A bankruptcy blog containing useful information for anyone considering a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney.

Your creditors will be notified that you have filed either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy when the court sends notice to them. This is done shortly after you or your attorney files your bankruptcy petition. The notice from the court puts the creditor on alert, gives them a chance to respond to the bankruptcy filing (most don’t) and most importantly stops all attempts at collecting on the debt.

Can I Make The Calls Stop Sooner?

You will typically begin working with a lawyer a few weeks or a month before you file. Because of this, you have the option of telling your creditors that you are going to file bankruptcy wel before you file. The purpose of telling them you plan to file is to get them to stop calling. While there are a few exceptions, I give my clients basic information to convey to the creditors including my name and phone number. I then ask my clients to politely request that the creditor stop attempting to collect from my clients and call me instead. This usually puts an end to collection attempts even before the bankruptcy is filed.

The practical result here is while you may not receive your discharge in bankruptcy in a Chapter 7 for quite some time, you can get the personal relief from day one—by sending your creditors my way. I will gladly communicate with them on your behalf. It’s the least I can do for you.

Additionally, for those creditors who continue to attempt to collect on the debt from you even after you file bankruptcy, I’ll ask that you write down the name of the person contacting you, the time and date they contacted you, and the general content of the call. If creditors refuse to meet your requests, there are options we can discuss to enforce the rules around collection attempts.

Relief is literally a phone call away. I’m here to help. Email me HERE or call 704.749.7747 to discuss your options.

My Charlotte bankruptcy clients and I talk about all of their options. This includes options outside of bankruptcy. I feel my job as an attorney is to assist the client in making the best decision for them, and understanding why bankruptcy works is part of that. When I believe a client should consider a bankruptcy, we usually discuss one or more of the items below.

Why Bankruptcy? Because You’ve Suffered Long Enough

Why bankruptcy? This is an important point. Bankruptcy is an option provided to us by the bankruptcy code in the form of a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 option. There should be no more guilt associated with considering these options than there is associated with taking an allowable deduction on your taxes—another item sanctioned by law. Most of my clients have already gone beyond what a reasonable person would endure, prior to considering bankruptcy. I only wish I could get to them earlier, so they could experience the relief bankruptcy provides sooner rather than later.

Treat Your Finances Like A Business

Credit card companies and banks take a gamble on us when they extend us credit. They collect their interest up front typically, and charge an interest rate reflective of the risk. If you’ve been paying interest only for months or even years on a credit card, you’ve been a great business investment for them. Now, it’s time to consider your own financial health. Leave emotions out of it, the same way credit card companies do. Exercise your rights under the law, just as they do. Bankruptcy is your right. The result is renewed financial freedom.

You Deserve Recovery

My clients are hard-working people who tend to be humble. They have a hard time deciding that they deserve the relief that bankruptcy provides. It’s my job to make them feel comfortable seeking that relief. And to get them excited about the road ahead. Sharing in that excitement is one of the best parts of my practice. You deserve a peaceful life, including financial serenity. Bankruptcy can provide that. After you file bankruptcy, the rest is up to you, but with smart choices you can begin building financial stability again.

Bankruptcy Trumps Other Options

Often clients come to me in crisis. They are facing a foreclosure, or a creditor has come calling. While there are other options which may fend off the current emergency, quite often bankruptcy will accomplish the same goal and provide extreme relief from other debt including medical bills, credit cards and old tax liens.

If you’re reading this, you’re educating yourself. If you want to find out more, give me a call and we can discuss your situation. I enjoy helping people understand the options. I can be emailed here or you can reach me at 704.749.7747.

Debt is stressful. It becomes overwhelming when it depletes our savings and retirement funds. My clients try so hard to meet their financial responsibilities, that they often deplete not only their savings but also their retirement accounts. All of this before realizing that bankruptcy is the way out.

There’s a better way. Clients who deplete their retirement accounts and IRA accounts to stay afloat for a few more months are often surprised to find out that those funds are protected from creditors in bankruptcy. Yes, that’s right. The funds you keep in a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or other types of retirement accounts are fully exempt under North Carolina law.  The same is true for many life insurance policies, annuities, and pensions.  This means that your creditors cannot touch these exempt funds whether you file a bankruptcy case or not.

If you are at the point where you are considering reaching into retirement funds to keep making payments on credit cards and other debt, you should speak to a lawyer today. Filing bankruptcy now relieves the financial pressure and you don’t trade your hard-earned retirement accounts in on creditors who have already made a profit off of you.

Reach Out Today!

