We’ve written a series of blog posts answering common questions regarding filing for bankruptcy in Wisconsin. Call (262) 827-0375

The Road to Financial Recovery After Filing for Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 | Milwaukee Bankruptcy AttorneyAs experts in bankruptcy law in Wisconsin, we’ve seen a whole range of financial situations that cause individuals and families to file for bankruptcy. It’s certainly true that no two cases are exactly alike; however, there are very often common contributing factors involved in many of the bankruptcies we see.

As a premiere bankruptcy law firm in Milwaukee, we understand—perhaps more than anyone—the importance of bankruptcy law for protecting the lives and futures of families all over southeastern Wisconsin. Bankruptcy law exists so that people can have a fresh start and get back on the right track with their finances.

As we have mentioned many times in the past, we certainly understand there are many different unique situations that may lead a person or family to decide to file for bankruptcy, and it’s not our intention to paint with a broad brush. But in this post, we would like to talk a bit about some common tips for helping people get back on track after completing the bankruptcy process. While these tips aren’t applicable in all situations, we do find that following these few suggestions can be positive steps for many of our clients.

#1. Start Rebuilding Your Credit

If credit cards put you in a financial hard spot in the past, it’s likely you may be a bit wary of opening another account after a bankruptcy—not to mention the fact that you’ll also likely have a hard time being approved. But what many people don’t realize is that using credit cards is not the only way to build or re-build credit. If you are a renter, you can ask your landlord to report your on-time rent payment history to the credit bureaus. If you have a post-paid cell phone plan, paying your bill on time will also build your credit. And most people have utility bills as well. Pay them on time and in full and you’ll be on your way to building credit—all without having to do any borrowing.

#2. Start a Savings Account

This may seem counter-intuitive, especially if you are working hard just to make ends meet. You might think there is never any money left over for savings, but you may be surprised at how you can push yourself to get creative and make sure you have some money—even if it’s just a very little bit at first—to put away for savings. Research shows that having a savings account acts as a great “safety net” and can often prevent people from turning to things like payday loans or high-interest credit cards for emergencies.

#3. Reduce Your Bills

You might be saying to yourself, “I can’t reduce my bills—they are what they are.” While there are many bills you simply can’t avoid paying, it’s worthwhile to take a good, hard look at what you are paying out every month. Is there anything you can cut out and won’t miss all that much? And for bills that are a “must,” like utilities, find ways to try to decrease them by trying to conserve energy or running the heat just a bit lower. Make a point of using free wifi when available and reduce your cell phone data plan by a few dollars a month. Get creative!

#4. Set a Budget

Studies show many Americans don’t do any kind of household budgeting. Without a budget, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of how your money is coming and going. You can’t get control of your money if you don’t know anything about it. Start small if the process seems intimidating. Set a budget for one category, such as food/grocery and see how you do with it. As you get comfortable with tracking your money, start tracking more and more of it until you know how just about all of it is being spent or managed. You’ll be surprised at how much you may be spending on things you don’t think twice about, and you also might be surprised that some items that you assumed were costing you a lot aren’t actually costing you as much as you assumed. Get educated about your money and start making it work for you.

While the above tips certainly won’t apply to everyone, give some of the suggestions a try if you think they may be applicable to you. If you’re facing financial hardship and need information about your options under the bankruptcy law, contact Burr Law Office LLC today and let us work with you to find a solution that truly protects you and your future.

Is It Time for You to File for Bankruptcy?

We all know how stressful the holidays can be on our wallet and bank account. Sometimes it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you need to reach out to external sources for help. One of the most important things to understand is that open communication is key to successfully getting out of debt. Whether your spouse, bankruptcy attorney, or other source, open communication and willingness to cooperate will help make the process smoother and much less difficult. Here are a few ways to know if it may be time to file for a bankruptcy.

Credit Card Payments

If you’re consistently making the minimum payments on your credit card, it can mean one of two things. You may be making purchases you shouldn’t be which is more linked in irresponsible spending, or you may need help getting your credit situation figured out. If the latter is the case, contacting an experienced bankruptcy attorney may be a smart idea.

