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

In North Carolina, wage garnishment is strictly limited. The instances in which your wages can be garnished are primarily: federal student loan debt, alimony, child support, taxes, overpayment of unemployment benefits, and ambulance services. A Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer can guide you through the rules and help you determine your rights.

Limitations On Wage Garnishment Amounts

Wage garnishment in North Carolina is not permitted at all if your disposable income is less than 30 times the federal minimum wage. If the wage garnishment relates to a debt owed to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, the applicable threshold is 10% of your gross wages.

Out-Of-State Creditors

While wage garnishment in North Carolina is limited, it may not prevent an out-of-state creditor from garnishing your North Carolina wages if it obtains an order in another state. Regardless, even an out-of-state creditor is limited to the wage garnishment limits set by federal law.

Employer Obligations

An employer is not in violation of the law if it recognizes an out-of-state wage garnishment; this does not mean you cannot hire an attorney to fight it. Additionally, federal law protects your job in the event of a wage garnishment—your employer cannot fire you based on the hassle involved with a wage garnishment.

For Wage Garnishment In Effect Today

Filing a bankruptcy will ‘freeze’ wage garnishment during the time the bankruptcy is active. This is because of the federal law providing for an automatic stay. The automatic stay is the equivalent of freezing all collector activity until the bankruptcy trustee makes a determination as to your bankruptcy case. For debts which are discharged in your bankruptcy, the garnishment will no longer be an issue as the debt will be discharged. While tax garnishments are sometimes an exception to this rule, they most commonly stop while the bankruptcy is active.

Bank Account Levy/Garnishment

Bank account garnishments are different from wage garnishments. Judgment creditors can seek to enforce their judgment through bank garnishments; however, prior to doing so, you are given a chance to protect property by filing the appropriate form with the court. If you believe a judgment creditor is attempting to collect on the judgment by taking your property, reach out to a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney today for advice on how to respond.

Call A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today

If you have questions about wage garnishment or bankruptcy, I am happy to provide you with guidance. The phone call is free. Please call 704.749.7747 to get answers today. Or, fill in this quick form requesting that the law firm contact you.

Bankruptcy fees should be clear and easy to understand. If you’re in or near Charlotte, NC and considering hiring a bankruptcy lawyer, there are many qualified attorneys who can assist. Regardless of which bankruptcy attorney you choose to represent you, I encourage you to find an attorney who you feel is suited to your needs, and whose fees are reasonable.

I encourage potential clients to speak with more than one bankruptcy attorney before making a decision. Additionally, it’s your right to compare fees for legal services. If you would like a fee quote for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy from The Layton Law Firm, please enter your name and email address in this contact form. In the field asking for a good time to call, simply put “fee request only” and we will reply with a simple, easy to understand breakdown of our fees. You will not receive a call unless you indicate you would like one.

There are also alternatives to bankruptcy, and we are happy to advise you on those alternatives. We want to help you make an informed decision.

Congratulations on taking steps to a healthier financial life!

When it comes to deciding whether to file bankruptcy, my job is to help you put emotions to the side and focus on what’s truly important: your health and  your family’s health. Here are three great reasons to file bankruptcy.

  1. You Have The Right To File – Much like taking a tax deduction, the federal law grants you the right to file bankruptcy. That same government insures you will not abuse the right by limiting the circumstances under which you can file, and the number of times you can file. You don’t feel bad taking a tax deduction, and you should not feel bad about filing bankruptcy.
  2. Your Creditors Have Prepared For It—Creditors know a certain percentage of debtors will not repay their loans. They compensate for this with high interest rates and late fees. In the end, debtors often pay two times what they borrowed. The credit card company will be fine. They have already profited from you.
  3. You Deserve The Relief—If you’ve done everything you can to make ends meet and pay back your creditors and just can’t make it work, you’ve met your obligation. The federal bankruptcy court isn’t going to ridicule you for the way you spent money, or blame you for failing to balance your budget. You and your family deserve the powerful relief the bankruptcy code provides.