A conversation with a Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer can provide a lot of clarity. The lawyer’s job is to know the law but also to be the calm during a storm. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you realistically assess your options and if the timing is right, you may even save your retirement in the process.

Email me here or call me at 704.749.7747 to discuss your situation. I’m here to listen and to help you understand the options. Or, if you’d like, complete this 5 minute online evaluation and I will reach out to you with some options.

I had a conversation with a client today about this very issue. While married bankruptcy clients have the ability to file solely or jointly, there are considerations which affect that choice. The primary consideration is usually protecting the non-filing spouse’s credit. The second consideration is usually protecting property owned by the non-filing spouse. Lastly, one spouse may have more income than the other and clients want to know how this affects their ability to file.

Non-filing Spouse’s Credit

The credit score of a non-filing spouse is generally not affected when one spouse files bankruptcy. One exception would be where you have co-signed for debt together. In that case, there may be a temporary lowering of the non-filing spouse’s credit score. You will not know the exact effect on the score until after filing. It is important to determine whose name is on which debt, prior to filing. Your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney will assist with that.

Protecting Property in Bankruptcy

If one spouse files bankruptcy and another does not, property owned solely by the non-filing spouse will often be protected from creditors in the bankruptcy. If the property was recently transferred out of the filing spouse’s name into the non-filing spouse’s name, the result may change. In these instances, the court examines how long ago the transfer was made and the reasons behind the transfer. There are some instances where the court will ‘undo’ the transfer for the purpose of determining whether you qualify for bankruptcy. With careful planning, your filing can survive this.

Non-Filing Spouse’s Income

Even if a married person files for bankruptcy without their spouse, the income earned by the non-filing spouse must be included in the means test calculation. The bankruptcy code requires this to be sure the contributions of the non-filing spouse to household expenses and the care of dependents (kids, grandma) are being considered. This is nothing to fear, and it makes sense. Remember, the court is trying to get an accurate picture of what your income to expense ratio looks like on a monthly basis. If you and your spouse are having trouble making your monthly bills with your combined income, you will probably still qualify for filing by yourself.

If you would like to speak to an attorney today about your individual situation, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’d be happy to explain your options. Information is free and I encourage you to take advantage of it– a phone call is often the first step toward freedom. You can also email me here.

Before a bankruptcy or during it, your creditors may encourage you to reaffirm your debt with them. When you reaffirm a debt, you are carving that debt out from the bankruptcy and re-obligating yourself with the creditor. The debt will survive the bankruptcy. Reaffirmation requires that you sign a new contract with that creditor, which means that if you fail to pay that debt in the future, after the bankruptcy, the creditor can sue you or come after the property.

The General Rule

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to reaffirm a debt in bankruptcy. If the debt is a bad deal before the bankruptcy, it’s going to be a bad deal after the bankruptcy. Cars are the noted exception to this rule, but even car companies do not always require a reaffirmation agreement be signed.

It’s understandable that most of us want to keep our car in a bankruptcy. Every car company is different when it comes to reaffirmation. Honda will typically allow you to keep the car as long as you keep making payments. Ford will require a reaffirmation agreement. Your bankruptcy attorney can tell you whether you can keep your car in bankruptcy which companies require reaffirmation, and how best to negotiate the process.

Making a Practical Decision

If you want to file bankruptcy and the only way to keep the property in question is to reaffirm the debt, AND you feel comfortable that you can make the monthly payment, there is not much risk in reaffirmation. It is advisable to have your attorney attempt to negotiate the best terms for you prior to signing—the lender is in a bad position here and often is willing to listen to an argument that the balance on the loan should be lowered.

Getting Available Help

Financial decisions can be confusing. The good news is you have help in the many bankruptcy attorneys in your area. They are informed and eager to help you consider the options. If you are in or near Charlotte and would like to speak with me about your options regarding a vehicle or any other property or debt, please email me or call 704.749.7747 to talk to me today.

When choosing a bankruptcy attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, there are a few factors to consider. Your attorney should be available, educated, and concerned with putting your needs above all else. If you find a bankruptcy attorney who you believe meets this profile– and whose fees are reasonable– you should have a successful relationship that leads to financial freedom.

Working with your bankruptcy attorney and their office should be easy. While preparing to file bankruptcy does require gathering a lot of information, the attorney should assist you in getting clarity around exactly what they will need to move forward. When you hit a road bump in obtaining information or understanding any step in the process, the attorney should be there to explain and provide guidance. I pride myself on being involved every step of the way with my clients.

