Dallas Bankruptcy Options – Choosing Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

July 30, 2010

When filing bankruptcy anywhere in the United States, the important phrase used commonly is “fresh start.” Why it’s so appropriate is different for each filer, but the main point is gaining a second chance financially. This blog guide focuses on helping Dallas residents choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There are some key differences, and soon you will be able to make an educated decision.

Who can help?
If you’re a Dallas resident with lots of debt, you need an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can put your hopes and dreams to work. You need someone with experience both in and out of the court room, someone you can ask many questions and always get clear answers, and someone who won’t charge you thousands extra if your case takes longer. That’s hard to find, but there are many talented bankruptcy lawyers who enjoy helping Dallas residents file bankruptcy. It’s not to say which one to hire, but base try to base it on experience more than rock-bottom prices.

Why Dallas Chapter 7?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is really where your “fresh start” comes into play. The big benefit here for Dallas residents is being able to discharge tens of thousands (if not far more) of credit card and medical debt. Medical debts are, not surprisingly, the main reason for filing bankruptcy.

Say for example you and your husband are both working low pay jobs, have no health insurance, and have little extra income. You are in debt with credit cards and then one of you gets sick or hurt and has to go the hospital. It’s a nightmare scenario, but one we hear quite often. You will likely be in debt for thousands of dollars of medical bills, and have few means to pay them off. In terms of eliminating credit, medical, and mortgage debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the answer. It technically liquidates your assets to pay off debt, but most lose little if any assets when filing. In some cases, Chapter 13 can be better for Dallas residents.

Why Chapter 13?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is less a discharge and liquidation, more a “pay what you can” repayment plan. Some debts you have to pay in full, some debts you can pay fractions of, and to pay these debts you typically get 3-5 years. It doesn’t sound as good, but with Chapter 13 you can avoid foreclosure, unlike Chapter 7. Chapter 13 can save your Dallas home from foreclosure, but only if you file before the bank files the paper work. If you file bankruptcy before, the bankruptcy judge puts what’s called an “automatic stay” on all your assets and debts. You can then rework your payments in the repayment plan, paying what you can afford. If you have some income coming in and you have assets you fear losing, Chapter 13 is smart.

Choosing a Form to File

So if you have more unsecured debt, debts like credit and medical bills, Chapter 7 can be better for you. It discharges you from debts in a matter of months. If you have a lot of secured debt such as a mortgage, car, and other property, Chapter 13 is good because you can repay portions of your debt over time. It’s not a race to the finish line when choosing which form of personal bankruptcy is right for you, but it’s good to know in case you run into medical problems, credit debt, or fear your Dallas home going into foreclosure.

How to Get Texas Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Help the Right Way

July 28, 2010

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is about discharging your debt legally so you can get a fresh start financially. Many misunderstand their options when it comes to bankruptcy. In other cases, they don’t take the time to study how bankruptcy will help. Even more often, they don’t ask for help or ask the wrong people. This blog guide helps you discharge the most debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, guiding you through unsecured and secured debts you can eliminate.

Discharging Debt
Once a debt is discharged, you are free of any personal liability you have for these debts. So if you discharge $20,000 in credit or medical debt, for example, you will be completely free of these debts. There are certain types of debt you can and can’t discharge with a bankruptcy, and also some which you may not want to discharge in order to keep assets.

You can discharge medical, credit, mortgage, and many other debts. Some debts such as alimony, child support, and taxes cannot be discharged. Still more debts you may not want to discharge, such as your mortgage debt or car debt; if you do, you can lose them. In order to get help in this situation, contact an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer.

When are you discharged?
In a Chapter 7 case, you are typically discharged of debt in a matter of months. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, it takes much longer – usually about 4 years time.

Discharging Secured Debts
You can discharge your mortgage and car debts. If you owe a lot of money on them and have decided not to fight to keep them, being free of the debt is a big help. Also, discharging secured debts such as your home does not mean you are homeless immediately. The “automatic stay” made by the judge after filing puts a hold on all collections against you. And you can likely keep your home for several months without paying a penny, just be sure to find a new residence.

Unsecured Debt
Unsecured debts are the prime reason to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Texas economy is strong in comparison to other states with high numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures, but debt is of course still a problem, In fact, many lack health insurance, end up having to get medical help, and then end up in danger of losing all their assets. If you have unsecured debt you simply cannot afford, usually you have the right to discharge it, even if it’s very high. If you have $100,000 in credit and medical debt, for example, you can be free of it in a matter of months.

