Obtain a Fresh Financial Start Through Bankruptcy

There are numerous reasons that people find themselves struggling to pay their bills and financial obligations each month. Some have been laid off from a job or have become seriously ill. Many have just gone through a divorce and are living on a lowered income. Others yet may have faced substantial interest rate increases on their loans or mortgage. Regardless of why you are struggling financially, there are legal solutions available to you through bankruptcy.

At the offices of Dai Gwilliam, Attorney at Law, we help clients obtain debt relief through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While the bankruptcy process can seem confusing and stressful, when you work with our firm, you will receive the individual attention you deserve to help you through. Dai will spend a great deal of time learning about you and your unique financial circumstances. While many of the big-box firms will pass your matter off to a case manager or paralegal, your attorney will be your legal contact at each stage of the process.

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One of Dai’s main areas of practice is helping his clients find their way out of oppressive debt. Everyone would like to have the money to pay all their bills, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Perhaps you’ve lost a job, suffered an injury or been ill, or are getting divorced or breaking up with a partner. Whatever the cause of your debt, Dai has the tools to help you out and get your finances back on track. Dai’s approach is to get to know you and your circumstances personally to find out what is the best remedy for your situation.

The most used tool for debt relief is bankruptcy. While most people don’t like the idea of declaring bankruptcy, The bankruptcy procedure was put in place for a good reason, to help you get a fresh start with your financial affairs.

There are two kinds of bankruptcy available to people for relief from the stress and hardship of being swamped by debt: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. You can file as an individual, or if you are married, you can file jointly with your spouse.

If you enter Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debts will be consolidated into one lump sum that you will pay every month. Some of your debts may be reduced, and you will pay off your debts under a payment plan over three to five years. Most people who take part in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy have a steady job that pays regular income and can afford to pay off their debts over an extended period of time. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 may be the tool for you.

Chapter seven bankruptcy is what most people think of when they consider bankruptcy. Indeed, this is the by far the most common type of bankruptcy filed today. Many of your debts are wiped out, and you get to keep most, if not all, of your property. If you own a car, a house, or a mobile home that you want to keep you usually can. You can arrange with the company that you borrowed money from to buy that property to keep it and continue to pay off their loan.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy. First your income has to be low enough to qualify for Chapter 7. But you might be surprised to find out how much money you can make and still qualify. In Iowa City in January of 2014 an individual can make well over $40,000 a year and still qualify for Chapter 7. For a couple the figure is approximately $60,000 a year, and the figure increases if you have more people in your household. Even if your income is well above these figures, you may well still qualify after you submit a more detailed analysis of your finances (called a means test). Dai can help you figure out if you qualify in your particular circumstances.

Then there’s all the paperwork! Most of the work in the usual Chapter 7 case takes place before you file your documents. The basic Chapter 7 filing is at least 50 pages, and most of the items on these pages have specific laws that apply to each piece of information that you submit. Dai can accurately prepare these documents for you using the most up-to-date software and make sure that you take advantage of the options that will most benefit you. Once the documents are ready, Dai will file them with the court and then go with you to your case meeting. He will also communicate with anyone else who involved in your case for you.

Of course, bankruptcy is not the way to deal with your debt. You may not be eligible for bankruptcy, or in your situation bankruptcy may not be the best fit. Occasionally the best thing to do may be nothing at all! Or there may be ways to handle your debts on a case by case basis. Be careful when you search the internet for solutions to your debt problem. There are organizations that promise to help you with your debt, take your money and leave you in a worse position. Contact Dai for your free initial consultation and see what solutions he may suggest.

Dai’s basic fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is $1,200. There is also a filing fee of $335 that is paid to the court, so the total cost for a typical case is $1,535. Generally the full amount is due at the start of the case. For those with more limited income, Dai may be able to arrange a payment plan with you that suits your circumstances. If your case requires more work than the usual case, then there may be additional charges, but this is rare. You will be able to discuss fee payment during your free initial meeting with Dai.

The basic fee includes collecting information about your income and property; checking two credit reports to find all the people you owe money to, and checking for other creditors; meeting with you as needed, preparing and filing the bankruptcy petition and other documents, going to the bankruptcy courthouse with you for your case meeting, and completing any other tasks that are required to finalize your case.

Preparation

Even before you meet with your attorney for the first time you can begin preparation for your bankruptcy case. Here are several DO’s and DONT’S for you to follow:

  • DO sign up for a Consumer Credit Counseling course. You must complete this before you can file your petition. I suggest that you attend classes at Horizons. They can be reached online or by calling (319) 398-3943.
  • DON’T continue charging on credit cards or taking out new loans (except in a dire emergency)
  • DO prioritize your debts: continue to pay your mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, and other debts that you will want to continue paying after the bankruptcy is over.
  • DO keep all your paystubs and collect the old ones for at least six months before you meet with your lawyer
  • DON’T borrow money against your pension or your house.
  • DON’T pay any money to relatives or friends, or transfer items of property of value to others.
  • DON’T wait too long before talking to your bankruptcy attorney. The time of filing can make a considerable difference in your case – so the sooner you talk to a lawyer the better.

If you make an appointment to meet with Dai, you will not require any detailed documents at that first meeting. You can bring in any documents that you have prepared for the credit counseling course. You should also prepare a rough list of the people you owe money to, a list of your property, and at least a rough estimate of your income.

Further Reading

If you would like further information, about debt relief and bankruptcy you should look at the book Personal Bankruptcy Laws for Dummies (no offense meant!) by James and John Caher. It is a very readable book with lots of good advice and information. See website for details.

(319) 354-6000

Contact Dai Gwilliam

(319) 354-6000

432 E. Bloomington St.
Iowa City, IA 52245-2800

dai@daigwilliam.com