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The Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 11:16 am    

In this video, Justin Lawrence from Lawrence & Associates describes the basic differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in a nutshell.

Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcies are the kinds of bankruptcy that are available to most consumer debtors, which includes nearly every individual filing bankruptcy. Learn the length of time you could be in each kind of bankruptcy, the restrictions on filing each type of bankruptcy, and the requirements for each type of bankruptcy once it is filed.

Watch the video for more details!


How to Stop a Car Repossession by Filing for Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 at 6:53 am    

Justin Lawrence continues Lawrence & Associates’ bankruptcy video blog series with this discussion about how a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop the repossession of a car, or even get your car back if it has already been repossessed!

If you have any further questions about repossession and bankruptcy after watching the video, give Justin a call for a free consultation!


Bankruptcy Can Stop Wage Garnishments and May Offer Refunds

Posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2016 at 11:19 pm    

This week, our bankruptcy web video series explains how a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can stop a wage garnishment.  Justin Lawrence, the founder of Lawrence & Associates, explains how a bankruptcy can even force the company garnishing your wages to return your money to you if the bankruptcy is filed within ninety (90) days.  Time is of the essence, so watch this video and call for more information today!


You Can Beat a Northern Kentucky Foreclosure

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2016 at 8:10 am    

recieve-mail-300x225On any given weekday, somebody in Northern Kentucky is getting a foreclosure complaint. Whether it arrives by certified mail or whether a sheriff brings it to your door, the feeling is always the same: despair, grief, the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Some people do not want to lose their homes, while others have already given the house up for lost but worry about the mortgage debt following them for the rest of their lives. Many are intimidated by big law firm names like Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, or Weltman, Weinberg & Reis. And, most importantly, many people don’t realize how many rights they actually have.

You have the power to save your home, even though you are in arrears on your mortgage. You have the power to wipe out the mortgage debt so you can start fresh in a new home without the shadow of old debts looming over you. All you need to do is decide now, at this moment, to take action. Start being proactive and asserting your rights, instead of waiting for the bank to cut off your mortgage and throw you out of your home.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Save Your Home

A foreclosure can be stopped with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While any bankruptcy filing can stop a foreclosure lawsuit, only a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to stay in your home by restructuring your overdue mortgage payments according to your ability to pay, not the mortgage company’s schedule. A Chapter 13 last for no less than three but no more than five years, and you will have that entire time to repay the mortgage. For that reason, even a large mortgage arrearage can be broken down into manageable chunks for repayment.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies provide immediate relief from foreclosure lawsuits, but they also provide lasting relief. When you set a good faith payment plan at the start of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the mortgage company’s attorneys cannot challenge that plan. Even large firms such as Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss or Javitch Rothbone cannot beat Lawrence & Associates’ clients when a good faith plan for repayment has been set. Sometimes, depending on the amount of debt and a client’s budget, repayment plans for mortgage arrearages can be as low as a hundred dollars a month!

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Gets Rid of Mortgage Debt

Lawrence & Associates can help you erase old mortgage debt by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not allow you to keep your home if you are behind on payments when you file the bankruptcy, it will eliminate any need for you to make additional payments on the debt. Often, since the foreclosure process must be stalled during the bankruptcy and since the foreclosure process last for several months once restarted, our clients can live in their home for months after filing bankruptcy before they need to find a new house or apartment.

Lawrence & Associates can help you stop a foreclosure. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to work for you! Get a fresh start by calling us first. The sooner you call, the better your chances of righting the ship and sailing into a better financial future. Call Lawrence & Associates today!


How to Protect Your Tax Refund When You File Bankruptcy

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2016 at 12:13 pm    

In the newest video in our bankruptcy web video series, Justin Lawrence of Lawrence & Associates explains how bankruptcy filers can keep a tax refund in either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and how the tax refund can be used to pay necessary bills or even for the bankruptcy itself!

This video applies to Kentucky and Ohio bankruptcy filers; if you live in another state, please confirm that the rules given in this video will apply in your state as well.


