Bensalem, PA Bankruptcy Lawyer
If the quality of your daily life has declined due to persistent financial troubles, consumer bankruptcy may provide a way out of debt and back to security. Unfortunately, because there are many stubborn misconceptions about what bankruptcy means, many people are initially hesitant to consider filing. However, not only is the reality of bankruptcy considerably more positive than what its reputation suggests; it’s also a more common solution to issues with debt than you may think.
In 2013, over one million Americans filed for bankruptcy. In Pennsylvania, the numbers continue to reflect just how widespread consumer bankruptcy really is. According to statistics from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, over 2,000 filings have already been made for the current fiscal year — and that doesn’t even take the other portions of the state into consideration.
You may be surprised to learn that, after Philadelphia County and Montgomery County, Bucks County has the highest consumer bankruptcy rate of all the counties in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. For the current fiscal year, there have been:
- 2,615 total filings (main cases)
- 1,509 Chapter 7 filings
- 1,082 Chapter 13 filings
- 323 filings in Bucks County
Only Philadelphia County and Montgomery County have a higher bankruptcy rate, with totals of 704 cases and 334 cases, respectively. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Bensalem or Bucks County, you are not alone. Bankruptcy affects thousands of Pennsylvanians every year and is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, taking charge of your finances by filing for bankruptcy is a responsible and decisive action that can positively change your entire life. If you or a loved one is considering filing for bankruptcy, our experienced team of Bensalem, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorneys is ready to help you get started. For a free and confidential consultation with a Bensalem bankruptcy lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (215) 701-6519.
How a Bensalem Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help You with Debt Relief
Naturally, people who are on the cusp of filing for bankruptcy may be concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney. Sometimes, this concern even leads petitioners to forego a lawyer’s assistance in the interest of saving money.
Unfortunately, the ultimate cost of representing yourself in bankruptcy court, known as a “pro se” case, is virtually guaranteed to outweigh any attorney fee by a considerable margin. Representing yourself in a bankruptcy case is a mistake. The bankruptcy code is complicated, with many requirements and deadlines. Failing to adhere to the smallest detail can result in a quick dismissal and cause you to lose your home. Furthermore, creditors have attorneys aggressively working to represent their interests. Without the assistance of an experienced Bensalem bankruptcy attorney, a debtor might be paying substantially more than is necessary. At Young, Marr & Associates, we are committed to your bankruptcy being as beneficial as possible.
To quote statements from the United States Bankruptcy Courts:
“Pro se litigants, whether debtor or creditor, are expected to follow the rules that govern procedures in the federal courts. Pro se litigants should be familiar with the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and the local rules of the court in which the case is filed.
A bankruptcy case must be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights. […] Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences — hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.”
Many pro se filers know they are suffering from overwhelming debt and believe bankruptcy provides relief. While adhering to the rules and procedures is vital to the success of bankruptcy, the type of bankruptcy filed impacts the effectiveness of the proceeding. Debtors in Bensalem usually file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Both offer very different benefits, and each has unique requirements. Unknowingly filing for the wrong chapter could result in losing your home or paying more to creditors than you are required.
In addition to the correct chapter that addresses your needs, a pro-se filer must understand that there are many requirements and documents necessary to file for bankruptcy correctly. Whether purposeful or accidental, any omissions could result in a case being dismissed almost immediately after it was filed. A quick dismissal not only fails to achieve your intended goal, but it could also adversely affect your ability to refile if necessary. In fact, the court could prohibit another bankruptcy filing if the present case was your second or third filing.
Should a pro-se filer manage the early hurdles in deciding the proper chapter and gathering all of the required documents, the management and prosecution of a bankruptcy case present a whole list of challenges. From the correct choice and application of exemptions to drafting a bankruptcy plan that conforms to all the rules and regulations, a pro-se filer will face a host of legal decisions and opposition from both creditors’ counsel and the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee.
Bankruptcy is a complicated legal process, and filing without fully understanding the law could result in long-term negative consequences. Our experienced Bensalem bankruptcy attorneys will evaluate your financial situation and recommend the type of bankruptcy that will help you achieve your goals while helping you navigate the many legal difficulties that follow.
Our bankruptcy lawyers are affordable and cost-effective. At Young, Marr & Associates, we are sensitive to our bankruptcy clients’ financial concerns, and we offer flexible payment plans to accommodate budgets of every size.
Not only are we affordable, but we are also experienced. Our Bensalem, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorneys have handled over 5,000 cases in more than 20 years practicing bankruptcy law. We know how to get results for our clients — that’s always our bottom line.
Why Should I File for Bankruptcy?
People are naturally wary of bankruptcy as an option to address financial distress. Misinformation and myths accompany the term along with the stigma of failure attached to filing for bankruptcy. It is important to understand that bankruptcy is governed by federal law and is designed to help individuals and businesses facing economic hardships. It is not intended to punish. Often, filing for bankruptcy is the most beneficial option for eliminating debt or restructuring your financial obligations. Other options, such as a consolidation loan or hiring a debt settlement company, do not offer the protections provided for by the Bankruptcy Code and are often more costly.
Discharge Certain Kinds of Debt
According to statistics from the Federal Reserve, debt is a serious problem for most American consumers. As of January 2014, the average American’s credit card debt exceeds $15,000. Meanwhile, the average American’s mortgage debt is ten times that high, at just under $150,000. As of 2012, the average Pennsylvanian is saddled with over $39,000 of debt.
