A bankruptcy blog containing useful information for anyone considering a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney.

New Year’s Resolution – File Bankruptcy Now

If you are thinking that the only thing that could make this year worse than last year is to stay buried in debt, it is time to file bankruptcy. You deserve the fresh start that filing bankruptcy provides, and our office can help.

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 offer amazing and powerful relief from creditors, in exchange for providing detailed information about your income and assets. Whether you are considering a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 13 reorganization of debt, our office can assist.

A Fast And Easy Bankruptcy Filing

When you file with our firm, we make a point of streamlining the process leading up to the bankruptcy filing. This means all of your documents can be submitted through our online portal, and documents can be signed electronically as well.

Generally, we will need tax returns, vehicle registrations, bank statements and a few other documents in order to prepare your bankruptcy filing. If you are facing a foreclosure or vehicle repossession, we can file an emergency bankruptcy prior to obtaining that documentation. This halts the process and gives you immediate relief from creditors.

A Lawyer And Staff That Cares

Our firm knows the anxiety associated with financial stress, especially as jobless claims increase across the state. Our goal is to provide you relief from that stress. We know the bankruptcy filing will give you financial relief; however, you will find our compassionate and diligent approach refreshing. We know lawyers have a reputation of being ‘stuffy’. You will not find that at The Layton Law Firm. Instead, you will experience quality conversations, routine updates on your case, and you will come away with the confidence you need to start fresh.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you are ready to move forward, or just have questions, we are here. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a consultation by phone. All consultations are free and answering questions is part of the job. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

 

 

How Do I Pay For A Personal Injury Lawyer?

First, if we don’t recover compensation for you, you don’t owe us anything. Second, you don’t pay anything to us until we do recover compensation for you. Lastly, our fee is based on a percentage of your settlement. In summary, if we are able to settle your case you will pay for your personal injury lawyer fees directly from your settlement.

What Is A Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee is an arrangement between you and your lawyer, where your fee to your lawyer is not owed until and unless the lawyer achieves a settlement or jury verdict for you. The contingency fee is a method of payment which allows you to obtain legal representation without having the funds on hand to pay an attorney. Additionally, when an attorney takes your case based on a contingency fee, they are telling you that they have faith in your case. The lawyer knows that if they don’t recover anything for you, they won’t get paid.

When Will I Know How Much I Owe My Personal Injury Lawyer?

Once we negotiate the highest settlement offer we can for you, we will prepare a draft of a personal injury settlement statement for you to review. The settlement statement shows the offer amount from the insurance company, and then shows you where every penny of that settlement will go. Typically, the settlement statement will show your attorney fee, any medical bills (and Medical Liens)that are being paid from settlement, and finally the amount going back to you.

Because you get to review your settlement statement prior to agreeing to the settlement, you can rest assured you will know exactly how much you will pay your lawyer and how much you will receive, all before agreeing to the settlement amount.

Would It Be Better If I Paid My Injury Lawyer An Hourly Rate Instead?

Not in our opinion. What we like about the contingency fee is that you can trust that your lawyer is taking the case because they believe in it. If you were paying by the hour, you may have an attorney who is more than happy to continue working on your case—and billing you—even though they know your chance of winning is very slim. The contingency fee protects you against this. You will find that your personal injury attorney is very honest with you about the value of your case. The reason for this is in part because the attorney’s office is investing its time in your case with no promise of payment.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

We would be happy to answer any questions you have about personal injury lawyer fees. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call from us. Phone consultations are a great way for you to understand your options and we’re here to help.

Does My Spouse Have To File Bankruptcy With Me?

 

No, your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy with you. Whether you file individually or together will be a function of your income, assets, and debts. Our office will assist you with the decision-making process and weighing the pros and cons of a joint bankruptcy filing or an individual bankruptcy filing.

Let’s Talk Debts

If you and your spouse have separate debt, you may consider filing individually. When you file without your spouse, your debt is discharged, and your spouse’s debt survives the bankruptcy. If you have joint debt and one spouse files, the debt as to the filing spouse is discharged. However, it is important to note the non-filing spouse will still owe the entire balance on the debt. For this reason, may married couples choose to file a joint bankruptcy.

Does Income Matter?

Income plays a role in whether you have the option to file a joint Chapter 7, and income plays a role in the calculation of your monthly payment in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. When both spouses file, all household income is included in the monthly budget. This affects your Means Test in Chapter 7, and your disposable income in Chapter 13. It is worth noting that all household expenses are also included in those calculations. The goal is to give the court an accurate picture of the household financial situation.

