Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers Walt
Suite 3156 Penobscot Building Detroit Michigan 48226
Just One Block to Bankruptcy Court for F
313-98=62-4656 or 888-4Wa
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Michigan Debt Aid
Bankruptcy Lawyer Walter Metzen
Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney.com
Attorney Walter Metzen, the principal bankruptcy attorney here at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com has over 10 years experience in bankruptcy law. All associate attorneys have also successfully assisted thousands of clients with their bankruptcy filings. We maintain close communication with our clients by being readily available in person (walk-in times everyday), by telephone by fax and by email.
Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com's principal bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen along with his associates have been providing quality legal services for over 10 years. We are not the largest law firm in Detroit; We are not the largest bankruptcy law firm in Michigan, nor do we want to be. What we do have is a dedicated, experienced staff that will provide you with attentive, personalized service. We do not believe that bigger is necessarily better. The attorneys at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com strive to know the law and now the Bankruptcy Court system. We study the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy rules and the Local Bankruptcy Rules for the Eastern District of Michigan. We know the Bankruptcy Judges the Chapter 7 Trustee's and the Chapter 13 Trustee's. We know the other local bankruptcy attorneys. We can guide you through any bankruptcy proceeding.
The attorney you speak with is the attorney who will go to Bankruptcy Court with you. We will not send an attorney fresh out of law school.
At Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com, you will not be treated as one more case in a huge bankruptcy factory...but you will be given personal attention and good old fashioned legal services.....where you can talk to your attorney and paralegal when you need to. We have a reputation in the Detroit area for providing our clients with superior service at the lowest possible cost, keeping in mind the client’s needs for honest, and experienced legal knowledge and service, while maintaining the lowest fees possible.
Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com philosophy is to provide the client with honest advice, whether bankruptcy is appropriate for the client or not, and to stand up for our client’s best interests. You can expect us to communicate with you every step of the way, and explain to you all of our recommendations. Our goal is to provide each client with quality legal services and excellent communication at a reasonable fee.
We offer free consultations, over the phone, the internet, or in person. Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com's Office is conveniently located just one-block from the US Bankruptcy Court in Detroit Michigan to better serve you. Because of our close proximity to the Bankruptcy Court, we can file your case the same day if needed to immediately stop foreclosure, car repossession, utility shut off (gas, phone or electric) and stop those creditor calls!
We at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com are focused on serving our clients. Our professional calling is to our clients and only our clients, on a full-time basis, to the best of our abilities.
We at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com strive to render bankruptcy legal services which are high quality, ethical, and honest, and which bring positive results. We fight for our client’s rights in court. We explain the law to our clients as it affects your case. We promptly return our phone calls and answer your questions and keep you informed of the status of your case. We are fair to our clients. We fully disclose the fee basis on which your case will be taken at the beginning. We strive to keep costs as low as possible. All attorneys at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com are highly trained in the use of computer-based office systems and legal research resources. We use state-of-the-art technology including, Bestcase Bankruptcy software which enables us to electronically file your case immediately and can constantly monitor and review your case via the United States Bankruptcy Court's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.
All attorneys at Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyers .com stay current in the latest developments in all our areas of practice and frequently attend seminars and workshops to maintain the highest level of bankruptcy law counseling as possible.
General Frequently Asked Questions
1. Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or 13?
Bankruptcy is a Federal Law Provided to you designed to get you a fresh start free from harassing creditor phone calls, lawsuits, repossessions and garnishments. It is a privilege granted to you under the United States Constitution. It is a very powerful law because it forces your creditors to permanently wipe out your debts (chapter 7) or to accept a repayment plan which you have proposed (chapter 13).
2. Should I file for Bankruptcy?
Financial problems lead to great stress and can disrupt one's personal and family relationships, yet many people are scared at the thought of having to file for bankruptcy relief. This is exactly what your creditors want you to think. They do not want you to use your right under the law. They would much rather you pay the minimum monthly payment for the rest of your life at 20 to 25% interest!!!!!
3. Will I lose my Property?
No, as long as you tell the court what you own and what you think it's worth, the law will allow you to keep your property as the basis for your "fresh start" subject to certain limitations. The law is very generous in allowing you to exempt your home equity, automobiles, household goods and furnishings, clothing, jewelry, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pension and 401k plans, etc. The most important thing to do is make an accurate list of what you own and what you think it is worth (at a garage sale or auction.)
4. Can I keep my house and car?
Yes, you an file a bankruptcy and keep your house and car provided you continue to make payments to the finance or mortgage company.
5. Where are you located?
My office is located downtown Detroit, at the corner of Griswold and Fort street in the historic Penobscot Building, Suite 3156. (Click here.)
6. I'm married, can I file alone or must my spouse file jointly?
If your married the law recognizes you as one entity and can file either together as a couple (jointly) or either spouse (husband or wife) can file on their own. The law does not require that both file.
