Bankruptcy Attorney in Delaware County
When do you know if you should contact a bankruptcy attorney in Delaware County? You should contact a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as you feel your financial situation is getting out of control. This moment will be different for everyone. It may be as soon as you realize you can’t make your next mortgage or rent payment, or it may be if you lose your job, or it may be when a creditor sues you.
Whenever you feel you must take action to solve your debt problem, contact us to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. Your Delaware County bankruptcy lawyer can answer all of your questions and help you decide whether debt settlement, Chapter 7, or Chapter 13 is right for you.
The Law Offices of David M. Offen have been serving residents of Delaware County, PA for over twenty years and have helped them get a fresh financial start.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney in Delaware County, PA
Chapter 7 is a four-to-six month process during which you disclose all of your assets, debts, income, and expenses to the bankruptcy court and the Chapter 7 Trustee. After you meet with the Trustee who verifies your identity and asks you questions about your finances under oath, you will receive a discharge of your unsecured debt.
What Debts Are Discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, you can discharge most unsecured debt such as credit card debt, medical debt, and personal loans. If you cannot afford your home or car, you can surrender either of these to the lender and be discharged of the underlying debt.
What Debts Are Not Discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Why Do I Need an Attorney to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
There are several problems that may arise in a Chapter 7 that only an experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer could foresee and avoid. These include motions by the Trustee or creditor to dismiss your case, seizure of your assets by the Trustee, objections to discharge filed by the creditor or the Trustee, and even federal criminal charges filed against you for bankruptcy fraud.
Don’t file for bankruptcy until you speak with a Delaware County Bankruptcy Attorney. Take advantage of our experience helping over 12,000 people solve their debt problems, and come in and talk with us about yours. Our bankruptcy attorneys make sure clients’ cases go smoothly, and if there are any issues, our attorneys anticipate them and solve them so that nothing gets in the way of the debt relief you need and deserve.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney in Delaware County, PA
People who make too much money in income and fail the “Chapter 7 means test” can file Chapter 13 instead and repay a small portion of their unsecured debt over their three- or five-year Chapter 13 plan.
More commonly, people file Chapter 13 because they have steady income and need to catch up on secured debt payments such as a mortgage or a car loan or lease. They do this by proposing a repayment plan that pays the debt arrears, while making the regular monthly payments outside the plan.
The Court, creditors, and the Chapter 13 Trustee all look at the plan’s “feasibility,” meaning whether the debtor can afford to pay plan payments in addition to all their living expenses each month. If the debtor can afford the plan payments, the plan is “confirmed.” When the plan is complete and fully-funded, the debtor is caught up on the debt and is discharged of any unpaid unsecured debt.
Chapter 13 is a powerful tool for those who need it. First, it is possible to discharge some past-due income tax in Chapter 13. It is also possible, under very limited circumstances, to discharge student loans. Three of the most-used features of Chapter 13 are the car cram-down, the mortgage strip-off, and the balloon payment plan.
Cram Down Your Car in Chapter 13
If you owe more on your car loan than the car is currently worth, you can “cram down” that car to its value on the date of filing and pay that amount off over three or five years, subject to interest at a rate of prime plus 1-3%. Cram-down can save you thousands of dollars in loan payments and interest.
Of course, auto lenders frequently contest the valuation of the car and the proposed interest rate. Your bankruptcy attorney will negotiate with them and solve that so that you can relax and just make your plan payments. When your plan is complete, you own the car!
Strip Off Your Second Mortgage in Chapter 13
This is another benefit of Chapter 13 that can save you thousands of dollars when the housing market is down. If your home is worth less than you owe on your first mortgage, you can “strip off” a second or third mortgage or a HELOC as unsecured debt and have it discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Pay Your Lease Balloon Payment Over Time in Chapter 13
If you have come to the end of your lease and want to keep the car, but cannot afford to pay the lease-end balloon payment, you can file Chapter 13 and pay the balloon payment over three or five years through your Chapter 13 plan. At the end of the plan, you own the car!
Common Questions About Bankruptcy and Debt Relief
Not necessarily. The bankruptcy lawyers at the Law Offices of David M. Offen are experienced in exempting debtors’ assets from the bankruptcy estate, placing them out of the reach of the Chapter 7 Trustee. Most of our cases are “no-asset” cases, meaning we have exempted all of the debtors’ assets.
No. It is true that the fact you filed bankruptcy will remain on your credit report up to ten years. However, most debtors find that their credit score improves shortly after their bankruptcy case closes, because they have had their unsecured debt discharged and their debt-to-income ratio improved as a result.
Your use of credit after your bankruptcy case closes will determine how quickly your credit score improves. By paying all bills in full and on time and wisely using credit, you can build your credit score back up.
You have options. If you think you don’t owe the debt, you can file an answer to the creditor’s complaint and defend. If you know you owe the debt, you might try to negotiate with the creditor to settle for some lesser amount.
If you simply can’t pay the debt, you might consider filing bankruptcy. Once you file, the “automatic stay” goes into effect, which “stays” or stops all collection actions, including creditor lawsuits.
Chapter 7 is a short four- to six-month process culminating in a discharge of unsecured debt. Chapter 13 is a repayment plan through which a debtor can catch up on past-due debt like mortgage or car payments, or “cram down” their car, or “strip off” a second mortgage.
Yes. Bankruptcy can eliminate most unsecured debt such as credit card debt, medical debt, and personal loans. Some unsecured debt is nondischargeable or is rarely discharged:
- Sales tax
- Government fines or fees
- Restitution, if you have committed a crime
- Student loans
- Child support
- Spousal support or alimony
If you are having trouble paying debt you cannot get discharged, having your other debt discharged may make those payments more affordable.
The bankruptcy docket is a public record, but it is only accessed through the PACER/ECMF electronic filing system, and only those with training and a password can log in. People with that training include court personnel, attorneys and their staff, and creditors. For this reason, it is highly unlikely your bankruptcy filing will be common knowledge.
Contact Your Delaware County Bankruptcy Attorneys Today!
If you are stressed out about debt you cannot pay, call us. Our bankruptcy attorneys will discuss your options with you and help you decide how to resolve your debt problems. Take the first step to get free of debt and contact us today.