We’ve written a series of blog posts answering common questions regarding bankruptcy in Wisconsin, and how it can impact your finances. Call (262) 827-0375

Tax Returns and Bankruptcy: Do I Get to Keep My Refund in Bankruptcy?

Before exploring the status of any tax refunds, let’s be clear about taxes owed. If you owe taxes, that debt will not be discharged during bankruptcy, whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 unless 1) that tax debt more than 3 years old; 2)there was nothing fraudulent about the tax returns; 3) and the tax was not assessed within 240 days of filing the bankruptcy petition. Business tax debts cannot be discharged. That said, the status of any tax refunds is not so clear-cut. So the answer to the all important question “Do I get to keep my refund in bankruptcy?” is “It depends.” The issue of tax refunds during bankruptcy is one of a number of complex questions that can arise during bankruptcy. That’s why it is essential to consult with professionals, like the experts at Burr Law, who deal with the intricacies of bankruptcy law every day.

 

Exemptions

Whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are entitled to exemptions. There are both federal and state exemptions, and Wisconsin is one of only 19 states that allows you to choose which set of exemptions you use. It’s important to note that you must choose one or the other; you cannot mix-and-match the exemption rules. The experts at Burr Law can help you determine which is better for your particular situation. While Wisconsin does not have a specific federal or state tax refund exemption, you can protect it with a wildcard exemption if you are able to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Should you choose, your tax refund can become an asset protected through your exemptions, and you would then retain it.

 

Necessary Expenses

Your tax refund may be automatically deposited into your bank account. Can you spend those funds? If you spend your tax refund on necessary expenses like mortgage or rent payments, that is allowable. Other necessary expenses include food, medical expenses, and clothing. While your tax refund counts as an asset, you are allowed to spend money on necessary expenses, and that applies equally to money gained from a tax refund. Basically, as long as you are not spending it on luxury items, it’s all right for you to spend the tax refund you receive. You can also use your tax refund to pay your bankruptcy attorney and associated court costs.

 

Timing – Not Yet Filed

If you have not yet filed bankruptcy, but plan to do so within the year, it is a good idea to adjust your withholding to minimize any refund you may receive. This must be done carefully; if you miscalculate and end up owing taxes, those become non-dischargeable debts. Another way to plan ahead for bankruptcy is to designate more of your income to your employer IRA or 401k. Those retirement contributions will not become assets liable to exploitation during bankruptcy. Pre-planning for bankruptcy will help you avoid the question altogether.

 

Timing – Refund From Income After Filing

Any refund that results from income you earned after filing for bankruptcy is yours free and clear. Also, if any portion of the refund results from income you earned after the filing date, that portion is available to you without restriction. Again, this is a delicate calculation and it is vital that you have an experienced bankruptcy attorney from Burr Law to guide you through the process. You want to adhere to the law in all instances.

 

The issue of tax returns during bankruptcy is complex. With the experts at Burr Law, you can feel confident that all of your individual circumstances will be carefully considered. We will find the best possible solutions for your financial situation.

Can I Keep My Tax Return During Bankruptcy?

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, or have already done so, you may be anticipating filing your taxes and wondering how taxes owed or refunds received will work into a bankruptcy proceeding. This post will explore how your tax return affects your bankruptcy.

Before exploring the status of any tax refunds, let’s be clear about taxes owed. If you owe taxes, that debt will not be discharged during bankruptcy, whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Also, any overdue taxes or penalties will remain.

Tax Refunds Are Assets

You may have received your refund directly into your bank account, the refund may be in process, or the refund may result from the taxes you file for the previous year. Any way you look at it, tax refunds are assets. And when you file for bankruptcy all of your assets become part of the proceedings. That fact does not necessarily mean that you will lose your tax refund. Whether you keep all or a portion of it depends on a variety of factors.