Texas Bankruptcy Experts
You need a lawyer if you want to successfully file Texas Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It will be easier in and out of court. You will rarely have much of a role in court, but out of court you’ll be making some key decisions. In order to keep the most assets and discharge the most debt, hiring a lawyer is very important.

Tips On Hiring Your North Central Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer

July 25, 2010

Hiring a lawyer is never easy, but the process need not be one of trial and fire. You can hire the right lawyer the first time, especially an experienced North Central Texas bankruptcy lawyer. This blog guide shows you how.

Let’s get right to the most important question you likely have: how much will it cost? Bankruptcy is not free, but it need not be a costly affair for you. A good Texas bankruptcy lawyer will charge from $1,000 to $2,000 for most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Some are willing to negotiate with you via a payment plan. Obviously you are not filing bankruptcy simply because you have money. If money is an issue, ask for their basic rates. Most lawyers have set rates, especially bankruptcy lawyers.

Experience really is more important than price, mainly because of the value an experienced bankruptcy lawyer has for your case. Say you’re in danger of losing your $150,000 home you and your family have put a lot of time and capital into. In this case, filing bankruptcy may prevent the bank from taking it. That’s much more important than a minor difference in rates. A lawyer less capable, and you’ll know usually by court room experience, may do more harm than good. In many cases they charge less because they lack the experience to truly help you, or lack the time.

You may get a lawyer real “cheap” only to find they spend little if any time researching your case, preparing for court, and helping you discharge the most debt. Bankruptcy requires a lot of time and effort. True, the actual court room process is short, but any mistakes in showing debts and assets, any questions from the creditors, or at worst any laws broken can endanger your discharge.

Asking Questions
The old saying is the only bad question is the one you never ask. Well, you’ll know immediately if a bankruptcy lawyer know his or her stuff. Texas is little different than other states: good lawyers answer complex questions involving the law. Good bankruptcy lawyers can put you at ease. In order to hire the right one, ask as many questions as possible, maybe even in your first consultation. It’s a good way to hire a Texas lawyer.

Making the Call
You know some rates, some experience points look great to you, some communicate well, and others miss the mark entirely. Who do you hire? Don’t go with your gut on this one. Factor in price, it’s important. Who has the most value to your case and can put the most time into your case? Who seems easiest to work with?

In a Texas Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll be discharged from debt in a matter of months. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the process takes longer. In either case, your lawyer needs experience both in and out of the court room. In the court room, they protect your rights. Outside the court room, they do the same, keeping creditors from hassling you and answering all your questions. At least the best ones do.

Saving Money During Texas Bankruptcy

July 23, 2010

We hear many questions when it comes to bankruptcy. One common question is: can I save money during bankruptcy? By saving money, for this blog post we mean the literal term, not saving on expenses but actually putting money into your bank account.

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, saving money is less of an issue. You are discharging your debts and losing assets. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, you are supposed to pay all extra money to your bankruptcy trustee.

Really, that doesn’t sound fair. Of course, you do have to follow the laws – you can’t just ignore them. But it’s not unreasonable to save some money for other expenses.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes 3-5 years, much longer than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which only takes a few months. If you cannot save money for that long, it will be hard to actually get that fresh start. But look at the advantages of Chapter 13. For Texans, it can save your home from foreclosure. It can stop a car repossession or the taking of other assets. If you owe $100,000 in debt, you can quite often pay a  fraction of that over a long period and come out free of most debts.

The problem with saving money during bankruptcy is you’re supposed to be broke. Your supposed to have little if any money. That too is unrealistic. Quite often those who file Texas Chapter 13 bankruptcy do so not because they have no money, but because they don’t have the necessary income to pay off all debts. You might owe $100,000 on your home and fear foreclosure, owe $5,000 on your car, and owe thousands more in medical and credit card debt. You also have a job which pays enough for you to avoid Chapter 7. In this case, saving money is necessary.

If you come into new debts you know you cannot afford, you can suspend your Chapter 13 debt repayment plan in order to pay off these debts. You might experience damages to your home or car which you must fix, and that’s why the laws are like this.

Can you save money in Texas bankruptcy? If you have disposable income, it may be difficult. At this point, you need to talk to an experienced Texas bankruptcy attorney. If you’re unsure of any laws, an attorney is your best source for information. Also, when you need to suspend payments on your Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it’s your attorney’s job to help with this.

If you have no attorney yet, many offer free consultations.