The numbers illustrate plainly that debt is a rampant problem in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and the nation as a whole. Bankruptcy offers petitioners freedom from the majority of common debt types, including but not limited to:
- Credit Card Debt
- Utility Bill Debt
- Personal Loan Debt
- Pay Day Loans
- Vehicle Repossessions
- Business Loan Debt
- Medical Bill Debt
However, despite the vast amount of debt that is dischargeable in bankruptcy, the government has designated several types of obligations as non-dischargeable due to public policy. These debts include, but are not limited to, certain taxes, alimony, child support, criminal restitution, and personal injury judgments incurred for drunk driving accidents.
Student loan debt is currently one of the most significant financial crises facing many Bensalem residents. While generally non-dischargeable, under specific and rare circumstances, a separate lawsuit could be filed within your bankruptcy proceeding to petition the court to discharge your student loan debt. The requirements to have student loan debt eliminated are stringent and difficult to meet, so we recommend sitting down with one of our seasoned Bensalem bankruptcy attorneys at Young, Marr & Associates to discuss your options.
Stop Creditors Calling and Harassing
In addition to carrying the weight of immense debt, people considering bankruptcy often suffer from harassment from aggressive, persistent creditors. Relentless creditor contacts and debt collection attempts via phone, mail, and email can cause debtors to live in fear, stress, and anxiety. Fortunately, bankruptcy provides immediate relief.
When an individual files a petition for bankruptcy, they instantly fall under the protection of a court injunction known as an automatic stay. The main purpose of an automatic stay is to freeze collection actions while a bankruptcy is in progress, giving the debtor time to assemble their resources and make financial arrangements for the future. When you file a petition for bankruptcy, your creditors will be notified, and they will be prohibited by law from continuing to contact you or make collection attempts.
Other Benefits of Filing for Bankruptcy for Bensalem Debtors
An automatic stay is one of the most beneficial and powerful tools bankruptcy affords a debtor. Not only does it prohibit phone calls and collection letters from creditors, but it also stops any pending litigation against a debtor. Staying pending lawsuits offers a debtor several benefits. For example, a judgment in a collection action grants a creditor a lien on any real property the debtor owns. Filing for bankruptcy can prevent these judgments, stopping unsecured debt from encumbering your home.
Another significant benefit the automatic stay provides is halting a pending sheriff sale. Sheriff sales are permanent in Pennsylvania and are nearly impossible to challenge once completed. In many circumstances, filing for bankruptcy is the only method to protect your home from a sheriff’s auction.
Having your vehicle repossessed can severely hamper earning an income or handling everyday household chores. At Young, Marr & Associates, we recognize the importance of your car. While an automatic stay will stop any threat of repossession, it could also make it possible to recover a repossessed vehicle. Our experienced attorneys will work directly with the company that repossessed your car to have it returned to your possession in a timely fashion. If they fail to comply, we will file a motion to turnover your vehicle with the bankruptcy court.
If one of your creditors was awarded a judgment through collection litigation, your bank account could be vulnerable to seizure. The judgment allows a creditor to access the funds in your savings or checking account, freezing your accounts until the money is forwarded to pay your debt. An automatic stay will unfreeze your accounts, allowing you control and possession of your funds.
Cramming Down Car Loans in Bensalem Bankruptcies
As stated earlier, filing for bankruptcy allows you to stop a repossession or have a repossessed vehicle returned. Another benefit that could be available depending on the specific facts of your case is the ability to cram down a car loan. While this only is only available in Chapter 13, it offers debtors the opportunity to lower their monthly car payment. Basically, if your car is worth less than what you owe and you purchased it over 910 days ago, you could pay the fair market value through your bankruptcy plan. For example, if the balance of your car loan is $15,000 and the current value of your car is only $8,500, you would be able to pay $8,500 through your plan. The remaining $7,500 would be considered unsecured debt and potentially dischargeable. All debtors will not be able to take advantage of this provision of the Bankruptcy Code, but you should discuss the specifics of your car loan with our Bensalem bankruptcy attorney to determine if you can.
No Tax Consequences in Bankruptcy
Some individuals might forgo bankruptcy as an option to deal with their overwhelming debt, choosing to enter into a settlement agreement with their creditors. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to negotiate directly with a creditor for an amount less than you owe. However, there are negative consequences. Any forgiven debt is considered income and is taxable. Therefore, if you settle a $20,000 debt for $10,000, you will have to pay income tax on an additional $10,000. This additional income could significantly reduce your yearly tax refund, or you might owe additional taxes at the end of the year.
Debt eliminated through bankruptcy is not subject to any tax consequences. Discharging $20,000 of credit card debt filing for bankruptcy does not require you to report the eliminated debt as income. Likewise, should you file for Chapter 13 and pay a portion of your debt, the discharged amount is free from any tax consequences. When discussing your options to deal with your financial distress with our knowledgeable Bensalem bankruptcy attorneys, we will thoroughly outline all of the advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy.
Bensalem, PA Bankruptcy Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one is considering filing for bankruptcy, our experienced team of Bensalem, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorneys is ready to help you get started. For a free and confidential consultation with a Bensalem bankruptcy lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (215) 701-6519.