Keep Your Home When You File for Bankruptcy

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2016 at 11:47 pm    

Justin Lawrence from Lawrence & Associates explains how a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure on your home, how you can keep your home when you file bankruptcy, and how you can use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to catch up on mortgage payments and get a fresh start.


How Can I Stop My Car From Getting Repossessed?

Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 8:57 am    

Car-Repossession-300x225A car is a necessity in modern life. We need to go to work, school, and home, and few of us live in walking distance. Therefore, the prospect of a car’s repossession is frightening. Once you finance or lease a car, your car lender has certain rights and remedies that come with the contract you sign. One remedy allows the lender to repossess your car if you default under the terms of your agreement. Your contract will specify what exactly constitutes a default but common examples include failing to make your payments or not having car insurance. Although many car owners assume they have grace period before repossession begins, the contract usually allows for repossession at the time of default.  Some Northern Kentucky car lots, such as Limited Motors, report that they offer at least a three week grace period to car owners in default before repossession begins.  However, often car lots will not guarantee a grace period and choose to exercise their repossession right quickly.

What Steps Should You Take If You Default on Your Loan?

If you are in default on your car loan and cannot make an immediate payment in full, you’ll want to take a few easy steps to avoid finding your car missing one morning. Your car loan lender can usually repossess your car without giving you any notice as long as the repossession does not breach the peace. “Breach the peace” is an important term, and generally means they cannot do anything illegal, including “disturbing the peace” by creating an argument with you or “breaking and entering” by going into your garage to take the vehicle. Repo men generally take cars at night when no one is around so no breach of the peace occurs. If you are in default and know or suspect a repossession is going to occur, considering doing the following:

1. Keeping the car in a garage.

2. Parking the car a distance away from your house and place of work, where it will not easily be found.

3. Parking the car in your backyard, where it cannot be seen from the road.

4. Asking a neighbor or friend to keep the car at their home, under a tarp or other cover.

Under any of these scenarios, you make it less likely that a repossession will occur because you prevent the repo man from finding or accessing the vehicle.

Filing Bankruptcy Ceases All Collection Attempts

A bankruptcy can help you to stop the repossession and even get your car back after repossession. When you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect, which forces your creditors to cease all collection attempts against you. This means that your creditors cannot call you, continue with a lawsuit, repossess, sell, or foreclose on your property. With a few exceptions, you are completely protected by the bankruptcy and creditors must seek court permission before continuing their collection efforts.

If you are facing a repossession, you must choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to save the car. Your best bet is to file bankruptcy before the car is repossessed – if you do so, Lawrence & Associates can print a proof of bankruptcy filing for you that will prevent the repo man from taking your vehicle. Even if the car has been repossessed, you can get the car back if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy before the car is sold at auction. However, the timing of the auction is always in flux, so it can sometimes be difficult to get a bankruptcy filed and get notice to the lender before the auction occurs.

Hire Lawrence & Associates and Stop Repossession

Do you think your lender may try to take your car soon and you cannot afford to get caught up on your car payments? A bankruptcy may be your best option to stop repossession. Call Lawrence & Associates today! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help you!


What’s the difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2016 at 9:10 am    

Anyone who needs to file a bankruptcy is faced with an important choice: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13? Finding out what those terms mean is as simple as going to your local library, but knowing when you can file a Chapter 7 or when you should choose a Chapter 13 requires expert legal knowledge. At Lawrence & Associates, our Northern Kentucky attorneys can make sure you file the right kind of bankruptcy for your situation, whether you are facing foreclosure from a bank like Wells Fargo, being sued for medical bills by a hospital like St. Elizabeth, or confronting a mountain of Capital One credit card debt.

chapter-7-squareChoosing the right kind of bankruptcy can mean the difference between keeping your house, keeping your car, keeping your money, or losing it all. Geography matters: Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati have very different bankruptcy exemptions, and this is a big factor in the choice between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Other factors include your past income and current assets. Only by knowing the asset exemptions and median income levels applicable to the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati areas can the choice between Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy be made. For example, the median income is lower for Northern Kentucky residents than it is for Cincinnati residents, and people over median income have to file Chapter 13. Therefore, if all else is equal, someone living in Cincinnati can file a Chapter 7 with the same income that forces a Northern Kentucky resident into a Chapter 13!