When considering whether one spouse should or should not file, income may play a strategic role. Even if one spouse is not filing, both spousal incomes must be included in the income column of the bankruptcy filing. However, any income the non-filing spouse spends on herself (i.e., does not contribute to the ‘household expenses’) can be deducted from this total. For example, if one spouse makes $7,000.00 per month, but gives $1,000.00 a month to help her parents, and contributes another $700.00 per month to a 401k plan, those items are subtracted out from the income totals. Once our office runs hypothetical calculations under both scenarios, the difference often helps dictate the filing strategy.

Ownership Of Assets

The rules of bankruptcy are unique. They do not always make sense, but they are generally predictable. Our firm is familiar with the court’s treatment of asset ownership in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. We will ask you who currently owns each family asset, and whether those assets have been transferred recently. Quite often, we drive a vehicle believing it to be “our” vehicle, even though it may be titled in our spouse’s name. The same may be true of a home owned by a married couple. Determining who is on the deed to the property is of utmost importance in applying the bankruptcy asset rules to your case.

Many assets in a household are not titled. Generally, ownership of household assets is assumed to be owned 50/50 between spouses. However, if a large item was given as a gift, we may be able to categorize that item as yours or your spouse’s, depending upon the specifics.

Do not Worry, Call A Lawyer

The good news is your bankruptcy lawyer addresses all of these potential hurdles for you, and in doing so provides for a smooth bankruptcy filing. Call us to speak with a lawyer today. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 or you can simply click HERE to request a call. For further reading, this ABI article on non-filing spouses may be helpful.

Filing A Restaurant Bankruptcy

As Covid-19 rages on and restrictions for public gatherings ramp up, restaurants in Charlotte and the surrounding area—as well as the country—continue to feel the pain. Many restaurant owners indicate they are at a breaking point financially. During a time when sales are supposed to be highest and restaurants can make up for slower months, the exact opposite is happening.

We speak with small business owners every day regarding their financial predicament. This of course includes restaurant owners. What many small business owners are surprised to find out is that filing a restaurant bankruptcy can be the secret ingredient to future success.

Your Business Can Continue

The options in bankruptcy for restaurant owners have increased with the Small Business Reorganization Act. Together with Chapters 7, 11, and 13, most restaurant owners can find a bankruptcy solution which fits their particular needs.

The primary decision you will need to make is whether the business is going to continue to operate. If it is not, your bankruptcy lawyer will assist with a dissolution of the business in conjunction with the bankruptcy filing. If the business is going to continue, it can do so under either a Chapter 7, 13, or Small Business Reorganization. Chapter 11, an expensive bankruptcy option, is not usually required for a restaurant that is filing bankruptcy.

A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer makes specific mention of the concern business owners have regarding continuing operations. Particularly, the article addresses the concern regarding dealing with suppliers. Typically, suppliers will continue to work with you; however, they may require you to pay COD until you prove yourself with them over time.

You Can Protect Your Assets

The bankruptcy code allows for assets to be exempted from creditors. The ability to preserve assets is different depending upon the Chapter you are filing, and your bankruptcy lawyer will work with you to determine your asset exemption needs when strategizing which bankruptcy route to take.

There are some assets which are exempt from creditors in bankruptcy in an ‘unlimited’ amount—401k and retirement savings, for example—so it is important to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer before you start depleting those assets to keep your business running outside of bankruptcy.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you own a small business or restaurant, we are here to help. Speaking with someone about your options not only helps ease the anxiety and fear you are feeling, but also provides you with clear direction regarding your options. We know you have put your life into the business; bankruptcy can help you save it.

To speak with an attorney, call 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a phone consultation. All consultations are free and can be conducted over the telephone.

Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium and Mortgage Forbearance In NC

The mortgage foreclosure moratorium has been extended to December 31st, 2020. This means even if you are delinquent on your mortgage, your lender can not move forward with foreclosure until the moratorium passes. Additionally, forbearance options exist for those having trouble making their payments due to COVID-19.

Mortgage Forbearance Options

As of late October 2020, North Carolina homeowners need to apply for forbearance relief by December 31st, 2020. Mortgage forbearance is available through the Federal CARES Act for homeowners who have financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Length Of Mortgage Forbearance Options

Per the CARES Act, the mortgage company must provide forbearance relief for up to 180 days upon request. Borrowers are then allowed to request an extension of the forbearance for up to another 180 days.

Contact Your Mortgage Provider

The smartest thing you can do regarding forbearance and the upcoming expiration of the moratorium is to contact your mortgage service provider. It is by speaking with them that you will discover your options, and prepare for how the deferred payments will be addressed once you come out of forbearance.

