Bankruptcy - Debt Settlement - Creditor Defense - Foreclosure Defense
Bankruptcy laws are offered by the federal government to help individuals and businesses who are no longer able to pay off their creditors. While incorrect myths abound—causing a negative stigma to be associated with bankruptcy—it is crucial to understand that many times bankruptcy can only help your financial condition. Some of the most successful people in history have utilized bankruptcy as a solution for dealing with debt. If you are interested in filing for bankruptcy, you will first have to decide which chapter of bankruptcy is suitable for you. Bankruptcy laws provide two ways for individuals to get a fresh start: liquidating assets to pay off debts or creating a repayment plan. Chapter 7, which is also known as “straight bankruptcy,” is a liquidation proceeding; it is the most common form of bankruptcy used today. Chapter 7 is a viable option for individuals, as well as married couples who would like to file jointly.
The Chapter 7 Process
Interested in filing for Chapter 7? You should schedule an initial consultation with our firm. During this time, we will be able to evaluate your financial situation—including your debts, income, expenses, and personal property—which will allow us to determine whether or not Chapter 7 is the best course of action for you. If we determine that Chapter 7 is the right choice, we will begin to gather all relevant information and documentation so we can prepare your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules.
Once we have finalized the preparation of your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules and you review and sign them, we will file them with the appropriate court. A bankruptcy trustee will be appointed to your case immediately after it is filed. Your respective trustee will be responsible for the liquidation of your non-exempt property to pay off your creditors. This, however, does not mean that you will lose everything that you own. In fact, New York State Law permits bankruptcy filers to keep a limited amount of property exempt from liquidation.
The following are examples of assets which are exempt in New York State:
$150,000 in equity in your primary residence ($300,000 for married couples filing jointly)
$4,000 in-car equity ($8,000 for married couples filing jointly)
Most household items (ex: furniture, TV, radio, appliances, etc.)
Personal property (ex: clothing, wedding ring, and a limited amount of jewelry)
Most public benefits (ex: Social Security, disability, veteran’s benefits, unemployment, etc.)
Qualified retirement accounts & pensions
Up to $12,000 in any property if the New York State Homestead is not claimed
This list is not all-inclusive. For a complete list of exemptions please consult with our law office.
Immediately after filing, you will be granted an automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362 of the Bankruptcy Code; this prohibits creditors from harassing you in an attempt to collect a debt. In addition to the peace of mind you will achieve from the automatic stay, you will also benefit from a stop to any attempt to garnish your wages and mortgage foreclosures. You will truly be given the time you need to breathe and get your finances in order.
Anywhere from 30 to 40 days after the filing of your case, you will attend a Section 341(a) Meeting of Creditors along with one of our associates. During this meeting, you will be asked several questions pertaining to your financial condition. Roughly 60-90 days after your 341(a) meeting, you will receive a discharge of your debts, releasing you from personal liability.
We can help:
STOP wage garnishments!
STOP harassing phone calls!
STOP letters from collectors!
STOP car repossession!
Debt settlement can be used as a broad term to refer to any attempt at negotiating debts. Specifically, debt settlement is sometimes referred to as the act of offering a lump-sum or installment payment toward the balance of an existing debt in exchange for the forgiveness of the difference.
There are other methods by which we can arrange negotiations with your creditors for more manageable repayment. We create a plan of debt settlement in proportion to the amount you owe and other factors concerning your financial situation.
What Debts Can Be Settled?
If you have found yourself in a position of needing legal assistance for the management of debts, there is no cause or reason for you to be ashamed. Every year, millions of Americans are held back from the life they want due to outstanding debts and a bad credit score. The fact that you are considering debt settlement demonstrates your determination to push through this difficult time and improve your financial situation.
It is important to re-emphasize that debt settlement does not provide relief from all debts. Only unsecured debts are eligible for installment payments and total forgiveness.
Unsecured debts include:
Credit card balances
Cell phone bills
Other unsecured loans
Secured debts such as a mortgage or auto payments are not eligible for settlement because they are secured by collateral.
Why Settle Your Debts?
For those debts that qualify, settlement is an option that many should utilize before resorting to the legal proceedings of bankruptcy. While it is not always explicitly advertised, many lenders often cooperate with debt negotiation because it guarantees a large portion of repayment quicker than bankruptcy would.
With the incentive of quicker and substantive repayment, lenders are likely to cooperate with debt settlement efforts by your legal representative. By hiring an experienced attorney, the individual has tremendous leverage in settling their debt(s) and are often able to cut outstanding balances by 50% – 90%.
Whenever you decide to settle a debt, it is recommended you consult with a legal professional who is knowledgeable in this field of law. Having an experienced attorney assist with your debt negotiation efforts will ensure that your rights remain protected from creditor abuse, allowing you to reach a fair and favorable settlement.
Legally, lenders cannot compel a debtor to repay a debt without the involvement of the courts. The only way a creditor can take action to collect a debt is by filing a lawsuit in the debtor’s state and county of residence. Debt lawsuits are often the last resort for a creditor and can cause the debtor to go into a state of panic.
If a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you for an outstanding debt, you have the right to representation as in any other legal proceeding. We understand that being the defendant in a debt lawsuit can be frightening and overwhelming. Although the lawsuit has been filed, there are responding actions you can take to settle the matter out of court or effectively defend yourself in court. We can provide you with the defense and representation you need in order to do so.
Defense Options Against Debt Lawsuits
Contrary to how circumstances appear, there are several ways to defend yourself from the ramifications of a debt lawsuit. Many creditors file lawsuits in an attempt to catch the attention of a debtor and create a sense of urgency for repayment. If this is the case, your creditor may still be willing to negotiate a debt settlement out of court in order to avoid the long proceedings of a lawsuit.
It is also important to keep in mind that the government has created legislation that provides for your protection against abusive collection tactics. This is found in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is federal legislation limiting the methods and procedures of debt collection in an effort to protect the rights and interests of debtors. All members of the plaintiff’s party are held to the standards of the FDCPA. This means that if anyone representing or appearing on behalf of your creditor acts in violation of your rights according to FDCPA, you have cause to respond with defense and even a countersuit.
Like any lawsuit, debt lawsuits call for the defense and representation of a legal professional. Gambourg & Read, P.C. will appear on behalf of clients being sued for a debt, providing them with the counsel and advocacy they need in those situations. We can help you defend against this lawsuit by:
Explaining and completing all proper legal documentation
Offering explanation of the litigation process that is pending
Meeting all important dates and deadlines
Counsel you on the best course of action and type of response
Evaluating risks concerning bank levies and wage garnishments
Every year, thousands of debt lawsuits receive default judgments in favor of the plaintiff (the creditor) because the defendant failed to respond or appear. If you have received notification that a creditor has filed an action against you, do not delay in responding. Contact an attorney immediately to begin creating a course of action and protect yourself from a default judgment.
The prospect of foreclosure leaves many homeowners feeling frightened, helpless, and alone. We understand how devastating going through a foreclosure can be. Your home, after all, is more than just a residence – it’s the place where you and your family have built your lives. We can answer all of your questions regarding foreclosure. When you work with our team, we’ll determine an appropriate course of action for your unique situation. Our lawyers do not simply provide foreclosure consultations; we work with our clients throughout the foreclosure process to ensure strong communication at every step. We also aim to provide financial solutions that are tailored to our clients’ budgets and wishes. If you’re already in the midst of the foreclosure process, a lawyer from our team can assess your financial outlook and negotiate on your behalf with your lender. By speaking to a lawyer early, before your first missed mortgage payment, you’ll have a better understanding of your options. And in some cases, early legal intervention may even help you keep your home.