What Stops You From Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

In general, you cannot file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you: a) have filed a bankruptcy in the last eight years; b) have assets with significant, unexempt value that you don’t want to lose, or; c) have income over median for your household size in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Anyone falling into any of those categories may have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Figuring out how to correctly assess the value of your property, or the correct number for median income, can be a daunting task. Further, the consequences of making a mistake are very drastic; you could lose your property or get kicked out of bankruptcy and into the arms of your creditors! The attorneys at Lawrence & Associates can make sure your bankruptcy is filed correctly so that you get the maximum benefit from your decision to file.

Why Might You Want to File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

If you are behind on a secured debt such as a mortgage or a car loan, but want to keep the house or car, you will have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy so you can set up a payment plan. There is no such thing as a repayment plan in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and if you are behind on paying the debt on a car or house then you will lose it. The repayment plans afforded in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy also go toward non-dischargeable debts such as taxes, student loans, or child support. If your current repayment schedule makes it impossible to make ends meet, then filing under Chapter 13 allows you to change the repayment schedule to suit your monthly budget.

Another reason to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to get predatory car loans under control. Many Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers can reduce the amount they need to pay on a car loan if they have owned the car for more than two-and-a-half years and if the amount on the loan is more than the value of the car. Also, the interest rate on a car loan can often be reduced when the loan is paid off through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

How Can I Get My Bankruptcy Started?

Lawrence & Associates employs highly skilled bankruptcy attorneys, and we offer free consultations with an attorney to find out whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is right for you. Get the answers you are looking for, and avoid the hassle of creditors and the confusion of following the bankruptcy laws on your own. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to work hard for you. Call Lawrence & Associates today!


You Can Protect Your Tax Refund in Bankruptcy

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 at 10:18 am    

protect-tax-returnThe beginning of the year is always the busiest season for filing bankruptcy. Nobody likes to think about their financial troubles during the holidays, and often the holiday spending that so many businesses rely upon is the same tipping point for balanced debt to begin spiraling out of control. But the beginning of the year is also when many people get tax refunds. If the tax refund can cover the credit card bills, disaster may be averted. But if not, Northern Kentucky debtors need to figure out how to protect that tax refund in bankruptcy.

In the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, trustees always watch for bankruptcies filed during the first half of the year that do not properly protect a tax refund. Although the debtor’s tax refund can be appropriately reported and exempted in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, do-it-yourself filers or inexperienced attorneys often fail to complete this crucial step. If the tax return is not properly reported or exempted, the trustee can seize the refund and use it to pay creditors. It is therefore very important to get an experienced bankruptcy attorney to properly file and protect the tax refund.

How can the Tax Refund Be Saved in My Bankruptcy?

A tax refund must be listed as an asset in the bankruptcy filing, even if the tax return has not been filed yet and even if you don’t know how much the refund will be. A reasonable estimate of the refund must be given, although you can also say you don’t know exactly how much the refund is. Trustees in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 carefully review refunds for debtors that have minor children. Having minor children causes the earned income credit to be applied, and this generally provides for a high tax refund. However, the entire earned income credit can be protected from the bankruptcy trustee – again, this is something only an experienced lawyer knows how to do properly!

Chapter 7 trustees in Northern Kentucky are typically more likely to be aggressive in pursuing a high tax refund than a Chapter 13 trustee, since the Chapter 7 trustee can seize the refund outright if it is not exempted properly. This is, in part, how a Chapter 7 trustee gets paid. In Cincinnati, both the Chapter 7 and the Chapter 13 trustees are fairly aggressive in pursuing tax refunds.

