Chicago Bankruptcy

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The Meeting of Creditors

Posted on: February 13, 2015 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois is administered by a Chapter 7 trustee. The trustee’s main task is to sell nonexempt property to repay unsecured creditors. The trustee also looks for fraud, ensures that your paperwork is accurate, and conducts an investigation into your property and your finances. The trustee does much of this fact finding in the “meeting of creditors,” also called the “341” hearing. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Chicago area, you must attend the meeting of creditors; typically, it’s a 5-to-10 minute meeting where you and your Chicago bankruptcy lawyer meet with another lawyer called a trustee. Generally, the trustee’s job is to ask you a series of questions and determine if you have any valuable assets that aren’t exempt and can be sold. The trustee also makes sure you haven’t committed any fraud.

You do not see a judge at the first meeting of creditors. The trustee is your contact with the bankruptcy court. There is a judge appointed to your case, but it is unlikely you will see the judge. At the meeting, the trustee will first check your picture ID and Social Security number. You’ll be sworn in. Then the trustee will ask you some standard questions about your assets and debts. Although it’s called a “meeting of creditors,” your creditors generally do not show up. You may dress formally or casually; the procedure is informal, there is no dress code, and you may bring one or several friends or family members if you choose. Bring a picture ID and your Social Security card. Leave your phone in the car; some Illinois courthouses do not allow cell phones.

If you face overwhelming debts in the Chicago area, several options are available, and bankruptcy may or may not be the appropriate option for you. Before filing for bankruptcy or pursuing any other option, discuss your situation and circumstances promptly with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

Social Security Overpayments

Posted on: February 11, 2015 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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Social Security overpayments are common, especially when people receive temporary Social Security disability benefits. Typically, overpayments happen when people get well enough to return to work but continue to receive disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA). A Social Security overpayment is a debt you have to pay back unless you file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not your only option, but if you’re unable to repay a Social Security overpayment and you’re in or near Chicago, speak at once with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

Most people who receive overpayments are not aware that they are being overpaid. Most people promptly notify the SSA when they return to work, but if the payments continue, they trust that Social Security is “getting it right” and thus believe they still are eligible for benefits. Most people are confounded when they receive a letter from the SSA demanding repayment, which can be considerable. While taxes, criminal fines, and student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, some debts to the government can be wiped out by a bankruptcy, including repayments to the SSA. Social Security overpayments are treated as general unsecured debts similar to credit card debts and medical bills.

Filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to discharge your debt to the SSA. However, and this is important, if the SSA believes you fraudulently accepted the additional payments – that is, if you accepted payments knowing that you weren’t eligible for them – the SSA can file a complaint in bankruptcy court to have the debt declared nondischargeable. However, fraud is difficult to prove; most people assume that they would not receiving a payment unless they are eligible for it. If you received a large Social Security overpayment in the Chicago area, and you are not able to pay it back, bankruptcy may or may not be the right option. Learn more by discussing your situation immediately with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

The Main Reason For Bankruptcy

Posted on: February 9, 2015 by in Bankruptcy
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When you consider why so many people file for bankruptcy in the Chicago area, you may think that poor spending habits, credit card debt, a lack of savings, or unemployment cause most bankruptcies. You’d be wrong. The number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses. If you’re facing overwhelming medical debt and you’re considering bankruptcy in the Chicago area, before you take any action, take the time to discuss your circumstances and options with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

For many, when required medical care is extensive, even health insurance doesn’t provide enough help to make medical treatment affordable. Even if they aren’t forced to file for bankruptcy, medical debt is a huge problem for many; twenty percent of the adults in the United States – about 56 million of us – have medical debt. Since medical costs tend to increase with age, many of those over 65 may have a devastating level of medical debt beyond any insurance or government assistance.

If you are burdened by medical debt that you believe can never be paid, it’s essential to understand the complete range of legal options available to you. For example, you can sometimes negotiate a payment plan with your healthcare provider if you are honest about your financial situation. You also want to make certain that you haven’t been over-billed or double-billed for any medical product or service and that your medical bills accurately reflect what you actually owe. Even the wealthy can quickly be brought down by medical debts, and the more you owe, the fewer options you have. Bankruptcy isn’t the right option for everyone, and it may or may not be right for you. In the Chicago area, if you’re being overwhelmed by medical debts – or any other kind of debt – get the help you really need and consult right away with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

Bankruptcy In Illinois: Where And How Long?

Posted on: January 12, 2015 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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The traditional form of personal bankruptcy is Chapter 7, where the court sells most of your assets and uses that money to pay off as much of your debt as possible. Anything not paid is discharged or erased. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you draft a plan to pay off secured debts and as much unsecured debt as possible over a limited amount of time. Federal law governs bankruptcy, but specifics can vary by state. If you are considering bankruptcy in the Chicago area, realize that it is not always the wisest way to deal with mounting debts. Discuss your circumstances at once with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who can suggest alternatives to bankruptcy or guide you through the bankruptcy process.

