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

How to Pay for Bankruptcy?

How to Pay for Bankruptcy | Waukesha, WIFiling for bankruptcy can be expensive. Hiring an attorney and paying court filing fees can cost you anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars. When you’re in tough financial shape, this added cost can seem stressful…and even impossible.

Don’t fear: you have options. Here is a breakdown of what bankruptcy costs and how to afford it.

The Cost of Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy comes with two types of expenses: court filing fees and attorney fees.

An attorney is critical to filing for bankruptcy, as they help file your petition, represent you in court, and take over communication with your creditors.

The two types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7, in which most or all of your debts are forgiven, and Chapter 13, in which your debts are reorganized into a repayment plan.

Here is an estimated breakdown of what you can expect to pay*:

Chapter 7Chapter 13
Court Filing Fees$335$310
Attorney Fees$1,000 – $1,500 /
$200 down
$1,500 – $6,000
Total$835 – $1,835$1,810 – $6,310

*Please note, attorney fees vary greatly based on location and complexity of your case.

When filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will review your attorney fees to find out if they’re reasonable.

(At Burr Law office, we offer monthly payment plans starting with as little as $100 down.)

Your Bankruptcy Payment Options

If you are filing Chapter 7, you may be required to pay your attorney fees before they file your case. The reasoning behind this is: if you are granted Chapter 7, all unsecured debts are wiped out, including any outstanding attorney fees.

If you cannot afford these costs, you have three options:

  • Raise the money.
  • Establish a payment plan.
  • Find a pro-bono attorney, or one who will take your case without charging a fee.
  1. Raising the money. Use these steps to minimize your expenses and save enough to cover your costs:
    1. Stop payment on credit cards. If you’re planning to file for bankruptcy, continuing to pay your credit cards is not useful. Save that money and put it toward your bankruptcy costs.
    2. Secure additional income. Sell big-ticket items, like furniture or electronics, or find part-time employment.
    3. Ask family or friends for help.
    4. As a last resort, you can borrow against your 401(k) or IRA. However, doing so may deplete the money you will need in retirement.
  1. Using a payment plan. The right attorney may agree to payment in installments. Ask the lawyer you are considering about their payment plan policy during your initial meeting. Please note: most attorneys will require payment upfront before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Your attorney may also work with the court to allow you to pay your court filing fee in installments.

  1. Finding a pro-bono attorney. If your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty line for your family size, you may qualify for free legal assistance. You have several options for finding a pro bono attorney:
    1. Reach out to your local bankruptcy court to request information on local free legal aid resources and free legal clinics. These organizations may be able to connect you with free legal assistance, but be aware: legal aid organizations are often extremely busy and understaffed.
    2. Research The American Bankruptcy Institute’s bankruptcy attorney directory for more pro bono resources in your area.
    3. Contact your state’s bar association to inquire about free legal aid. Some attorneys are required to take on 10%-15% of their caseloads as pro bono work.
    4. Consider hiring a petition preparer instead of a lawyer. If you’re in a rush to file your bankruptcy, a petition preparer will help you fill out paperwork for an hourly fee. Though they can’t give you legal advice like an attorney would, a petition preparer is a good solution if you are looking to quickly trigger the automatic stay that halts collection efforts.
    5. Finally, we strongly advise against filing on your own without the help of an attorney or petition preparer. Bankruptcy filing is an extremely complicated process and it is easy to make mistakes, which could lead the court to throw out your case.

When making decisions about bankruptcy, you may feel that the deck is stacked against you. But remember: you have options. And if you’re in the Milwaukee area, the experts at Burr Law Office are here to help. We have earned a reputation as experienced advocates, and can help you reclaim your life and get a fresh start. Give us a call today at (262) 827-0375!

 

What does it mean to be “in the black” or “in the red?”

 

If you’re even slightly familiar with the world of accounting and finance, you’ve probably heard the phrases “in the red” and “in the black” before. Even if you are not in finance, you may have heard the terms anyway—they have become a part of our everyday speech and they are often used in common conversation.