Fear and Texas Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

July 21, 2010

Filing bankruptcy is not the most enjoyable process you’ll ever have to go through. However, it has so many advantages for you that life after filing will be much better financially. Now, fearing you’ll lose everything, fearing Texas bankruptcy court, worried you won’t be able to afford a lawyer, that you will in fact be worse off after – these are very common concerns. There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to bankruptcy. Let this guide point you in the right direction to saving time, money, and headaches by filing Texas Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Losing Everything (You Won’t)

One of the common misconceptions concerning bankruptcy is that all your assets will be taken. In fact, most bankruptcy filers, whether it’s Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy, lose absolutely nothing. That’s right: you do not lose your home and car. In cases where you are in danger of losing key assets, you still have plenty chances to keep them. There are rules to follow; technically in Chapter 7 your trustee will be in charge of liquidating assets. But again, few lose anything. The laws are designed to give, not take.

Fearing Debt
The Texas economy has been hit hard by the recent downturn in jobs and increase in bankruptcies, but not nearly as hard as other states. Where some states have incredibly high debt and foreclosure rates, Texas is in better shape. That means you are logically in a better economy for getting back on your feet. If you fear debts will be the end of you, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an answer. All too often, home owners wait until foreclosure begins to get help. Or you try paying an exceedingly high medical debt off on a budget while trying to support a family. Debt is a problem with an answer.

Fearing Creditors
Creditor harassment is more of a reality than a fear. If creditors are making you loath coming home after working or sitting down in the morning, if your phone is a constant point of anger, you do have rights. First, if you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most creditor harassment will stop. Also, they have little right to your money after filing Chapter 7. In fact, you can keep your assets and be free of debt collections.

Lawyer Fees
Lawyer fees are a reality too, but a good one. Would you hire the cheapest doctor in town for heart surgery? Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but the fact you hire someone to help you with the legal process has far more benefits than downfalls. Lawyer fees are small in comparison to the benefits, especially if you can discharge tens of thousands in debt, be free of creditors, and keep all your assets.

Unfortunately there is a chance you won’t be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is because of new Bankruptcy Code basing eligibility on income. If you make more than the median income of Texas, you have to file Chapter 13. Texas Chapter 13 bankruptcy can save you a lot of assets too.

What You Can Fear
There really is nothing to fear when it comes to any form of personal bankruptcy. You can worry about the day to day things once you get through this. Consider it an opportunity, a fresh start financially.

Saving Money on Texas Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

July 19, 2010

You can’t save any money when it comes to bankruptcy, right? Actually, there are ways to save on expenses involved. While this blog guide is not about actually putting money into your savings, it can help you save some reasonable amounts of money so you can use them for needed essentials. Money is the prime problem many have when filing for bankruptcy, so of course saving money when filing, on paying debts, and on hiring an attorney is paramount. Here is some help.

Advantages of Texas Chapter 13

For Texas Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may wonder how filing can help you. Clearly, Chapter 7 has quite an impact on your debts. If you can discharge $100,000 in debt for a fraction of it, that’s an easy decision.

Chapter 13 is different. Texas home owners and those with a lot of assets quite often are in danger of losing them when filing Chapter 7. Why is because your trustee is designated with selling assets to pay for debts owed. In most bankruptcies, you lose nothing, but the more you have the more you might lose.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stall if not stop a foreclosure, protect other properties from being taken, help you keep your car, and give you a fresh start for often a smaller amount than owed. With the help of a Texas lawyer, you can reap the rewards of a successful bankruptcy.

During the Bankruptcy – The Long Chapter 13 Plan
Chapter 13 does take some time, typically 3-5 years. That means saving money during bankruptcy is crucial. You can’t save money on the filing fees, $274 to file, but you can save money in terms of your assets. Consider how much time and money you put into your home and/or other properties; consider how much your car is worth; and if you have other valuable assets in danger of being taken, you likely want them too. You can potentially save thousands by stopping a foreclosure, keeping your car, and protect other valuables you still owe money on.

Chapter 13 is advantageous because in Chapter 7 you liquidate. You rarely lose anything in Chapter 13.

Attorney Costs
Yes, you can save money in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy by hiring a reasonably priced lawyer. In rare cases do you need to spend many thousands of dollars. Typically, a professional, experienced attorney charges $1,000 to $2,000 to help you. Consider how much you’ll save by filing Chapter 13; if you have a $200,000 home, a Texas bankruptcy attorney can ensure you keep it.

