Plainfield, NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers

Bankruptcy is tough. Nobody wants to be in a position where bankruptcy is their only option, and filing for bankruptcy can be tricky. Our lawyers can help you through this difficult financial time in your life so you can get a fresh start.

People often file for bankruptcy because they have large debts they cannot keep up with. You might be tempted to take on the case alone, but it is better to have an experienced attorney by your side to assist. Your lawyer can help you determine which bankruptcy chapter works best for you. While many individuals file under Chapter 7, Chapter 13 is also very popular. There are various other chapters you might consider, depending on your circumstances. An attorney can also weigh the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy with you so you can make the most informed decision possible. Preparing your bankruptcy petition can take some time, and there may be various meetings to attend after you file.

For a private case evaluation at no cost to you, call (609) 755-3115 and talk to our bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.

Why People Might File for Bankruptcy in Plainfield, NJ

People have all kinds of reasons for filing for bankruptcy. Often, people have large debts they cannot afford on their income. These high debts might stem from financial mistakes, like taking out a loan you cannot afford, or unexpected costs. People sometimes file for bankruptcy because they were badly injured in an accident and cannot afford their medical bills.

Income is also a major factor in many bankruptcy petitions. Perhaps your financial situation has changed, and you no longer have the income to keep up with bills and mortgage payments. This might happen because you are laid off from work or are injured or sick and can no longer work.

Your income might not even be all that low. People with steady, even large incomes often file for bankruptcy because their debts have gotten out of control. This is usually the result of overextending your finances.

Being in financial trouble does not always qualify someone for bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy lawyers can review your financial situation and help you determine if filing for bankruptcy is a good option or if other options are worth exploring first.

Why You Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy in Plainfield, NJ

Bankruptcy cases are a bit different than typical lawsuits. While many civil lawsuits are adversarial, bankruptcy proceedings are not quite the same. While you might have to deal with some pushback from creditors, the overall point of bankruptcy is not to duke it out with your opponents in court. As such, many people try to handle their cases on their own. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

You should speak to an attorney because filing your case will likely not be easy. You need extensive documentation of your finances, assets, and debts to prove to the court that you qualify for bankruptcy. Depending on how you file, you might have to work with bankruptcy trustees as they liquidate your assets. Alternatively, you might need to work with your attorney to develop a payment plan that is acceptable to the court and your creditors.

Bankruptcy can also involve a complex tangle of laws. Bankruptcy is a largely federal matter, but certain state laws must be considered. Navigating the law and legal procedure surrounding your case may be incredibly difficult if you have no previous legal experience. Let your attorney be your guide instead.

Bankruptcy Chapters You Should Discuss with Your Attorney in Plainfield, NJ

As we have talked about, there is more than one way to file for bankruptcy. The legal field of bankruptcy encompasses a number of different chapters. Each bankruptcy chapter is designed to help debtors in different financial situations. Some chapters are meant for individuals, while others are meant for business. Still, others are designed for both.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

One of the more common chapters debtors file under is Chapter 7. This chapter is intended for individuals rather than businesses and focuses on liquidation as a way to resolve debt issues.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case and begin identifying property and assets to liquidate. Proceeds from liquidation will be used to pay debts. Please note that your home, vehicle, other real property, and various other assets might be seized and sold off. However, you may get a fresh start in the end.

Chapter 7 usually only takes a few months to finish. After the liquidation process is complete, the court may discharge certain remaining debts. When debts are discharged, you are no longer legally liable for payment.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Another common choice among debtors is to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This is similar to Chapter 7 because it is meant for individuals. However, Chapter 13 does not involve the liquidation of assets and property. Instead, this bankruptcy chapter revolves around a lengthy payment plan developed by you and your lawyer.

This bankruptcy chapter usually takes longer to complete. Many people are working on their payment plans for 3 to 5 years before any remaining debts can be discharged by the court. While this process takes longer, many prefer it because they do not risk losing important property, like their homes.

Other Chapters

While the above chapters are very common options for individuals filing for bankruptcy, they are far from the only choices. There are chapters designed for businesses and organizations filing for bankruptcy and a whole host of other financial situations. Talk to a lawyer about which chapter is right for you.

Pros and Cons of Filing for Bankruptcy in Plainfield, NJ

People tend to resist the idea of bankruptcy. After all, it is not exactly a fun process to go through. What people might not initially realize is that bankruptcy is not a penalty for having bad finances. Instead, it is a solution to debt problems. Our bankruptcy attorneys can help you weigh the pros and cons of bankruptcy, so you know exactly what to expect moving forward.