For those of you not familiar with the phrases, I’ll briefly explain. The phrase “in the black” refers to being financially solvent or profitable, or sometimes more generally, just not in debt. A business that is “in the black” is usually making a profit or, at the very least, making enough to get by without having to worry about going bankrupt. Conversely, the phrase, “in the red” means to be in debt, running a deficit, or generally just not making money—being cash negative. Although cash flow cycles for businesses and people change from year to year, a business that is “in the red” for several years in a row without a plan to get out of debt often fail. Of course, the phrases aren’t always used consistently, and there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, being “in the black” is a positive thing, and being “in the red” is usually considered to be a negative thing.

So, now that you know what both of these phrases mean, you may be wondering where the terms came from or what their origins are? After all, there aren’t really any other fields in which these colors (black and red) are used to indicate positive and negative. So if you are guessing that these color indicators are somewhat unique to the world of finance, you would be correct.

To understand where these phrases come from, we have to go back to the days before accounting was done on computers. Before computers, accountants did everything by hand and with pen and paper. In order to help them differentiate between deposits and debits, they started using different color ink for each. Because black and red ink were two readily available colors, they were chosen for the purpose. Though it’s only speculation, some say that red was chosen to denote debits/losses/debts because red is considered a harsh color and can catch one’s attention. It also subtly reinforces the idea of negativity or something “bad.” They wanted to make debts stand out and catch people’s attention. It’s the same reason that teachers often correct homework and quizzes and tests with red pens—it grabs a student’s attention and lets them focus on what they did wrong so, hopefully, they can learn from their mistake and correct the mistake on the next test or quiz or homework assignment.

And now that everything is done on computers, the history of the phrases has still stuck around. In many cases, they really are meaningless. Most software now uses parentheses to indicate a negative number or a debit. Sometimes, they also simply put a minus sign before a number or even have a separate column in a spreadsheet for debits. It is, however, interesting to note that some computer programs still do use red type for debts and debits—a nod to the history of accounting. Again, there is really no practical purpose for this, but it fits with the history of accounting.

As mentioned earlier, businesses and people too (in their personal finances) often go through cycles of “being in the black” and “being in the red.” Maybe you had an exceptionally good year at work or in your line of business and you have a year where you are really making good money. Maybe you inherited some money and it puts you in a good place for the short term, but it’s not money you can count on as reoccurring and consistent income. These would be scenarios where you would be “in the black” for a period of time, but maybe not consistently year to year.

On the other hand, maybe it’s a large but necessary purchase that puts you “in the red” for a brief period of time. The goal, however, should be that running deficits or being heavily indebted should not be standard operating mode. If you have to run in debt, it should be briefly and for a purpose with a specific plan to get back into “the black.” Many times businesses or people can fall into a pattern of consistently running in “the red” without a plan or any practical way of turning things around.

This may be a point where one needs to consider the option of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws are created to protect people and give them a way to turn around their finances. The expert Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers at Burr Law Office know the laws and can help you answer your questions, and explore your options. Contact them today to see what options are available.

Common Misconceptions About Bankruptcy

Many people look down on bankruptcy and those who file. At Burr Law Office, rather than viewing it as a negative thing, we see filing as an empowering way to taking control of your financial situation. All too often, people fall victim to myths and misconceptions about Milwaukee bankruptcy and how it works. Here are a few of the most common ones.

Myth: You have to be completely broke to file

Different types of bankruptcy require different things. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a repayment plan is set up according to the amount of money someone earns. It’s actually best to seek financial help before you’re “flat broke,” as it will help make the process easier and shorter.

Myth: You’ll never qualify for a loan again

Filing for bankruptcy does affect your credit, but not forever. As long as you stick to it and follow the guidelines for the process, you’ll be able to qualify in no time. Depending on your type of bankruptcy, some people even receive credit offers immediately after discharge.

Myth: You can spend, spend, spend right before you file without consequence

People used to assume you could rack up debt on your credit cards right before you filed and you wouldn’t have to pay that back. This is absolutely not true and, in most cases, is considered fraud by the courts. The most important parts of a successful bankruptcy are honesty and dedication.

If you’ve found yourself in financial trouble and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact Burr Law Office. Our Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers will help you get started on the path to financial freedom!

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.

Answering Common Questions About Milwaukee Credit

Credit and debt are among some of the most complicated financial topics to grasp, which is often why so many individuals find themselves facing massive debt and other major financial troubles. A good way to help protect your financial future is to educate yourself on common credit topics. Read over these answers to common questions about credit to boost your knowledge.