After Bankruptcy

After your Chapter 13 repayment plan is done, you are free of most all your debts. You are discharged much like a Chapter 7. The only difference is you paid some or all of the debts off. Now it’s time to start budgeting and cutting down on expenses so you can really start fresh. The biggest problem many have is in failing to save enough money to avoid having to file bankruptcy again.

How to Get Bankruptcy Help – An Intro on Filing, Hiring, and Succeeding

July 16, 2010

Bankruptcy is about getting a fresh start – that’s actually the definition the government gives on Chapter 7. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more like a second chance, a longer process which gives you the opportunity to keep possessions.

This blog guide will show the basics on what can of help you can get, how to get it, and how to get a new beginning financially.

Filing Help
There are many places to get help just when you’re thinking of filing. This blog is one. There are many articles online. Perhaps the best are run by the government, where you can stay up to date on any changes in the laws. You may wonder if you’re eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or how a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help. Government information sites, major article sites and blogs like this one, and a consultation with a lawyer can help.

Asking Questions
There are no bad questions when it comes to bankruptcy. In fact, the more questions you ask, the better. Ask a bankruptcy lawyer, ask others who’ve filed, read blogs like this one, look on government sites– your options are many. You may wonder how much this whole process costs; a lawyer may be best for that. You may wonder how much the filing fees are, for example, or how much a bankruptcy lawyer will typically charge. Ask as many questions as possible. There are many who are willing to help.

Hiring A Lawyer

Your lawyer is perhaps the biggest asset you have. Say you need a Texas bankruptcy lawyer. You can look online, perhaps on blogs and sites like this one, make some calls, and see who has real experience and a fair rate. You want a lawyer willing to take the time to answer all your questions, who won’t overcharge you, who will be honest with you, and will help you successfully file. Filing bankruptcy is not something you can do alone; hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is always a must unless this is your profession. A good Texas bankruptcy lawyer can help you save the most assets, discharge the most debt, handle any court room problems, and also help completely stop any creditor harassment you may be having.

Saving Time and Money
Bankruptcy does take time: Chapter 7 takes several months in most cases, while Chapter 13 takes much longer, typically 3-5 years. This is because Chapter 7 effectively discharges most of your secured and unsecured debt; you start fresh in a matter of months, potentially saving thousands of dollars and a lot of legal hassle. Filing Chapter 13 is quite often about saving the time and money you put into your home and car; you can keep these if you follow a payment plan.

Getting bankruptcy help does lead to success. After all, it can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or allow you to keep your most valued assets while buying you time to catch up on bills. The best strategy for success is to ask as many questions as possible, to hire the right bankruptcy lawyer, and to file the right form of bankruptcy for you.

Why “Doing Nothing” Fails in Comparison to Bankruptcy

July 14, 2010

Doing nothing kind of speaks for itself, but for the record in terms of debts, your credit report, losing assets, and your ability to get loans and new credit cards, it means paying absolutely nothing. You don’t pay the credit card bill and any other bills you have. The more bills you have, the more problems you face.

Say you have $10,000 in credit card debt; you have options of filing bankruptcy, to negotiate with creditors yourself, and another option of taking no action at all – not paying on debts, not trying to protect assets. It rarely works. This blog guide will help you see if doing nothing actually works for you.

Your Options

As stated above, one option many take is to file bankruptcy in order to discharge the debt with Chapter 7 or pay on the debt with Chapter 13. You can also negotiate with creditors on your own, contacting them and negotiating a rate. There are many other options, but doing nothing is quite common, where you decide not to act on the problems because you have little if nothing to lose.

Choosing Bankruptcy

If you file Texas bankruptcy, your options are limited to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 as an individual. Chapter 7 is the most common option for anyone with sizable debts. Chapter 7 will discharge almost all your debts, giving you a fresh start financially. Chapter 13 is less common, but allows you to keep more assets in some cases than Chapter 7; it’s also an option if you make too much money for Chapter 7.

Negotiating with Creditors
Technically, you could choose a debt counseling agency to pay on some of your debts, but they do nothing you cannot easily do yourself. You can contact your creditors and explain to them you want to start a payment plan; here you have nothing to lose, but if you miss a payment the plan might stop. Quite often they will be willing, because if you’re forced to file bankruptcy they may get nothing. However, sometimes you simply cannot afford to pay them anything close to the money owed. You are also not legally protected if you miss a payment.

