bankruptcy expertise

Bankruptcy “Expertise” And The Layton Law Firm

We are happy to have been chosen by Expertise.com as one of the top 25 Bankruptcy Lawyers or Bankruptcy Law Firms in Charlotte for 2019. Their listing of bankruptcy attorneys in the top 25 can be found HERE. This is our second year on their list!

Yesterday, we also received a call from a bankruptcy attorney in Baton Rouge, LA wanting to know the details of our successful case regarding Bank of America bonuses for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy client. It’s always a compliment to be asked to discuss a case or a particular situation. We know, because often we are seeking advice from other attorneys for similar aspects of a case they handled. The bankruptcy community in Charlotte and throughout the country is very helpful to one another in that way. We are proud to be part of it.

Lastly, we are also proud of the Client Reviews our clients have chosen to leave for us. It’s a sign we’re not only doing good work. It’s also a sign we’re making clients feel good about their choice to use The Layton Law Firm, PLLC.

Considering Filing Bankruptcy?

If you’re considering filing bankruptcy, you deserve to find out more about your options. First, one conversation with a bankruptcy attorney will help you decide. Second, by finding out more about your options, you may discover there’s another way to address your debt concerns outside of filing bankruptcy. An example would be Debt Settlement.  Lastly, the peace of mind that comes with taking action is not to be overlooked.

Protecting Clients Is What We Do

Whether we are working on a personal injury settlement or a bankruptcy, our job is to protect our clients. As a result, we have very close relationships with our bankruptcy clients. Those relationships are necessary to make sure we are disclosing full and accurate information to the  court. Full disclosure is required, in exchange for the powerful relief of bankruptcy.

If a creditor challenges your bankruptcy filing, we will be there to defend you. If a trustee objects to any aspect of your filing, we will be there to defend you. Our negotiation skills and ongoing relationship with the bankruptcy court combine to help you get the best results possible.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, you should speak with someone. A phone call or in-person meeting is often the best avenue for gaining real clarity about your options. Consequently, we conduct phone consultations every day. If you’d like to request a consultation, simply click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. You can also call 704.749.7747 to speak with a Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer today. The consultation is always free and we’re here to help.

can creditors take your property

Can Creditors Take Your Property?

The short answer is yes, creditors can take your property. However, they have to go to great length to do so. Below, we ask a few questions, and then provide some answers. Call us if you have questions—we’re here to help! 704.749.7747.

Is There A Valid Debt?

The first question when deciding the answer to the question “Can creditors can take your property?” is whether there is a valid debt. In most cases, the answer is yes. As a result, the creditor is entitled to be re-paid, per the contract you signed with them.

Do They Need A Judgment?

Except for the repossession of motor vehicles, in most cases the creditor will need a judgment in place in order to take your property. A judgment is not that difficult to obtain. As a result, most creditors are successful in procuring a judgment. One thing to keep in mind is that a judgment requires a lawsuit. If you have not been served a lawsuit, this means there is no judgment. Once a creditor files a lawsuit, you have a chance to defend against it. However, if the debt is valid there is no reason to spend time and energy fighting the judgment. One thing you might consider is responding to the Complaint (lawsuit) with an Answer, and ask for a hearing. At the hearing, you can ask the judge for an extension of time to consider filing bankruptcy or pay the creditor. This will buy you 30-90 days before a judgment is entered.

The Creditor Has A Judgment—What’s Next?

After a creditor receives a judgment against you, their next step is to try to enforce that judgment. First, the creditor must send you a Notice of Right to Claim Exemptions. It’s very important you complete this form. As a result of completing this form, you will disclose your assets and also invoke the protection of your State Exemptions. These exemptions protect you in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and in a situation where a creditor is trying to take your property.

Second, the creditor will need to obtain a writ of execution. This is a court order from the Sheriff to take possession of property. Consequently, you may now be facing the loss of property. Communicating with the Sheriff’s office about your writ of execution is a very good idea. The Sheriff will understand if you tell them you are requesting some time to file bankruptcy—they may even tell you they will give you 30 days before executing on the writ of execution.

Lastly, the Sheriff will carry out the writ of execution to seize property to be turned over to the creditor in satisfaction of the debt. Or, the Sheriff will order the sale of property to liquidate it in order to pay the creditor.

Foreclosure Is Slightly Different

All of the above is true for foreclosure, except the process differs slightly. A mortgage creditor does not need a judgment against you to file foreclosure. They must simply show in court that you are behind on mortgage payments. You will receive notice of a preliminary foreclosure hearing. You should attend this hearing and ask for an extension to file bankruptcy or get caught up on your mortgage payments. Ultimately, if you don’t get caught up, the court will set a foreclosure date. You have until 10 days after the foreclosure sale date to file a Chapter 13 to save your house.