Timing – Not Yet Filed

If you have not yet filed bankruptcy, but plan to do so within the year, it is a good idea to adjust your withholding to minimize any refund you may receive. This must be done carefully; if you miscalculate and end up owing taxes, those become nondischargeable debts. Another way to plan ahead for bankruptcy is to designate more of your income to your employer IRA or 401k. Those retirement contributions will not become assets liable to exploitation during bankruptcy.

Protect Refund With Exemptions

Whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are entitled to exemptions. There are both federal and state exemptions, and Wisconsin is one of only 19 states that allows you to choose which set of exemptions you use. The experts at Burr Law can help you determine which is better for your particular situation. While Wisconsin does not have a specific federal tax refund exemption, you can protect it with a wildcard exemption. In any event, your tax refund can become an asset protected through your exemptions, and you would then retain it.

Refund Used For Necessary Expenses

If you spend your tax refund on necessary expenses like mortgage or rent payments, that is allowable. Other necessary expenses include food, medical expenses, and clothing. Basically, as long as you are not spending it on luxury items, it’s all right for you to spend the tax refund you receive. You can also use your tax refund to pay your bankruptcy attorney and associated court costs.

Timing – Refund From Income After Filing

Any refund that results from income you earned after filing for bankruptcy is yours free and clear. Also, if any portion of the refund results from income your earned after the filing date, that portion is available to you without restriction. Again, this is a delicate calculation and it is vital that you have an experienced bankruptcy attorney from Burr Law to guide you through the process. You want to adhere to the law in all instances.

The issue of tax returns during bankruptcy is complex. With the experts at Burr Law, you can feel confident that all of your individual circumstances will be carefully considered. We will find the best possible solutions for your financial situation.

Can You File Chapter 13 After Chapter 7?
Multiple Bankruptcies

There is nothing prohibiting a person from undertaking multiple bankruptcies. If you have already gone through bankruptcy and find yourself in financial difficulties again, you already know some of the advantages that filing bankruptcy brings. While there are no limits on the number of bankruptcies you can file, there are time frames you need to be aware of. It’s also important to know that these time frames apply to bankruptcy cases that have been discharged, not those that have been dismissed.

Successive Same Chapter Filings

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be done and dusted in three to six months with all unsecured debt eliminated. If you have previously filed Chapter 7, eight years must elapse from the date of filing in order for you to file another Chapter 7. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy your unsecured debt may be eliminated or substantially reduced. It is possible for you to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy after two years. Given that the first Chapter 13 plan would still be in place, it would be wise to consult with one of the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Burr Law before doing so.

Chapter 13 Then Chapter 7

Typically, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy six years after the filing date of your Chapter 13. That time frame can be shorter if you paid your unsecured creditors in full or if you paid at least 70% of the claims and it represented your best efforts. You will need to meet the income status requirement for Chapter 7 as well.

Chapter 7 Then Chapter 13

Four years after the filing date of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can file for Chapter 13. This is sometimes known informally as a Chapter 20, though that can refer to filing a Chapter 13 immediately after a Chapter 7 (or while it is still pending). When you file a Chapter 13 after a Chapter 7 without waiting four years, you cannot receive a discharge in the Chapter 13 but there are some advantages. In Wisconsin, though, courts rarely allow the filing of Chapter 13 earlier than the four year time limit. If the four years has elapsed, then it is perfectly acceptable to file Chapter 13. That will protect your home and car, eliminate or significantly reduce unsecured debt, and give you time to deal with nondischargeable debts.

Multiple Bankruptcies and Automatic Stays

It’s important for you to know that if your initial bankruptcy case is dismissed rather than discharged, there are implications for the next bankruptcy you file (whatever Chapter it is under). If you file within a year of the filing of the first bankruptcy, and that first bankruptcy was dismissed, the automatic stay that prevents creditors from pursuing all collection action will be limited to 30 days only. Usually it is for the duration of the bankruptcy proceedings. The time limit is based on the assumption that the second filing is done in bad faith, so it is possible to request the bankruptcy court to extend it beyond the 30 days. You would need to demonstrate your good faith to the court for that to happen. In the event that you file three bankruptcies within a year, the automatic stay is voided in the third instance.