How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

While there is no perfect number, most individuals benefit from having two credit cards —one that offers a low-rate when you must carry a balance, and one that offers a grace period. However, it is recommended that you carry at least four different lines of credit to help boost your overall rating, such as a major credit card, retail card, car loan, and home loan.

Does Checking Your Credit Rating Hurt Your Score?

Checking your credit rating does not affect your score if you utilize a “soft inquiry” rather than request it directly from your lender. By requesting your score from a service that provides reports directly to consumers for a fee, these inquiries will show up on your credit report, but will not deduct any points from your overall score.

How Can You Repair Your Credit Rating?

There are a number of ways to improve your credit rating. This includes reviewing your credit report for discrepancies or errors, obtaining a secured credit card, and paying all of your bills on time each month. It is also important that you pay the maximum balance on all of your credit cards on a monthly basis rather than just the minimum balance to avoid compounding interest.

With years of experience, the bankruptcy attorneys with the Burr Law Office are here to help you with your financial struggles. To learn more about our debt relief services or Milwaukee Chapter 13 bankruptcy, contact our bankruptcy law office at (877) 891-1638 today!

A Basic Overview of the United States Trustee Program

The mission of the United States Trustee Program is to safeguard the integrity of the federal bankruptcy system by monitoring the conduct of all parties and overseeing related administrative tasks. In addition, the United States Trustee Program facilitates compliance with laws and procedures by investigating cases of fraud and abuse. To safeguard the integrity of the federal system, the United States Trustee Program frequently works with attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and various law enforcement agencies.

History

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 established the United States Trustee Program. The United States Trustee System Fund collects fees from individual parties and businesses filing for bankruptcy protection in order to fund the United States Trustee Program. The main purpose of this government agency is to regulate the process, ensuring that parties filing petitions comply with federal code.

Structure

The Attorney General appoints the United States Trustees and Assistant United States Trustees. At the head of the agency is the Director of the Executive Office, who provides managerial and administrative support to individual U.S. Trustee Offices in the states as they enforce and implement federal laws.

Duties

The United States Trustee Program supervises the liquidation and reorganization proceedings outlined in Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 petitions. In particular, the office appoints an individual trustee to monitor estates and to review the applications for signs of fraud or abuse. The individual trustee also ensures that an estate is properly administered and that the professional fees associated with the case are reasonable.

Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney Michael Burr provides affordable services. Our mission is to help you gain a fresh financial start and to find relief from overwhelming debt obligations. To schedule a consultation, give us a call at (262) 827-0375.

What to Expect from a Bankruptcy Firm

If you are like many Americans, you may be struggling to make even minimum payments to a growing number of creditors. Depending on your particular circumstances, declaring Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 may not be your best option. If you are overwhelmed by your financial burdens, contact a qualified Milwaukee bankruptcy firm and educate yourself about your debt relief options with this guide to debt settlement:

Protect Your Credit

In the debt settlement process, your lawyer will negotiate with your creditors to reduce your overall debts in exchange for an agreed upon lump sum or installed payment plan. A successful settlement occurs when the creditor agrees to forgive a percentage of the total balance owed. While debt settlement will affect your credit, it is comparatively less harmful than bankruptcy.

Consolidate Your Debt

Do you owe different amounts to so many different creditors that you have trouble keeping track of your bills, let alone paying them? You are not alone: Americans racked up $48 billion in credit card debt in 2011 alone. If you are delinquent on multiple accounts, a debt settlement attorney can work with you and your creditors to consolidate your debt into a single low monthly payment. Whether you have credit card debt, medical debt, mortgage debt, business debt, or judgments against you, contact a debt settlement attorney to protect your rights.

Stop the Harassment

If you have outstanding bills, you are all too familiar with harassing phone calls and letters from lenders. When you hire a debt settlement lawyer, he will take control of all communications with your creditors. Your attorney knows which fees your creditors can legally charge and will ensure that they follow the letter of the law.

Burr Law Office is committed to helping our clients find efficient solutions to their debt problems. If you want to learn more about our Milwaukee bankruptcy firm and our affordable services, call (877) 891-1638 to schedule a consultation today. Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers.