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

Bankruptcy Court: Inheritances

Milwaukee bankruptcy inheritanceIt’s not uncommon for people to receive inheritance money when a loved on passes away. For those that have filed or are considering filing for bankruptcy, the question of “what will happen to that money?” will generally come up. This situation will affect the way the Milwaukee bankruptcy court views your case. Attorney Michael Burr is here to help you find the optimal solution to these types of questions. Here are a couple general circumstances to consider when it comes to inheritance dollars.

Whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, inheritance money received during your bankruptcy will generally be considered an asset. Assets can be protected in some cases but will often become part of the bankruptcy estate in some way or another.

Chapter 13

When you file for Milwaukee Chapter 13, your property is not liquidated as in a Chapter 7. In return, however, you’re required to pay back your debts through a repayment plan. Inheritance money is considered an asset, so trustees will generally want you to pay more to your unsecured creditors. In other words, inheritance money can increase the amount of your monthly plan payment.

The 180 Day Guideline

For Milwaukee Chapter 7 cases, any inheritance money you acquire within the first 180 days after filing would be considered property of the bankruptcy estate. This means the nonexempt portion of the money you receive would be taken by your trustee and distributed to any unsecured creditors.

In Chapter 13, you generally get to keep your assets. However in these cases you would still be required to pay. A general rule of thumb is that you’ll be required to pay at least the nonexempt portion of the inheritance.

If you receive inheritance money after the 180 day period in a Chapter 13, most trustees will argue that you should be required to pay it into your plan.

If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy and have received or will be receiving an inheritance, contact the experts at Burr Law Office. We’ll help you figure out what the best steps are and how to work with the Milwaukee bankruptcy court to settle your case.

Legal Aid Milwaukee: Rebuilding Credit

After a bankruptcy filing, the question of rebuilding credit scores is often raised. Just as your bankruptcy filing and proceedings take time, so does rebuilding your credit. There are a lot of things to keep track of during the process, so legal aid Milwaukee from Burr Law Office can help. The number one rule for rebuilding your credit is to know your score and the things that will change it.

Acquire and review credit reports

As mentioned above, before you can do anything to fix your credit score you’ll need to know where you can go. Attorney Michael Burr will not only help with your bankruptcy filing, but will also help you review your credit report as well. By breaking down your score, you will have a better idea of what you can do to fix it.

Open credit/loans with caution

Many people do not keep a major credit card open during bankruptcy. If that’s the case for you, it’s a good idea to open one once your bankruptcy has been discharged and pay it off monthly in full. Also, a few years down the road, it may be worth considering getting a line of credit – maybe a car loan or something similar – that you can pay off successfully. Be sure to shop around for interest rates and know that the higher your credit score the better interest rate you’ll get.

Be timely with bill pay

Most people don’t understand the influence timely bill pay has on your credit score. To make it simple, paying your bills on time is a must. There are a number of services that allow for automatic bill pay nowadays. If you’d rather not do automatic bill pay, set reminders in your electronic calendar.

If you’re having troubles rebuilding credit after your bankruptcy, call Burr Law Offices to speak with attorney Michael Burr and get the legal aid Milwaukee you need. He’ll help you get your credit back on track.

Milwaukee Legal Aid: Creating a Monthly Budget

Making a monthly budget is the first essential task for any consumer after applying for debt reorganization or declaring bankruptcy. After your attorney has helped you eliminate your debts, your first goal should be to get back on track financially. To make a monthly budget that works for your needs and lifestyle, follow these simple guidelines.

Identify Your Expenses

The primary task in making any budget is simply to compare your income to your expenses. First, identify how you are currently spending money, and set goals that take into account your long-term financial objectives. To track your spending and make sure you stay within our budget, consider investing in a financial software program like Quicken or Microsoft Money.

Watch Your Cash

If you are like most people, keeping track of how much cash you spend can be a difficult task. But the first step to getting your finances on track is sticking to your budget, and it is nearly impossible to follow your financial plan when you forget to record daily cash expenditures, from dry cleaning to morning coffees to paying parking meters. Whenever possible, use a debit card instead of hitting the ATM to avoid cash leakage.

Analyze the Details

While it is not necessary to spend hours each day creating new lists and categories, it is important to watch out for what financial experts call spending creep. As your income begins to naturally increase due to promotions or investment payoffs, remember not to adjust your spending accordingly without taking a look at your original budget first. Chances are, other expenses like rent payments have also gone up.

