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

File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t

When you feel overwhelmed by debt, it’s wise to consider bankruptcy. However, if those same feelings of drowning in debt prevent you from seeking professional help with your bankruptcy, you are doing yourself and your family a grave disservice. Bankruptcy is complicated; it even has its own judicial system. Bankruptcy involves negotiation with all interested parties, and it is unlikely that you will manage to get the kind of terms with corporate entities that an attorney can. Errors that an ordinary person can easily make can have huge implications, even including case dismissal. So even if it feels counter-intuitive to engage an attorney to pursue bankruptcy on your behalf, it’s the best course of action. Bankruptcy without a lawyer is a bad idea.

Bankruptcy is Complicated

There are three different kinds of bankruptcy that an individual can file, each named after the Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code that describes it. Chapter 7 is the most common. It is generally known as Liquidation Bankruptcy, and a Trustee appointed by the Court sells your assets to satisfy a portion of your debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is available to individuals and businesses with a consistent income and there are caps on the amount of debt you can have. Under Chapter 13, a plan is created to pay back as much debt as reasonably possible over the next three to five years, taking into account your financial situation. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is usually used by businesses, but can be accessed by individuals. Like Chapter 13, it arranged for partial payments of debts over 3 to 5 years, but the Court does not require an outside administrator. It’s also noteworthy that there is an entire legal system dedicated to bankruptcy. Not every attorney is an expert in bankruptcy law; those at Burr Law are.

Bankruptcy Negotiations Need Professionals

With Chapter 7, there are exemptions to what assets must be sold to satisfy your debts. Having one of the expert attorneys at Burr Law means that you can be sure that all of your property that can possibly be exempt from liquidation will be.

There is also an income status requirement; your income needs to be equal to or below Wisconsin’s median income, which in 2018 was $62,629. Again, there are ways to calculate your income that can work to your advantage, especially if you are near the limit for filing Chapter 7. Burr Law attorneys know how to help with that. With Chapter 13 and Chapter 11, the repayment plan is made with you, your creditors, and the Court. Isn’t it probable that one of the professionals at Burr Law would make sure that your interests are served best over the next 3 to 5 years? With professional help, unsecured debt can be totally or partially eliminated, and assets (like your house) can be protected.

Bankruptcy Legal Process

The paperwork involved in initiating, pursuing, and successfully concluding a bankruptcy suit is enormous and intricate. There are all kinds of deadlines that must be met for different aspects of your bankruptcy case in order for it to proceed. For Instance, you can file your bankruptcy petition without all documentation in place, but then if you fail to submit the entirety of required documentation within 14 days, your case will be dismissed. With the experts from Burr Law on your side, you’ll have the confidence that every bit of paperwork will be done and every single court deadline will be met.

Deciding to declare bankruptcy may be the smartest decision for your situation. But bankruptcy without a lawyer is simply stupid. Isn’t it worth it to have professionals working on your behalf?

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.

electric meters

Fighting for Your Rights: Utility Shutoff Laws and Bankruptcy

Safe shelter and protection from the environment are more than convenient privileges: They’re fundamental necessities. Unfortunately, energy companies don’t always seem to view things this way. If you don’t pay, they’re more than willing to shut off the gas or electricity services that help your family survive.

If you live in Wisconsin, can filing for bankruptcy protect you from such dire outcomes? Here’s what you need to know.

Bankruptcy and Utility Shutoffs

Bankruptcy isn’t just for stopping collection agencies from hounding you. In addition to putting an automatic hold on collection activities, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waukesha can help you keep the heat going and the lights on.

Timing is key to using bankruptcy to avoid a utility shutoff. Once you file, you have just 20 days to prove that you’ll pay your future bills.

Knowing Your Rights When Filing for Bankruptcy

The laws against turning off electricity during bankruptcy are part of federal law. According to 11 U.S. Code § 366, utilities aren’t allowed to treat you unfairly just because you filed. This law means they can’t alter your service terms, refuse to serve you or discontinue your existing service.

What Happens After 20 Days?