Doing Nothing
Our final option, doing nothing, occurs when you decide to take no action to pay debts. It’s actually used by some in Texas and across the country. Why? If you have no assets to be taken, if you have little to no income coming in, creditors have few option in getting money back from you. The only problem is, few of us have nothing. Any assets of value can be taken. If you have a job or outside money coming in, it can be taken. That’s the key problem with doing nothing: it only works when you have nothing.

Choosing One
Bankruptcy is not always the best option, but in many cases the advantages far outweigh the downsides. At least negotiating with creditors is preferable to doing nothing as well. In the end, it’s up to you. If you need some guidance, an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer can guide you in the right direction.

Your Texas Home and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

July 12, 2010

While Chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot save your home from foreclosure, it does give you many options which help you financially. Why can’t Chapter 7 bankruptcy stop a foreclosure? What’s the best way to save your Texas home? If you lose it, will you still owe money? First, let’s go over the advantages.

Advantages of Chapter 7

You can almost always save money by filing Chapter 7. This occurs because you can stay in the home during and some time after the bankruptcy. By law, all collections against you stop once you file bankruptcy. You can quite often stay in the home several months after, paying nothing on the mortgage. You can also cancel the debts you owe on the home, including any second mortgages. So you can stay in the home for some months and pay nothing, and then discharge the debt.  For Texas home owners, this may not be enough.

Why Can’t You Save Your Home?

Technically, you cannot cancel a foreclosure by filing Chapter 7.  You can discharge some of the debt, but not the debt on the lien of the house. The lien cannot be discharged. This may sound unfair. You can be completely free of the debt, but you lose your home. You do have other options.

Other Options
You can do many other things to stop a foreclosure and its effects. You may be able to sell the home on a short sale. You can also file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, perhaps the best way to save your Texas home. Chapter 7 is not for everyone. You quite often lose property. You sometimes lose other assets. But if you can discharge thousands in debt, it can still be beneficial.

More on Chapter 13
How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy save your home? Chapter 13 makes it so you can pay on some or all your debts over a more manageable period. Though foreclosures are far less common in Texas than other states, many home owners use Chapter 13 to avoid the problem. There is some fine print: you have to file before papers are entered to foreclose your home. If the foreclosure process is ongoing, you cannot just decide to file. You need to file Chapter 13 before the foreclosure papers are in; the best time is when you know you won’t be able to make payments in full.

How to Get Help

You need an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer any time you fear foreclosure and want to file bankruptcy. A lawyer can explain your best options. You may not be able to pay with Chapter 13, but can buy enough time to get into a new residence with Chapter 7. A good lawyer can quite often save you far more money than he or she charges when it comes to discharging debts and saving assets.

Filing Bankruptcy a Second Time

July 10, 2010

If you filed bankruptcy once, you may wonder when you can file a second time. First off, you need to find out eligibility. You should also consult with a Texas bankruptcy lawyer. This blog guide highlights eligibility for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, how to make the choice, and how a lawyer can help.

Eligibility for a Second Bankruptcy

By law, you must wait 8 years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to file again, and 6 years after filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, unless you paid 70 percent or more of the balance.

If you’re eligible, you will go through the process of filing again. This means you’ll be hiring a bankruptcy lawyer, taking a credit-counseling course, take a means test for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, and more.

What is the means test?
The “means test” is the same test you took in your first bankruptcy. You may wonder what it does. A means test determines eligibility for Chapter 7, or with Chapter 13 it helps create a debt repayment plan. If your income is the same as it was when you first filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can most often file again. The means test is based on the Texas median income for Texas residents; if you’re above, you’re not eligible, but if below you are eligible.

How to Handle Creditors
As with your first bankruptcy, you will be informing all your creditors of your second bankruptcy. This has the advantage of again stopping any calls or notices you’re getting. With Chapter 7, creditors have the right to appeal your discharge of debts; in Chapter 13, they are quite often getting most of their money but if you are behind in mortgage payment, it can save your home.

Your Texas Lawyer
Should you hire the same lawyer or a new one? This is a common question. You likely already know what you want in stopping harassment, what debts you want discharged, and what benefits come from filing bankruptcy. In many cases, you may be unhappy with your bankruptcy lawyer, but kept him or her to save some time. In other cases, your lawyer may have been very effective and helpful, but had so little time to help you that you want a new one. You are allowed to hire a new lawyer. It’s important not to think you can do this alone simply because you filed once; no two bankruptcies are exactly alike. Hire professional representation so this process can be simple and rewarding.

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