Bankruptcy is a complicated legal situation. Multiple bankruptcies present even more intricacies. If you are considering a subsequent bankruptcy, it is vital that you have expert advice. With Burr Law, you have access to the finest bankruptcy attorneys, all of whom are experts on Wisconsin bankruptcy law.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect A Lawsuit?

There is no quick and easy answer to this question. Generally, if the lawsuit involves money or property, it will be temporarily suspended or dismissed. If it is primarily concerned with something else (child custody, for instance), it will not have any effect. When you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will enter an automatic stay. This injunction means that as soon as any other court learns of the bankruptcy proceeding, it must act accordingly. Usually, lawsuits that involve money or property are immediately suspended, with the possibility of dismissal if the bankruptcy goes through to completion. This is an extremely complicated area of law, however, and it is imperative that you have the advice of bankruptcy experts, like those at Burr Law.

Pending Money/Property Lawsuits

This lawsuit would overlap with the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court, so typically, the automatic stay will stop the debt collection lawsuit. Your attorney would file a “Suggestion of Bankruptcy.” This lets the judge know that a bankruptcy case is pending, and the entire lawsuit is suspended, at least until the bankruptcy court enters a discharge. When that happens, the court in the collection suit usually dismisses the case since it will be dealt with in the bankruptcy court. However, this course of action is not guaranteed. Though bankruptcy courts issue an injunction that suspends a pending case that has to do with money or property, it may be determined that having another court continue the case would be more efficient. In that situation the bankruptcy court would allow the case to go forward.

New Lawsuits

Likewise, if a creditor wants to begin a lawsuit against you after you have filed bankruptcy, it is possible, though difficult, to do. The creditor can request that the automatic stay be lifted in that particular instance, and it would be up to the bankruptcy judge to decide.

Divorce and Child Custody

Generally, divorce or child custody cases that are in current litigation will not be affected by a bankruptcy action. A number of family court judges will put the case on hold as a courtesy until they get an order from the bankruptcy judge. Bankruptcy courts don’t want to have anything to do with these kinds of family law matters.

Alimony and Child Support

With alimony and child support, the relevance of bankruptcy is apparent. The family court’s imposition of child support or alimony orders could affect a bankruptcy case because of the effect on the debtor’s resources. This is true when the person declaring bankruptcy is the one also paying alimony and/or child support as well as when the person declaring bankruptcy is the one receiving alimony. A bankruptcy court may reserve jurisdiction over a property settlement but even then, bankruptcy courts rarely take issue with a property settlement unless it is extreme.

If you are behind on your alimony payments and legal action has actually begun to collect them, the bankruptcy injunction will suspend that activity. However these are not debts that are dischargeable under either Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This can also be the case for many property settlement agreements. Consultation with the professionals at Burr Law can help clarify your position.

A child support creditor (a state agency or the other parent) is subject to the automatic stay just like any other creditor. However, any debts you owe for child support will not be discharged in the bankruptcy case. The creditor can renew collection activities after the bankruptcy court enters the discharge.

Other Lawsuits

There are other kinds of lawsuits where the intricacies of the particular situation mean that bankruptcy might have an affect on them. These lawsuits include: criminal cases, code enforcement and nuisance actions, evictions, and administrative actions. Ask the expert bankruptcy attorneys at Burr Law for help if you are considering bankruptcy.

How to Prepare for Bankruptcy: What to Avoid Before Filing

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to plan ahead, whether it is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There are a number of strategies that you can use to make sure that your bankruptcy work most effectively to eliminate your debt. Once your bankruptcy is complete, you want to have a completely clean slate to begin your financial life anew.

