Lancaster, PA Bankruptcy Lawyer
For many people in Lancaster, every month is a financial struggle. When you fight to pay one bill, another payment is due elsewhere. The reasons these difficulties exist are numerous. People who suffer an unforeseen medical condition, a job loss, reduced hours at work, or any other event that takes an economic toll can quickly find themselves receiving shut-off notices and threats of foreclosure in the mail. Bankruptcy is an option for people overwhelmed by debt.
Bankruptcy is often thought of as a taboo word. However, many people are unaware of the many benefits of filing for bankruptcy. At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, our staff and attorneys are sympathetic to your fears and understand your concerns. Before giving in to hopelessness, speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer with your best interests in mind could be a much-needed life-preserver.
Contact our experienced bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519 to speak with one of our attorneys and make an appointment for a confidential, free case evaluation.
How Do I Know if Bankruptcy is a Good Idea in Lancaster, PA?
People in deep financial trouble often resist filing for bankruptcy for as long as possible. There is a stigma surrounding bankruptcy, and people often think of it as a punishment for bad financial choices. The truth is, bankruptcy is a solution to your problems, not a punishment. Being in debt is not a crime or some morally reprehensible thing. It is a problem though, and bankruptcy might help you out of it.
Bankruptcy might be a good idea for you if you have significant debt and insufficient income. People often believe that only people with little income file for bankruptcy. In reality, people of various income levels file all the time. If your debts far outweigh your income. You should speak to an attorney about filing for bankruptcy. While carrying some debt, even large debt, is normal, it is a problem when you cannot afford to pay it back. You should contact an attorney if you have missed one or several important payments because of insufficient funds.
Are you facing foreclosure? When people fall behind on their mortgage, creditors can foreclose on the home and seize the property. People lose their homes this way. If you file for bankruptcy, foreclosure proceedings are halted under the automatic stay, as discussed in greater detail below. Contrary to popular belief, people who file for bankruptcy often get to keep their homes.
You might also want to consider bankruptcy if creditors are harassing you. Calls and letters about unpaid debts can become overwhelming. People in serious debt often deal with rude, harassing creditors on a daily basis. To make the calls stop, file for bankruptcy with the help of our experienced bankruptcy lawyers.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The most common type, or chapter, is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Often called a straight or liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is designed for filers with limited income and assets. The primary benefit of Chapter 7 is that an individual or couple could quickly eliminate a substantial portion of their unsecured debt, including credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, utility bills, repossession deficiencies, certain judgments, and other types of financial obligations.
A debtor must meet specific qualifications to file Chapter 7. Our bankruptcy attorneys will examine your monthly household income and your personal and real property. While people worry about losing their property in bankruptcy, Pennsylvania allows filers to choose between federal and state exemptions to protect their assets when they file for bankruptcy. In most cases, a debtor can keep their property, including their car, home, furniture, and other assets. Before you file Chapter 7, it is critical to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure you qualify, and hopefully you will not lose your property.
Many debts are dischargeable in Chapter 7. Unfortunately, some debts, such as criminal fines, child support, alimony, most student loans, some taxes, and other specific debts, are not discharged when you file. In some rare cases, student loans are dischargeable. If you are struggling with student loan payments, contact Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates to determine if your loan is eligible for discharge.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another common kind of bankruptcy in Lancaster, PA. Unlike Chapter 7, individuals and couples will reorganize their debts in Chapter 13. For example, a filer could pay their mortgage company’s overdue bills through a bankruptcy plan. This payment will allow the homeowner to keep their home if they meet the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 bankruptcies are also helpful if you are behind on your real estate taxes, a vehicle repossession, or if your income is too high to qualify for Chapter 7.
The key component in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the bankruptcy plan. Our bankruptcy attorneys typically propose a bankruptcy plan to address your specific debts while complying with various rules and regulations. A court-appointed trustee will review your plan to ensure it adheres to the Bankruptcy Code. The original plan will likely be amended as your creditors file claims indicating what you own. Our office will thoroughly examine each claim to determine if they are valid or if an objection should be filed.
Chapter 13 is much more complex than Chapter 7, but it offers additional benefits. Depending on the facts of your case, you could lower your monthly car payment or strip a second mortgage from your home. When speaking with one of our Chapter 13 lawyers, be sure to disclose all your debt, assets, and income. If the information provided is incomplete, you will not be able to take full advantage of your bankruptcy and be subject to significant fines and penalties.
