Win in Texas Bankruptcy Court

December 22, 2010

Texas bankruptcy court can seem scary. But once you get this process done, you can start seeing some financial changes in your life. If you’re filing Texas Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might save tens of thousands of dollars. If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may stop a foreclosure or prevent other assets from being taken. The advantages of bankruptcy are many. By filing correctly, you can change your life. But first you must know what to expect in bankruptcy court. Lets find out.

Know If You’re Eligible

First off, before you do anything, find out if you’re eligible for Texas bankruptcy. You have the options of Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the current median incomes from one person to four are $37,676, $54,288, $55,534, and $64,420. Chapter 13 bankruptcy eligibility is based on what you owe. You are eligible if you have less than $360,475 in unsecured debts and secured debts are less than $1,081,400. Secured debts are monies owed like your home and car. Unsecured debts have no collateral, and are more like credit card and medical bills. Once you know if you are eligible, you can consider filing bankruptcy. If you are still unsure, a Texas bankruptcy lawyer can help you.

Know the Rules
There are rules to bankruptcy. You can’t, for example, just spend on your credit cards for months prior to filing bankruptcy. You cannot wait until a foreclosure process has started to file. You cannot file every year; you can only file Chapter 7 every seven years for example. These rules are all listed online, especially at USCourts.gov. If you are unsure, you can consult with your lawyer.

Be Honest
You can’t lie on forms, other documentation, and in court. You have to be honest. This is important, as you stand to do well if you simply tell the truth. Do not hide assets. If you want to have a debt discharged, you must list it. If you are uncertain of a law, and break it, make that clear early on – in other words, stop it before it becomes a problem. If you make mistakes, that is okay, but if you break rules knowingly you can have your bankruptcy delayed if not denied.

Be Prepared
Be ready for Texas bankruptcy court. Be prepared for questions. Be sure you go through proper credit programs prior to going to court. There is nothing to be scared of; your lawyer will take care of most of the issues. You have little role for Chapter 7 bankruptcy during court, and a minor role in Chapter 13. Most of it will be taken care of by your lawyer, but be sure to hire a good one.

Be On Time at All Dates
One common problem in Texas bankruptcy is missing court dates and meetings. You may miss your actual first court date or the meeting of creditors. This can delay your bankruptcy and hurt your chances of success. Again, you  have no major role in the bankruptcy, but must be prepared to answer some questions.

Consult with a Lawyer
The best way to succeed in bankruptcy court is to hire an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer. He or she should have court room experience. Your lawyer should be close to you so you can communicate on a regular basis. You should be able to communicate well with him or her. You should be able to afford them in case there are delays. And you should be able to get all your questions answered.

When Not to File Texas Bankruptcy

December 22, 2010

There are certain reasons you may not want to file for bankruptcy help. If you owe a lot of money, it can be tempting, and sometimes smart. However, this guide looks at both sides of the issue – the times when you should not file and the times you should.

When Not to File
There are many sides to this issue, including those who say bankruptcy can be a good option, those who say it’s your best option, and those who say it’s your worst. The real truth is you may not want to file. Bankruptcy is not something you want to do all the time. It should only be used once, but can be used multiple times throughout your life. If you have to file multiple times, something is wrong – either with your spending or your actions. If you file because you charge up your credit cards every seven years, it can ruin your credit. If you file when you have debts that are seemingly minor, that you may be able to pay off, that’s unnecessary. If you file only to protect your home, in the state of Texas you have other options.

When filing often because you have bad spending habits, you are ruining your credit. You need to rethink how you spend money. You may want to cut down on certain buying habits, if not get some personal help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but can damage your life. If you file for minor reasons, remember that bankruptcy is a long term plan, and will affect your credit greatly. If you file Chapter 7, yes it can eliminate these debts, but it also hurts your credit, makes it so you cannot file again for seven years, and will take some time. In Texas, you need not always file to protect your home. Yes, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure, but if someone other than the mortgage lender is trying to take your home, quite often you are protected by the Texas Homestead Exemption. This law makes it so residents of Texas need not worry about creditors taking their homes when owing money, and it’s a law unique to our state.

When To File
There are times when it’s smart to file. You might owe a large sum of money. You might owe an impossible medical debt or had to charge up your credit cards after losing your job; after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these can be eliminated. If you fall behind on your mortgage payment, you may fear a foreclosure. If you owe the lender money, they can foreclose on your home. If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can buy yourself time to catch up on payments, and use the automatic stay to halt all other collections against you.

