Finding a lawyer in Pittsburgh experienced in chapter 13 bankruptcy
Information on Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Finding an Experienced Lawyer
Are you considering filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy case without a lawyer? Before deciding to file a bankruptcy petition without an attorney, you should consider that less than 3% of debtors who file chapter 13 cases on their own are successful. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases often involve complex calculations, procedural hurdles and occasionally counterintuitive laws that balance the interests of debtors and creditors. Missteps by debtors who have had no legal guidance often result in their cases being dismissed. Since most chapter 13 debtors seek bankruptcy protection in order to save their homes from foreclosure, the consequences of dismissal of chapter 13 cases can be catastrophic. Before you decide to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, why not allow yourself the benefit of a free initial consultation to help you understand the road ahead?
The No-Cost Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Consultation
While bankruptcy lawyers are not required to provide free consultations, many attorneys will agree to meet with people in financial distress for an initial discussion. For people facing mortgage foreclosure in Pittsburgh, there is simply no reason not to take advantage of a no-cost discussion with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Pittsburgh.
A free initial consultation will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the chapter 13 process. Additionally, a bankruptcy attorney with experience in chapter 13 cases may be able to provide valuable insight into how chapter 13 cases are handled in your jurisdiction. Procedural differences among bankruptcy courts can often be profound, and understanding those nuances prior to filing your case can be critical to achieving your bankruptcy goals.
The initial consultation will also be an opportunity for you to “interview” the attorney offering to represent you throughout your chapter 13 case. It is important that your lawyer can effectively communicate with you. You should be able to get complete answers to your bankruptcy questions. The initial consultation serves as an opportunity for you to build a relationship of trust with your bankruptcy attorney.
Keep Your Car and Other Assets After Filing a Bankruptcy Case
“In most cases, debtors with experienced bankruptcy counsel find that they are able to keep all of the assets that they want to retain.”
Want to keep your car after filing bankruptcy? You’re not alone, one of the first questions that people considering filing a bankruptcy case ask is, “if I file bankruptcy, can I still keep my car?” The answer to that question may depend upon a number of factors, but most debtors are pleased to find that they can keep their automobile after filing a voluntary bankruptcy petition. In this post, we will focus on the basic principles that commonly govern whether a debtor is able to retain an asset after filing a bankruptcy case.
Lien Rights of Creditors Bankruptcy Cases
Many of the consumer debtors that we have represented have owned assets subject to a loan. Most of our clients have purchased their vehicles under a vehicle retail installment contract (in plain terms, a car loan). If your car loan is current when you file your bankruptcy case, you can continue to make your car payment and keep your car.
If you are behind on your car payments, you may still be able to keep your car by catching up on your missed payments over time in a case under chapter 13. In fact, some borrowers who are behind on their car payments when their cases are filed, keep their cars by catching up on the payments directly after their cases are filed, without chapter 13 repayment plans. Every case is different, and clients should discuss the most prudent course of action in their particular cases with a highly experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.
You may be able to file bankruptcy and still keep your car. Make the most of your fresh start!
Other secured loans (that is, loans used to purchase assets where the lender retains the right of repossession) are treated similarly to automobile loans. For many reasons, loans secured by mortgages are governed by other rules. However, the basic framework remains the same and, if you continue to pay for your mortgage on time, your lender usually cannot foreclose upon your mortgage.
Reaffirmation of Debts
Discuss reaffirmation of debts with your bankruptcy lawyer.
Your vehicle lender or other secured creditor may request that you sign a reaffirmation agreement. A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between a lender and its borrower that the pre-bankruptcy rights of both parties will continue in force even after the borrower’s debts are discharged. You may be able to keep your car without reaffirming the loan. Reaffirming a debt may have serious consequences, and debtors should discuss their particular situations with their bankruptcy attorneys before deciding whether a reaffirmation agreement is in their best interests.
The Interplay Between Equity and Exemptions
Debtors who owe much less on their vehicles than they are worth may face another challenge. An unencumbered asset (that is, one that isn’t subject to a lender’s lien) in a case under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, may attract the attention of a chapter 7 trustee who may wish to sell the asset and distribute the proceeds to unsecured creditors. Similarly, in a chapter 13 case, parties in interest may object to the confirmation of a chapter 13 plan if the “liquidation alternative test” is not met. The liquidation alternative test requires debtors to pay their unsecured creditors at least as much as they would receive in a hypothetical case under chapter 7. In some chapter 13 cases, unencumbered assets may require debtors to increase their chapter 13 plan payments to provide a greater distribution to the holders of unsecured claims.