Debt Collectors

If you’ve been receiving phone calls from debt collectors, you’d be smart to consider contacting a bankruptcy attorney. One of the main reasons working with an attorney is smart is because they have the capability and knowledge to resolve issues like debt collectors.

Unsure About Debt

If you’re not sure how much money you owe, it would be in your best interest to contact a bankruptcy attorney. If you aren’t aware of your financial situation, it’s hard to determine the next steps.

For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Burr Law Office today. Our expert Milwaukee and Waukesha bankruptcy team will help you find the best debt relief solution for your needs.

How to File Bankruptcy: Documents

In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to provide details about your current financial situation, including your debts and income. You need to back up all information you disclose in your bankruptcy paperwork with official financial documents. Here’s a look at some of the documents you will need to provide to the trustee handling your bankruptcy petition and how to file bankruptcy:

Tax Returns

You need to give your trustee a copy of your tax returns or tax transcripts for the last two years. If you haven’t filed your tax returns, you will need to provide an explanation as to why you were unable to file them. You may need to file your taxes before continuing with your petition.

Income Documentation

To show proof of your employment and monthly income, you need to provide copies of paystubs for the six-month period before you filed for bankruptcy. You also need a copy of your last two W-2 forms. In addition, you need to provide details of any supplemental monthly income you receive, including social security, disability, and rental properties.

Valuation of Property

If you are a property owner, you need to provide a full appraisal of your property and a mortgage statement showing your current loan balances. You will also need to provide your trustee with deeds of trust and proof of your homeowner’s insurance. Similar documentation needs to be provided if you have a car loan.

Miscellaneous Documents

Any financial obligations that may affect your bankruptcy petition need to be disclosed. For example, you need to provide information about alimony or child support obligations with proof of these expenses. At the hearing, you will also need to show your trustee a valid form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license.

For more information and help on how to file bankruptcy, schedule a meeting with Burr Law Office. We are an affordable bankruptcy attorney in the Milwaukee area. You can reach us by dialing (262) 827-0375.

How to File for Bankruptcy

Waukesha bankruptcy adviceMany people find themselves in difficult financial situations and come to a point where they need to decide whether or not bankruptcy is the right option. The best thing to do in this situation is schedule a complimentary consultation with Attorney Michael Burr. He will help guide you through the entire process of how to file for bankruptcy, catering to your specific needs. Here are a few quick bits of information that can help you determine if you should move forward.

You won’t lose everything.

It’s a common misconception that filing for bankruptcy means you’ll lose everything. Depending on your particular situation, you are allowed to exempt a certain amount of property. You cannot, however, hide possessions or “sell” things to family or friends in attempts to keep them. There are serious penalties for such actions, as they are considered fraud. An experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney, like Attorney Michael Burr, can explain how to properly list your assets to maximize your exemptions.

There are multiple types of bankruptcy.

Depending on your situation, you may only qualify for certain types of bankruptcy. Chapter 7, or “straight bankruptcy,” is quite difficult to qualify for. More common is Chapter 13, or “wage earners bankruptcy,” which reorganizes your debts into a repayment schedule. In order to qualify for bankruptcy, you will be required to complete a means test which determines your eligibility.

Work with a lawyer.

New bankruptcy laws in 2005 have made it much more difficult to file for bankruptcy. While it’s not required by law, it is highly recommended that you work with a lawyer when filing. Milwaukee Bankruptcy Attorney, Michael Burr, has over 20 years of experience in bankruptcy law and truly cares about his clients. At the very least, we recommend scheduling a consultation to learn why working with Attorney Burr can help save time, money, and pain.

These tips are by no means legal advice and should be considered a guide as to whether or not you should inquire further about how to file for bankruptcy with Attorney Burr. At Burr Law Offices, we want to give you the fresh financial start you’re looking for. Contact the best bankruptcy lawyers Milwaukee us today to schedule your consultation.

Don’ts: Things Not To Do Before Filing for Waukesha Bankruptcy

If you find yourself in a situation where filing for bankruptcy is your best option, there are a few things you should keep in mind before doing so. Due to the fact that your debts will soon be reorganized and put into someone else’s control, it’s important that you abide by rules and regulations associated with bankruptcy. The last thing you would want is for new problems to arise. Here are a few helpful tips to consider, from Waukesha bankruptcy lawyer Michael Burr.