Call me today to get answers to questions about bankruptcy, find out the limitations on filing, and take next steps to restore financial health to your life. It’s time to put an end to the struggle. You can reach me at 704.749.7747.

Clients who file with The Layton Law Firm, PLLC receive a complimentary Will and Estate Planning package as part of filing. Let’s move forward together.

If we know one thing about the Affordable Healthcare Act, it is that people disagree on it. This is an argument that happens at the political level. However, as a bankruptcy attorney in Charlotte, NC what is quickly becoming obvious is that employers are responding to the expected changes. With healthcare costs affecting Charlotte employees at large employers like Home Depot and Trader Joe’s, the net effect on individual’s budgets and pocketbooks is a cause for concern.

Bankruptcy filings happen for numerous reasons. Sometimes there is a life-changing event like a personal injury or unemployment. These events make sense without much explanation. More common is the totality of circumstances– expenses creep up over time, credit card debt increases to cover those expenses, and individuals find they can no longer pay their bills. Struggling to do the right thing, they struggle for a few years until it becomes obvious the numbers just don’t work anymore. They need another option.

Home Depot recently announced changes to their healthcare offerings for employees and other large employers are following suit. While some employers generously offer full healthcare coverage, most business moves like these are meant to positively affect the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, this usually means the employee will pick up a new expense.

If your company announces a major change in healthcare coverage, and if you feel that change is going to put you and your family outside of your ability to pay for necessities like healthcare, dental, rent, mortgage and transportation, reach out now to discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney. Plan for your family the way large companies plan for their future. Bankruptcy can be a critical part of that planning and can put you in a position where you’re able to meet your essential needs and begin saving money again. You deserve financial stability.

Call 704.749.7747 today to get your questions answered.

Judgment liens in bankruptcy have special treatment. Clients in bankruptcy have the reasonable goal of discharging both their debt and the judgment associated with it. In many cases, this can be accomplished.

What Is A Judgment Lien?

A judgment in our context is a court order declaring that a debtor officially owes a creditor. Judgments immediately attach or become a lien against, any property owned by the debtor or later acquired by the debtor. In North Carolina, one exception to this is where a debtor acquires property with a spouse as tenants by the entirety. In this case, the judgment is still effective but does not attach or affect the property.

Will A Judgment Go Away In Bankruptcy?

A better question is will a judgment attach to property acquired after the bankruptcy. The answer is this: If the judgment had attached to property on the date of the filing of the bankruptcy, then it will have the power to attach to newly acquired property after bankruptcy.

Example: John has a judgment against him AND owns a home in his name only. He files bankruptcy. After bankruptcy, he purchases another home in his name only. In this case, the judgment will attach to the newly acquired property.

Example: John has a judgment against him AND owns a home with his wife in both of their names. He files bankruptcy. After bankruptcy, he purchases another home in his name only (or in his name and his spouse’s name). In this case, the judgment will NOT attach. The reason is that prior to filing, the judgment had not become a lien against property he owned. Upon discharge in bankruptcy, his personal liability on the judgment is extinguished.

Will The Judgment Remain On The Public Record?

Absent a motion to the court, the judgment will remain on the public record; however, the effect is the same as in the examples above. In any case where you are purchasing property, the closing attorney will understand the rules and the judgment will not cause a problem with your purchase or later sale of the property.

Every case is unique. If you have questions about bankruptcy or judgment liens in bankruptcy, please call me at 704.749.7747. The call is free and I’m happy to help.

Financial pressure is overwhelming enough, without the added task of compiling endless documents required for bankruptcy. Fortunately, with the help of electronic communications and software advances, you can find out quickly and easily whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

For simplicity sake, here are the next steps to determine whether you qualify for bankruptcy:

A phone call with me, your bankruptcy attorney—I’ll ask you a few questions about your debt, your income, and your belongings in an attempt to uncover any red flags which might be an obstacle for filing;

A questionnaire—Once we determine over the phone that you will likely qualify, you’ll need to complete an online questionnaire I’ll send via email invite. This questionnaire works with my software. I can see your progress, and you can ask questions to me directly through the questionnaire. It does not require any documentation;

A few documents—After we review the questionnaire together, by phone or in person, I’ll need to see a few documents to substantiate the info on the questionnaire.