How Can You Stop A Creditor From Taking Your Property?

Bankruptcy is the most secure way to stop a creditor from taking your property. The filing of a bankruptcy invokes The Automatic Stay in bankruptcy. This prevents creditors from attempting to collect a debt in any manner. If necessary to save an asset, you can file an emergency bankruptcy petition with the court, and our firm can help with this.

What If The Creditor Is Threatening To Take My Car?

This video about Vehicle Repossession by attorney Ian Lyngklip gives great instruction on how to protect your car from a lender who is aggressively attempting to take it. Again, the filing of a bankruptcy will stop this process altogether and we’re here to help.

Speak With An Attorney Today

If you have questions about “Can creditors take your property?” please call us at 704.749.7747. Filing bankruptcy will dramatically change your life for the better—we’ve seen it over and over with our clients. You can also click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you today. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Does Bankruptcy Include Car Loans

Does Bankruptcy Include Car Loans?

If you’re wondering, does bankruptcy include car loans, the answer is yes it does. When filing bankruptcy, you actually get a choice when it comes to car loans. This article addresses a few scenarios regarding car loans in bankruptcy, and we hope it’s helpful. If you have further questions or would like to take next steps to file, call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out shortly.

Repossessed Vehicle Car Loans

If you have an old car debt still lingering on your credit report, a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will address the debt. You will not have to pay the face value on the debt and there’s nothing the creditor can do to keep you from discharging the debt. As long as the property (the car) has been returned to the lender, or totaled out by your insurance company due to an accident, the bankruptcy filing will address the old car debt.

Can I Keep The Car I’m Driving?

If you currently have a car with a loan, you can choose to keep the car and the loan, when you file bankruptcy. Nothing will change between you and your vehicle lender. The general rule is if you want to keep the car, you have to keep the debt. However, you can also surrender your car to the lender and force them to take the debt with it. Bankruptcy puts you in a powerful position in this regard.

What If I’m Behind On Car Payments?

If you’re behind on car payments you’ll need to file a Chapter 13 to allow you to catch up on the payments. This is a great solution which allows you to keep the car, and forces the lender to give you some time to catch up. You can file a Chapter 7 if you’re behind but by the time your 341 meeting comes, you’ll need to be current on payments. You can also choose to Redeem Your Vehicle in a Chapter 7.

What Happens When I Surrender A Vehicle In Bankruptcy?

If you choose to surrender the vehicle in bankruptcy, you simply need to make arrangement with the lender to deliver the car to them, or allow them to pick up the car at a location you designate. This can be your house, work, or some other location. You will most likely be able to drive the vehicle a few weeks after the bankruptcy filing, but arrangements will need to be made to physically deliver the car to the lender quickly.

What If I Need A New Car?

Most clients in need of a new car, purchase one right before filing bankruptcy. Then, when the bankruptcy is filed, the client indicates they want to keep the new car and the new car loan. They also indicate they want to surrender the old car and the old car loan. It’s tougher to get a loan right after filing bankruptcy, which is why this order of things tends to work. Again, the new car lender relationship is not complicated by the bankruptcy filing. You’ll continue to make payments on the new car through the bankruptcy and after.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

Does bankruptcy include car loans? YES. If you have questions about whether bankruptcy includes car loans, please feel free to call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Does bankruptcy clear federal tax debt

Does Bankruptcy Clear Federal Tax Debt?

Bankruptcy does clear federal tax debt in some instances. This article will discuss the conditions you need in order to have your federal tax debt discharged when you file bankruptcy. If you’d like to speak with someone about federal tax debt and whether bankruptcy can help, you can also just call 704.749.7747 and we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Or, you can click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you.

Not sure how much tax debt you have, or from which years? Click to order a Federal Tax Transcript.

Tax Debt In Chapter 7

If you have federal or state tax debt and are considering a Chapter 7, your bankruptcy filing will discharge the tax debt if the following conditions are true:

  • The federal tax debt is income tax debt
  • The federal tax debt is at least three years old
  • You filed a tax return related to the debt

As it relates to the filing of a return, the return related to the tax debt must be filed at least two years before the filing of the bankruptcy. Additionally, the income tax debt you seek to discharge, must be at least 240 days old. This means the IRS must have assessed the debt more than 240 days prior to filing bankruptcy.

