Memphis TN Bankruptcy Lawyer
For most people living in Tennessee, filing for bankruptcy is really their last resort. They often hold back, trying to avoid the process, hoping they can figure out a way to get caught up with overwhelming debt, only to come to the realization that bankruptcy is their only option. The good news is that bankruptcy is often the best thing you can do for your financial wellbeing and while it may make it difficult to get a credit card, obtain a mortgage or vehicle loan, and lower your credit score, the truth is that being consistently late with your debt payments or not being able to pay at all does the same thing, often with even more of a negative impact. If you would like to find out how bankruptcy can help you get a fresh financial start, call Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLP to speak with a Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer.
Contacting a Memphis, Tennessee bankruptcy lawyer is an important step towards getting out from under crushing debt. Your debts can seem overwhelming, and your financial situation may be the source of many sleepless nights. Whatever the situation, there’s always a responsible way to get back in control of your finances. At Darrell Castle & Associates, we’ve seen many bankruptcy cases, and every case is different. Bankruptcy is a last resort for many people across the country, and their stories are all different.
Some people are facing eviction and need a way to reorganize their finances to avoid losing their home. This can be especially stressful if they are raising children, as the prospect of uprooting their whole family and moving to a completely new school distract can greatly impact the development and education of their kids. Others who have to resort to declaring bankruptcy are victims of unfortunate circumstances. Some have experienced serious accidents that prevent them from returning to work, others become so sick they can’t get out from under their medical bills. Bankruptcy can also affect those who have been involved in lawsuits, as legal fees can quickly build up and overwhelm their finances.
Fortunately, contacting a Memphis, TN, bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with a solid plan to pay off your debts, or even a completely fresh slate. It’s important to know when you should declare bankruptcy, and it’s especially important to know how you can be affected in the short term and long term by your bankruptcy.
How Do You Know It’s Time to File for Bankruptcy?
If you are struggling with debt, but are unsure if bankruptcy is the direction you should go in, the following questions may help answer that question.
Do Your Debts Far Exceed Your Income?
Make a list of all the debt you currently have including rent or mortgage, vehicle payments, credit cards, and personal loans. Add up how much debt you have. Now make a list of all the income you have coming in each month. For most people, that will likely only be their wages. If the debt you owe is significantly higher than your monthly income, bankruptcy may be a good option for your situation.
Is the Bank Threatening to Foreclose on Your Home or Repossess Your Vehicle?
If you are facing home foreclosure or vehicle repossession filing for bankruptcy will put a temporary hold on any legal action the bank or lending company is threatening you with. This not only gives you time to readjust your finances, you Memphis, TN bankruptcy attorney may also be able to work out a better financial deal for you, such as a cram down loan for your vehicle.
Have You Tried Negotiating Payment Options with Your Creditors?
If you are considering bankruptcy, have you first tried working out a better payment plan option with your creditors? Many creditors will not get paid in a bankruptcy action as many debts are discharged. Because of this, many creditors are sometimes willing to work with customers. If you have tried unsuccessfully to work with creditors, then it may be time to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis, TN, and file for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy: What Not to Do
Tips from a Memphis TN Bankruptcy Lawyer
A Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer knows that making the decision to file for bankruptcy is rarely an easy one. A bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the legal proceedings and file the necessary legal paperwork on your behalf. A bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis, TN from Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLP can also protect your best interests along the way. Your concerns and questions will be addressed promptly so that you have a full understanding of each step toward fulfilling the process. In addition to knowing what you will need to do, it’s also important that you know what not to do. We encourage you to contact us to find out more about how we may be of assistance to you during this difficult and stressful time. We provide a free consultation to those who are considering filing for bankruptcy.
Common Mistakes People Make When Filing for Bankruptcy
You want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible when deciding to file for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer Memphis, TN residents turn to for help can sit down with you and offer more detailed guidance after reviewing the specifics of your situation. Everyone’s situation is unique, therefore the advice of a legal professional should be taken into account. At Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLP we have helped many of our fellow community members who faced great financial difficulty by handling their bankruptcy case.
You will want to make every effort to avoid the following mistakes that people commonly make when filing for bankruptcy. By avoiding these pitfalls, you can help ensure that you are able to put the bankruptcy proceedings behind you as soon as possible.
- Do Not File a Lawsuit: Any money obtained from a lawsuit will become part of your bankruptcy claim. If you file a lawsuit while in the bankruptcy process or even before, you risk only receiving a portion of the lawsuit settlement if you receive any of it at all.
- Avoid Using Your Credit Accounts: You don’t want to continue to accrue debt while filing for bankruptcy. It may look deceitful if you purchase expensive items or take sizable cash advances on your credit cards before you file for bankruptcy.
- Putting Ancillary Money in the Bank: The only money reflected in your personal account should be from your wages. Running business transactions or keeping money for another person may appear deceptive to the court.