Why File Dallas Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

December 17, 2010

Bankruptcy can change your life when used right. Thousands file bankruptcy successfully in Texas every year. Why? That is the subject of this guide. We’ll focus on the advantages of filing Texas Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

How Does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges you of both unsecured and secured debts. The common reasons for filing include because of a large medical debt or being unemployed and having a high credit card debt. Since many of us lack health insurance, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy, and one of the advantages of using Chapter 7, as you can discharge this debt in a matter of months. You file with the courts. You list all debts you want to discharge. You continue paying, if wanted, on certain debts, such as a secured debt on your home. And then in a matter of months you can be free to move on with your life.

How Much Can You Save with Chapter 7?
Typically you can save tens of thousands of dollars if not more with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must first be eligible, and that is governed by how much you make. If you make more than the Texas median income, as we go over often on the Higgins and Associates blog, then you will not be eligible. If you make less, perhaps because you have a low income or are recently unemployed, you would likely be eligible. If you are not eligible, you may be able to file Chapter 13.

Why File Chapter 7?
We went over one of the reasons: you save money. You might save tens of thousands of dollars. If you have an impossible debt you simply cannot pay, you should consider bankruptcy. There are some alternatives to Chapter 7. You might file Chapter 13, where you buy yourself time to pay back debts. You might sell some assets. You might tap into your savings. But sometimes Chapter 7 bankruptcy is your best option.

Who Can Help?
Texas bankruptcy can be complex. While it is possible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without the help of a Texas lawyer, you might make some mistakes. You may have some questions you need help with. You may have concerns. You may have certain assets or properties you fear losing. If you are like most, you are unaware of bankruptcy laws. If that is the case, it’s time to hire an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer.

Increase Your Chances of a Successful Texas Bankruptcy

December 16, 2010

Bankruptcy can change your life for the better, but many hurt their chances of a successful bankruptcy by making mistakes. They make no plan. They don’t go over all their options. Some don’t do the research. There are many more points. This blog guide will help you file bankruptcy successfully.

Make a Plan
Are you eligible? What sort of income do you have coming in? Will you be able to keep your home? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself. It’s okay to be confused, to have questions, to have concerns, as long as you write them down and start taking some action. You should plan for how you will do things like keep your home and car. You should know what kind of income you might have coming in. If you lack an income, you might consider finding ways to get one, such as applying for benefits or for a job. You may not be able to do all the points in your plan, but making one gives you a boost of confidence.

Know Your Options

You have more options than you might think. Yes, you have Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but you have far more. You have options for protecting your Texas home from foreclosure, such as with the  Homestead Exemption. You have exemptions on other assets too. You can choose what lawyer you hire. You can choose what debts you intend to pay, sometimes, and what debts you intend to discharge or let go.

Research
Research is quite important in Texas bankruptcy. For example, the Texas Homestead Exemption has some unique rules, namely the fact only the lender has the right to take your home. There are eligibility rules for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy unique to Texas. Also, all states are different in terms of what value your assets can be in bankruptcy.

Hire the Right Lawyer
If you are considering bankruptcy, you definitely need to consider hiring an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer. It’s his or her job to help you with questions, with your options, with research, and it’s your lawyer’s job to protect your rights. There are thousands of bankruptcy lawyers across the country and in the state of Texas, but not all are equal. Be picky here. Hire a lawyer with experience. Hire a lawyer you can communicate with. Hire one you can afford. And hire one who has the knowledge to help you.

Avoid Filing Second Time
The best way to avoid a second bankruptcy is to use your first one the right way. You should file at a time where it will have the most affect, being the time you owe the most money. If you have a large bill coming in, it’s obvious you want to wait for that to arrive before you file. You should also rebuild your credit in the right way after bankruptcy. There are many proven ways to do this. You should start paying all your bills early. You can rebuild credit by opening up a new credit card, such as a secured credit card, and making large purchases you can afford with it.

If you follow all the tips in this guide, you have an advantage over many who file Texas bankruptcy. The first step is to start considering legal representation. Then you’ll know your options.