Exemptions are the first line of defense that debtors have against losing their unencumbered assets. The Bankruptcy Code enumerates certain exemptions that allow some debtors to retain their vehicles and homes. However, state law determines whether debtors residing in that state may use the federal exemptions contained within the Bankruptcy Code, or another exemption scheme provided under that state’s law. Pennsylvania residents are fortunate in that they may choose between the federal and Pennsylvania state exemption schemes. Selecting the most advantageous set of exemptions and wisely applying available exemptions should be something that you discuss with your bankruptcy attorney before your case is filed. In most cases, debtors with experienced bankruptcy counsel find that they are able to keep all of the assets that they want to retain.
You may be able to continue to make your car payment and retain your vehicle after bankruptcy
Bankruptcy Pittsburgh. Engaging the Best Bankruptcy Lawyer for your Case May Be More Important than you Know.
In Pittsburgh, as in many other fine cities throughout the United States, businesses and consumers in financial turmoil must find the best bankruptcy lawyer to meet their unique circumstances. Many will begin their search with the cost of a lawyer central in their minds. In Pittsburgh, bankruptcy matters generally proceed as they do in other major cities; those with the best bankruptcy lawyers generally realize the most favorable outcomes. For that reason, those who seek out a cheap bankruptcy lawyer or the cheapest bankruptcy in Pittsburgh find they may have paid what they wanted but overpaid for what they received.
Those considering filing bankruptcy in Pittsburgh should consider the cost of Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyers. Generally, by the time debtors meet with their bankruptcy lawyers, they’ve become accustomed to tightening their belts. However, engaging the cheapest bankruptcy lawyer may quickly prove to be false economy. In truth, finding the best bankruptcy lawyer for a Pittsburgh bankruptcy must a full examination of the value of that bankruptcy attorney. Of course, debtor must ask how much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Pittsburgh? But, when considering the cost of filing bankruptcy in Pittsburgh, debtors must really take into account the complexity of their cases, the extent to which adverse parties may be involved in their bankruptcy cases and what other complications may arise over the course of each bankruptcy case.
Chapter 13 debtors face similar issues as do business bankruptcy debtor but on a different scale. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, Pittsburgh consumers often need to save their homes, vehicles and other assets that may be critical to the very survival of their families. As with chapter 11 bankruptcy, Pittsburgh needs bright, motivated lawyers to champion the cause of its consumer debtors who need to reorganize their financial burdens.
In chapter 7 bankruptcy Pittsburgh falls in line with other jurisdictions. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, individual debtors in Pittsburgh generally seek a clear pathway to discharge and a fresh start. It is important that in chapter 7 bankruptcy Pittsburgh debtors select a bankruptcy lawyer who will understand their particular circumstances and give them advice that will permit a Pittsburgh bankruptcy judge to award discharge.
In contrast to any other chapter 7 bankruptcy, Pittsburgh business chapter 7 cases demand the close attention of experienced, intelligent, creative and cautious bankruptcy Pittsburgh lawyers. Commercial chapter 7 cases are very different from the ordinary chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. A debtor must always have a good reason to file a bankruptcy in Pittsburgh that is never more pronounced than when it comes to commercial chapter 7 cases. Business debtors wind up their affairs and do not receive a discharge. On the other hand, certain other interested parties do receive the attention of a chapter 7 trustee, the United States trustee and the United States Bankruptcy Judge presiding over their case. There are occasionally (but not often) valid reasons to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy case for an entity that will not continue as a going concern.
At each level and for each chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, finding the best bankruptcy lawyer for a bankruptcy Pittsburgh may be the most important Pittsburgh bankruptcy decision a debtor could make. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Learn how bankruptcy Pittsburgh can help you move forward with debt relief, a fresh start and a clean bankruptcy Pittsburgh.
Call for Your Free Consultation with a Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer to Discuss Whether Your Debts May be Discharged in Bankruptcy.
It Has Never Been Easier to Determine Whether You Qualify for Relief Under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in Pittsburgh.