- Do Not Transfer Any Money or Property: It may look fraudulent if you try to hide any of your assets from the bankruptcy court. Any transfer of your assets to someone else in an attempt to protect them may look alarming and be of concern to the court.
- Avoid Paying Off a Particular Creditor: When you have debt with multiple creditors, paying off one is not good. It’s possible that the trustee will choose to regain the money paid by suing that creditor and dispersing the money equally to all of your debtors.
The best way to make sure you are following the bankruptcy process correctly is to consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis, TN from our firm can help make sure that you take all the appropriate and required steps throughout the process.
If you are struggling with debt and feel as if you are running out of options, you may want to talk with a Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer. At Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLP, we have helped hundreds of clients with debt solutions, enabling them to start fresh and get back on track to financial security.
How Can a Memphis, TN Bankruptcy Lawyer Assist?
When a person is having a hard time paying their bills, there are certain issues that come up that indicate bankruptcy may be an option that will help solve the financial dilemma they find themselves in. These issues include:
- Wage garnishment: This is where a creditor gets permission from the courts to garnish your paycheck in order to pay what you owe them. A creditor can garnish up to 25 percent of your pay. A skilled Memphis, Tennessee bankruptcy lawyer knows that by filing bankruptcy, a hold is put on the wage garnishment and your entire paycheck goes to you.
- Vehicle repossession: When you take a loan out for a vehicle, that vehicle is collateral for the loan. This means if you fall behind, the bank or finance company can come and take possession of the vehicle. If you are unable to work out an agreement with the company, then filing for bankruptcy can stop the repossession and, depending on what type of bankruptcy you file, you may even be able to keep the vehicle under a new payment plan.
- Foreclosure: Just like a car loan, the collateral for your mortgage is your home. If your mortgage company is threatening foreclosure or has already begun the foreclosure process, a Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer can help stop that foreclosure by preparing a Chapter 13 filing for you.
There are several different types of bankruptcies, but the majority of personal bankruptcy cases are either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Your bankruptcy lawyer can help you decide which type if the right one for your situation.
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges all of your unsecured debt, as well as liquidates nonexempt assets. Your bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine if you have any assets that could be exempt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy truly offers a fresh start because once the process is complete, you are truly debt-free.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy also enables people to get out of debt, but instead of discharging debt, a repayment plan is established that will work within your budget. This plan allows you to get back on track while also paying down your debt.
When it comes to declaring bankruptcy, you can usually choose between two options: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You may have heard of the different types of bankruptcy before – Chapter 11 is for corporate restructuring, for example. However, when it comes to your own personal finances and your own debt, your main options are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. But what is the difference between the two, and how do you decide which is best for your situation?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy. It’s a fast way to get out from under debt, and involves selling off your assets to pay off your creditors. This means that after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can start all over from a clean slate. It’s an enticing option, but you should be aware that it has drawbacks: Your credit will take a severe hit, which can make it harder to rebuild the life you used to enjoy. Loans will be harder to get, and housing and employment will be more challenging as well. You’ll also have to sell off your assets, which can range from anything from second properties to that collection of baseball cards you’ve had since you were a kid. It’s a major change, but it can produce fast results and get you out from under crushing debt.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Also known as reorganization bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn’t as immediate as Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but it’s a solid way to hold onto more of your assets while you develop a financial plan to pay off your creditors. You will need to develop a court-mandated plan to pay off your debts, and you’ll have to stick with it for a long period of time. It may take a longer time to really work out, but you won’t have to sell off assets, and you can continue to pay off other financial obligations after filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Contact a Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer to make sure Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.
Information On Trusts and Bankruptcy
When you are planning your estate, setting up a trust may be one of the first choices you make. A trust is a great way for you to pass on your property to those you love and ensure that it is taken care of in the event that anything happens to you. When you create your trust, you typically only need two other people involved: the trustee and the beneficiary. However, if you are filing for bankruptcy, how does this impact your trust, the trustee, and the beneficiary? Will all of your assets go to the bankruptcy to pay off any of your debt or will your beneficiary still get to keep anything? Our trusted Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer wants to go over this information with you so you know what you will get yourself into if you file for bankruptcy with a trust.
What is the purpose of a trust?
The purpose of a trust is simple. When you want to pass your estate over to someone else, you can leave it in the hands of a trustee, a person who is responsible for getting your estate to your beneficiaries. While you are alive, you can even be the trust’s trustee. One of the greatest benefits that many people see in a trust is that it does not need to go through probate court.
Trusts and Bankruptcy
When filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, your trustee will likely be going through your assets and determining if there are things they can liquidate in order to pay off your debt. When these items are liquidated and your debts are paid, whatever is left can go to the beneficiary of the trust. On the other hand, liquidating your assets may not pay entirely for your debt.
What is a spendthrift provision?
There is a bankruptcy law known as a “spendthrift provision.” This means that with an irrevocable or revocable trust, creditors cannot take the proceeds of your assets and use the proceeds to pay off debts. Especially when an irrevocable trust has multiple beneficiaries, liquidating assets from that trust can become increasingly complicated.