Timing Is Crucial

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best choice for actually getting rid of your unsecured debt. It requires a means test, though; you can’t make more than the median household income based upon your family size for your state. For Wisconsin, the median household income in 2019 for a single filer (the most recent data) is $51,792, for a 2 person family is $67,146, a 3 person family is $82,119, and a 4 person family is $98,317. The calculation of your household income is made from all of your income for the six months prior to the month in which you file for bankruptcy. So if there are particular times of the year when you receive money, either in the form of a bonus from your work or a payout from an investment for instance, it would be wise to file for bankruptcy so that any extra income isn’t included. For instance, if you get a work bonus around the 20th of December every year, filing in December means that your household income is figured from June 1 through November 30. You want to avoid any extra money that might push your household income above the median for your state.

Credit Card Spending

When you are contemplating bankruptcy, it may be tempting to make a number of purchases on your credit cards. You may think that it is a good idea to use them while you still have them, and that it’s your final chance to buy something major. There is some truth to this thinking. With either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will no longer have access to your credit cards. However, it is important for you to know that some credit card debt can be determined non-dischargeable. If you go on a spending spree just before filing bankruptcy, your credit card company can claim those were fraudulent purchases, that you never intended to repay them, and request that they be declared non-dischargeable. You would need to be able to prove that you intended to repay them or that you didn’t plan to declare bankruptcy.

Presumed Fraudulence

There are some instances where the law presumes that your intent was fraudulent. If you use your credit cards in the three months before filing bankruptcy for luxury goods and services totaling more than $725, fraud is presumed (11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(C)(i)(l). Likewise, If you use your credit cards for cash advances totaling more than $1,000 within 70 days before filing bankruptcy, fraud is presumed (11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(C)(i)(l).

Necessary Spending

The designation of luxury goods is significant. The court will not penalize you for using your credit card for reasonable and necessary living expenses. So, while buying a new elliptical machine for your home would not be allowed, paying for your heating for the winter would. If you are considering getting a cash advance on your card in order to pay for necessary living expenses, it would be better to use your card to pay for the gas you need to get to work, and the groceries to feed your family.

If you’re contemplating filing for bankruptcy, the best advice is to speak to one of the bankruptcy experts at Burr Law. We can help inform your decision, and advise you based on your particular situation.

When Should I File for Bankruptcy? How to Determine if Filing is Right for You

You’re feeling overwhelmed. The credit card payments or medical bills are just too much to keep up with in addition to your car payments, student loans, mortgage/rent, and other monthly bills. You’re paying absurd monthly interest charges and never seeing the capital decrease significantly. It’s just impossible to keep juggling all your financial obligations. It’s time to think seriously about your debt management problems. In this blogpost, we will explore the options of debt consolidation and bankruptcy.

Debt Consolidation: What Is It?

In its most basic form, debt consolidation works by combining multiple debt payments into one monthly payment through obtaining either a secured or unsecured loan. That monthly payment is sometimes lower than the individual payments combined, and the interest you pay is sometimes lower as well. You will maintain your access to credit, though incurring more debt increases the likelihood of the debt consolidation failing. If the debt consolidation loan is secured, then you risk losing your collateral, usually your car or other significant tangible property.

Cross-Collateralization

Sometimes you may risk losing collateral that you aren’t aware you have placed in jeopardy. That can happen when your debt consolidation loan has a cross-collateralization clause that lets the lender take other property it has financed if you default on the debt consolidation loan. For example, if you get your debt consolidation loan through the same bank that financed your car, under the cross-collateralization clause, if you default on the debt consolidation loan, the bank could repossess your car—even if the car payments are current.

Debt Management Plans: Hidden Costs

Some people go to an agency that creates a debt management plan for them and negotiates with the credit card companies on your behalf. It’s important for you to know that agreeing to a debt management plan comes with a number of hidden costs – monetary and otherwise. You will be expected to pay an enrollment fee as well as a monthly fee for each credit card on the plan. Also, most credit card companies will require that an account entering into a debt management plan be closed, so you lose your access to credit. And the fact that you’re engaged in a debt management plan will be noted on your credit report. Most debt management plans run for three to five years, and at least half of clients do not successfully complete the plan.

