Bankruptcy is a federal legal mechanism for individuals, families, and businesses to get most of their debts discharged (wiped out) or to repay debts over time under the protection of the Bankruptcy Court. The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 gives Congress the power to enact laws establishing a federal bankruptcy system. The current law doing that is the Bankruptcy Code.
If you have not already read them, please first read Williamson & Williams’s pages on Mortgage Problems and Credit Card and Other Debt Problems both of which contain important introductory material to this Bankruptcy page as well as alternatives to bankruptcy.
Before filing any bankruptcy petition, a person must complete a pre-petition credit counseling class with a company approved by the US Trustee’s Office by telephone, online, or in person no more than 180 days before filing a bankruptcy petition. The company providing the counseling must provide a certificate of completion. If you do not already have such a certificate or it is more than 180 days old, we will order it for you electronically once we have a written fee agreement with you.
An individual, a married couple, or a business entity such as, but not limited to, a Corporation, an LLC, Partnership, or a limited Partnership, can file a bankruptcy case. Filing a bankrupt petition with the Federal Bankruptcy Court for the County in which you live starts a bankruptcy case. Under the Bankruptcy Code, the filing party is the Debtor.
Williamson & Williams, PLLC is designated under the Bankruptcy Code as a debt relief agency because Media bankruptcy lawyer Robert G. Williamson helps individuals and businesses file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
After we file your Bankruptcy Petition for you, different rules and procedures apply to protect you from your creditors, depending under which chapter you filed. Most individuals who file for bankruptcy protection do so under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 is often called a “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy used primarily to discharge unsecured debts, including some tax debts, by debtors who qualify for it financially. The goal of a Chapter 7 filing is have no property that is not claimed as exempt. The federal personal property exemptions are much higher than the Pennsylvania exemptions. If you are able to use the federal exemptions, you should have little or no non-exempt property, so that you get to keep all or almost all of your personal property or you can afford to can buy it back from the Trustee. This works especially well if your mortgages and car loans are current, or you have no such property or loans.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is commonly know as a “wage-earner’s bankruptcy” in which we prepare for you and present to the Bankruptcy Court a Reorganization Plan which when confirmed by the Judge, allows you to keep property, catch up on your secured debt over a period not exceeding five years. You may also have to repay some of your unsecured debt, the rest of which is discharged. The goal of a Chapter 13 filing is to keep secured property where the loan it secures is over due, by paying off the mortgage arrearages over a time not to exceed five years, which you can do in a Chapter 13. So Chapter 13 is used to save you home and other secured property. You use your exemptions in a Chapter 13 to keep other property and minimize the amount you have to your secured creditors along your secured creditors.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Most businesses and some high income and high debt individuals file for reorganization of their debts under Chapter 11. For Chapter 11 filers, we prepare and file a Reorganization Plan that allows them to pay secured and some unsecured debt and sell assets under the protection of the Bankruptcy Court. Your income and expenses, what kinds of debts you have, and what kinds of debt problems you need to solve will determine under which chapter you will file. We will guide and help you make that choice between Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11.
Start on your path to freedom from debt stress today. Call bankruptcy lawyer Robert G. Williamson for a consultation. We will respond as soon as possible and discuss with or email to instructions for what to bring with you to your first meeting with us.
- Is Bankruptcy The Right Solution? – Call for a Free Consultation – We Help You Plan If and When to File – About Fees and Costs
- What is Automatic Stay and How Does It Protect Your Property from Creditors?
- What is Property of the Estate?
- What are Exemptions and How do They Help You Keep Your Property?
- What Are Debt and Creditor Classes?