No one ever thinks they will be in the position to hire a Grand Island bankruptcy attorney – i.e. broke and unable to pay their bills. But it happens more often than you think. All it takes is an unexpected event such as job loss, a medical emergency, or even a divorce to leave you without an income and bills piling up.
So, what do you do now? You have rent and utilities due and groceries and gas to purchase. Your credit cards are maxed, and you have asked for all the favors you can from friends and family. You need your debt gone and fast.
But, how? Your best bet may be to file bankruptcy and eliminate credit card and medical debt. Unsure how that works? Our experienced bankruptcy attorney in Grand Island answers some common questions to help you figure out if bankruptcy may be right for you.
How Does Bankruptcy Work?
Bankruptcy is the legal process of declaring that your debts are greater than what you can pay and you are in need of relief. There are different types of bankruptcy, but the intent behind them is the same – letting your creditors know you are unable to pay your debts and wiping away your legal obligation to pay them. Bankruptcy also strengthens your negotiation power with creditors so that they must accept the monthly payments you can afford as approved by a bankruptcy trustee.
- Talk to a Grand Island bankruptcy attorney. The first step to filing bankruptcy is to speak with a law firm that handles bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a complicated process that involves many laws, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate through the complexities. Firms who handle bankruptcies should offer a free consultation during which they will ask you questions to determine whether your circumstances require a bankruptcy and which type would work best for you.
- File if you are eligible. If you can file bankruptcy, that firm will let you know their fees and what documentation you will need to gather up for your bankruptcy. Once you pay the fees or a retainer, they will prepare your paperwork. It can take time to gather the necessary documents, fill out and file paperwork and go through the court process. But once your bankruptcy is finalized you may be debt free depending on your circumstances!
So, How Can I Find a Grand Island Bankruptcy Attorney?
Like so many things, you probably have started with or are going to start by searching the internet. But how do you distinguish between ads, law firms, and “debt settlement” services?
- Expertise and Experience. Does the firm that you are looking into specialize in bankruptcy or do they have a general law practice and occasionally file a bankruptcy? As noted above, bankruptcy is very complex and the outcomes will affect your legal and financial future, so you want to trust your unique situation to a firm that has “been there and done that” to get the best outcome possible. Look for a firm that’s established and has experience, not just someone starting out. Look for their “Practice Areas” on their website to see what types of law they specialize in and the years of experience information in their “About Us.”
- Bankruptcy Services. Does the firm handle personal bankruptcies, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies? Or do they only handle corporate bankruptcies? Will they handle lawsuits that arise, or can they stop a wage garnishment (one of the biggest motivators for filing bankruptcy)?
If the firm or “debt settlement” organization won’t represent you for any legal proceedings that come about because of owing creditors or won’t help you recoup your money from garnishments, are they really worth your time? You don’t want to pay one company to help you consolidate or settle debt only to have to hire a lawyer as well to take care of lawsuits or garnishment.
- Reputation. Are they well known for handling bankruptcies? Do they have positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied clients? Do you know someone else who has utilized their services? When someone does a good job, you hear about it. And when they do a bad job, you really hear about it.
So, check out Google reviews, client testimonials on their website, and ask your friends and family what they’ve heard. Take everything with a grain of salt as always but ask around and see what you can find out. A firm with a good reputation is a safer bet than an unknown one.
- Fit. Is what’s being advertised, what you need? When you look at their website or speak to them on the phone, do you feel comfortable? Never underestimate your gut feeling. There will be a firm that will treat you how you deserve, handle your case with professionalism and provide the services you need to help you handle your debt and get a fresh start.
What Does a Grand Island Bankruptcy Lawyer do?
You’ve looked for an attorney and you think you’ve found one you might contact. But what exactly do they do?
- Handle the Headache. As soon as you hire that firm, they should take over handling any creditor calls. You don’t have to deal with the headache or harassment anymore. Simply tell the collection company you are filing bankruptcy and tell them to call your lawyer.
- Stop Garnishments. A bankruptcy lawyer has the knowhow to stop garnishments and help you to recover money that’s being garnished from a bank account or your paycheck. If you have been notified of an impending garnishment, you need it to stop immediately. An experienced bankruptcy attorney in Grand Island, NE, can move quickly to stop those garnishments from happening, but they must know about the issue as soon as possible.
If you are already being garnished, work must be done to halt the garnishment and recuperate your money. A bankruptcy lawyer is best equipped to deal with these situations.
- Advise You. A bankruptcy attorney can advise you on which bankruptcy is right for you – a free consultation may include speaking with an intake specialist about your general situation, then you may speak directly with an attorney who can advise you about your specific circumstances and how best to eliminate your debt.
- Guide You. Let’s face it, you don’t know the bankruptcy process. That’s why you need help, and a bankruptcy firm will help you to meet the court’s requirements. You will likely be assigned a case manager who can inform you of the bankruptcy court requirements and remind you about deadlines.
- File Paperwork. The courts require specific paperwork. The firm you hire will fill out and file paperwork with the bankruptcy court on your behalf. They will request certain documentation and information from you to prepare the forms. The quicker you provide the information that is requested, the faster your bankruptcy can be filed, and you can be on your way to being debt free.
- Prep You. To finalize your bankruptcy, you will have a hearing with the bankruptcy trustee. A bankruptcy lawyer will prepare you for and represent you at your bankruptcy hearing. Steffens Law Office provides a video tutorial that you can view at your convenience before speaking to one of our bankruptcy attorneys for your hearing preparation. Hearings are over the phone one of your attorneys will be on the call with you.
- Finalize Your Bankruptcy Filing in Grand Island. After your hearing with the bankruptcy trustee, your attorney will address anything the court wants to revisit. This may require negotiating the value of property, a short term payment plan to resolve non-exempt assets, and responding to requests from the U. S. Trustee. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your bankruptcy attorney monitors your payments and assists when life circumstances complicate your bankruptcy.
What are the Advantages of Filing Bankruptcy in Grand Island?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
A chapter 7 bankruptcy is advantageous if you have limited assets and substantial debt. It lasts 100 days from the date of filing to discharge and wipes out any unsecured debt that is allowed by law.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A chapter 13 bankruptcy is advantageous when you have significant assets, substantial income, or cannot file a chapter 7 because of a previous bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13, you can spread out payments to catch up on your mortgage arrearage and can possibly alter your vehicle loan to make the payments more manageable.
How Can I Stop a Wage Garnishment Immediately?
There are only two ways to stop a wage garnishment already in progress. The first is to pay off your debt, once the debt is paid creditors have no reason to garnish your wages. The second is to file for bankruptcy.
Once you file for bankruptcy, the garnishment will stop and you will receive your full paycheck once again. Our experienced Grand Island bankruptcy attorney can work to recoup the money that was taken from your paycheck with the garnishment. However, there may be an additional fee as it is labor intensive to work to get that money back from the creditor.
Contact Our Experienced Grand Island Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are having financial difficulties and you are overwhelmed by debt, you need help. And not just some well-meaning person who says the will help but does nothing. You need an expert, someone with the knowledge and experience to make the most of your bankruptcy and get you the fresh start you need. Our compassionate and knowledgeable Grand Island bankruptcy lawyer is ready to answer your questions and get you on your way to being debt free.
Give Steffens Law Office a call today at (308) 872-8327 for a free consultation.