Please use the posts on this website to become more familiar with some of your options in bankruptcy. That is why this website exists– to help you. I also hope it will give you a feel for what it would be like to work with me and my office. If you want to get a sense for whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, send us an email or complete the bankruptcy evaluation on the website. Someone from our office will be in touch shortly with answers.

If you’d like to speak with someone today, call 704.749.7747. I’m here to help.

My Charlotte bankruptcy clients impress me every day with their desire to be responsible and to keep promises they have made. Usually, that includes a desire to pay credit card bills up to the day of filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For this reason, once we know they have decided to file bankruptcy, they are reluctant when I give them the advice to stop paying on credit cards. But that’s exactly the advice I give them, because we are about to eliminate credit card debt from their life.

Once you decide to file a bankruptcy, it’s important to take every step possible to protect your money and begin creating positive cash flow for yourself. Your focus needs to be on having enough money for your family. To provide for them and keep them healthy. The debt to the credit card is going to be discharged as part of the bankruptcy, so there is no longer a reason to pay it. And there’s no reason to feel guilty about it—you’re only exercising your rights under the bankruptcy code.

This is debt forgiveness. You are not doing anything wrong. It’s OK to walk away from these debts with your attorney’s guidance.

By the time they have decided to file, most clients have stopped using their credit cards or have maxed them out. While this may be true, sometimes clients have one credit card they would like to keep paying on in hopes of keeping it after the bankruptcy. The fact is most creditors—even if you have not been late and are up to date—will close your credit account the day they find out your are filing bankruptcy. So paying on one card in hopes the creditor will allow you to keep it is not advisable. Not to worry, you will be offered credit shortly after filing, and there are options you can pursue for getting a secured credit card as well.

Additionally, while you can choose to keep your home in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, if you know you are going to walk away from your home, you should stop making mortgage payments when you know you are going to file bankruptcy. Speak with your attorney about the amount of time you will typically have to remain in the home after you stop making payments but again, the goal is to create positive cash flow and also have money available to move to another home.

These decisions are challenging. It is your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney’s job to help you understand what your options are and help you to make a decision. If you’d like more information, use the contact us form, complete our online bankruptcy evaluation, or call me at 704.749.7747. You can make a change today.

I get excited for bankruptcy clients who are eager to rebuild their credit after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and so we are sure to discuss secured credit cards. After bankruptcy, clients want to avoid credit traps and living beyond their means. They are placing a high value on their peace of mind and living within their budget, and they know all too well the anxiety associated with being over-extended.

In order to rebuild credit, we need to demonstrate our ability to successfully play the “credit game.” This means we show banks that we are only going to use credit when we reasonably think we will be able to pay off an item in the next month, or consistently make payments on an item over time. So rebuilding credit does require getting back into the credit game. Secured credit cards are a key part of that.

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards are the place to start. A secured credit card requires the borrower to place an initial deposit  of $300 to $500 with the bank. That deposit then becomes the credit line. If it sounds like you’re borrowing from yourself, that’s ok. Remember, the point of this is to demonstrate to banks that you are going to use credit responsibly.

Typically, after a bank sees that you’ve used the card consistently and made payments consistently they will extend you an unsecured credit card. This takes about a year. It’s also a great year for you because on the heels of filing bankruptcy, you are demonstrating to yourself that you are operating within your budget.

What To Look Out For

Mainly, when it comes to secured credit cards, you want to examine the fees. Some cards have application fees. All cards have annual fees. The cards can be fee heavy, so it’s worth it to seek out the lowest fee card and do some research. Make sure you are asking not only about fees to get started, but what fees you will see over the course of the year—some cards make it a requirement that you purchase insurance through them but you might not know that until it shows up on your bill a few months into the agreement. Again, find out the fees before committing.

Bankrate.com has a list of secured credit card options. If you are a member of a Credit Union, check with them because some Credit Unions offer secured credit cards to their members.

Rebuilding Your Credit

Buy a few things on the card each month and pay them off each month. Remember that you’re using the card to rebuild credit, not to enable the purchase of items you can’t afford in the moment. So it’s best to already have money set aside for the item you are purchasing, but to choose to pay for it with the credit card. Then, when the bill comes, you pay it back down to zero.

If you have questions about a secured credit card or would like to discuss your options in bankruptcy, email me at chris@thelaytonlawfirm.com or call 704.749.7747 today. I’m a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney and I’m here to help.