What Happens When Debts Are Discharged Through Bankruptcy in Lancaster, PA?
Some of your debts may be discharged at the end of the bankruptcy process. When a debt is discharged, the person who owes it is no longer legally liable to pay it. For those with mounting debts and no way to overcome them, having them discharged can be a lifesaver. However, not all debts can be discharged, and your lawyer can help you plan on how to handle non-dischargeable debts.
Typically, unsecured debts may be discharged by a bankruptcy court. An unsecured debt is one that is not backed by some form of collateral. Collateral would be property, assets, or money attached to the debt. If the debt is not paid, the creditor takes the collateral. Unsecured debts often include credit cards, medical bills, and unpaid utilities like electricity or water.
Secured debts might also be eligible for discharge, but you do not get the collateral back. For example, if you used your home as collateral for a loan, but you cannot pay the loan back, it might be discharged through bankruptcy. Unfortunately, you would lose your home when the debt is discharged.
Some debts are always ineligible for discharge. Debts from court orders, like restitution, alimony, and child support, typically cannot be discharged. In addition, money owed to the government is usually not discharged. For instance, you cannot have unpaid back taxes or student loans from the government discharged by filing for bankruptcy.
The Automatic Stay and Lancaster Bankruptcies
When you file for bankruptcy in Lancaster, an immediate legal barrier, or automatic stay, is created between you and your creditors. This legal barrier prohibits your creditors from taking any actions against you, including repossessing your car, foreclosing on your home, or pursuing a collection lawsuit against you in civil court.
If your utility services were terminated because you were behind in payments, they should be restored. In some situations, if you filed your case fast enough, a repossessed vehicle might have to be returned.
This barrier allows many people the breathing room necessary to regain their financial footing. It also can ease the anxiety associated with debt by prohibiting phone calls and threatening collection letters. After you file for bankruptcy, you should keep track of your creditors’ activity. Violations of the automatic stay could result in court-ordered monetary sanctions. Be sure to tell our bankruptcy attorneys if creditors are still harassing you after you file.
How Long Do Bankruptcy Cases Take in Lancaster, PA?
How long your bankruptcy case takes to complete depends on which bankruptcy chapter you file under. Chapter 7 bankruptcy often takes only a few months, while Chapter 13 may take a few years. You should discuss your case with a lawyer before getting started.
When you file under Chapter 7, the court may liquidate various assets to pay back creditors before discharging some remaining debts. This can be an excellent choice for those unopposed to losing assets or those with few assets to lose. A great thing about Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it only takes a few months to complete in most cases. The goal is to liquidate assets quickly so creditors can be paid.
Chapter 13 often takes several years to complete. While you might be dismayed at the idea of dealing with a bankruptcy case for that long, there are some advantages. Chapter 13 puts you on a payment plan that you must keep up with for a few years before the courts will discharge other debts. While you make payments, your assets and properties remain in your possession. Many people who want to retain their homes and other assets choose this route because they avoid liquidation, even though it takes longer.
How Our Reading, PA Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Assist You
People often think of bankruptcy as a financial rather than a legal process. What many do not realize is that bankruptcy cases must go through the courts, and navigating these procedures alone is inadvisable. You should call an attorney who can assist you.
First, our team can help you choose how to file your case. As discussed above, you might file under Chapter 7 or 13. People filing bankruptcy for a business might file under different chapters. Your attorney can review each chapter with you and explain how it would affect your case and what your life might look like after all is said and done. You want to make sure you choose wisely, and a lawyer can help you do that.
Your attorney can also help you assess your assets and debts. While you might be in serious debt, you might have sufficient assets to pay those debts. It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but your attorney can help you pick and choose which assets to liquidate to repay debts and avoid legal consequences. Otherwise, a bankruptcy trustee might make these decisions for you. If you must file for bankruptcy, your lawyer can help you do so in a way that protects your rights and interests.
If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your lawyer will assist you in developing a feasible yet effective payment plan. The plan must be approved by the court and is subject to objections from creditors. Usually, payment plans are fairly aggressive, and there is little financial wiggle room. We can help you come up with a plan that satisfies creditors and the court and is within your means.
If You Are Overwhelmed With Debt, Call Our Lancaster, PA Bankruptcy Lawyers
Speak with our experienced Lancaster, PA bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates for a free and confidential appointment, call our law offices at (215) 701-6519.