After the 20-day period ends, the utility can only refuse, discontinue or change your service if you haven’t given them proof of your payment ability. In most cases, this means forking over a cash deposit, prepayment, credit letter, deposit certificate or surety bond. Different utility companies have their own standards for what kinds of payment assurance they prefer.

It’s also worth noting that this payment is for your future service, not the overdue bills. In other words, filing for bankruptcy may help you clean the slate and move forward.

What Happens to Your Old Account Balance?

One nice aspect of the legal code is that it lets you discharge, or erase, your old bills. If you file successfully and convince the court that you deserve bankruptcy status, the judge may wipe out what you currently owe. Although you’ll still have to pay your upcoming bills, you might be able to escape the burdens of digging yourself out from under a mountain of debt.

Special State Rules

Wisconsin also has some applicable laws against turning off electricity that may affect your case. For instance, in Wisconsin utilities are prohibited from disconnecting service to non-paying customers between November 1 and April 15.

Wisconsin also maintains the same 20-day payment window rule for accounts in non-bankruptcy cases. In these situations, however, the clock starts ticking when you receive the bill.

Should You File for Bankruptcy?

The laws against turning off electricity apply to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. However, keeping the gas, water or power connected should never be your only reason for filing.

Seeking bankruptcy status is most powerful when it’s part of a complete debt-management strategy. The most effective filings help you keep your head above water by addressing all of your liabilities. In other words, it’s smartest to discuss your situation with a reputable, experienced legal adviser.

Connect with a lawyer who’s ready to fight tirelessly on your behalf. Get in touch with the Burr Law Office team to learn more. You can also contact a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer by texting (262) 720-8783.

Working With Your Attorney

For many people, making the decision to file for bankruptcy is a decision that comes with a lot of thought and consideration and perhaps some professional counsel. Depending on the situation, it can be an emotional process with many nuances and facets that are unique to each individual case. As bankruptcy attorneys, we at Burr Law Office LLC understand this and keep this in mind in everything we do when we are working with our clients in Milwaukee.

Because of the fact everyone’s financial situation is unique, we are going to look at why going through the bankruptcy process is best when we are working together.

First of all, the knowledge of your own situation is invaluable. Even though we’re experts in bankruptcy law, we simply cannot have the same insight into your financial picture that you have. We can’t make decisions for you about what aspects of your financial life are most important to you. We can’t know how you’ve arrived at your current financial situation. All these factors are important to putting together the best plan for you going forward. When we know your history and what’s most important for you, we can work to structure a plan that is tailored to your specific wants and needs.

But even though you know your financial history and what is most important to you, there is another important aspect to filing for bankruptcy, and that is where we come in as your Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers. As experts in bankruptcy law, we know how to use law to your maximum benefit. We know how to make sure you come out of the entire process in the way that will be most beneficial to you and your financial future. Remember, bankruptcy laws exist to protect you, your family, and your financial future and well-being. We always keep this in mind as we work with you.

So now that we’ve established that both you and your attorney play vital roles in the bankruptcy process, it’s important that we stress the value of communication. In order to make sure we achieve the most beneficial result, we need to be communicating throughout the entire process. We can’t have the combined benefit of your knowledge and ours if we aren’t communicating. It may seem like a trivial point, but it’s of critical importance in putting you in the best situation possible.

As bankruptcy attorneys, too often we hear stories of people who tried to handle their bankruptcy largely by themselves. For a variety of reasons, people may sometimes feel it is best to handle this process by themselves as much as possible. We do understand why some people feel this way; however, without the expert advice and guidance of experienced and qualified bankruptcy lawyers, there is a big risk of missing out on absolutely maximizing your benefit and putting yourself in the best position for your future and the future of your family.

Conversely, we also hear stories of the opposite problem. Some bankruptcy law firms don’t communicate or even care to learn about their clients’ financial history. Without this critical information, they can’t properly structure the case for maximum benefit to their clients. You should be wary of bankruptcy attorneys who don’t ask you questions and actively engage you in communication about your financial situation. Remember, your attorney needs your insight just as much as you need his or her expertise.

At Burr Law Office LLC, we pride ourselves on our excellent communication with our clients as well as our expertise in bankruptcy law. We are always looking to maximize the benefit this process can provide to you. Sometimes this means finding creative solutions that take into account both your insight and our expertise. Without working together, this simply wouldn’t be possible. Though our approach may seem obvious, it’s surprising how many attorneys out there don’t share our philosophy. They lose sight of the ultimate goal of the bankruptcy process—to put the client in the best situation possible and to protect their future. We never see the bankruptcy cases we handle as merely paperwork to file and be done with. We understand that there are people behind the numbers, and there is a real life impact of going through the bankruptcy process.

If you are ready to file for bankruptcy, or if you need more information about the process and advice about making a decision about the best way to proceed regarding your financial future, please contact us today. In everything we do, we’ll always listen to you and your unique needs and work with you to come up with the best solution possible.

Legal Aid Milwaukee: Why to File at the Beginning of the Year

When you’re looking for legal aid in Milwaukee and you visit a bankruptcy attorney, they’ll like say “now is the best time for you to file,” regardless of when it is. There is some truth to this statement. If you’re in a situation of financial distress, waiting to file may only increase your risk for things like repossession of belongings, garnishment of wages, or even foreclosure on your home. However, now that we’re just into the new year, it truly is a good time to consider filing. Here’s why.

Tax debts

Income tax debt specifications state that you aren’t required to pay off income tax debt until the first day of the following year in bankruptcy. If you have a large amount of debt from taxes, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a popular option. In this case, waiting until after the first of the year is a good idea – that means your tax debt from the previous year is considered pre-petition debt.

Holiday debt

It’s no secret that people spend more during the holidays, and often it’s done on a credit card. After having built up additional debt from the holidays, the new year is a good time to file as it’s when this debt comes due.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re filing for bankruptcy you should stop using your credit cards right away. If you continue to use your credit cards after you’ve filed, it appears to the courts that you’re doing so with no indication of repaying the debt incurred.

If you’d like to learn more about when to file for bankruptcy, contact the legal aid experts in Milwaukee at Burr Law Offices LLC.

What To Look For In An Attorney

When you make the decision to file for bankruptcy, an important next step is figuring out who to trust to guide you through the process.There are a lot of attorneys who claim to offer bankruptcy services, but your best choice is someone that specializes specifically in bankruptcy law. Here are a few things our Waukesha bankruptcy experts recommend you consider as you make your decision.

Avoid the cheapest…and most expensive

When you’re stuck in a financially difficult situation, the last thing you want to do is spend money to fix it. There are a couple different structures for payment, including hourly rates and flat fees. When you look into payment, don’t jump for the cheapest option right off the bat. The old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true, and you may find yourself wasting money on something that doesn’t help. On the other hand, some attorneys that charge per hour for their time may drag things out in attempts to get more money.

Legal know-how

The law industry as a whole is quite broad. There’s divorce law, real estate law, corporate law, etc. In a technical sense, any lawyer can help you file for bankruptcy. Your best bet is to go with someone that has a thorough understanding and experience with bankruptcy law.

Avoid scams

Some companies may offer “quick debt relief” services, promising to rid you of your debt with a snap of your fingers. Sadly, these companies take advantage of people all too often by charging insanely high rates without doing proper work.

Our bankruptcy experts are here to help guide you through this difficult time. Call Burr Law Office at 262-827-0375 to schedule a complimentary consultation. We’ll show you why we’re the right choice for your filing.

Importance of a Lawyer

When you make the decision to file, one of the most important things on your mind is getting through the proceedings successfully. Some people approach the situation by filing on their own, but the best way to ensure a smooth ride is by working with an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer.

There is no rule that requires someone to hire a lawyer and, yes, it is possible to do everything on your own. However, managing your case is an extremely difficult task and is best left to a seasoned professional.

Specialization is key

Bankruptcy law is very complex. With constantly changing laws, things can get confusing even for seasoned lawyers. There are many lawyers out there who claim to provide bankruptcy services. While these lawyers are certified and have the ability to take care of your case, you’re better off with a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy and understands the ins and outs of the system.

Steer clear of scams

Too often, people find themselves in even bigger trouble than they were before they made the decision to file by using untrustworthy sources. There are a lot of companies that offer financial advising or debt settlement services and make promises they can’t keep. In order to avoid a situation like this, make sure you do your research. If they’re not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, you’d be smart to steer clear.

