Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Experienced Wausau, WI Bankruptcy Lawyers for Individuals
For people who find themselves in financial trouble, federal bankruptcy laws provide an opportunity to obtain relief from their debts. Individuals who qualify can file for debt consolidation under Wisconsin law as well. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, we can help you understand the options that are available, and pursue the option that makes the most sense for you.
Choosing a Bankruptcy Plan that Makes Sense for You
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code provide the two primary means for individuals to file for bankruptcy. Each has its own unique requirements, benefits, and drawbacks.
For example, while Chapter 7 allows for cancellation of your debts without a repayment plan, under Chapter 7 you will be required to sell your nonexempt property, and creditors (such as your mortgage company) can still seek full repayment from any cosigners on your debts. Chapter 13 avoids these issues, but requires complete repayment of your debts over a three- to five-year period.
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor receives relief in the form of cancellation of some (or all) of his or her debts. In exchange, the debtor must sell any “nonexempt” property in order to pay his or her creditors as much as possible. This can get complicated very quickly. For example, if you are current on your mortgage but behind on other payments, you may be able to keep your house as long as you continue to make payments; however, if you have a lot of equity in your home, in certain circumstances, the bankruptcy trustee may be able to force a sale.
There are certain types of debts that generally are not eligible for discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include:
- Child support obligations
- Student loans
- Other debts that the bankruptcy court declares you must pay (often due to fraud)
Otherwise, once the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process is complete, your debts will be erased. The process typically takes less than six months, and can often be the best option for those who qualify.
Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is different from filing under Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you develop a “reorganization” plan (subject to court approval) to repay your outstanding debts (or at least a portion of those debts) over three to five years. You will not have to sell any of your property, but you will be legally obligated to pay off your debts by the end of the plan. If you are unable to make the payments, you may either (i) attempt to modify the plan, (ii) receive a discharge on the basis of hardship (for example, if you suddenly and unexpectedly lost your job), or (iii) seek to convert your bankruptcy to a Chapter 7.
If your debts are too high, you will not be eligible to file under Chapter 13. Chapter 13 has other requirements – such as income requirements and a limited bankruptcy history – as well. Conversely, if you earn too much, you may not be eligible to file under Chapter 7.
Wisconsin Chapter 128: An Alternative to Bankruptcy
In some cases, Wisconsin residents can file for reorganization of their debts under state law, in order to avoid a federal bankruptcy. Under Chapter 128, individuals can develop a plan to repay their unsecured debts over a 36-month period during which their creditors are prohibited from charging additional interest or filing for collection.
Chapter 128 can only be used to reorganize “unsecured” debts. These include obligations such as:
- Credit cards
- Medical bills
- Payday loans
- Rent payments
- Utility bills
Debts that are secured – such as your mortgage and car loan – are not eligible for inclusion in a repayment plan under Chapter 128.
If you need help paying your bills, filing under Chapter 128 could be your best option. It is relatively simple and inexpensive, and it avoids many of the consequences of filing for federal bankruptcy. When you contact us to discuss your situation, we will provide a thorough assessment and help you seek relief in the way that makes the most sense for your personal circumstances.
Speak with a Bankruptcy Lawyer at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. Today
To learn more about your options for filing for or avoiding bankruptcy, contact our offices for a confidential consultation. Call (715) 842-2291 or send us an email to get legal help today.