  • Tax returns for the last two years
  • Credit report (We can assist you with obtaining a free credit report online, or order one for you)
  • Six months of pay stubs (We need to verify your income for the bankruptcy court)

Again, the need to provide these documents required for bankruptcy only arises once we have determined that you qualify for filing. If you’re interested in getting assistance determining whether you qualify for bankruptcy, and you’re willing to take the steps above, there is no charge from my firm to assist with this process. You only incur an attorney fee if you decide to move forward and actually file.

Please reach out today to set up a consultation by phone or in person. Or, complete this online contact form and we will call you back shortly. I can be reached directly at 704.749.7747.

Clients considering a bankruptcy filing all want to know the same thing: how do I put a stop to collections calls? The answer is that filing bankruptcy will legally put a stop to all attempts at collecting, whether by phone or mail. In the meantime, here are five things you should know about your rights when it comes to collections calls:

1. Debt collectors CAN NOT make false or misleading statements to you regarding your debt.

TIP: Keep track of threats made during collections calls by keeping a notepad near your phone. Your notes may serve as the basis for a legal action against the collections agency down the road.

2. Once you tell a debt collector not to call you at work, they must abide by that request.

TIP: Draft a form letter requesting that you not be called at work regarding your bill. Leave a blank for your account number and the name of the creditor. Keep a few copies on hand. The next time you get a bill, send in the letter with the account number written on it. Do this until each account has received a letter. Make note of when you submitted the request, and make note of any later calls you receive at work.

3. It is a violation of your personal right to privacy for a debt collector to speak with another individual (other than your spouse) about your debt, whether during a collections call or by mail.

TIP: If someone you know alerts you to this activity, ask for details about the call (Time, Date, Remarks made).

4. Debt collectors must treat you with civility. They can tell you the nature of the call, request payment, and let you know of their next steps if payment is not made. They can not use abusive language or harass you over the phone or by mail.

TIP: Keep track of SPECIFIC words and phrases used during collections calls. Most abusive activity takes place over the phone. Get the name of the individual you are speaking with, and write it down. Your lawyer will need this information if action is taken against the creditor.

5. Collections calls aside, any information reported to credit bureaus must be accurate and truthful.

TIP: Obtain a credit report once a year and immediately alert a creditor if they have reported inaccurate information about your payment history or the amount you owe. Follow up with them in 30 days. If no action is taken, call an attorney.

If you’d like to find out how to make collections calls STOP, call 704.749.7747 for more information. If filing a bankruptcy is the best choice for you, I hope you’ll trust me to assist with that process and help you move forward peacefully. Things CAN change.

As a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney, I often discus fees with potential clients. I gladly give my potential clients my fee for a Charlotte bankruptcy, and encourage them to call other law firms to ask about fees. It matters a great deal to me that clients end up with an attorney they like, and one whose fees are reasonable.

We also discuss the cost of not filing a bankruptcy. Typically, clients who call have already temporarily damaged their credit scores with late payments and non-payments to creditors. Often times, your credit score one year after bankruptcy will be as good as or better than it was before filing. Additionally, with the discharge of credit card debt, medical bills and other debts in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the threat of lawsuits and creditor attorneys fees is removed from your life.

Attorney fees are due prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition, but that does not keep my clients and I from working together in the meantime. Depending upon the client, it takes anywhere from three weeks to three months to prepare for bankruptcy. I do not require fees up front in order to get started with my clients– if you’re willing to work to gather information, I take that as a sign that you are serious about filing. And I’m happy to work with you toward that goal.