Homestead Exemption, Home Protection, and Texas Bankruptcy

December 13, 2010

The Texas Homestead Exemption may be the most beneficial home law in our country, and it’s the prime reason that for many years some fled to Texas in order to get a home which could not be taken away. While the Bankruptcy Code changes of 2005 have stopped this, it’s easy to see why people were trying it. If you can save your home, you stand to save the thousands you invested into it, and maintain a residence. This is the home protection the Texas Homestead Exemption gives bankruptcy filers looking to keep their home, and it’s the focus of this guide.

How the Homestead Exemption Works

The Texas Homestead Exemption makes it so only one entity can take your home: the lender on your home. If you stop making mortgage payments, you can lose your home to foreclosure. On the other hand, if you have immense debts on your credit card, the creditor cannot take your home. This is different than other states. If you have a huge medical debt, even then your home cannot be taken. Again, the only entity who can take your home is the lender, so if you owe other money, the Homestead Exemption protects you. No matter what your home is worth, how much you owe, or who you owe money to, the Texas Homestead Exemption protects you. There are some limits on this, such as you can only have so much land, but most are eligible.

How to Protect Your Home

If you are fearing foreclosure, you do have options. If you owe money on the home, it is still possible to keep it. If you owe other debts, you can discharge them with bankruptcy,while at the same time be in no danger of losing your home. You must have lived in Texas the past 40 months to be eligible for the Homestead Exemption, so this process takes time. If you owe money to the lender, you might try to either discharge the debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where you would lose the home but owe nothing, or you can set up a debt repayment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

How Texas Bankruptcy Works
Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility is based on how much money you currently make. If you make millions of dollars a year, or just higher than the average Texas resident, you would not be eligible. If you are unemployed and have no income, you may not be able to keep your home but can discharge the debt. If you make less than average, you can file with Chapter 13 bankruptcy and start making payments on the mortgage.

Your Bankruptcy Options
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is best if you have impossible debts and little to no income. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is becoming more common because some are not eligible for Chapter 7. Chapter 13 can be quite effective if you make good money, but have debts you need time to pay off.

The Texas Homestead Exemption can protect your home, but remember you must be able to pay on it. If you are unsure of what to do next, contact an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer.

6 Decisions to Make Before Filing Bankruptcy

December 11, 2010

Thousands file bankruptcy in Texas every year, yet thousands more decide not to do it, even in the face of foreclosure, unemployment, and rising debts. Sometimes the decisions you make prior to bankruptcy define how the next years of your life will be. You may save money. You may save your home. You may get better mentally, simply being free of a mountain of debt. If you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s time to make some decisions.

Do you need bankruptcy?

You don’t always have to file bankruptcy. It’s an option, and sometimes your best option. The decision can be tough, but there are some strategies for making this decision. You may owe more than you make in a whole year. You may have a large savings, but if you spend it, you’re in a tough spot. You may recently have lost your job, and the debts you accumulated still exist. If you cannot pay off your debts in a reasonable amount of time without spending huge amounts of any savings, 401K, or retirement plan, you should consider bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation. You file in order to discharge debts, mainly secured debts like credit and medical debt. Say you owe $50,000 in credit card debt, and you make $40,000 a year. In this situation, filing bankruptcy is smart. You won’t make that much in a year, and you likely have other bills too. Or you may need some help in paying on your home, have a job, and make a decent amount of money. To avoid foreclosure and keep your home, you may consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These are both useful options for different situations.

How much can you save?
How much can you save by filing for bankruptcy? How much will you lose? If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, some of your assets may be sold to pay off your debt, but you stand to discharge huge amounts of debt. On the other hand, with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you are paying on debts, but you get to keep major assets like your home and car if you keep paying on them through the plan. You stand to save more money on paper with a  Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but you may get more property saved, which adds up, if you file Chapter 13.

How much time can you invest?
Bankruptcy will take you some time. It’s not an overnight process. If you file Chapter 7, you may be done in  a matter of months, but should spend a considerable amount of time preparing. On the other hand, with Chapter 13, you are investing 3-5 years into paying off debts. Can you afford to do that?

Can you keep your home?
Foreclosure is a major problem for many in the U.S., but less so in Texas. With the Texas Homestead Exemption, only the mortgage lender has the right to take your home if you default on the payments – not other creditors, such as a credit card company. But you may not be able to keep paying on the mortgage, and need to file for bankruptcy. You have many options and a lot of help.