In 2005, Congress put in place very substantial changes to the United States Bankruptcy Code through an amendment known as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). The BAPCPA amendments set new requirements for eligibility to be a debtor under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code and to receive a discharge under chapter 7. Importantly, debtors must now undergo a means test if their income exceeds the then-applicable median income for consumers of debtors’ household size in the state in which they reside.
Eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Median Income Analysis
Debtors whose income does not exceed the relevant median income need not undergo further means testing. Median incomes information is calculated and published by the United States Census Bureau and median income data is adjusted periodically. The Office of the United States Trustee publishes median income information on its website. As of the date of this entry, the median income applicable to debtors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a household size of one is $50,501. A household of two in Pennsylvania can earn up to $60,508 without further means test analysis. A three-person family in Pennsylvania has a median income of $74,083. With four people the Pennsylvania median income is $89,690 and increases by $8,400 for each additional member of the household.
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]
The Bankruptcy Means Test Exception Applicable to People with Primarily Business Debts
Individuals whose debts are primarily business debts are excused from the means testing analysis. The means test analysis under section 707(b) of the Bankruptcy Code applies to individual debtors whose debts are primarily consumer debts. A Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer will be able to help you make the determination of whether your debts are primarily consumer debts or whether you may be exempt from further means testing because of the primary nature of your indebtedness.
The Chapter 7 Means Test and the Presumption of Abuse
The chapter 7 bankruptcy means test is codified in section 707 of the Bankruptcy Code and individual chapter 7 bankruptcy debtors in Pittsburgh and throughout the United States must submit an Official Form 122A-1, Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income. Debtors must disclose information relevant to their income and household size to determine whether they need to complete the means test. The means test itself is incorporated into Official Form 122A-2, Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation. Debtors must draw income data for the means test from the income during the six-month period preceding the filing of their bankruptcy cases. The Bankruptcy Code permits debtors to subtract from their household any portion of the income of a non-filing spouse that is not dedicated to the payment of household expenses or expenses of debtors’ dependents. The means test also provides that certain expenses be deducted from a debtor’s adjusted current monthly income to determine monthly disposable income. That monthly disposable income is then multiplied by 60 to determine a debtor’s five-year disposable income. If a debtor’s disposable income over five years is less than a certain threshold value (currently $7,700), then the presumption of abuse does not arise. If the five-year income exceeds the threshold value and a cap value (currently $12,850), then the presumption of abuse arises but the debtor may still elect to complete a statement of special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income for which there is no reasonable alternative. A showing of special circumstances may justify continued eligibility for relief under chapter 7. If a debtor’s five-year disposable income is between the threshold and cap values, the presumption of abuse will not arise unless the five-year disposable income is at least 25% of the debtor’s total nonpriority unsecured debt.
Close Call on the Means Test? Discuss it with a Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer!
The increase in the administrative cost and duration of a chapter 13 bankruptcy case from a chapter 7 bankruptcy case is considerable. In many cases a chapter 13 bankruptcy may be warranted but for other individuals a fresh start under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code will offer the optimal path away from financial distress. A free consultation with a Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney could help you understand all of your bankruptcy nonbankruptcy options before making any decision.
Vehicle sales in Pennsylvania are typically financed through a retail sales installment contract. That contract provides the lender with a security interest in the automobile until the loan is paid off. If a borrower cannot or does not pay regular monthly payments and falls behind, the lender may exercise the legal right to take possession of their collateral and sell it. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, lenders are required to send notices to borrowers following repossession, advising them of the disposition of the vehicle and what the borrower must do in order to get the vehicle back. Borrowers may have the right to cure their loans meaning bring the loan current by paying the current and past due amounts owed along with the costs of repossession. Other borrowers may find that the only rights listed in the notice they received from their lender is a right to redeem the vehicle meaning payment of the entire amount still owed to the lender.
If the lender sells a repossessed vehicle, it must send the borrower a second notice with information about the sale and whether there was a surplus or if the borrower owes a deficiency to the lender. The form and content of the notices issued by the lender are very important and the failure of a lender to provide notices as mandated by the statute can give rise to a claim for damages against the lender.