Lenders are not permitted to demand the delayed payments be paid in a lump sum. To be clear, the debt does not go away. You will plan with your lender for repayment with an increased monthly mortgage payment spread out over a length of time agreed upon by your mortgage provider.

Bankruptcy After Forbearance

If you come out of forbearance and realize you will be unable to make your increased mortgage payment, you may fall behind on the new payments. If the lender moves forward with a foreclosure proceeding, you can use bankruptcy to save your home by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which allows you to catch up on your missed payments. You may also decide that Chapter 7 is a better option for you depending upon the equity in the home and your goals regarding home ownership.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

Our firm helps homeowners save their homes from foreclosure every day. Call us for guidance and we will help you understand your options before it is too late. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a phone consultation.

If you have an emergency situation, our firm can file a bankruptcy for you within 24 hours. However, we do not recommend filing bankruptcy that quickly unless it is absolutely necessary. A few examples would be to stop a foreclosure sale or to prevent a vehicle repossession.

If you are not in an emergency filing situation, a bankruptcy typically can be filed in about 30-45 days, depending upon how quickly you would like to move forward. We cater to your needs, so if you would like to file more quickly, we can certainly assist with that.

Phase I – Gathering Information

Working with our firm is easy. We simplify the process as much as possible and do our best to minimize the documentation you need to provide for filing. You will have your choice between completing an online questionnaire or providing info over the telephone. Documentation can be uploaded electronically or delivered to the office in paper format. While every case is unique, you generally need to provide proof of ID, two years of tax returns, six months of bank statements, and registration cards for vehicles.

Phase II – Reviewing Your Petition

With the information we gather in Phase I, we prepare a rough draft of your bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy petition is a document meant to disclose your financial picture to the bankruptcy court. The key to a successful bankruptcy filing is disclosure. We will provide you with a draft of the petition and review it with you for accuracy and completeness.

Phase III – Signing and Filing The Petition

The bankruptcy petition must be signed prior to being filed. Fortunately, the Charlotte bankruptcy court is allowing electronic signatures and electronic filing. This makes the process quite seamless and easy. Once the petition is filed, the court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to the file. The trustee will review your petition prior to the 341 meeting.

Phase IV – The 341 Meeting

The 341 meeting is a short meeting between you, us, and the bankruptcy trustee. These hearings are held either on the phone or in person. The trustee will ask you a few questions about the petition they have reviewed. The trustee will also ask if there are any changes that need to be disclosed. You may be surprised to know that creditors very rarely attend the 341 meeting.

Phase V – Discharge

After the 341 meeting, there is a necessary waiting period meant to give creditors time to file their claims with the court. Once the deadline for this filing passes, the trustee will close your case and the bankruptcy court will enter your discharge. This is the true end of the bankruptcy and the final step in the process.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

Considering filing bankruptcy? Give us a call. A short conversation can restore your belief that there are brighter financial times ahead. We love answering questions and we are here to help. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call.

 

When To File Bankruptcy Chapter 13

Deciding when to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy should be done with the assistance of your bankruptcy attorney. First, clients must decide whether a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is the best fit for them. Our office gathers information from you over the telephone in order to initially decide this. The analysis is based on your income, your assets and your debt.

Chapter 7 Is Not Always The Best Option

There are times when a client will have the choice between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, yet still choose the Chapter 13. In Chapter 7, if you have assets which can not be exempt, the bankruptcy trustee may attempt to sell those assets. Vehicles and homes are two primary examples of such assets. Alternatively, a Chapter 13 trustee will not try to sell your assets. Instead, your payment in Chapter 13 is a function of the equity in those assets.

You may also have transfers to friends or family which could prevent the successful filing of a Chapter 7; however, those transfers are treated differently in a Chapter 13 and you can still receive your discharge. If a transfer is characterized as a gift or a preference, it may change your monthly Chapter 13 payment. This change is usually insignificant over a five year repayment plan in Chapter 13.

Once you decide that Chapter 13 is the right option for you, we will help you decide WHEN to file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The Timing Of Your Chapter 13 Filing

There are some instances where the timing of your bankruptcy filing is determined by outside forces. If you are facing a foreclosure, you will need to file prior to the finalization of the foreclosure sale. This filing will halt the foreclosure and allow you to “catch up” on the mortgage during the five year repayment plan in bankruptcy. Additionally, if a creditor is pursuing a judgment against you, filing prior to the entry of judgment (whenever possible) makes for a smoother filing. In any case, the bankruptcy will address the judgment and the underlying debt.

Tax Debt In Chapter 13

Depending upon the age of your tax debt, it may be advisable to wait a few months or even longer to file your Chapter 13. The difference could mean paying back thousands of dollars vs. paying pennies on the dollar. The rules regarding tax debt and how it is addressed in bankruptcy are complex, but our office will help you sort through the considerations. In any case, Chapter 13 will address all of your tax debt by either treating it as unsecured debt, or putting you on a repayment schedule during the five year repayment time frame.

Vehicle Debt In Chapter 13

Another consideration regarding the filing of your Chapter 13 relates to the age of your automobile debt. If you have a car with a loan balance, we will ask you how long you have been paying on the loan. Depending upon the age of the loan, you may be entitled to reduce the loan balance—and typically the interest rate—by way of your bankruptcy filing. This can produce amazing savings and turn a vehicle into a great asset at the end of the Chapter 13 when you receive your discharge.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

Considering filing a Chapter 13? Stop reading a call us. In a few minutes, we can answer your questions, provide peace of mind, and help put together a game plan for addressing your concerns and moving forward. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a consultation and an attorney will call you today.

 

Bankruptcy For Medical Bills

You can file bankruptcy for medical bills. Not only will your medical bills be discharged by the bankruptcy, but you other existing unsecured debt will be discharged by filing bankruptcy as well. While this is sometimes referred to as a Medical Bankruptcy, there is no specific legal term for this. It simply signifies that the primary reason you are filing bankruptcy is due to your medical bills.

Your Medical Bills Must Be At Least 90 Days Old

At the time of your bankruptcy filing, your medical bills must be at least 90 days old. This refers to the date of service which gave rise to the medical bills. If the bills are less than 90 days old at the time of the filing, the medical creditor can assert their rights through the bankruptcy by filing an objection to discharge, or in the alternative, that their bill should survive the bankruptcy. Because of this, we often discuss health concerns with our clients who want to file a bankruptcy due to medical bills. If you have an upcoming surgery or large medical expense, we may choose to strategically wait to file your case until after the date of service is more than 90 days old.

Medical Bills Due To Personal Injury

North Carolina can be a challenging state when it comes to medical bills in a personal injury claim. Many times, a personal injury settlement will not address one hundred percent of your medical bills. This means you find that you have settled your personal injury claim for as much money as you can, yet you have remaining medical billing related to the injury. Filing a bankruptcy for medical bills will address the remaining medical billing associated with your personal injury.

Assets And Income Still Matter

As with any bankruptcy, if you file a bankruptcy for medical bills, you still need to pass the income and assets test in order to file a Chapter 7. Our office will work hand in hand with you to determine if you can file a Chapter 7. In the alternative, a Chapter 13 is almost always an option.

Alternatives To Filing Bankruptcy

Often, our firm represents clients in debt settlement or debt negotiations. It may be that the client can not file bankruptcy or does not want to file bankruptcy. In any case, as a bankruptcy firm, we hold special leverage against creditors in the negotiation process. Often, this leads to a great result for the client.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you have questions about whether bankruptcy clears debt, we are here to help. Call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a free phone consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

 

 

Does Bankruptcy Clear All Debt?

Bankruptcy clears unsecured debt, and may clear all debt depending upon your circumstances, and which Chapter of bankruptcy you file. The goal in most bankruptcy filings is to receive a discharge of debt. This article addresses the primary categories of debt and how they are addressed in bankruptcy.

Secured Debt In Bankruptcy

Secured debt is debt secured by property. Vehicle loans and mortgages are the primary examples. The general rule is if you keep the property, you keep the debt. You can also surrender the property to the lender, in exchange for discharge of the debt.

As a result, secured debt can be cleared or discharged in bankruptcy, depending upon whether you choose to keep the property. Many clients with a vehicle worth $5,000.00 come to bankruptcy with a vehicle loan balance far exceeding the value of the vehicle. In that instance, the client may choose to surrender the property in exchange for discharge of the debt.

If you choose to keep the property, you may sign a reaffirmation agreement. The reason for this is the filing of the bankruptcy severs the contractual agreement between you and the lender. If you wish to keep the property, the lender may require a reaffirmation agreement. There are some instances in which we will recommend you not file a reaffirmation agreement—we can discuss those specific instances with you if you schedule a consultation.

Unsecured Debt In Bankruptcy

Unsecured debt comes in a few sizes. General unsecured debt includes credit card debt, medical bills, and other debt not secured by property. General unsecured debt is discharged in bankruptcy, and usually provides the greatest relief for debtors who choose to file.