Do you need a lawyer?
If you are going to file Texas bankruptcy, yes you need to hire a lawyer. This is a critical decision. A lawyer will help you make all the decisions before, during, and after the bankruptcy. Yes, there are lawyer fees, but they are minimal in comparison to what you gain. Hiring a lawyer should be your easiest decision.

Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Dallas Texas

December 10, 2010

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may save you far more money than any other option. How so? In the state of Texas, while our economy is not as bad as other states, debts and unemployment are still a problem. Another problem is that of people lacking medical coverage. These all lead to impossible debts. You have options. You might sell your home. You might consult with a debt management company. Or you might file for bankruptcy help with a Dallas bankruptcy lawyer. Of all these options, bankruptcy is the best. Who wants to lose their home? And working with debt management companies rarely if ever works out, as they tend to charge you more than you really owe, and may hurt your credit.

You might try Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. What are the differences? And what are the advantages of Chapter 7 bankruptcy? This blog guide can help you understand why to file, when to file, and how to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Why File Chapter 7
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation, and in Texas, that may sound bad. Well, you might lose certain assets if you cannot pay on them. If you cannot afford your home, you do have options which you can speak to your Dallas bankruptcy lawyer about. If you are unemployed, you may lose some of your possessions by filing bankruptcy. On the other hand, you stand to save tens of thousands of dollars.

When to File Chapter 7
You may owe a huge medical expense, such as a $100,000 bill on a random hospital visit. You might owe $50,000 in credit card debt. You may be unemployed and owe more money than you make in a year. In these situations, it’s smart to consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy over other options. When you owe more than you make in several years time, it’s a good option. Instead of spending all your savings or going into your retirement money, you can discharge the debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

How to File Chapter 7
If you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can make use of it’s advantages. It’s based on how much you make in comparison to the Texas median income. If you make more than the Texas median income, you may not be eligible. If you are unemployed, you are likely eligible. Once you find out what you’re eligible for, it’s time to consult with a Dallas bankruptcy lawyer.

Who Can Help?
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be scary, but remember how much you stand to save. It can literally change your life. There will be some decisions to make. Can you keep your home? Can you keep your car? What if creditors continue harassing you? There are some questions too, such as what debts will be discharged. If you are unsure, get the help of  a Dallas bankruptcy lawyer. It’s his or her job to help you reap the rewards of a successful Chapter 7 filing.

Can You Be Denied a Texas Bankruptcy?

December 8, 2010

Sometimes you can be denied bankruptcy. It happens quite often in the state of Texas. Why? You can be denied for many reasons. You might make too much money to file a certain form, or owe too much to file Chapter 13. You may break the rules of the bankruptcy. You may even make some mistakes prior to filing bankruptcy – such as spending a lot of money – and then are denied a filing. There are many more, but let’s focus on a few to understand the most common reasons for being denied a Texas bankruptcy.

Make Too Much

As of 2010, if you make more than the median income for Texas residents, you may be denied a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge common debts like credit card, medical, and other unsecured debts. The numbers from an individual up to a family of four: $37,676, $54,288, $55,534, $64,420. So as an individual, if you make more than $37,676, you would not be eligible to file and would be denied if you tried. There are some varying points on this system. If you recently lost your job, your income will likely go down considerably, so if you waited long enough you may be able to still file. Otherwise you would have to file Chapter 13, if eligible.

Owe Too Much
If you are an individual with an income greater than your main expenses, you should be eligible for Chapter 13. However, you cannot have unsecured debts more than $336,900 and secured debts exceeding $1,010,650. So if you owed $2,000,000 – of course a lot – you would not be able to file. If you make that much money, and owe that much money, you may not be able to file any bankruptcy.

Fine Print
Some of the next points may seem minor, but technically you can be denied a bankruptcy if you make these mistakes. If you fail to do credit counseling prior to filing, a requirement, you can be denied. If  you lie on filing documents, you can be denied. If you have property, you must list it, or you may be denied. If you file, you will have a meeting of creditors, a requirement if you want to file. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pay a $299 filing fee in order to be eligible, otherwise you will be denied. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must pay a filing fee of $274.

Avoid These Mistakes
If you want to avoid these mistakes, the best thing you can do is study bankruptcy law, consult with experts, and hire an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer. A lawyer can help ensure your bankruptcy goes through without any problems.

Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Plano Texas

December 6, 2010

One of the most unique places to live in all of Texas, and consistently ranked highly among best places to live in the country, Plano Texas is still in a country reeling from recession. Foreclosures, unemployment, and debt are a major problem. While medical debt may be the leading cause of bankruptcy, foreclosure is a key cause of bankruptcy. And foreclosure is one of the reasons to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Plano Texas. This blog guide explains why you might file, how you should file, and what the advantages are.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a debt repayment plan typically lasting 3-5 years. The other form of personal bankruptcy is Chapter 7, and it’s much more common in Texas. However, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different. You are not eliminating debt. You are paying on it. You are not getting this done immediately; you are waiting some time for the results. There are some advantages too.

Why file Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
The Texas Homestead Exemption protects many Plano home owners from losing their home, but it’s not always an option. The Homestead Exemption makes it so you never will lose your home because of a debt owed, unless it’s the actual money owed on your home. If you stop making payments on your mortgage, you can lose your home. But if you cannot pay on any other debt, whether it’s credit or medical or some other money owed, the creditor cannot seize your home.

Now, what if you cannot keep up with the mortgage? The advantage with Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that you can set up a debt repayment plan to start making affordable payments on the mortgage. You can do the same with your other debts, including unsecured debts like credit and medical, and secured debts like your car. If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you stand to lose more property and assets. If you file Chapter 13, you can protect your property and assets if you can pay on them over time.

Chapter 7?

Since we mentioned Chapter 7 bankruptcy several times, you may wonder why more Plano residents file this form of bankruptcy over Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be quite effective in saving you money. It’s a liquidation, where your assets are liquidated in order to pay off debts. While it’s not common for major assets to be taken, it does happen. On the other hand, if you owe a lot, it can be more than worth it. You are not paying on your debts here; you are eliminating them.

How to Save Your Home
If you cannot keep up with your mortgage, and fear foreclosure, you may consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy to protect it. You can make your mortgage part of the repayment plan and buy yourself some time.

How to Get Help
If you are unsure about how Chapter 13 bankruptcy will help you or protect your Plano home, it’s time to consult with an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer. A lawyer is invaluable in understanding bankruptcy, in saving money, and in protecting key assets.

7 Ways an Experienced Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer Helps

December 4, 2010

1-Get Started with Bankruptcy
Should you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Chapter 13 bankruptcy? What if you want to avoid foreclosure? These are the types of questions you may have in just getting started with bankruptcy. You can save yourself a lot of time and worry by working with an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer to help you see things such as the advantage of Chapter 7 and also how Chapter 13 can help avoid foreclosure.

2-Save Money by Discharging Debts
You owe credit card debt. Or you owe a huge medical bill. Or you owe more on your mortgage than you can pay. Perhaps you recently lost your job and cannot keep up with bills. Or maybe you want to avoid losing your home because of a decrease in income. A lawyer can help in all these situations. For example, if credit or medical debt is your main problem, you may consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge the debt. You discharge debt with Chapter 13 too, but technically you are paying it back over the course of 3-5 years.

3-Handle Creditors
If you’re phone is ringing off the hook, you may simply want to throw it across the room. Creditors are a problem for many of us. The good news is, once you file for bankruptcy, your Texas lawyer can handle your creditors. If they continue calling, refer them to your lawyer.

4-Stop Wage Garnishment
One problem many Texas debtors have is making money at a job but it being taken away by wage garnishment. You may owe more than you can pay. Technically creditors can take some of your wages to pay back the debt, just like in some states they can take other property to pay back the debt. With a Texas bankruptcy lawyer’s help, you can avoid wage garnishment by discharging the debt.

5-Avoid Foreclosure
Did you know with the Texas Homestead Exemption you can protect your home from almost all creditors? They simply cannot take it away if you owe them money. The only creditor who has the right to foreclose on your home is the lender, who, if you default, can take legal action against you. Even then, you may consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid the foreclosure. A lawyer can help with this.

6-Avoid Car Repossession
If your car is in danger of being repossessed because you owe money on it, a bankruptcy can help, and so can a lawyer. You may want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge some other debts, then affirm the debt on the car so you can keep it. You may make it part of your Chapter 13 debt repayment plan. A lawyer can help with these options.

7-Fresh Start
Finally, Texas bankruptcy is a life changing event. You stand to save a lot of money by filing, but you need help to get there. You likely have many questions. You may have some concerns. In any case, it’s time to consider filing for help. But before you file, hire an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer.

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