If you have suddenly found yourself buried under a mountain of debt, you probably know firsthand just how exhausting creditor harassment can be. An attorney can put an immediate stop to foreclosure, stop repossessions, and end harassing phone calls. If you are in need of Milwaukee lgal aid, contact Burr Law Office at (877) 891-1638 to schedule a free consultation.

What You Need to Know About the Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013

According to a report by the Huffington Post, student loans are the largest form of consumer debt in the United States, measuring $1 trillion nationally. Regardless of this fact, student loans aren’t eligible for discharge under current code. In January 2013, three senators sought to change student loan eligibility by sponsoring the Fairness for Struggling Students Act.

Since 1978, federal student loans haven’t been eligible for discharge, because the government wanted to protect the taxpayer money used to provide the loans. However, in 2005, private student loans also became ineligible for discharge, even though private loans often carry double-digit interest rates and have no income-based repayment options.

The Fairness for Struggling Students Act seeks to return provisions regarding private student loans back to their previous state before the changes in 2005. This means that privately issued student loans would once again be treated like other forms of dischargeable debt under a bankruptcy petition.

Are you struggling to repay your student loans? Would you like to learn about your debt relief options? Call Burr Law Office at (877) 891-1638 to find out about our affordable Milwaukee bankruptcy services.

What to Do If a Milwaukee Debt Collector Crosses the Line

When bills are piling up and there is no way to meet even minimum payment requirements, many debtors feel understandably overwhelmed and unsure of their legal options. But harassing and aggressive debt collection behaviors are simply not part of the bargain, no matter how much you owe. Here is what to do when a debt collector violates your rights as a consumer.

Write a Letter

If a debt collector is engaging in harassing behaviors, making false statements regarding your account, or using obscene or threatening language, that person is breaking the law. In fact, even contacting a debtor early in the morning or late at night is in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. When a debt collector crosses the line, your first recourse is to write a letter to the agency requesting that collection agents cease all contact with you. While a creditor may still sue you for your unpaid debt, debt collectors are prohibited from any other further contact.

File a Report

If a collector persists in contacting you, you may want to consider filing a report with the FTC. The FTC vigorously enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and regularly takes action against debt collectors who use illegal methods to attempt to collect from consumers. If a collection agency uses any deceptive or abusive tactics, file a complaint with the FTC right away.

Contact Your Attorney

You can banish these phone calls for good by calling an attorney who has experience dealing with debt settlement and bankruptcy cases. If you are unable to pay your creditors at all, your attorney can guide you through your legal options for discharging the debt.

Did you know that filing for Milwaukee bankruptcy puts an immediate hold on all debt collection activity? If you are currently unable to pay off your creditors and your financial situation is not likely to improve, filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 may be in your best interest. To speak with an experienced attorney about your options, call Burr Law Office at (877) 891-1638 today.

Violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed to protect consumers from abusive, unfair, or deceptive debt collection practices. Whether you owe money on a personal credit card, an auto loan, or medical bills, debt collectors are banned from engaging in harassing behaviors in an attempt to recover funds. You can protect yourself and your friends and family members by keeping an eye out for these illegal practices.

Constant Phone Calls

Debt collectors do have a legal right to inform you of your debt—once. If you decide that you don’t want them to contact you again, you may advise the collector of your wish in writing, and the company must comply. They are also legally prohibited from calling you at inconvenient times or places, such as late at night or at work.

Contacting Family Members

Debt collectors will resort to a wide range of aggressive and embarrassing tactics in an effort to shame consumers into paying their debts. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, your debt collector may only contact a family member to obtain your contact information and cannot disclose details of your financial situation. If a collection agent has attempted to contact your loved ones or even used social media to harass you or your family, consider contacting an attorney to put an immediate stop to these tactics.

Making False Statements

Debt collectors have been charged with everything from attempting to collect unspecified extra fees to threatening jail time to impersonating attorneys or government officials. In short, they are prohibited from lying when they attempt to collect a debt, and any misrepresentation of your debts is grounds for a lawsuit.

At Burr Law Office, Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney Michael Burr is dedicated to standing up for consumers’ rights. If you are being harassed by a collection agency or creditor, Burr Law Office can put an immediate stop to these illegal tactics. Call us at  (877) 891-1638 to learn more about how our we can help.