One of the biggest pros of bankruptcy is the automatic stay enforced by the court. The automatic stay prevents creditors from taking legal action against you regarding your debts while your bankruptcy case is pending. If any actions are pending against you when the automatic stay is initiated, they are put on pause.

The automatic stay also prevents creditors from contacting you about payment. Many people report feeling downright harassed by creditors when they are struggling financially. If a creditor contacts you after the automatic stay is put in place, tell your lawyer immediately.

While bankruptcy is ultimately a solution to your problems, there are some disadvantages you should be aware of. One of the biggest downsides is that your credit and credit history may be negatively impacted. Bankruptcy stays on your credit history for years, and future lenders or creditors might refuse to work with you. Taking out loans to buy a home, go back to school, or start a business might be difficult for a while.

How to Prepare Your Bankruptcy Case with a Plainfield, NJ Attorney

While some people feel overwhelmed by their debts, they might not realize they have other viable options other than bankruptcy. To help determine who is truly in need of bankruptcy and who can rectify their financial troubles through other means, petitioners must go through credit counseling. Credit counseling may help you understand the bankruptcy process and your other options.

Credit counseling must be completed before you file your petition. If you do not complete credit counseling when we file your petition, your petition will likely be dismissed.

There is still more work to be done to prepare your petition. We need to collect financial documents and information about your debts and assets to include in your petition. Depending on your circumstances, this might be a somewhat time-consuming process. We might need to contact numerous financial institutions about your accounts, assets, and other holdings. We also need an accurate accounting of all the property you own that might be subject to liquidation.

Finally, we need to file your petition with the correct court. It is best to speak to an attorney about where to file your petition, as not just any court will do. Bankruptcy is a federal matter, and we must file with special bankruptcy courts. Your attorney can help you determine which court in your area should hear your case.

What Happens After You File for Bankruptcy with a Plainfield, NJ Lawyer

Your case does not end when we file your bankruptcy petition. The filing of your petition only sets your case in motion. There is still much more to be done.

After we file your case, you might need to have a meeting with creditors. Exactly how this meeting goes may depend on whether you file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, but the process in both situations is similar.

At this meeting, you and your lawyer will meet with a bankruptcy trustee in charge of your case. The trustee may verify your identity and question you about details in your petition. This is where you can talk about why you are filing and what you hope to get out of this. Additionally, creditors to whom you owe money may attend the meeting and weigh in. Creditors can raise objections if they feel they are being cheated. However, creditors often do not appear at these hearings unless they suspect they are being defrauded.

Whether your assets are liquidated or you have to maintain a rigorous payment plan, your bankruptcy case will eventually come to a close. At this point, as long as you have fulfilled everything required of you, the court may discharge certain debts. Before discharge, however, you need to complete a debtor education course. The court and your attorney can help you find a course and complete it.

Protecting Your Property and Assets When You File for Bankruptcy in Plainfield, NJ

When filing for bankruptcy, many debtors are concerned about losing important assets. For example, homeowners are often afraid of losing their homes. Others might fear their vehicle will be seized. Depending on which bankruptcy chapter you file under, losing valuable assets might be a very real possibility.

Fortunately, there are exemptions your lawyer can help you claim so you can hopefully keep certain assets. Exemptions may be offered at the federal or state level. In New Jersey, you cannot pick and choose which ones you want. You must either claim federal or state exemptions, but not a mix of both.

Many people tend to select federal exemptions because there are more of them. Under 11 U.S. Code § 522, you may claim federal exemptions for your homestead, vehicle, tools of the trade, wildcard exemptions, and more. These exemptions essentially exclude certain properties or assets from your estate when things are liquidated. For example, the homestead exemption allows you to exclude equity in your home.

Vehicle exemptions might help you hold on to your vehicle so you can continue going to work. Exemptions for tools of the trade may allow you to exclude tools and equipment you use for work. For example, a petitioner who works as a private chef might want to exclude their professional-grade knives, as they need them for work. Wildcard exemptions might apply to anything up to the amount set by law.

New Jersey has fewer exemptions and does not offer exemptions at all for your home, vehicle, or tools of the trade. However, New Jersey does offer exemptions for a wide variety of insurance and disability benefits.

Talk to your attorney about claiming exemptions and which ones work best for you.

Get Help From Our Plainfield, NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers

For a private case evaluation at no cost to you, call (609) 755-3115 and talk to our bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.

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