Don’t: Acquire new debt.

Creditors may attempt to object to a discharge if you’ve increased your debt within up to 90 days before filing. They may argue that it’s a case of fraud, saying that you acquired the debt with no intention of paying it back. Additionally, you shouldn’t cash out or take loans from your 401(k), pension, or any other retirement plan or take out an equity line of credit against your home. Doing any of these things can cause issues in your bankruptcy.

Don’t: Provide inaccurate, dishonest, or incomplete information.

Completely the paperwork for a bankruptcy filing must be taken very seriously. Lying or providing falsified information can lead to serious consequences in addition to putting an immediate stop to your bankruptcy filing. Be sure to provide all information correctly and do not hide any information.

Don’t: Skip filing your income tax returns.

Filing for bankruptcy is, in essence, impossible if you haven’t filed all of your income tax returns for at least two years prior to filing. These documents play a very important role in determining your earnings and asset holdings. Be sure to provide all tax related information to your Waukesha bankruptcy attorney before proceeding.

Don’t: Lie about or hide assets.

It is very important that you do not hide any assets in a bankruptcy filing. Some people may be tempted to sell or transfer assets in hopes that they will be protected during your bankruptcy proceedings. If you do this, there is a strong chance that you would be denied a discharge and could face criminal charges. There are exceptions to this, of course, in that some people sell things hoping to help pay off their debts on their own. The important thing to note if you’ve done so is to let the trustee know. They’ll generally ask if you’ve sold, transferred, or given away any assets up to a year before filing.

Nobody wants to be presented with issues in addition to what they’re already dealing with. If you’ve already done one of these things or want to learn more things to avoid before filing, talk with Waukesha bankruptcy Attorney Michael Burr. He can help you determine the best solution for your situation and get you on the path to being debt-free.

What Filing for Bankruptcy Can and Cannot Do

Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneyA good way to determine if filing for bankruptcy is the right decision is to consider exactly what the process can do. When you file for  Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the ability to discharge many of your unsecured debts while keeping non-exempt property. Chapter 13 also allows you to reduce secured debts that are more than the secured property or collateral is worth, as well as put an automatic stay on foreclosure proceedings.

Filing for Chapter 7  will not provide these aforementioned benefits, but it will help wipe out credit card debts and other unsecured debts, stop collection activities and creditor harassment, and eliminate certain types of liens. It is important to realize that filing for either type of bankruptcy will usually not eliminate alimony obligations, child support payments, student loans, tax debts, and other non-dischargeable debts such as penalties for violating the law.

You can learn about your options for filing for bankruptcy in Milwaukee by contacting bankruptcy lawyer Michael Burr at Burr Law Office at (877) 891-1638. Click on the link to visit us at our website.

Common Reasons Why Seniors File for Bankruptcy

Between 1991 and 2007, the number of Americans age 65 and older who filed for bankruptcy more than tripled. Today, senior citizens are the fastest growing group of adults to initiate Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 filings. Here are some of the reasons why older Americans have found themselves overwhelmed by their expenses.

Medical Bills

Major medical expenses can be hard on anyone’s pocketbook, but aging men and women often face additional health concerns. If a senior citizen doesn’t have health insurance, even doctor’s checkups can quickly become unaffordable. Sadly, without proper medical attention, illnesses that go untreated can quickly develop into serious or even chronic conditions. Seniors who must pay thousands of dollars to physicians, hospitals, and specialists are often faced with bankruptcy.

Credit Card Debt

Elderly Americans most often file for the same reason as their younger counterparts: credit card debt. In fact, approximately two-thirds of debtors age 65 and older cite overwhelming credit card debt, interest, and fees as their primary reason for declaring Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. Experts have found that seniors are more likely to feel embarrassed about their mounting bills and frequently simply take out more credit cards to avoid their inevitable financial problems. But when they fail to make minimum credit card payments, filing is usually the only option available.

Inadequate Preparation

If you have been neglecting your nest egg for more pressing financial obligations, you are not alone. Thousands of elderly Americans report being late on rent or mortgage payments, and many even go without required medication or food in an effort to pay off mounting debts. Unfortunately, returning to the workforce is simply not an option for some seniors who failed to anticipate the economic downturn.