Because of the different types of trusts there are and the different ways bankruptcy may affect those trusts, it is important to get help from a bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee who can go over the details of bankruptcy and trusts.
What are the steps for filing a bankruptcy?
When filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case should move forward predictably. Here is a summary of what is involved in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Analyze your debt: Some debts, such as child support obligations, most student loan balances, and recent tax debt, are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And if you pledged collateral for a debt (such as a house or car), the creditor can take the property if you are not current when you file and if you do not remain current after your case.
- Determine your property exemptions: Every state has exemption laws, which dictate what types of property (or, in some cases, how much equity in a particular type of property) you are entitled to keep if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Most people can retain household furnishings, retirement accounts, a modest car, and some equity in a home. You’ll want to be sure that you can protect everything you want to keep before filing.
- Make sure you are eligible: Most people must take and pass the means test before qualifying for a discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy (excluded individuals include those with primarily business debt and some military personnel). If your average gross income during the six months before you file is more than the median income for a family of your size in your state, you qualify. If not, you will subtract allowed expenses from your income to determine whether you’ll be allowed to use Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Redeem or reaffirm secured debts: If you pledged property as collateral for a loan, you will need to continue to pay the creditor if you want to keep the property. When you file for bankruptcy, you will be asked to decide whether you want to “redeem” the property (pay the creditor the current replacement value of the property in a lump sum), “reaffirm” the debt (agree to continue paying per the contract with the creditor – usually under the same terms), or “surrender” the property (let the creditor take it). Depending on where you live, there might be other options as well (some lenders let debtors keep the property as long as they remain current on the loan).
- Fill out the bankruptcy forms: You will complete a few dozen pages of forms, in which you tell the court about all your property, debts, income, expenses, and prior transactions. You will list the names of all your creditors, property, and income, list your property exemptions, and decide what you want to do about each of your secured debts. Finally, you will disclose property transactions that occurred up to ten years before your case. A bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis TN can help you in this process.
- Take a credit counseling course: Individuals who file for bankruptcy must complete a course before filing for bankruptcy, or, in unusual cases, shortly after that.
- File the forms: Filing your petition (the main bankruptcy form, schedules, and other forms) officially starts your case. Most people file all the forms at once, but if you are pressed for time, you can opt for an emergency filing by completing a few required forms. You must file the remaining forms within 14 days. Remember, you do not have to file this alone, Memphis TN bankruptcy lawyers can help.
- Pay the filing fee or request a fee waiver: You will pay a filing fee when you file your forms. If you cannot pay it all at once, you can ask the court to split it into four payments. If you cannot pay it at all, you can apply for a fee waiver by filling out an application that you’ll file along with your bankruptcy petition. A judge will review it and, in most cases, issue the fee waiver if it appears that you meet all necessary qualifications. (Your household income must be 150% of the federal poverty guidelines or less, and you cannot have sufficient income to pay in installment payments.)
- Submit documents to the bankruptcy trustee: You will need to turn over documents that prove the accuracy of the information provided in your bankruptcy forms. You can expect to forward bank statements, paycheck stubs, profit and loss statements, tax returns and other documents the trustee requires.
- Go to a meeting: In most cases, you will need to go to court only once for a short meeting with the trustee (and perhaps a creditor or two, although it is unusual for creditors to appear). The bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case will check your identification, and ask standard questions required of all debtors, as well as specific questions about the information in your forms.
- File objections or motions if needed: If you dispute a creditor’s claim against you or want to eliminate certain liens, you will need to address these matters before your bankruptcy case is closed (if you forget to handle a lien, most courts will allow you to reopen the case at a later date).
- Wind up your secured debts: When you filed your bankruptcy forms, you’ll complete a form in which you stated how you intend to handle your secured debts. Before your case is closed, you will need to act on these matters. For instance, if you indicated that you would return a car, you’ll want to be sure to make it available to the lender.
- Complete a debtor education course: After you file your paperwork, you will need to complete the second course, called a debtor education course, before you will receive a discharge (the order that wipes out your debt). If you fail to submit your certificate on time, the court will close your matter without a discharge. Fixing this problem can be expensive because you will likely have to file a motion and another filing fee to reopen the case.
- Get your discharge: Congratulations! This is what it is all about. At the end of a successful bankruptcy, the court will issue an order discharging your qualifying debts. Once discharged, you no longer have a legal obligation to pay it, and the creditor has no right to collect it.
When You Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer Memphis, TN Clients Trust
If you would like to speak with a Memphis bankruptcy lawyer from Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLP, and learn more about your bankruptcy options, call our office today. Our firm has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a five-star rating from Avvo. Our firm has also been the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award. We would be happy to meet and discuss your legal options.
“I highly recommend this company. I was so vulnerable going into the whole process of filing BK. They made me feel like everything was going to be okay from the moment I walked in the door. The receptionist Amanda is friendly and thoughtful.”