Clients often ask “Can I keep one credit card?” We have been taught that credit cards are “good.” That it is a wise choice to have one in case of an emergency. Or, even if you don’t plan to use it for emergencies, it’s a great way to build credit. Credit cards also admittedly create comfort for us—they help us deal with the ebbs and flows of our financial life. We can take up some of those theories at a later date. In the meantime, let’s talk about credit cards after you file bankruptcy.

Most of my Charlotte bankruptcy clients want to know if they can keep an existing credit card through a bankruptcy, or if they will be able to get a credit card after filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The simple answer is no. Read more to find out why.

Keeping A Credit Card During Bankruptcy

In today’s financial world, when creditors are informed that their client (that’s you) is filing a bankruptcy, they freeze the account. An exception would be a credit card company which has you sign a new agreement with them allowing the card to remain open in exchange for your agreement to NOT include it in the bankruptcy. While that may be an option, it is the exception, not the norm.

The creditors first receive notice of the bankruptcy from the bankruptcy court, a few days after your file your bankruptcy petition. Your credit report will also reflect the filing of the bankruptcy and many credit card companies keep close tabs on credit reports of their customers. We can make an attempt to keep a card in bankruptcy, but the likelihood is that the account will be terminated at the discretion of the credit card company upon filing the bankruptcy petition.

The Ability To Obtain New Credit Cards

First, you don’t absolutely need credit cards. So, even if you can’t get a credit card right after filing, you will be ok. I’m confident of this because my clients and I have discussions about how they are going to manage their finances going forward, and very rarely does this involve the use of a credit card. And this is pleasing to most clients. It’s the freedom they have been looking for.

You will probably be pleasantly surprised to find out that you will typically get credit card offers after filing bankruptcy. The rates will not be favorable, but the offers will come. Over time, the rates will get better, as your credit builds. In the alternative, you can obtain a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires a down payment by you, but then offers or extends credit up to that amount. This can actually be a great product for someone who is looking to stay in the credit game while also practicing effective management of a line of credit. Look for an upcoming post on secured credit cards to get the inside scoop on how they help you rebuild your credit.

In the meantime, email me at chris@thelaytonlawfirm.com or call me at 704.749.7747 to discuss your options in bankruptcy. I’m here to help.

People often put off filing bankruptcy because of the fear of what it will do to their credit score. We have been taught that a high credit score is a requirement for a happy life. In fact, it is not. You can be perfectly happy and make healthy financial decisions with a low or recovering credit score. But you can’t do it if you’re overwhelmed with debt. A bankruptcy fixes that.

The fact is, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit history for seven years from the day you file. Because a Chapter 13 repayment plan lasts 3 or 5 years, by the time you make your last payment, you’ve already gone through a few years of credit recovery. Alternatively, a Chapter 7 remains on your credit report for up to ten years. This seems like a lifetime. It isn’t.

Having a bankruptcy on your credit report will take you out of the home purchase market for a few years, it’s true. However, most clients start getting credit card offers a month after they file bankruptcy. My hope is my clients have a new clarity around managing their money and make smart decisions about credit after filing bankruptcy. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

I Need To Own A Home, Right?

There are millions of Americans who don’t own their home. This has always been true. It doesn’t mean you’re not spending your money wisely. If you are renting you are missing out on interest deductions on taxes and on appreciation on the value of the home over time. One look at today’s market will tell you that experts are unsure as to whether prices will continue to drop. In fact, if you bought a home three years ago, you’ve most likely lost money on it.

There Are Other Ways To Invest

If you’re concerned about missing out on the appreciation of a home because of the investment quality of it, keep in mind you can set aside the same amount of money each month into an IRA or other investment vehicle—stocks, bonds, etc. Even when recovering from bankruptcy, you can be responsibly planning for the financial future. Your credit score won’t keep you from doing this.

Consider Your Needs Today

A choice to file bankruptcy is both a long-term plan for financial stability and a short-term plan. While there are costs associated with credit extensions, the bigger picture is that you will reap the immediate reward of financial freedom. You will once again have disposable income. That is the foundation for building wealth. If you manage that disposable income wisely—by investing it and saving it rather than spending it on monthly credit card bills—you will start to accumulate wealth. And you do it under peaceful financial conditions. Less stress and more clarity.

Make a Call

Make a quick phone call today to talk to me about bankruptcy. I am genuinely excited to help people see the path before them and quickly achieve financial freedom from financial stress. You deserve the quality of life that comes with it.

Email me at chris@thelaytonlawfirm.com or call 704.749.7747 today for a free consultation about bankruptcy and an honest discussion about your best options.