Inside the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 made several significant changes in bankruptcy law. The legislation most directly affects American consumers by outlining a “means test” to determine eligibility for debtors who wish to file for bankruptcy. If you are considering filing for Milwaukee Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, here is how the law may affect you:

The Means Test

The new means test determines whether a consumer is eligible for Chapter 7—liquidation of the debtor’s assets—or is obligated to file a Chapter 13 plan for repayment. In short, this test gauges an individual’s monthly income to determine his or her “means.” Many Americans mistakenly believe that this new law will make them ineligible to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but the truth is that each case is completely unique, and only an attorney with experience in bankruptcy law can help you determine how you should file.

Specific Calculations

In order to calculate means, an applicant must list all sources of his or her current monthly income, or CMI, in the six months prior to when the case was filed. In other words, the income test ignores the debtor’s current and anticipated future income. The CMI is then compared to the median income reported for individuals living in the debtor’s state with the same number of dependents. If the six-month CMI is higher than the median income, it is presumed that filing under Chapter 7 for debt relief would be an abuse of bankruptcy law.

Possible Rebuttals

A debtor can rebut an initial presumption of abuse if he is able to reduce his CMI by subtracting certain “allowed expenses.” A debtor may also subtract “other necessary expenses” and “additional expenses” to further reduce his CMI according to his state’s standards.

Burr Law Office has been providing quality, affordable bankruptcy legal services to Wisconsin clients for nearly 20 years. Visit us online or call (877) 891-1638 to hear why our satisfied clients consistently rank us as one of the best law firms in Milwaukee.

Important Rights You Are Entitled to Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

No one ever wants to receive a call from a debt collector. Collectors are notorious for being unrelenting and sometimes using less-than-reputable practices. Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is meant to protect consumers from deceptive and abusive practices. Continue reading to learn about important rights to which you are entitled under the Act.

Right to be Free from Harassment

Debt collectors are prohibited from harassing you and making false statements. This includes everything from misrepresenting the amount you owe and falsely claiming that you have committed a crime to using threats of violence or harm and using profane language.

Right to Private Time

The Act prohibits debt collectors from calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree otherwise. You can also stop debt collectors from contacting you by informing them in writing that you do not want them to contact you.

Right to Avoid Contact

The debt collector must contact your attorney rather than contacting you if the collector is aware of the fact that you are represented by legal counsel.

Right to Seek Recourse

Some debt collectors will push boundaries and violate the law that is meant to protect you. If this happens, you can sue the debt collector in state or federal court. You may be entitled to compensation for any damages you suffered due to the illegal collection practices. However, you only have one year from the date of the violation to file such a claim, so contact a debt relief attorney today if a creditor has violated the law.

At the Burr Law Office, we focus on providing affordable Milwaukee bankruptcy and debt relief services. We understand how stressful financial difficulties can be, and we will work with you to help relieve your stress and give you hope. To schedule a consultation, call our Milwaukee bankruptcy law office at (877) 891-1638.

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.

How Hiring an Attorney Can Help Expedite the Process

Filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can often provide honest debtors with a fresh financial start. While it is possible to file on your own, most people benefit by working with an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney.

File Correctly the First Time

One of the first reasons to consider hiring an attorney is to educate yourself on the procedural aspects of the bankruptcy process. Often known simply as bankruptcy rules, the filing procedures for bankruptcy are governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, as well as the local rules of each individual court. The Bankruptcy Code and local rules outline the formal legal procedures required when dealing with debt problems. These can be extremely confusing and can interfere with your candidacy if not followed correctly. If your case is dismissed because of an error or failure to comply on your part, you will have to wait 180 days before you can re-file. Fortunately, a Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney will ensure that you adhere to the mandated guidelines when filing for bankruptcy, ultimately expediting the process and helping you discharge debts more efficiently.

Receive Credit Counseling Guidance

Most individuals are required to complete credit counseling within six months before they file. An attorney can either provide you with this service or refer you to a credit counseling program so that you can begin the filing process. Another way that an attorney can expedite your bankruptcy is by completing the filing process for you. Many attorneys will file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy on your behalf after reviewing the details of your case and gathering the necessary paperwork.

At Burr Law Office, we strive to provide our clients with a number of debt relief and affordable bankruptcy services. Exercise your legal options by contacting our Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer firm at (262) 827-0375 today! You can also visit us online to learn more about our practice areas.