Negative Tax Consequences
Depending on your financial condition, any money you save from debt relief services such as debt consolidation may be considered income by the IRS, which means you pay taxes on it. Credit card companies and other creditors may report settled debt to the IRS, which the IRS considers income.

Debt Consolidation vs Bankruptcy

There are two types of bankruptcy you can pursue: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Chapter 7 is means tested, so you need to make no more than your state’s median household income ($60.773 for Wisconsin).* If you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your unsecured debt can be completely eliminated. The whole process takes about four months, and then you can start over with a clean slate. Chapter 13 bankruptcy lasts between three to five years, similar to debt consolidation. With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the moment you file, there is an automatic stay on all collection action, and you will almost certainly retain possession of your home and vehicle.

If you’re considering debt consolidation vs bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to talk to one of the experts at Burr Law.

Should I File for Bankruptcy Before or After Christmas? How to Survive the Holidays

When your finances are in disarray, it’s hard to enjoy let alone survive the holidays. You want to focus on your family and friends, not your financial difficulties. It’s hard to have the emotional capacity to consult an attorney about bankruptcy during this already emotionally challenging time of year. Yet, bankruptcy is a viable option, and it may be wisest for you to file before Christmas. Timing is crucial, and in this post, we look at the various factors you need to consider when making the decision to file for bankruptcy.

Two Types of Personal Bankruptcy

There are primarily two types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes only about four months from start to finish, and can eliminate almost all your debt. With Chapter 13 bankruptcy you retain your debt, and a way to pay off your obligations is worked out. It takes between three and five years. So the first thing to figure out when you are considering bankruptcy is whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7.

Income Matters

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is means tested; you must not earn more than the median household income for your state. In Wisconsin, the median household income was $60,773 in 2018 (according to figures released by the US Census ACS on September 26, 2019). The size of your household matters as well, and the bankruptcy experts at Burr Law can help you know definitively whether or not you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Timing Matters

Importantly, “income” excludes any money received during the actual calendar month in which you file. The median household income is determined by the numbers during the six calendar months prior to the filing. So, for instance, if you generally receive a holiday bonus in December, or your parents give you a monetary gift to help with presents for the children in December, it would be a good idea to file for bankruptcy before Christmas. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December will mean that your household income will be calculated based on the numbers from June 1 through November 30. Survive the holidays by beginning the bankruptcy procedure when the means testing will work in your favor.

Non-dischargeable Debt

If you imagine that you can charge wonderful Christmas presents on your credit cards, and have a spectacular holiday, and then file for bankruptcy, that will not work at all. Bankruptcy law states that any debt incurred during the three months before or after Christmas that exceed $600 and that are not living necessities may be non-dischargeable debt. That particular creditor could file an adversary proceeding to determine that that debt is non-dischargeable. That means that you could be responsible for any purchases made during that time. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your credit card use will be carefully examined to determine whether or not charges were “necessary.” Those deemed unnecessary could be non-dischargeable debt, and you may remain responsible for them. So filing for bankruptcy before or after Christmas will not make any difference to the categorization of non-dischargeable debt. Other non-dischargeable debts are certain income tax owed, domestic support obligations, debts to governmental agencies, and student loan debt.

Surviving the holidays is even more difficult when your financial situation is a mess. Even though you may be reluctant to confront the situation before Christmas, it may make a big difference in what kind of bankruptcy you can file and how your income is calculated. Make the time to consult one of our bankruptcy professionals at Burr Law today.

When Does Bankruptcy Clear From Your Credit Report?

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Wisconsin, you probably have a lot of bankruptcy questions. It’s important for you to have all the information you need in order to make a truly sound decision, and in this post, we will look at one of the most commonly asked bankruptcy questions: When does bankruptcy clear from your credit report?