7. Will filing Bankruptcy mean I can't get credit for 7 years?
I have heard this wives' tale so many times and cannot figure out where it came from. Straight bankruptcy is called Chapter 7, maybe that is where the seven years came from, but the truth is that many people have a better chance of getting credit after they file Bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is definitely a negative mark on a credit report and can be reported for 10 years after filing after which is must be removed. Most people who are considering filing Bankruptcy however already have a negative credit report due to non or late payments, repossessions, charge offs or judgments. A bankruptcy which wipes the slate clean will be an improvement. Keep in mind that credit is not your friend, its what got you here in the first place. Credit is the reason people end up filing for bankruptcy. Credit equals Debt.
8. I can't live without my MasterCard, what will I do?
Believe it or not, most retail establishments still accept cash! (Yes, even hotel rooms and car rental agencies). For most people credit cards cause more harm than good. They lead to impulse buying and mask the real pain of paying with cold hard cash or even writing a check. Most of my past clients report to me that they continue to be bombarded with new credit card offers after filing bankruptcy. This is because the credit card companies want to get you back into the game. RESIST at all cost! Consider getting a debit card or a secured credit card.
9. I'm current on all my payments. I've never been late. Can I still file Bankruptcy?
I have many clients who look good on paper and appear to be "making it" but realize that the house of cards is about to come crashing down because they have depleted their savings and the ability to transfer balances or "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" just doesn't work anymore. If after you pay your normal monthly living expenses like rent or house payment, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, recreation, insurance and medical care, you don't have enough income left over to make even the minimum monthly payment on your credit card or loan debt, then you are already bankrupt! If you have used one credit card to obtain a cash advance to pay another, the writing is on the wall. Seek relief before you drown in debt.
10. I'm an honest person and want to pay my debts, I don't want to cheat my creditors?
First understand that bankruptcy is not about cheating your creditors. Bankruptcy laws are designed to provide a person facing financial difficulty with relief from the stress and burden of debt to allow that person (or family) a "fresh start" while at the same time being fair to the creditors. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will discharge your "legal" obligation to pay your debts, it will wipe them out. This means that the creditor can't call you at home or at work to try to collect the debt, they can't garnish your wages or seize money out of your bank account. They must leave you alone permanently. After the bankruptcy, if you win the lottery or come into some money and wish to repay those creditors, you may do so of your own free will. If you can afford to pay some amount to your creditors right now, but just not as much as they want, the law encourages you to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in which you make payments to your creditors through the Court for 3 to 5 years.
If you fit into one of the situations described here, you may be a good candidate for Chapter 13.
There are many reasons why people choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy -- and in particular, choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Generally, you are probably a good candidate for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you are in any of the following situations:
You are behind on your mortgage or car loan, and want to make up the missed payments over time and reinstate the original agreement. You cannot do this in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can make up missed payments only in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
You have a tax debt. If a large part of your debt consists of federal taxes, what happens to your tax debts may determine which type of bankruptcy is best for you.
You can discharge (wipe out) debts for federal income taxes in Chapter 7 bankruptcy only if all of these five conditions are true:
· The taxes are income taxes. Taxes other than income, such as payroll taxes, Trust Fund Recovery Penalty or fraud penalties, can never be eliminated in bankruptcy.
· You did not commit fraud or willful evasion. You did not file a fraudulent tax return or otherwise willfully attempt to evade paying taxes, such as using a false Social Security number on your tax return.
· You pass the three-year rule. The tax return was originally due at least three years before you file for bankruptcy.
· You pass the two-year rule. You actually filed the tax return at least two years before filing the bankruptcy -- having the IRS file a substitute return for you doesn't count unless you agreed to and signed the substitute return.
· You pass the 240-day rule. The income tax debt was assessed by the IRS at least 240 days before you file your bankruptcy petition, or has not yet been assessed.
If any of the following situations apply to you, you will have to add time to the three-year, two-year or 240-day rules for your debts to qualify for discharge in bankruptcy.
· If you submitted an Offer in Compromise, the 240-day rule is delayed by the period from the time from when the Offer is made until the IRS rejects it or you withdraw it, plus 30 days.
· If you obtained a Taxpayer Assistance Order from an IRS Problems Resolution Officer preventing the IRS from collecting, the bankruptcy court may require that you add the time collection was suspended to the three-year, two-year and 240-day requirements.
· If you filed a previous bankruptcy case, all three time periods stopped running while you were in the prior bankruptcy case. You must add the length of your case plus six months to all three.
Even if your taxes do qualify for discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, your victory may be bittersweet. This is because prior recorded tax liens are not affected by your filing. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out only your personal obligation to pay the debt. Any lien recorded before you file for bankruptcy remains. After your bankruptcy, the IRS can seize any property you owned at the time the bankruptcy was filed. But this doesn't mean that after your bankruptcy case is over the IRS will come and grab your property. Post-bankruptcy, the IRS tends to seize only real estate and retirement accounts or pensions. And even then, IRS seizures generally take place only when a taxpayer has made no efforts to otherwise resolve the problem. Furthermore, IRS collectors must obtain approval from their supervisors before seizing a house or pension. The IRS is very concerned about negative publicity.
If you cannot discharge your tax debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 may be a better alternative. There, you pay your tax debts over time.
