrongful Foreclosures: Reincarnated Mortgages Rising from the Dead

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

In recent years, American homeowners have had to become ever more familiar with strategies to stop foreclosure and creditor harassment, especially families facing overwhelming medical bills or a loss of income due to unemployment. Many have taken action through loan modifications or refinancing to lower monthly payments and head off other debt problems.

The least they can expect is that a mortgage that they have put to rest by getting a lower interest home loan will no longer haunt them. But unfortunately, some Americans are suffering serious financial consequences due to wrongful foreclosures.

Reuters recently reported on a growing trend of foreclosure proceedings being initiated against Americans due to sloppy record keeping. Experts blame mortgage industry practices that rush paperwork, with paper trails becoming increasingly difficult to follow. Robosigners, forged documents and paper-pushing sweatshops are all part of the corner cutting measures that lined the pockets of some and are now inconveniencing plenty.

This may sound like a subplot in a bad Zombie movie, but the real world implications are dead serious. Borrowers who find themselves served with notice of a foreclosure that they know is a mistake may soon also experience other financial problems due to a trashed credit rating, not to mention the time and effort of unraveling the bank’s own mistake.

The problem isn’t limited to refinancing. Foreclosure actions have been mistakenly filed against those who long ago sold a house, or debtors who already paid off mortgages via a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan.

If a financial notice smells fishy, don’t just sit back and endure the headaches. Stop creditor harassment by talking to our Wisconsin bankruptcy and debt relief attorneys.

Source: Reuters, “Old Mortgages Rise From the Dead, Haunt Homeowners,” Michelle Conlin, 1/26/12.

Mortgage Delinquencies Up, Wisconsin Homeowners Have Options

Mortgage Delinquencies Up, Wisconsin Homeowners Have Options

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

Even though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, it’s abundantly clear that millions of Americans are still hurting. Indeed, new data shows that the rate of late mortgage payments increased last quarter for the first time since the end of 2009.

Between June and September 2011, 5.88 percent of American homeowners were more than 60 days late with two or more mortgage payments. The increase means a growing number of Americans are headed toward home foreclosure, sparking fears that the economy may be headed toward a double-dip recession.

Unlike earlier increases in delinquent payments, the current uptick can’t be directly tied to increases in housing prices or unemployment. Although they both still play an important role, housing prices and unemployment rates have remained relatively flat. Instead, larger economic issues are taking a leading role – experts say things like the U.S. and European debt crises and plummeting stock prices shattered consumer confidence and led to late payments.

Some of the late payments may be the result of homeowners who have given up on their mortgages because their homes are worth so much less than they owe on their loans.

Other delinquencies can be attributed to changes in adjustable-rate mortgages. Loans issued at the tail-end of the housing bubble are just now starting to reset.

Bankruptcy Can Help Save a Home

The uptick in late payments shows what too many families know firsthand – it’s still hard out there, and the economy might not fully recover for a long time.

Wisconsin residents certainly haven’t been spared. Over 4,000 Wisconsin homeowners received a foreclosure filing in October 2011, with Milwaukee County having far and away the highest rate.

Homeowners who are worried about foreclosure may be able to save their homes by consulting with a Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives homeowners an opportunity to catch up on their payments over time. For borrowers who can’t afford a payment plan or who don’t want to keep their homes, other options may exist.

If you are facing foreclosure, know that you don’t have to go it alone. Contact an experienced bankruptcy and foreclosure attorney who can help you understand your options.

Source: CBS Money Watch, “Late Mortgage Payments Up in 3Q, 1st Rise in Years.”

Foreclosure Reform: Slow, Complicated, Too Late?

Foreclosure Reform: Slow, Complicated, Too Late?

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

The economy continues to sag under the weight of the continuing real estate crises. Too many borrowers remain underwater on their mortgage loans. Those borrowers are trapped, unable to refinance, obtain a mortgage modification or sell their homes.

Working solutions have been few. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program, touted as providing help to borrowers in trouble, has helped close to a million homeowners in the last two years, but CBS news reports that less than 100,000 of those helped were underwater mortgages.

In other words, those most in need of help were not receiving any from HAMP.

Twenty percent of all borrowers are currently underwater, according to CoreLogic, a data vendor. They report that number equals almost $750 billion in negative equity in the housing market.