Priority Unsecured Debt

Some debt is unsecured, but is classified as priority debt. Tax debt is an example. The rules regarding which tax debt is discharged in bankruptcy have a few twists and turns and you can reach more about those rules on our blog HERE.

Spousal and child support are also unsecured debt, but treated as priority debt. Spousal support and child support are not discharged in bankruptcy.

Criminal fines and balances on government over-payment of benefits are also priority unsecured debt, not discharged in bankruptcy.

Judgments

Whether a judgment will be discharged depends upon how much equity you may have in real estate. The filing of the bankruptcy discharges the debt as to you, the person. If you are a real property owner who falls within the rules regarding home equity, a motion can be filed by your bankruptcy attorney for Lien Avoidance. This will make the judgment a non-issue for you moving forward.

An exception to the treatment of a judgment described above would be a judgment obtained as a result of criminal activity such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Sales and Use Tax

While most income taxes older than 3 years old are discharged in bankruptcy, Sales and Use tax is an exception.

Speak With A Lawyer Today

If you have questions about whether bankruptcy clears debt, we are here to help. Call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a free phone consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Can A Lawyer Help With Debt Settlement?

Yes, a lawyer can help with debt settlement. A legitimate question is whether you need to use a lawyer to assist with your debt settlement. Due to the legal complexities surrounding debt, and the various ways in which a debt can be settled, your choice to use a lawyer to help you with your debt settlement is a meaningful choice.

While settling the debt is your primary concern, you also need to be aware of the different remedies creditors have for collecting upon their debt. Remember, there are different types of debt. Depending upon whether your debt is secured debt or unsecured debt, your creditor may propose differing settlement options with different results.

Unsecured Debt Settlement

If you have unsecured debt, your creditor’s only remedy is to pursue you personally. A well known example is credit card debt. While you owe the debt, if you stop paying, your creditor will simply continue to nag you for payment while threatening to take legal action to procure payment.

While your continued non-payment will result in negative credit reporting, the creditor is generally limited to attempting to collect the debt from you personally. That being said, keep in the mind the creditor can take steps to take their debt to judgment. If a creditor obtains a judgment against you, their available remedies expand dramatically. These remedies for judgment execution may include utilizing the sheriff’s office to try to collect on their judgment. If you receive a Writ of Execution or a Notice Of Right To Claim Exemptions, your creditor is pursuing your assets in an attempt to collect on their judgment.

Secured Debt

If your debt is secured, your creditor has different remedies available to them as compared to unsecured debt. Secured debt is debt which is secured by property. Generally, this means that in exchange for the credit that was extended to you, you pledged property as collateral. A lender is more inclined to loan larger amounts if the debt is secured, because they know that if you stop making payments, they can take steps to seize the property. This seizure may come in the way of foreclosure on real estate, repossession of a vehicle, or other seizure of property—depending upon what was pledged.

If the creditor seizes the secured property and sells it, they may come up with a shortfall to pay off the balance of the account. In that event, the creditor can continue to pursue you as an unsecured creditor, in an attempt to obtain the remaining balance.

The Effect Of A Judgment

As mentioned above, a judgment gives an unsecured creditor some of the power that a secured creditor has. For example, if you own real property and a creditor obtains a judgment against you, that unsecured debt will now attach to the real property by way of the judgment. This means that if you sell the real property, the judgment will need to be paid as part of the sale.

Settling Debt With A Lawyer

Given the complexities of debt, there are natural complexities to debt settlement. It is important to understand whether the debt being settled is being released as to a particular piece of property, or satisfied in full. The difference in the language of the debt settlement agreement will dictate the value you are receiving, and whether you want to accept the debt settlement being offered. By way of a simple example, assume a creditor has a judgment against you for $100,000.00 and you want to sell your home. If the creditor is willing to accept $10,000.00 to release the lien from the home so you can sell it, this does not mean that the creditor is prohibited from pursuing the debt outside of the sale transaction. It simply means the house can be sold without paying the debt.

The goal with debt settlement is to reach an agreement which cancels the debt in full—this way, you can move forward in life without fear that this debt will somehow interfere with your financial well-being moving forward. While our firm negotiates debt settlement in all shapes and sizes, the most important aspect is knowing what you are receiving in exchange for your debt settlement payment.

Speak With A Debt Settlement Lawyer Today

Our firm routinely settles debt for clients who have not been successful in attempting to settle the debt on their own. Using a lawyer can help tremendously with debt settlement. If you would like to speak with a debt settlement lawyer today about your options, we are here to help. Call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request to speak with a lawyer today. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.