Levittown, PA Bankruptcy Lawyer
When you become burdened with overwhelming debt, daily life can rapidly start to feel like a nightmare. When you cannot afford to cover your bills and the basic costs of living, stress and worry begin to build, and the constant notifications from aggressive, persistent creditors can turn a simple trip to the mailbox into a source of anxiety. You should not have to live in fear of answering your telephone or opening your mail.
Fortunately, you do not have to. If you feel like you are drowning in debt and have nowhere to turn, consumer bankruptcy may be able to provide the relief and stability you need to get your financial affairs back on track. Millions of Pennsylvanians have found debt relief through bankruptcy over the years, and with the support and guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, so can you. Call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates today at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today to schedule your completely free and confidential case evaluation.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy?
Debtors are legally able to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, referred to as filing pro se. While filing pro se is technically permitted, it is never an advisable course of action. The official website of the U.S. Courts explains why it is critical to approach your bankruptcy with the help of an attorney:
“It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights. […] Individual bankruptcy cases are randomly audited to determine the accuracy, truthfulness, and completeness of the information that the debtor is required to provide. […] Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences — hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.”
As the U.S. Court explains, bankruptcy is complicated and should be tailored to your specific needs and goals. If you make an error in filing or omit important information or documents, your case could be immediately dismissed. In some cases, this could be remedied by hiring our experienced bankruptcy attorney. However, certain mistakes could prove costly. For example, if you tried to stop a sheriff sale and made a crucial error, you could lose your house without any recourse. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should take advantage of our free consultations to review your situation.
If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy in Levittown, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, there were nearly 1,600 filings in Bucks County in 2019 alone. Bankruptcy is not the end of your financial stability — it’s the beginning. Oftentimes, people who are thinking about filing for bankruptcy are hesitant to retain an attorney. The lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates have been handling consumer bankruptcy cases for over 20 years, and we completely understand our clients’ financial concerns. We offer flexible, affordable payment options, and will work with you to accommodate your budget.
What Are the Benefits of Bankruptcy?
While bankruptcy is usually “advertised” as a method of reducing or eliminating debt, it also comes with additional benefits under an injunction known as an automatic stay. Which debts can bankruptcy discharge, and how do you benefit from an automatic stay?
Most consumer bankruptcy cases are classified as Chapter 7, or Chapter 13. In either case, you may be able to eliminate or reduce many of your most significant debts. Debts which can typically be discharged include the following:
- Medical Debt
- Credit Card Debt
- Personal Debt
- Overdue Rent Payments
- Social Security Overpayments
- Utility Bills
- Some Tax Obligations
However, some debts cannot be discharged. While you might be able to discharge some tax obligations, especially penalties and interest, not all taxes are dischargeable. Additionally, you are not permitted to discharge alimony, child support, or criminal restitution. In rare cases, you might be able to eliminate student loan debt. However, this is not usually the case. If you have debt you believe might not be dischargeable, you should still speak with our knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your specific circumstances.
The Automatic Stay
The automatic stay is so named because it goes into effect automatically from the moment you file your initial petition for bankruptcy. This is excellent news for debtors because under the automatic stay:
- Creditors cannot continue to contact you.
- Collection actions must freeze while the stay is in effect.
- Wage garnishment must end, and you will receive your full paycheck.
Essentially, the purpose of the automatic stay is to give debtors some time to “get their bearings” and work out an effective financial plan going into the future.
Another benefit of an automatic stay is halting any collection lawsuits against you. If you are a party to a collection lawsuit and have a judgment entered against you, you will have a judgment lien placed on your real estate. This means that if you had an unsecured credit card debt, it is now a secured judgment debt against your home. If you file for bankruptcy before a judgment is entered, you can avoid having a lien placed on your property. In some situations, a judgment lien could be removed during a bankruptcy proceeding. It is crucial to talk with our Levittown bankruptcy attorney regarding any pending litigation or judgments as avoiding a lien is not possible in every case.
Stopping a Foreclosure
An automatic stay stops all legal collection actions against a debtor. Therefore, if you have a pending foreclosure lawsuit or a scheduled sheriff sale, filing for bankruptcy will stop the proceeding. Additionally, you can pay the money you are behind on your mortgage through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you file for Chapter 13, a bankruptcy plan will be proposed to pay your mortgage arrears over three to five years. Therefore, you will have two payments – one directly to your mortgage company and one to the Chapter 13 trustee that will be applied to your mortgage delinquency. Our bankruptcy attorney will review the proposed plan with you so you understand your obligations.
In addition to stopping foreclosure and saving your home through Chapter 13, there are other benefits available regarding home mortgages. While you are not permitted to change the terms of a first mortgage, you might be allowed to eliminate a second or third mortgage on your home. Under certain circumstances, a second mortgage could be converted to an unsecured debt and eliminated through bankruptcy.
Stopping Vehicle Repossessions
If you have fallen behind on your car payments, your lender has the right to repossess your vehicle. Filing for bankruptcy will stop any pending repossessions. If your car was already taken, depending on the timing of your bankruptcy filing, you might be able to get your vehicle back. If you believe there is a threat of repossession, or if your car was repossessed, contact our experienced Levittown bankruptcy attorney immediately.
Another benefit available in Chapter 13 is the potential to lower your car payment. If you purchased your car more than 910 days before filing and still have a car loan, you could qualify for a cramdown. A cramdown occurs when the outstanding car loan is more than the fair market value of the vehicle. Through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, a debtor might be permitted to pay the fair market value instead of the remaining balance on their loan. For instance, if your car is only worth $4,500 and you owe $11,000, you might be able to pay $4,500 to satisfy your obligations under the contract. Our office will review your car loan and your vehicle’s value to determine if you could benefit from this provision of the Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
One of the first decisions any person will have to make regarding bankruptcy is what type of bankruptcy to file. Most people in Levittown and the surrounding area will file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 is the most common bankruptcy. It is also the one most people want because you can eliminate most of your debt without paying your creditors a cent. It is sometimes called “liquidation” bankruptcy because your property could be sold by a court-appointed trustee to pay your creditors. However, there are many federal and state exemptions to protect your property. In fact, nearly everyone who files for Chapter 7 does not lose any of their personal assets. Before filing, our office will carefully review your debts, income, and property to ensure that Chapter 7 is the best option for you.
Chapter 13 is a reorganization of your debt. The significant difference between the two types of bankruptcy is that, in Chapter 13, you are required to file a plan and make monthly payments to your creditors for three to five years. In some situations, a person will file for Chapter 13 because their income is too high to qualify for Chapter 7 or they own property that could not exempt and want to keep. Other times, a person might be required to file for Chapter 13 even though they qualify for Chapter 7. For instance, while both types of bankruptcies will stop a pending sheriff sale, only a Chapter 13 permits a debtor to pay their mortgage arrears and keep their home.
The type of bankruptcy that is best for you will depend on several factors, including your income, type of debt, and financial goals. Our Levittown bankruptcy attorney will review the pros and cons of each chapter, along with your financial situation. We are committed to providing our clients with the tools and information to make a decision that will most benefit their needs.
Levittown, PA Bankruptcy Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
In our decades of experience, we have filed more than 5,000 bankruptcy cases on behalf of Pennsylvanians and Levittown residents. In many cases, our clients are able to jump ahead financially by as much as five to 10 years. We can help you prepare and submit your paperwork, protect you from aggressive debt collectors, negotiate with your creditors, fight against a foreclosure or repossession, and more. When you are ready to get started on a clean financial slate, our Levittown, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorneys are ready to help. To learn more about how the Levittown, Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates may be able to help, call (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania or contact us online today.