Getting Your Repossessed Automobile Back After Filing Bankruptcy
Vehicle lenders are often familiar with the bankruptcy process and will make arrangements with your bankruptcy lawyer for the prompt return of your vehicle. In certain cases, your bankruptcy lawyer may need to petition the bankruptcy court for the turnover of your vehicle to you. You will still be required to pay the amounts due to your lender but you may be able to do that over a period of three to five years in a case under chapter 13. Additionally, in certain circumstances, you may be able to “cramdown” on lender in a case under chapter 13 and compel it to accept only the value of the vehicle even if you owe considerably more than the vehicle is worth. In a case under chapter 7, you may also be able to redeem your vehicle for less than the amount you owe. In Pittsburgh, your bankruptcy lawyer may be able to arrange for you to receive a loan for the value of the vehicle that could save you a considerable amount of money, giving you even more freedom to make the most of your fresh start.
Talk to Your Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer to Determine if You Can Get Your Repossessed Vehicle Back by Filing a Bankruptcy Case
Whether you can get your vehicle back by filing a bankruptcy case may depend on several factors. Timing is very important. The filing of your bankruptcy case will give rise to the “automatic stay” which will prevent the lender from selling your vehicle. However, if you file your bankruptcy case after your lender has sold your vehicle, you may find that you will be unable to get it back. If your car is repossessed in Pittsburgh, you should call an experienced bankruptcy lawyer immediately. Give yourself the best chance to get a fresh start and get back on your feet. Expert bankruptcy professionals may be able to help you get your car back quickly through a bankruptcy case.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy may help you avoid foreclosure. If you are behind on payments to the point where a foreclosure complaint has already been filed by your lender, filing a bankruptcy case will immediately halt it. The moment a bankruptcy case is filed, something called the automatic stay is put into effect. The automatic stay is a powerful provision of the Bankruptcy Code which prevents any creditor or party-in-interest from continuing litigation against you or depriving you of your property.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy also helps you repay your past due mortgage payments. Often, once you are several months behind on mortgage payments, you lender may refuse to accept any payment less than the total amount of the arrearages plus penalties and interest as payment, and consider the payment of a single mortgage payment a partial payment. This perpetuates the vicious cycle. A chapter 13 bankruptcy case allows you to pay off any arrearages over a three or five year time period – making catching up far more manageable. Often times, chapter 13 bankruptcy is the only practical option for those substantially behind on their mortgage payments.
There are other solutions for debtors with no other problematic and significant debt beyond mortgage arrearages. Mortgage modification, an arrangement to mitigate the lender’s loss and lower your monthly mortgage payments, can serve as a solution as well. Modification is a negotiation and loan restructuring process which back loads your mortgage arrearages and sometimes (though not always) lowers your monthly mortgage payment. This process often extends the term of your loan allowing your even greater advantages than might otherwise be available in a chapter 13 case limited to five years.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments and have mortgage arrearages in excess of what you can pay back, give us a call for a free consultation to discuss a solution based on your individual goals and problems with debt.
How do you stop all of the calls from obnoxious creditors once and for all? There’s no need for a new telephone number. Call a qualified debt attorney in Pittsburgh today. We will not charge you a fee for a no nonsense conversation. We are lawyers; we are not a bankruptcy mill and we are not interested in selling you a product that is not a good fit for you. We consider your present financial position and future goals.
We will discuss your debt and your expectations. Are you looking to buy a house in the next year or save the home you live in now? Do you owe more on your car than it’s worth or need to replace it but aren’t sure whether you can? Talk to a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer.
We stop creditors calls. We stop foreclosures. We stop law suits. We help you discharge most unsecured debt obligations. We help you get a fresh start.
The ease and convenience of credit cards is undeniable. However, quick access to credit often becomes a pathway to burdensome debt. Sometimes this is the result of frivolous spending. Many people continue to finance that two dollar, late night Taco Bell feast during college, many years after graduation. For others, a medical emergency or loss of income forced them to rely upon credit cards to live.
If your credit card debt is becoming unmanageable, it’s time to consider options other than continuing to blindly pay your monthly minimum. Consider how much better off you would be if you did not have to spend hundreds of dollars each month on credit card payments. If your financial condition would be drastically improved without your credit card debt then you owe it to yourself and your family to contact an insolvency expert. A bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your unique financial condition and determine what course of action is most appropriate for you. Whether a debt-workout plan, bankruptcy filing or some other action is most suited for you, contacting a professional for a free consultation could be one of the most rewarding calls you will ever make.