Credit reports are simply a fact of contemporary existence, and they are consulted every time you apply for a new credit card, or an automobile loan, or any type of financial undertaking. You may not be aware that in Wisconsin credit reports are also considered by landlords, and by some employers. So concern about your credit report is absolutely reasonable when making the decision to file for bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy becomes part of the public record, so if anyone is truly interested in the bankruptcy filing itself, they can access that information.

Generally speaking, bankruptcy stays on your credit report in Wisconsin for about 10 years. Remember, though, that even if you don’t file bankruptcy, your creditors can obtain a judgment against you for your debt, and that judgment would appear on your credit report. A judgment can remain on your credit report for seven years or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations on a judgment can be up to 20 years! So a bankruptcy may well fall off of your credit report before a particular judgment.

Bankruptcy will mean a drop in your credit score immediately after filing, but about 12 to 18 months after you receive your bankruptcy discharge your credit score should go up because your debtor to income ratio becomes much better than when you filed the bankruptcy. However, you may already have a poor credit score due to your debt-to-asset ratio (your debt is high compared to your available credit) and delinquent accounts; in that case, the decrease in your credit score may be less than you suppose. If your credit score was good before filing bankruptcy, the drop may be more pronounced.

The type of bankruptcy that you file may also affect how its presence on your credit report is viewed by prospective lenders. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy completely wipes out your debt by selling whatever eligible assets you have; Chapter 13 Bankruptcy sets up a three to five year plan to repay a portion of your debt. Obviously, prospective lenders would consider a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in a more favorable light than a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. When applying for credit after bankruptcy, you should be straightforward about the bankruptcy and your reasons for choosing that option.

Attorney Michael Burr and the Burr Law Offices can answer all of your bankruptcy questions. You concern about your credit report is certainly warranted, and we can help you understand all the implications of a decision to file bankruptcy. Consult the experts in Wisconsin bankruptcy law at the Burr Law Offices, and bring all your bankruptcy questions with you.

Bankruptcy Pros and Cons

When you’re in financial distress, it can sometimes seem like there is no way out. There are all different kinds of reasons people find themselves flailing in a sea of debt. Whatever the reason, when creditors are circling sharks, bankruptcy may be the lifeboat you need. Over 12,000 Wisconsinites have filed bankruptcy so far this year (January 1 through September 30, 2019). In the Eastern District of Wisconsin (including Milwaukee and its surrounding areas), 9,466 bankruptcy cases have been recorded
(www.wiwb.ucourts.gov, www.wieb.uscourts.gov). So bankruptcy is neither shameful nor unusual.

Filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision, though. You want to have all the information and understand all the implications before proceeding. Let’s take a look at some of the bankruptcy pros and cons.

PRO: Bankruptcy Stops All Collection Activities By Any And All Creditors. When your debt is crippling, it comes with collection agents working relentlessly to extract money you don’t have. Letters that threaten dire consequences, phone calls that badger you at all times of day or night, these tactics can make you feel hunted, haunted, or both. The moment you file bankruptcy, all collection activities must stop, including any garnishment, foreclosure or repossession.

PRO: Bankruptcy Eliminates or Decreases Debt. With bankruptcy, all your unsecured debt is either eliminated or reduced. Most people file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and with that type, you don’t need to worry about any sort of repayment. “The entire process takes from 3-6 months, after which your debt is cleared” (David Chandler, https://www.consumeraffairs.com/finance/bankruptcy_02.html). Some people choose Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, and with that type, you do repay a portion of your debts, determined with the court. This process lasts from 3 to 5 years. In both cases, your debts are cleared, once and for all.

PRO: Bankruptcy Avoids Draining Resources. The bill collectors don’t care where you get the money to pay them, and you may be tempted to take it from your retirement funds, social security or other protected assets. When you declare bankruptcy, not all your assets are liable for your debt repayment. Social security and retirement funds are protected. Filing bankruptcy allows you to retain those protected assets while getting rid of the debt.