“It’s Hard To Imagine The Housing Sector Recovering”

John Walsh, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, spoke to the American Banker Regulatory Symposium, and commented, “It’s hard to overstate the importance of the foreclosure and servicing issues.”

The comptroller’s office is responsible for regulation and enforcement of many of the banking laws. His agency is working through the various reforms and improvements necessary to help borrowers.

He noted the problems of the industry have been “a major drag” for the housing industry, and a healthy housing industry is necessary for the overall economy to recover. Cleaning up the backlog of bad mortgages and associated problems may take another year or two, he predicted.

Underwater Now?

For many borrowers two years may simply be too long to wait. If you need to take action now, a bankruptcy attorney may provide the help you need.

Given the variations of each borrowers individual situation, sitting down with an attorney and discussing your particular financial history is a good way to determine your options.

If you are currently employed, but need to do something about your mortgage and other debts, a Chapter 13 may provide the time and budget organization your need to overcome your financial crises.

If your debt load is overwhelming and your mortgage is severely underwater, a Chapter 7 may be your best option; and attorney can review your situation and provide you with a range of alternatives.

Source: Foreclosure Reforms Could Take Year or More

Increased Foreclosure Numbers in Wisconsin

Increased Foreclosure Numbers in Wisconsin

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

Data on foreclosure rates across the nation show that Wisconsin experienced a significant increase in foreclosure activity in July 2011. With a 43.3 percent increase in the number of foreclosure filings from the previous month, Wisconsin’s experience contrasted with the declining numbers of foreclosure proceedings nationwide.

According to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report published by RealtyTrac, a marketer of foreclosed properties, 4,534 Wisconsin properties received foreclosure filings in July, which is an average of one in every 571 housing units in the state. These numbers put Wisconsin tenth for the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings have declined for 10 months in a row. The July numbers are 4 percent lower than June 2011 and 35 percent lower than July 2010, reported the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. However, foreclosure filings, which include default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and repossessions, were received by one in every 611 properties in the U.S. in July – still an exceedingly high number.

James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, was quoted by the Leader-Telegram as saying the decrease in foreclosure filings was originally started by the “robo-signing controversy” that arose in October 2010, temporarily halting foreclosure proceedings. Now, though, Saccacio reports that the decline may be attributed to foreclosure-prevention programs at both the state and national level, including loan modification and mortgage-payment assistance programs.

People struggling with mortgage payments and other debt have several options to help stop foreclosures and other debt-collection actions. By filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, for example, an automatic stay is instated, stopping any foreclosure proceedings and blocking creditors’ attempts to collect money. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can advise people as to which option is best for their particular circumstances.

Source: Foreclosures Up in Wisconsin

Protecting Your 401k in Bankruptcy

Protecting Your 401k in Bankruptcy

On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.

Many Americans look to their 401ks as a way to stem the tide of short-term financial issues. According to research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly 20 percent of eligible participants choose this option, mainly to avoid foreclosure of their home or repossession of vehicles. They borrow against their nest-egg believing that as their fortunes improve, they will not only repay their loan with interest, they will also solidify their retirement options.

Unfortunately, this is commonly not the case. More often than not, employees become trapped in a vicious cycle of needing money to pay other short-term loans and stop contributing to their retirement plans. Also, they forego potential investment opportunities from the money missing from the account. Further, they may also be laid off from their job, thus requiring the 401k loan due and payable, depending on the plan.

Ultimately, employees unwittingly spend away their savings only to find themselves in bankruptcy with nothing to show for their years of hard work.

If you are facing continuous problems making ends meet, using your 401k as a bailout is a bad idea. Employer sponsored retirement accounts are protected assets under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Up to $1 million in contributions may be protected. This means that creditors are unable to come after these funds if you file for bankruptcy protection, and the trustee cannot direct you to use these funds to pay debts. This is your money and you should keep it.

As such, if these funds are protected as a matter of law, why whittle them away to pay bills that will ultimately land you in bankruptcy anyway? It’s like following the old adage “throwing good money after bad.”

Aside from the bankruptcy implications, there are a number of tax implications that make borrowing from your 401k undesirable. For options on how to protect your assets from creditors, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help.