In Illinois, you must file in the district where you reside. Bankruptcy courts in Illinois are divided into three districts: the Northern, Central, and Southern. The main bankruptcy courts are in Chicago for the Northern District, Springfield for the Central District, and East St. Louis for the Southern District. Each district also has other divisional offices.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is available to those whose average monthly income for the preceding six months is below the state’s median income. Those with higher incomes may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy only by passing a stringent means test. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the length of the bankruptcy depends on how your monthly income compares to the state median. If you make less than the median income, your plan should not exceed three years; the bankruptcy court may extend it to five years if you can present a good reason. If your monthly income matches or exceeds Illinois’ median income, your plan will typically last for five years, but you may pay off all of your unsecured debt in less time if you can.

If your debts are spiraling out of your control, bankruptcy may or may not be the right answer. Let an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer take a look at your circumstances and recommend the answer that’s right for you. If you’re falling deeply into debt in the Chicago area, make that call today.

Bankruptcy May (or May Not) Be Right For You

Posted on: January 2, 2015 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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If you face mounting debts in the Chicago area, you may be considering bankruptcy. If you’ve considered it seriously, you should speak to an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who can examine your particular circumstances and recommend the best options. You may not need to file for bankruptcy. Even if you’re facing unpayable debts, you still may not need bankruptcy to protect your assets. Under the exemption laws in Illinois, you may be “judgment-proof” for legal purposes. If so, you need not fear credit card companies; they can’t take your exempt possessions. However, Illinois’ exemption laws do not protect all of your property from all types of creditors. The government may still collect child support, student loan debt, and tax debt. And if you own property but pledged it as collateral for a loan, the lender can take the property, and exemption laws will not protect it.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is quick – it takes only a few months – and thorough when it comes to wiping out unsecured debts like medical and credit card debts. However, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy only once every seven years, so it’s best to adhere to your lawyer’s recommendations. While bankruptcy isn’t right for everyone with mounting debt, your particular combination of debts, income, and property may in fact be appropriate for bankruptcy protection.

And of course, any decision to file for bankruptcy first requires a comprehensive, systematic assessment of your income, your debts, and your assets and property. Don’t try to file for bankruptcy in Illinois by yourself. Any mistakes could delay your bankruptcy or void it and cost you much more in the long run. Instead, take your questions and concerns promptly to an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who can explain your options and help you deal with mounting debt in the most practical, appropriate manner.

Don’t Make These Bankruptcy Mistakes

Posted on: December 26, 2014 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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If you’re considering bankruptcy in the Chicago area, it really is imperative to have the advice and assistance of an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. If you think that you can’t afford a bankruptcy lawyer, think again. Bankruptcy has become an exceedingly complicated legal process, and any mistakes you make could delay your bankruptcy or even deny you the bankruptcy protection you seek. Here are some of the common mistakes made by those who file for bankruptcy without advice from a good bankruptcy lawyer:

1. Waiting too long: If your debts are overwhelming you, action is imperative, but that’s a good thing, because you can save a substantial sum if you address the issue earlier rather than later. If you’ve lost your job, don’t wait to be employed again before filing.

2. Not filing properly: Many people file bankruptcy under Chapter 13 when they really should file under Chapter 7. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more costly and lengthier because it involves the debtor actually paying the debts.

3. Refusing to file despite mounting debt: Many people irrationally refuse even to consider bankruptcy. They fear its effects on their credit, or they think it says something bad about their character. What bankruptcy actually does is provide you with a clean financial slate and a responsible way to obtain it.

4. Running up more debt: Don’t. It’s a genuine mistake to incur more debt after filing for bankruptcy. If you take a loan with no intention of paying it back, you could conceivably be charged with fraud and not allowed to file for bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy isn’t magic and isn’t for everyone, it can be the right solution in a number of situations. Being prepared, understanding the obstacles, and working alongside an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer is the best way to obtain the debt relief and the fresh start you need.

The Best Policy

Posted on: December 10, 2014 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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If you’re filing for bankruptcy in the Chicago area, you’ll need the assistance of an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. You’ll also need to be truthful or you could get in big trouble, as one couple recently discovered. A couple from Eldorado in southern Illinois pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud in federal court back in June and were sentenced early in October. Lucy McGill, 62, and Gary McGill, 69, were each sentenced to two years of probation, 20 hours of public service, and fines of $1,000 each.

The McGills faced multiple charges for making false statements in their bankruptcy case. Some of those statements were provided under oath. The McGills originally filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Benton. Federal law requires those filing for bankruptcy to disclose all of their assets and also to disclose certain financial transactions that they conducted prior to filing bankruptcy. The purpose of these disclosures is to ensure that all available funds can be collected to pay creditors as much as possible on the amounts they’re owed. But in their guilty pleas, the McGills both admitted that they had lied on a Statement of Financial Affairs that they filed with the Bankruptcy Court. They falsely stated that $22,000 in two accounts in Lucy McGill’s name belonged to her sister. In fact, that $22,000 had recently been paid to Gary McGill to settle two lawsuits.