If you’ve found yourself in financial difficulty and are in search of a great Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer, contact Burr Law Office today. Attorney Michael Burr personally takes on each case and works to bring you to financial freedom.

Legal Aid Milwaukee: Are You Hurting Your Credit?

Maintaining healthy credit takes persistence and dedication. Financial freedom is something that many people strive for, but there may be things you’re doing that are causing you to take a step back from achieving said goal. For the best financial legal aid Milwaukee has to offer, look to Burr Law Office. Here are a few things mistakes people often make that can damage their credit.

Applying for cards when you don’t need them

Retail store and gas credit cards often seem very appealing. Free merchandise, added discounts, and other benefits may be great, but you could be hurting your credit score if you open too many. What most people don’t think about is the astronomically high interest rate most of these cards possess. Credit card offers you receive in the mail can also seem like a great deal, and some are. The important thing to remember is that you should open cards just to have those perks. It’s good practice to only apply for credit when you need it.

Cosigning on loans

When it comes to family, saying “no” can be one of the hardest things to do. When you cosign a loan, be it for a car, business, or any other purpose, your credit rating will be affected if there are any issues. Only agree to cosigning if you trust the person will be responsible with the loan. You don’t want to jeopardize your relationship over something like a loan.

Charging major expenses

One of the biggest mistakes people make is charging huge expenses to their credit cards without having the means to pay them back. Vacations, jewelry, cars…you name it. These types of expenses should only be charged to a credit card if you have the means to immediately pay them off. Just because you’ll get miles or rewards doesn’t mean you should risk your credit.

For more legal aid Milwaukee, contact Burr Law Office. Our experts will help keep you financially safe and secure.

Legal Aid Milwaukee: Tips for Filing a Chapter 7

Filing for bankruptcy can be a daunting process, but when done correctly it an provide great relief to the debtor. Working with an experienced attorney like Michael Burr is the best way to give yourself the best legal aid Milwaukee has to offer. Here are a few tips if you’re considering a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Consider what’s ahead

Before filing for Chapter 7, it’s important to look to the future. Major financial events can have a great effect on the process; having a child, needing a new car, getting a promotion at work, and many others. By planning ahead for these things, whenever possible, you can help ease stress when they arise.

Seek support

While conversations about finances with friends and family can be difficult, the process will be much easier if you have the support of loved ones. Seeking out external sources of advice and support is crucial, especially if they themselves have experienced bankruptcy and can offer guidance.

Be pessimistic and optimistic

It’s confusing, but helpful. When filing for Chapter 7, the best way to approach the situation is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you know what will happen if things go south and prepare ahead of time, you’ll better be able to handle things.

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and need a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer, contact attorney Michael Burr for the best legal aid Milwaukee has to offer. Ease yourself of financial burdens and call 262-827-0375 to schedule your free consultation today!

How an Experienced Lawyer Can Help You

We all experience difficulties when it comes to money. Job loss, illness, injuries, unexpected expenses – there are a number of factors that contribute to financial stress and hardship. If bankruptcy is an option for you, it’s a good idea to consider hiring an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer to help you with your case. By working with a lawyer like Michael Burr, you will reduce the amount of stress and heartache that can sometimes go along with filing.

A Chapter 13 filings tend to be quite complicated due to the number of parts that are associated. These parts include:

  • Setting up a repayment plan
  • Reporting assets and determine what, if anything, can be kept
  • Stopping foreclosures and repossessions
  • Stopping creditor harassment

These processes can become quite complicated for the average person. There are a number of variables that, without prior knowledge of the bankruptcy process, can be difficult to manage. So much so that, depending on the situation, a Chapter 13 case filed without an attorney is in danger of being immediately dismissed.

When it comes down to it, a poorly filed bankruptcy petition can do you more harm than good, especially in the long term. Working with an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney like Michael Burr will help ensure you are getting the most out of your petition.

If you’d like to learn more about the Chapter 13 process and filing with Burr Law Office, call us at 262-827-0375 to schedule a free consultation. We will work around your schedule, including evenings and weekends.