Any tax debt that does not meet the criteria above, or fails to qualify because you were guilty of tax evasion, will survive the bankruptcy filing. The taxes won’t keep you from an otherwise successful bankruptcy filing, but when your bankruptcy case finally closes, you will still have the tax debt which does not meet the above requirements.

Tax Debt In Chapter 13

The same rules apply for taxes in Chapter 13. However, any tax debt which survives in Chapter 13 must be paid in full during the duration of your Chapter 13 plan. For example, if you have tax debt which is only one year old at the time of the bankruptcy filing, that debt will be paid in full throughout the Chapter 13. This is not necessarily bad news—your Chapter 13 filing forces the federal and state government to allow you to schedule your payback of taxes on a 3 or 5 year plan in Chapter 13. Additionally, penalties and interest are limited during your Chapter 13.

Federal Tax Liens In Bankruptcy

If you have a tax debt which has been recorded as a lien, that lien will not be addressed by the bankruptcy. While your bankruptcy may eliminate the personal obligation under the tax debt, if the lien attached to real property (real estate, your home, etc.), that lien would survive the bankruptcy. This means that when the real property is eventually sold, the tax debt will need to be paid at that time.

Further Reading

Need help with an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing? Call us to take steps today to get filed quickly– end foreclosure or judgment collection immediately.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Attorney Today

We know that financial stress is overwhelming. One phone call can change your life. Call us today to find out answers to questions, and decide if filing a bankruptcy is the right step for you. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 and we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Or, you can click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Emergency Bankruptcy Petition

If you need an emergency bankruptcy petition filed, you will need to move quickly. Using a bankruptcy lawyer is highly recommend, especially when filing an emergency petition. Bankruptcy can be a powerful tool to stop foreclosure, prevent judgments or collection of judgments, and discharge credit card debt, medical bills, and other debt. When you file an emergency bankruptcy petition, you usually use it to stop a foreclosure.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you’re using an emergency bankruptcy petition to stop a foreclosure, most likely you want to keep the house. If that’s the case, you’ll need to consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. A Chapter 13 allows you to stop the foreclosure, and propose a three to five year plan for repaying the mortgage payments you’ve missed. Provided your Chapter 13 plan is based on your disposable income each month, and proposes to pay back the full missed payments over the plan period, you should receive confirmation of your plan.

How Quickly Can I Get An Emergency Bankruptcy Filed?

Depending upon the situation, an emergency bankruptcy petition can be filed within a day or two. You will have to take the required pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course, which can be done on the computer and takes about an hour and a half. You’ll also have to pay a fee to your bankruptcy attorney in order to get the petition filed. Click here for a quick BANKRUPTCY FEE QUOTE from us.

Will An Emergency Bankruptcy Petition Stop Foreclosure?

Yes, the filing of an emergency bankruptcy petition will stop foreclosure. A notice of the filing will be sent to the county courthouse as well as the mortgage lender and their attorney. The automatic stay in bankruptcy will prevent the lender from moving forward with the foreclosure, provided your bankruptcy attorney follows the rules for Chapter 13. After the filing, provided your plan is confirmed and you continue to make on-time payments, you should continue moving in the direction of being paid and current on the mortgage.

Is There A Downside To Filing An Emergency Bankruptcy Petition?

The only downside to filing an emergency bankruptcy petition is the risk that you and your attorney were not able to be completely thorough in examining your financial picture prior to the filing. This could result in a Chapter 13 payment which is more than you can ultimately afford. This might also become an issue if you’ve made large transfers of assets in the months leading up to the emergency bankruptcy petition filing. This is not an issue for most clients, and the benefits of the emergency filing outweigh any potential downsides.

When Will My First Chapter 13 Payment Be Due?

The filing of your Chapter 13 case sets the payment due date going forward. If you file in the 15th of February, your first Chapter 13 payment will be due on or before the 15th of March. Each payment thereafter will also be due on the 15th.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Attorney Today

Are you facing a foreclosure and want to keep your home? An emergency bankruptcy petition filing may be the answer. Call us at 704.749.7747 or reach out for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will be in touch today. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

filing bankruptcy while married

Filing Bankruptcy While Married

If you’re considering filing bankruptcy while married, you’re not alone. Thousands of married couples are in your situation, and the bankruptcy filing statistics are easily found online, showing you that you’re not alone. The good news is one spouse can file bankruptcy without affecting the credit of the non-filing spouse. This article contains an examination of a few scenarios where you may want to file bankruptcy while married—even if your spouse isn’t filing with you.