Don’t add criminal charges to your troubles. When you face overwhelming debts and have no way to pay them, bankruptcy may or may not be the right option for you. You’ll need to discuss your circumstances promptly with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who can either help you through the bankruptcy process or recommend a better alternative. But whether you choose bankruptcy or another option, always be entirely honest with your lawyer, with the court, and with any other parties who may be involved. If you aren’t, your financial troubles could quickly become legal troubles that you really don’t want or need. Let an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer handle every aspect of your bankruptcy. If your debts are mounting now, don’t wait to make the call.

You Have Options

Posted on: December 3, 2014 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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If you’ve never filed for bankruptcy, you may be surprised to learn that not all bankruptcy filings are the same or accomplish the same goals. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is somewhat different from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Before you file any bankruptcy, you must know what the differences are and why people pick one over the other. If your debts are mounting and you’re in or near Chicago, an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer can explain your bankruptcy options and your other legal and financial alternatives. Some people choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, for example, for these reasons:

– They can arrange and follow payment plans to work through their debt over time.
– They may keep property that would otherwise have been repossessed.
– They may keep their homes if they were in danger of foreclosure.
– They do not have to sell off all of their assets.
– Debt can be entirely eliminated at the conclusion of the bankruptcy, providing them with a clean financial slate.
– If you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the previous eight years, Chapter 13 is your only remaining bankruptcy option.

A good bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine if Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or some other alternative is right for you. Knowing how the different types of bankruptcy will affect you is imperative when you face mounting debts and have no way to pay them. Bankruptcy is the legal way to get a fresh start, and not just for individuals and families. Corporations and even cities are now using bankruptcy laws to restructure their debts and establish a fresh financial beginning. Nevertheless, bankruptcy isn’t for everyone, and a good bankruptcy lawyer may be able to recommend better alternatives. In the Chicago area, have an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer review your financial situation and suggest the options and solutions that are in your best long-term interests.

Don’t Do This Alone

Posted on: November 16, 2014 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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When you’re already in a financial crisis, it may seem like paying for a bankruptcy lawyer is just running up another needless debt. Some people try to file on their own or find the cheapest help they can get. Why not? Bankruptcy is just a form you fill out and leave at the courthouse, right? Think again. Bankruptcy has evolved into a complex field of law, and you need someone who knows how to guide you through the entire process. If you face overwhelming debts in the Chicago area, speak at once with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

A good bankruptcy lawyer can make certain that your debt is actually discharged or restructured in a way that gives you a fresh financial beginning. If you try to go through the bankruptcy process without a lawyer’s assistance, one minor mistake could leave you in even worse financial shape. Don’t try it alone, and don’t settle for any lawyer who offers cheap, discount bankruptcies. You wouldn’t let a discount doctor treat you; your financial health is just as important. Find an experienced bankruptcy lawyer with a reputation for honesty and excellence, someone you like and trust. A good bankruptcy lawyer will also be able to suggest ways to rebuild your credit and avoid financial trouble in the future.

If you’re comparing prices between different lawyers’ services, be sure you know which services are and are not included. Those who file for bankruptcy without help will face unfamiliar legal terms, a variety of confusing procedures, and creditors who hire their own savvy lawyers to represent them. In the Chicago area, if you’re considering bankruptcy, the first thing to do is to get advice from an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible. With an experienced lawyer handling the procedure on your behalf, you’ll know that your bankruptcy goals are being met, and you’ll have that fresh financial start you need and deserve.

Avoid Payday Loans

Posted on: November 12, 2014 by in Bankruptcy, Blog
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No matter how broke or in debt you might be, it’s wisest to avoid entirely what are called “payday” loans. Also called “cash advances” or check loans, these are short-term loans, usually for $500 or less, with exorbitant interest rates. The loans are typically made to borrowers with weak credit or low incomes, and the storefront businesses that offer the loans are usually set in depressed inner city areas or near military bases. The equivalent annual interest rates routinely run over 100 percent. If you’re even considering taking a payday loan, your financial trouble is probably extensive. Instead of a payday loan, find another way to handle financial trouble. In the Chicago area, you can get trustworthy advice and recommendations by speaking at once with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.

About half of all payday loans are made to people who extend the loans so many times they end up paying more in fees than the original amount they borrowed, according to a report published earlier this year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The loans work like this: You need cash now, but you won’t receive a paycheck for a week or two. You write a check dated for your payday and give it to the lender. You get your cash, minus interest. On your payday, the lender cashes your check or charges you additional interest to extend or “roll over” the loan for another pay period. The CFPB report was based on about 12 million payday loans in 30 states in 2011 and 2012. The report also shows that only 15 percent of borrowers repay all their payday debts on time without borrowing again within 14 days.

If your debts are mounting, payday loans are not the answer; in fact, they may be part of the problem. Bankruptcy is not an answer for everyone either, but it might be right for you, and you have other alternatives as well. Call a good Chicago bankruptcy lawyer today if you’re anywhere in the Chicago area, and review your options with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can suggest your wisest course of action.