My clients are good people. They have had life changing experiences or a series of experiences that have brought them where they are financially. My goal is to understand their current situation, prevent further harm, and assist them in taking steps to restore themselves to financial health.

If you’d like answers to questions, please call me at 704.749.7747. There’s no obligation to file. I’m here as a resource and I’m happy to help.

Caring for clients means assisting with existing problems and preventing future problems. Most of my bankruptcy clients do not have a Will or any other estate planning documents. While I do not recommend a Will or Estate Planning package for all individuals, if you have minor children you need both.

Choose Us For Bankruptcy or Personal Injury, We’ll Do The Rest

We understand the cost of an Estate Planning Package is just one more bill, in addition to the bills you already owe. And if you’re paying for a bankruptcy, very rarely is there money left over for Estate Planning. As a way to say thank you to clients who choose The Layton Law Firm to assist them with their bankruptcy or personal injury, we offer a reduced rate on an Estate Planning Package for existing bankruptcy or personal injury clients.

It’s easy to take advantage of this. When you call the firm to inquire about bankruptcy or personal injury, simply ask about the Estate Planning package and we will plan on executing the Will and other accompanying documents after we have completed your representation for your initial matter.

It feels good to take care of clients, and we look forward to seeing client achieve peace of mind by assisting with personal injury, bankruptcy filings, and planning for the future through Estate Planning.

Call Today

Call today to get your bankruptcy questions answered, and we can move forward together to restore financial well-being to your life. We’re also here to talk about alternatives to bankruptcy, if you feel that may be a better option for you. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click here for a FREE CONSULTATION.

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to find themselves in a position to file a business bankruptcy. My experience helping clients who are small business owners file a business bankruptcy, is that most of these individuals are able to accomplish the necessary debt relief through a personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13).

Business Bankruptcy vs. Personal Bankruptcy

The primary reason to choose a bankruptcy chapter other than Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 to eliminate debt associated with a business exists when the business has extensive assets. Specifically, assets (equipment, receivables, inventory) which are not encumbered by debt. For most clients this is not the case– the business is in trouble because the debts associated with the business are not being met with sufficient income. This leads us back to Chapter 7 and 13.

Personal Bankruptcy and Business Debt

Typically, when a small corporation or Limited Liability Company takes on debt, that debt is taken out in the company name. Additionally, the loan documents also require the individual to guarantee the debt. If you review your loan or purchase money documents, you’ll find these two signature spots: one where you signed in the capacity as an officer for the company, and another where you personally guaranteed the debt by signing “individually.” This means that if the debt goes unpaid, the creditor can come after the company assets AND your personal assets. For this reason, a business bankruptcy would not accomplish your goals– you’d still have business creditors coming after you, personally.

Managing Business Debt Through Bankruptcy

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing will discharge your personal liability on the debt, even if it is business debt. What remains is the obligation of the business to repay that debt. This obligation can be managed by dissolving the corporation or LLC with the Secretary of State. The result is that the personal obligation and the business obligation are both relieved.

Owning Future Businesses

There is nothing about filing a bankruptcy that precludes you from starting another business. If you have capital for the business, you’re off and running. If you need to take out loans for the business or business equipment, you will need to sign off on the new loan both in the name of the new company and individually. If you’re worried about having access to credit to do so, consider that your current credit score will most likely not make you a good candidate for business loans. Additionally, depending upon your credit score prior to filing bankruptcy, you could see significant changes for the positive to your credit score within a year. Read this article I wrote on your credit score after bankruptcy, for more information.

North Carolina LLC Documents

If you own a small business and need to consider bankruptcy, I’d be happy to answer questions and provide guidance. Additionally, if you desire to create a new business after bankruptcy, I can assist with that process. I’ve created hundreds of small businesses with the Secretary of State throughout my 13 years practicing law in Charlotte, NC.

If you’d like to speak with an attorney about bankruptcy or any other options for managing debt and recovering from debt, please call me at 704.749.7747.