One Spouse’s Debt Can Cause Anxiety In A Relationship

If one spouse brings debt to a marriage, despite best intentions, the other spouse may feel resentful of the pre-marriage debt. At the very least, as a couple, you deserve a ‘fresh start’ together and that includes being free of debt you did not decide to incur together.

Computing The Means Test In Bankruptcy

If you’re filing bankruptcy while married, you will need to disclose the income of both spouses. This is done for the purpose of passing The Means Test in bankruptcy. The reason is that the federal bankruptcy code uses household income as the starting point for determining whether you qualify for bankruptcy. If you live with your spouse, you’ll need to count their income. The good news is most couples still qualify even when counting the income of their spouse.

Lastly, there is an option to take a Marital Deduction on The Means Test. This option allows you to more accurately show the court the amount of the household income which is being used by the non-filing spouse. Ultimately, this deduction reduces your income for The Means Test. The deduction is easy to calculate and your bankruptcy attorney will walk you through it.

Protecting Your Spouse’s Credit In Bankruptcy

Your spouse’s credit will not suffer due to your bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy will not show on their credit report, nor will it come up when applying for credit of any kind. When one spouse files for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy only affects the debts of the spouse who is filing. In other words, the marriage does not change the effect of the bankruptcy from a credit standpoint.

Protecting Your Spouse’s Assets In Bankruptcy

None of your spouse’s own assets will be affected by your bankruptcy. If you have joint assets such as a house or a jointly owned vehicle, those assets can typically be protected in bankruptcy. The good news is only half of their value is counted for your bankruptcy filing when married. Lastly, if your spouse has a 401k or savings account in their name only, those assets are not part of the bankruptcy filing.

Joint Debt In Bankruptcy

If you have joint debt with your spouse, you may want to consider filing together. However, it is still perfectly fine to file without your spouse. One thing to consider is the obligation on joint debt. Most marital debt obligations are “joint and several” liability. This means that both spouses are obligated for the full balance of the debt. If one spouse file bankruptcy, that spouse will no longer be responsible for the debt; however, the non-filing spouse will still be responsible for the entire balance of the joint debt. If the non-filing spouse decides to file at a later date, that would of course eliminate their obligation on the debt.

Your non-filing spouse may choose to attempt Debt Settlement instead of filing bankruptcy. This is a common way to successfully address a small amount of joint debt or debt that belongs only to the non-filing spouse.

Vehicles In Bankruptcy When My Spouse Isn’t Filing

The only vehicles which must be disclosed as assets are those vehicles which are titled in the name of the individual who is filing. If you transferred title to a vehicle from one spouse to another within four years of filing bankruptcy, that transfer should be disclosed in your bankruptcy filing. The transfer most likely will not negatively affect your bankruptcy filing, but disclosing it is in alignment with the court’s requirements for full disclosure of all transfers to family members and “insiders” (family and friends) within a four year period preceding your bankruptcy filing.

Further Reading

You can read hundreds of articles like this one on our Bankruptcy Blog.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you’d like to set up a free consultation about filing bankruptcy while married, you can call us at 704.749.7747 or click to request a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you. We know you have choices, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.

how does bankruptcy affect you

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You?

While this question is general, we understand the concern. Most clients want to understand what it will be like during their bankruptcy, right after their bankruptcy, and a few years down the road from bankruptcy. This article is meant to address the question “How does bankruptcy affect you?” and we hope it helps. You can also read more specifically about how quickly you can file bankruptcy, or about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

How Are Things Right Now?

It’s important to put things into perspective when wondering how bankruptcy will affect you. It’s worthwhile to take stock of some of the experiences you’re having currently. They may include:

Creditors Pursuing You

No Savings For Emergencies

Inability To Save For The Future

Feeling Like You’re Failing Financially

Stress And Anxiety

All of these are very real concerns. Filing bankruptcy helps every single one of these concerns, from the moment you decide to file.

What Happens When I File Bankruptcy?

Creditor Calls Stop—Creditors are no longer allowed to contact you or pursue debt, in accordance with The Automatic Stay in bankruptcy. You get this protection from the day your bankruptcy lawyer files your case. We have addressed Credit Cards In Bankruptcy in a prior article.

Savings Increases—You immediately stop paying creditors with your hard-earned income, and can use those funds to make sure rent or mortgage is paid. You can make your car payments on time. Or, if there is extra money leftover, you can put it aside for savings.

You Feel Financially Healthy—With all of your unsecured debt gone, the immediate effect of bankruptcy is to free you from the burden of having overwhelming debt that you can’t keep up with over time.