There is no specific exemption in the bankruptcy code for a tax refund, so the wildcard exemption has to be used. In Cincinnati, this is a big problem because the wildcard (or miscellaneous) exemption used in Ohio is small. In Northern Kentucky, this is less of a problem because Kentucky law allows debtors to use the federal wildcard exemption. The federal wildcard exemption is very large and most tax refunds will be protected by it.

However, in Kentucky the federal wildcard exemption is also used to cover many other assets, such as the money in the debtors’ bank accounts, any firearms in the home, and any equity the debtor has in a second car. Thus, it is possible that, without proper legal advice, even a modest tax refund could go beyond the limits of the exemption and be taken by the trustee.

How Can Lawrence & Associates Help Protect My Refund?

Experienced bankruptcy lawyers make a big difference. In our consultations, Lawrence & Associates will explain how your tax refund can be spent on reasonable and necessary household expenses to protect it from seizure by the trustee. The lawyers at Lawrence & Associates have spent years learning exactly which expenses can be used to offset the tax refund and which cannot, thus avoiding the risk that the trustee will take the refund or delay the bankruptcy. Details matter, and our attorneys and paralegals are trained to find the details in your life that keep thousands of dollars of tax refunds in your bank account. Lawrence & Associates has been very successful over the years at putting money back in our clients’ pockets by offsetting their tax refunds with our attorney’s fees and thus protecting the debtor’s hard-earned cash from seizure by the Chapter 7 trustee.

You should not put off filing for bankruptcy if your debts cannot be repaid under your current interest rates, or if you are behind on payments and in danger of being sued or having a vehicle repossessed. Lawrence & Associates can help Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati clients protect their assets. We are Working Hard for the Working Class. Call us today and learn how we can help you!


Why Might You Have To File a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Rather Than a Chapter 13?

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 12:20 pm    

At Lawrence & Associates, we file Chapter 13 bankruptcies in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati every day, but we rarely file Chapter 11 bankruptcies. The Chapter 11 system is vastly more complicated than the Chapter 13 system, although both bankruptcies are, at their hearts, reorganizations of debt. Creditors in a Chapter 11 get to vote on the reorganization plan proposed by the debtor, where creditors in a Chapter 13 do not, and Chapter 11s have far more procedural hurdles. Although Chapter 11 bankruptcies are generally considered big business bankruptcies, in reality some individuals are also forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcies as well.

When Does Your Unsecured Debt Force You To File Chapter 11?

bankruptcyUnsecured debt includes credit card bills, medical bills, student loans, pay day loans, and many other categories of debt. As a rule, you can only file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your unsecured debts total less than $360,475.00 (as of the date of this writing). Student Loans become a major issue under this rule, as they can often total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars all by themselves. Unsecured debt alone can sometimes force an ordinary person to file in the same Chapter 11 system normally reserved for the likes of multi-national corporations.

To avoid this trap, talk to an attorney. Consider taking out a loan on any equity in your home or car, and using that secured loan to pay down unsecured student loans. (Bear in mind that, if you take out a debt in the process of filing bankruptcy, you will absolutely be required to pay the full amount of the new secured debt, at its regular interest rate, regardless of what bankruptcy you file.) This can be a wise decision because student loans are usually non-dischargeable, meaning you can’t get rid of them in bankruptcy. Since you’ll have made part of your unsecured debt secured in this process, you may be able to stay in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you managed to pay your unsecured debts to less than $383,175.00. Again, talk to an attorney before taking any action so there are no unforeseen issues in bankruptcy.

When Does Your Secured Debt Force You To File Chapter 11?

Secured debts typically take the form of mortgages, car loans, judicial liens or other debts taken out at the time something is purchased for the purpose of paying for the item. The secured debt limit for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $1,149,525.00; any higher, and you will have to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If you are looking to reduce secured debts in order to fit into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one of the only ways to do so is to give up property secured by a debt. Upon doing so, the debt will become unsecured and no longer count toward this total.

If You Have Questions, Call Lawrence & Associates!

Lawrence & Associates has helped many clients file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and we’d be happy to help you. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to work for you! Give us a call for your free consultation, today!

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