Frequently asked questions
Is filing bankruptcy the right decision for me?
The decision to file bankruptcy should not be made casually and may not be right for everyone as some kinds of debt are not dischargeable. However, if you have more debt than you can afford, you have lost your driver's license because you have failed to maintain insurance, your wages are being garnished, you are facing foreclosure, or are being sued for delinquent debts, it is an option you should consider. Filing bankruptcy can stop these actions and provide you with the relief you need for a fresh start and brighter financial future.
Will I be able to keep my property?
Most people are able to retain their homes, vehicles and other assets in a bankruptcy through the state's exemption laws. Keeping all assets is possible in every Chapter 13 case and and is also possible in over 90% of Chapter 7 cases. Every individual situation is different and bankruptcy laws are complex. It is beneficial to seek professional help at as early a time as is possible to ensure you are getting the protections you deserve. Do not assume that you can work yourself out of your financial dilemma. Without sound legal advice, decisions that may seem logical may, in fact, work to your detriment. Come see us for a free consultation at your earliest opportunity.
What do I need to begin filing for bankruptcy?
There are a number of financial and legal records that should be gathered after deciding to file bankruptcy. Bank statements, recent bills, credit reports, paystubs, verification of other income, and your tax information for the past three years will all be essential to assessing your situation and preparing your bankruptcy petition. We will request those documents when needed, but at your intial interview, please be prepared to provide general information about your income and debts.
Am I eligible to file bankruptcy?
Generally, anyone who is insolvent, that is unable to meet their ongoing financial obligations, is eligible to file bankruptcy. Issues such as prior bankruptcy cases, income level and the nature of your debts will determine under what Chapter you are eligible to file. We will discuss those issues in detail at your free initial consultation and decide what approach is most suitable to your situation.
Wills and Probate
Do I need a will?
The purpose of a Will is to be sure that upon your death your assets are passed on to your heirs as you wish. If someone dies without a Will, they are what is considered intestate. Intestate means that their assets will be distributed according to state law, which in many cases is at odds with the desires or plans of the deceased person. None of us like to think about these issues, but by having a Will, you can save your heirs from considerable difficulties upon your death, and be sure that they are provided for in the most beneficial and fair way possible. If you have minor children, a Will gives you an opportunity to designate your child's legal guardian upon your death, and create a financial plan for your children to help care for them until they become adults.
What is a Trust?
A Trust is a planning device that enables you to set aside assets for a person, usually a child or an adult who may not be financially resposible, and have those assets maintained for that person by a Trustee. A Trustee can be either a trusted individual or a financial institution. The trust can remain in existence until the beneficiary has reached an age where they are capable of maintaining their own financial affairs, or if necessary, until their death. Trusts are often found in Wills, with the intent being that they will go into effect at your death. Those are called testamentary trusts. However, a trust may also be created that immediately takes effect, while you are still living. Those types of trusts can be helpful if you wish to transfer assets during your lifetime, if you own real estate in multiple states, or if you want to simplify the probate process for your heirs at the time of your death. We can help you to determine whether a Trust would be beneficial in your situation.
What is Probate?
When we pass away, most of us own assets that we wish to see pass on to our family. Technically speaking, Probate is the process whereby our Will is given effect and implemented through the courts. However, the word is also used generically to describe any legal process, whether the deceased has a Will or not, where a court proceeding is filed to transfer the decedent's property to his or her heirs. The process need neither be expensive or complex, but it needs to be handled by competent counsel who can guide you through the process. If you lose a loved one, and have any questions with regard to their estate, please contact us at your earliest convenience for your free consultation.
What is a Power of Attorney?
There are times when we are unable to handle our personal affairs for ourselves. The cause can be extended absence from home, illness, injury, or simply the desire to have some help in dealing with our responsibilities. A Power of Attorney enables us to appoint one or more persons to help us handle our medical or financial needs. Such a Power can be created for a limited period, or can be made permanent, to remain effective until our death. In either case, the Power can be revoked at any time, for any reason. If you believe that a Power of Attorney would help you or a loved one, please contact us for your free consultation.