The prospect of declaring bankruptcy is a daunting one, and something you shouldn’t have to face alone. As early as 2009, CNN reported that 62 percent of all United States personal bankruptcies could be traced to medical bills. Even more shocking, many of those forced into bankruptcy by medical bills are middle class people with health insurance. In 2012, Alabama ranked sixth in the most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings in the United States. Whether you’re looking at Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the attorneys at Ferguson & Ferguson can help you during this stressful time in your life.
If you live in Athens, you deserve a strong advocate who will ensure ensure your legal rights are protected. At Ferguson & Ferguson, we understand the many difficult challenges you face. From our office in Decatur, Alabama, our experienced Athens bankruptcy lawyers represent clients in bankruptcy court. Our consultations in bankruptcy cases are conducted with our attorneys in person. Our Athens bankruptcy lawyers will help you understand your Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 options. Our bankruptcy attorneys believe personal attention is required in such sensitive and often overwhelming situations. Many times going bankrupt is not the solution. If bankruptcy is right for your situation however, our experienced Athens bankruptcy staff can assist you in setting up credit counseling and in obtaining an up-to- date copy of your credit report so that the bankruptcy process goes smoother and is less stressful for you.
Bankruptcy is not right for everyone. The best way to determine the option that is right for you is to work closely with a reputable Athens bankruptcy law firm. Bankruptcy laws allow individuals such as yourself, the opportunity to eliminate debts caused by past mistakes or unforeseen circumstance. Assuming you need to file a bankruptcy, the only way to determine which Chapter to file under is to first compare your options under the other available Chapters (with the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney). Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies are the most common consumer bankruptcy types. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation and distribution of assets to creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves rehabilitation and government protection. Generally, Chapter 7 is the cheapest, quickest and least burdensome of the three major Chapters (the others being 11 and 13) of bankruptcy law. Costs and fees vary depending on the number of creditors you have, complexity of your case, and other factors. Bankruptcy can help you prevent foreclosure of your home, stop debt collector harassment and get a fresh financial start.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is a process which allows individuals to eliminate, or discharge, all, or some, debt in a legal and orderly fashion. Chapter 7 bankruptcy (Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code) is commonly known to attorneys, lawyers, and others as a liquidating bankruptcy (liquidation), personal bankruptcy, or just plain “bankruptcy.” It is also referred to as consumer, although businesses can also file under Chapter 7.
Under any Chapter, you are required to list all of your assets and all of your debts on your petition. An asset is anything you own or may have a right to own at some future date (for example, if you are in someone’s will). Some (and in many cases, all) of your assets will be exempt. Basically, you can exempt any items normally used for your support and maintenance, such as clothing, furniture, household goods, and so forth. After you file your case, a Trustee is appointed. He (or she) will liquidate (sell) all of your non-exempt assets and pay your creditors according to the priority afforded to them by the Bankruptcy Code. You may voluntarily repay any debt upon agreement with the creditor. Whether this is ever advisable is questionable and is an issue to be discussed with your attorney or lawyer.
The goal of most any personal bankruptcy attorney is to obtain a discharge or “bankrupt” their client’s existing debts and to allow them a fresh start on their finances. Technically, the word “bankrupt” is not the correct terminology when referring to getting rid of debts, but most people (even many attorneys) use that phrase. The correct legal term is “discharge”. You discharge your obligation to pay on debts. In other words, once your discharge is granted, you no longer need to repay the debts that were incurred before you filed your bankruptcy. Your creditors are entitled to share in the proceeds obtained from the liquidation of your non-exempt assets. Under Chapter 7, the amount your creditors will get is fixed by the value of your non-exempt assets. See Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 is called the wage earner’s plan and allows people with a regular income to develop a plan for repayment of debt. Even people who are self-employed can file for Chapter 13. The goal of most any personal bankruptcy is to discharge your existing debts by repaying all or a portion of your debts, and allow you a fresh start on your finances. In other words, once your discharge is granted, you no longer need to repay the debts that were incurred before you filed your bankruptcy.
When someone files for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, their aim is to have the opportunity to repay some or all the debts in their name, in better terms, i.e. lower or no interest. Unlike Chapter 7 which involves liquidation of assets, this process involves restructuring debts which allows the debtor to use whatever income they may have in the future to pay off the creditors. Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is thus applicable for a debtor who has a regular income, but desires to repay their creditors but are in financial difficulty. The maximum amount of time to pay back creditors is 5 years. Among other things, it offers great opportunities to pay off past due mortgage arrearages or car payments over 36-60 months, giving you time to catch up and keep your property. It is often referred to as a “mini-Chapter 11″ by many bankruptcy attorneys and lawyers because you usually repay something to your creditors and you retain your property and make payments under a Plan. Chapter 13 can help you protect and keep all your assets, stop foreclosure sales and catch up on past due mortgage payments over time, remove liens, such as second mortgages, on your property, discharge unsecured debts (such as credit cards, medical bills, certain taxes, and more) by doing an affordable repayment plan from 0%-100% and repay debts with zero percent interest.
Our seasoned Athens bankruptcy lawyers have been representing Athens residents for many years. Our successful case results and satisfied past clients are a testament to our experience and commitment to our clients. Together, Ferguson & Ferguson attorneys have more than 40 years of collective experience representing clients in Athens, Moulton and Hartselle, Alabama. We are conveniently located in downtown Decatur. We offer a free consultation, and will give you an honest assessment of your financial situation. We can make the bankruptcy process affordable, and we will guide you through the entire bankruptcy process.
It is important to act quickly to ensure your legal rights are protected. If you or a family member have bankruptcy questions in Athens, we are happy to help you with your case. Call now 256-534-3435 or 256-350-7200. We are here to help.