Stress Melts Away—It’s amazing how stressful financial situations are. Without aggressive creditors calling you and reminding you every day that you owe them money, you’re free to focus on what’s important to you. The household budget is suddenly ‘balanced’ and you can afford necessities.

Credit Score—Immediately after filing bankruptcy, your credit score will drop due to the filing. Unless your credit was perfect before filing, you’ll find this dip in your credit score is a small price to pay for all of the benefits you receive upon filing bankruptcy. You can read more about your Credit Score In Bankruptcy as well.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You One Year After Bankruptcy?

Credit Score—About a year after filing bankruptcy, your credit score will recover to where it was just before filing. From there, you can continue to re-build your credit quickly.

You’ll Receive Credit Card Offers—While most clients swear off credit cards upon filing bankruptcy, receiving offers for credit cards a year after filing bankruptcy is a sign of healthy credit. It means if you do decide to buy a car or need credit, it’s available for you. The reason for this is when you file bankruptcy you eliminate a lot of debt. From a creditor’s standpoint you become a great candidate for extending credit. Creditors also know you can’t file bankruptcy again for roughly eight years, so they count on you paying your monthly credit card bill if they offer you a credit card.

You’ll Have Opportunities To Save—With high monthly payments to creditors out of the way, you will find that each month you can set aside some money. This may be for savings, a future vacation, or some other necessity life brings your way. The peace of mind that comes with having some savings is priceless.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You A Few Years After Bankruptcy?

Your Credit Score Fully Recovers—While bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for about 8 years, it doesn’t mean your credit score can’t recover much sooner than that. By making on time payments on mortgage, car, or other debt, you’ll accrue a good credit rating over time.

You Can Buy A House—Two years after filing bankruptcy, you’ll become eligible for some federal loan programs for purchasing a home. Four years after filing, you’ll become eligible for most private funding available on the marketplace from lenders like Quicken, Wells Fargo, or other mainstream mortgage providers.

You’ll Know You Made The Right Choice—With all of the financial options in front of you, and with all of your debt behind you, your decision to file bankruptcy will reveal itself as one of the best decisions you’ve made for yourself and your family.

Further Reading

How Does Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse?

Click to read over 100 Bankruptcy Blog Articles.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you would like to get some questions answered, or take the next steps toward a painless bankruptcy filing, call us at 704.749.7747. You can also click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we’ll reach out to you. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

How Much Does Chapter 13 Cost?

How Much Does Chapter 13 Cost?

In the Western District of North Carolina, the court sets the attorney base-fee at $4,500.00. However, you do not owe all of those funds prior to filing. You and your bankruptcy attorney will agree upon an amount you will pay prior to filing; the remainder will be built into your Chapter 13 plan, and paid over the course of your Chapter 13 case. There are also court filing fees, but again, those can typically be paid over time as part of your Chapter 13 plan payment.

What Determines My Chapter 13 Plan Payment?

Your Chapter 13 plan payment is a combination of both your ability to pay, and a comparison to what your creditors would receive if your assets were liquidated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Additionally, if you have mortgage arrears (missed payments) or vehicle lender arrears, those will need to be paid over time in your Chapter 13.

Ability To Pay In Chapter 13

Your ability to pay is simply a look at your ongoing monthly income and expenses. Your bankruptcy attorney will propose a payment to the court. This proposed payment will be examined. Essentially, any leftover funds each month after your ongoing household expenses are paid, should be your minimum monthly Chapter 13 payment.

Arrears And Other Priority Debt

If you have mortgage arrears, as mentioned above, those will need to be built into your Chapter 13 plan payment. Additionally, if you have IRS or state tax debt which is less than three years old, that will need to be re-paid in the plan. Your attorney will calculate your payment on these items, in addition to a small percentage to be paid to your unsecured creditors. These calculations will be compared to your budget, or your “Ability to pay” as discussed above. If your budget supports the proposed monthly payment, your plan should be approved by the court.

Length Of Your Chapter 13 Plan

Most Chapter 13 plans are five years or 60 months. If you want to propose a shorter plan, you will typically be required to pay the same amount but over the shorter period of time. In many cases, if you propose a plan shorter than five years, it must be a 100% plan. This means that your plan proposes to pay your unsecured creditors 100% over the course of the Plan. A typical five year plan will pay somewhere between 1% and 15% to the unsecured creditors, depending upon the factors mentioned in this article.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Attorney Today

The easiest way to get a better idea of what your Chapter 13 plan payment would be is to speak with a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney today. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. After a brief discussion with an attorney, and after submitting some documentation, we will be able to estimate a Chapter 13 plan payment for you. We can also confirm if a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is the best choice for you.