You have a sincere desire to repay your debts, but you need the protection of the bankruptcy court to do so.
You need help repaying your debts now, but need to leave open the option of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the future. This would be the case if for some reason you can't stop incurring new debt.
You are a family farmer who wants to pay off your debts, but you do not qualify for a Chapter 12 family farming bankruptcy because you have a large debt unrelated to farming.
You have valuable nonexempt property. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you get to keep certain property, called exempt. If you have a lot of nonexempt property (which you'd have to give it up if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy), Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the better option.
You received a Chapter 7 discharge within the previous six years. You cannot file for Chapter 7 again until the six years are up.
You have a codebtor on a personal debt. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your creditor will go after the codebtor for payment. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the creditor will leave your codebtor alone, as long as you keep up with your bankruptcy plan payments.
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Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals or businesses that cannot pay their debts to have some or all of their debts discharged or reorganized. This enables the debtors to get a "fresh start" on their finances. It also attempts to provide a fair method for compensating creditors.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy proceeding. It is a liquidation type of proceeding (as opposed to a reorganization proceeding). All of the debtor's assets, with the exception of "exempt" property, will be sold, and the proceeds will be used to pay their debts. If the proceeds are not enough to pay off all the debts, unpaid amounts on "dischargeable debts" will be discharged.
First the debtor files a bankruptcy petition in which he lists all of his assets as well as all of his outstanding debt. Assets fall into two categories. Exempt assets are those that the debtor will be able to keep after the bankruptcy proceeding. Generally a certain amount of equity in a person's home, a certain amount of equity in a vehicle, a small amount for clothing, and a small amount for other personal items will be considered exempt property. The exact value of the exemptions will vary depending on what jurisdiction the bankruptcy is filed in.
Non-exempt assets are all of the debtor's assets that are not exempt. The trustee who is appointed in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy will collect all of the debtor's non-exempt assets and sell them. The proceeds will be distributed to the creditors.
There are also different categories of debts. A secured debt is one in which the creditor retains an interest in some of the debtor's property until the debt is paid. The property in which the creditor has a security interest may be the same property that was purchased with the loan, or it may be some other property of the debtor. Secured debts will get paid off before non-secured debts.
Non-secured debts are the last type of debts to be paid. These debts may end up being discharged altogether if there are not enough assets to pay them, and in many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, there are not. Examples of non-secured debts are credit card debts or signature loans.
Some debts are non-dischargeable even by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. This means that you will still have to pay off these debts even after bankruptcy. Examples of non-dischargeable debts include child support, student loans, and taxes.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is what is known as reorganization bankruptcy. Chapter13 bankruptcy is filed by individuals who want to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years. This type of bankruptcy appeals to individuals who have non-exempt property that they want to keep. It is also only an option for individuals who have predictable income and whose income is sufficient to pay their reasonable expenses with some amount left over to pay off their debts.
The debtor will file a bankruptcy petition that includes schedules of the debtor's assets and liabilities. Then the debtor will have a limited amount of time to file a repayment plan with the court. Once the plan is filed the person's creditors and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee will have a limited amount of time to object to the plan. If there are no objections and the plan is confirmed, the debtor and the creditors must follow it.
In order to be confirmed a reorganization plan must meet confirmation tests. One of these tests compares the amount that the unsecured creditors will receive under the plan to the amount they would receive under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Unsecured creditors must receive at least the same amount under the Chapter 13 plan as they would in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Another test requires that the debtor must also pay all of his disposable income into the repayment plan.
With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the debtor may keep all of their property whether it is exempt or non-exempt. The main reason for dividing property into the exempt and non-exempt categories in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for purposes of comparing it to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a confirmation test. The debtor may, however, give up some secured property to the secured creditor as part of the reorganization plan.
If a debtor wants to keep secured property, but has fallen behind on payments, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the debtor to keep the property and get caught up on missed payments during the reorganization. For example a debtor who is facing a foreclosure for failing to make several mortgage payments can halt the foreclosure by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. What is known as an "automatic stay" is ordered by the court, preventing creditors from taking any collection actions pending the outcome of the bankruptcy proceeding. The debtor can then use the reorganization period to get caught up on past due amounts, thereby avoiding foreclosure. If the debtor is unable to get caught up on payments during this period, he will still be subject to foreclosure at the end of the reorganization.
For secured property with a value that is less than the amount of the debt that is owed, there are 2 options. The debtor may return the property to the creditor who will be able to sell the property and keep the proceeds to satisfy the debt. Any excess debt that is not is not satisfied through the sale of the property will become unsecured debt. If the debtor keeps the property, the reorganization plan will require the debtor to repay the debt up to the value of the property. The excess amount of debt will be converted to unsecured debt.
Non-secured creditors share whatever amounts are left over after priority claims have been satisfied. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy some of the debtors payments will go to unsecured creditors. The unpaid portion of the non-secured debts will be discharged at the end of the reorganization period.
There are other important differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Contact Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer Walter Metzen who has the legal experience in the practice of bankruptcy law to determine which type is best for your situation.