CON: Bankruptcy Means No Credit Cards Until You Receive Your Bankruptcy Discharge. While bankruptcy rids you of your debt, it also rids you of your credit cards. Not having credit cards makes some things more difficult. For instance, car rental agencies usually require credit cards; hotels often do too. It also means that unexpected large expenses cannot be paid with a credit card; car repairs may need to wait. Once you receive your bankruptcy discharge you can apply for credit, including credit cards and you should receive that credit or credit card.

CON: Bankruptcy Complicates Credit/Loan Prospects. Bankruptcy remains on your credit record for 10 years, and it can make getting an auto loan or other kind of loan more difficult, but not impossible. And while you may receive credit card offers shortly after declaring bankruptcy, they often come with high interest rates. Naturally, your credit rating will drop, but will improve and be back to normal about 1 year after bankruptcy discharge. Professional advice can assist in charting a positive strategy and ways to improve your credit score.

CON: Bankruptcy Becomes Public Record. When you file for bankruptcy, it becomes a matter of public record, and anyone can request those records. Except it will not appear on the State of Wisconsin, CCAP website, which list case filed in Wisconsin.

A Wisconsin legal team that specializes in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings can help you make the right decision for you and your family. If you need help with dealing with debt in Wisconsin, Burr Law Office can provide you with practical solutions that suit your needs. We can help you make the best possible decisions for yourself, your family and your future. Call us today at (262) 827-0375 to schedule a free bankruptcy evaluation. At Burr Law Office, we are here to help.

erasing debt with a green eraser

Bankruptcy and Debt Consolidation in Wisconsin

Bankruptcy can have long-term effects on the financial prospects of individuals and families in our area. In many cases, working with a knowledgeable law firm to negotiate debt consolidation in Wisconsin can allow consumers to manage their debts more effectively.

Debt is a huge problem in our country. According to credit bureau Experian, consumer debt soared to $13 trillion in the last quarter of 2018. This represents a serious burden on residents of Wisconsin as well as those throughout the United States. While the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January 2019 that bankruptcy filings declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018, farm bankruptcies are on the rise. About 49 farm families filed for bankruptcy in Wisconsin in 2018. That figure is more than double the number of farm bankruptcies in 2009. This increase in bankruptcies corresponds with a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report that U.S. farm debt amounted to more than $309 million in 2018.

The Basics of Bankruptcy

All bankruptcy cases must be filed in federal courts and are governed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Depending on where you live in Wisconsin, these cases go through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District or the Western District of Wisconsin. Individuals can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for the discharge of debts while paying creditors through the sale of assets held by the debtor. For those who have some ability to repay their creditors, Chapter 13 allows the retention of most property while allowing more time to make payments.

Recent Changes to Federal Law

One case that established an important precedent for future bankruptcy cases was Lamar, Archer & Cofrin, LLP v. Appling, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 4, 2018. The high court found that a false statement by a debtor about a single asset could make a debt nondischargeable. This is only true, however, if the false statement was made in writing.

Rule 3002(a) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code was amended in 2017 to require secured creditors to file a proof of claim with the court before their claims can be allowed. A recent adjustment to Rule 3015 makes the determination of the amount and the priority of secured debts a binding determination. Finally, means testing will be used to determine whether debtors are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or whether they will be required to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans instead.

Avoiding Bankruptcy

A Wisconsin legal team that specializes in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings and debt consolidation can act as a partner in managing debts and reaching settlements with creditors. This can reduce the need for bankruptcy in some cases.

If you need help with managing debt consolidation in Wisconsin, Burr Law Office can provide you with practical solutions that suit your needs. We can negotiate with bill collectors and creditors to help you even the playing field and to achieve the best results for your situation. We can help you make the best possible decisions for yourself, your family and your future. Call us today at (262) 827-0375 to schedule a free bankruptcy evaluation. At Burr Law Office, we are here to help.