Whether you are drowning in medical debt or face insurmountable credit card fees, you have legal options. To speak to a Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney about whether filing may be your best option, call Burr Law Office at (262) 827-0375 to schedule a free consultation today.

See also “Top 5 Reasons People File for Bankruptcy

Common Problems that Can Result from Filing Bankruptcy on Your Own

If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Milwaukee, you are likely concerned about the costs and fees. While this is understandable, the cost of hiring an attorney may be cheaper in the long-run than dealing with the problems that can result from filing on your own.

Choosing the Wrong Chapter

Most individuals file under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. There are significant differences between the two chapters, including the qualifications and how each treats personal property. It is important to choose the right chapter to ensure that you are achieving your debt resolution goals.

Failing to File Proper Paperwork

Bankruptcy is governed largely by federal law, but your case will be handled by a court in your area. Often times, these courts have local rules and forms that you will need to understand to file your paperwork properly.

Losing Your Property

The process is all about details, especially when it comes to property exemptions. If you list your property incorrectly or do not value it properly, you may be at risk of losing property you are trying to save.

Getting Your Case Dismissed

Bankruptcy law is complex, and it can be very easy to miss pertinent issues. While the mistakes can be minor and easily corrected, some mistakes will result in the delay of your case or a dismissal of your filing. In many cases, the bankruptcy court will impose a penalty of 180 days before you can file again. In the meantime, you are left to deal with your creditors and mounting debt.

Do not become a victim of one of these common pitfalls. Consult Attorney Michael Burr today to learn more about your options for filing bankruptcy in Milwaukee. At Burr Law Office, we focus on helping individuals who are looking to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. To speak with Attorney Burr call our office at (877) 891-1638.

How to File?

Often, debtors struggling with overdue bills think that they do not have the money to afford a lawyer. This video explains how to file bankruptcy in Milwaukee, and why it is not advisable that you do so without a lawyer.

While the formal U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not require a lawyer in all transactions, obtaining one will ensure that you make the most out of your opportunity for debt discharge. The video likens filing bankruptcy without a lawyer to performing your own heart surgery: just because you can do it, does not mean that it is a good idea, because the law is very complex. Check out the full clip to learn more.

Bankruptcy is a complex legal and financial process that requires legal assistance. Attorney Michael Burr has decades of experience helping Wisconsin residents make the best out of their Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings. Call (877) 891-1638 today to schedule a consultation with Attorney Burr and learn how to file bankruptcy.

Exploring the Relationship Between Bankruptcy Reform, Recession, and Bankruptcy Filing Rates

Four years ago, the United States was hit with the largest recession since the Great Depression. Today, many economic analysts are still scratching their heads, desperately trying to uncover all of the contributing factors. In addition to dishonest lending practices and a lack of regulation on Wall Street, some have said that the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 must share some of the blame. Here’s a brief look at how bankruptcy reform affected the recession and total bankruptcy filing rates:

2005 Bankruptcy Reform

Before 2005, creditors complained that too many people were escaping their debts by filing. At that time, people of all income levels could liquidate their debts by filing for Chapter 7. That’s why the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) added provisions that made it more difficult for debtors to file for Chapter 7 – provisions that included a higher filing cost and fewer dischargeable debts.

Global financial crisis

In the years following BAPCPA, consumers could no longer rely on bankruptcy in the same way. Instead, many people took money out of their home equity to pay off outstanding debts. Once the equity ran out, many homeowners faced foreclosure—in fact, one study found that mortgage defaults increased by 14% each year after the reform passed. This in turn led to a housing market collapse that further fueled the recession.

Number of filings

Once the recession hit, millions of people lost their jobs and were forced to file for bankruptcy. Even though the 2005 reform supposedly made it more difficult to file for bankruptcy, the number of filings went up from around 150,000 in the third quarter of 2006 to nearly 400,000 in the same quarter of 2009.

If you have any questions about bankruptcy reform and how it affects you, contact Burr Law Office. Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney Michael Burr is always up to date on the latest changes and will use his knowledge to help you get through your tough financial times. Call our office to at (877) 891-1638 to get started.