The Truth about Bankruptcy
First and foremost, disregard the horror stories you have heard about bankruptcy - it will not ruin your future. Every year over 30,000 individuals in Northern Georgia file for bankruptcy in order to help alleviate debt and get back on track for financial success.
Successful people who once filed for bankruptcy: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Marvin Gaye, Walt Disney, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Larry King, and Mark Twain.
Let our experienced attorneys assist you exercise your legal right to file bankruptcy today!
Save your home
Save your vehicle or get it back
Save your paychecks and bank accounts
Save yourself from judgments
Save yourself from harassing calls and mailings
Fees to Get Started:
$75 TO GET STARTED
$235 due in 60 days
$0 TO GET STARTED*
Balance due in installments
Frequently Asked Questions
+ What is Bankruptcy?
Congress enacted bankruptcy laws as early as the 1800’s to assist people with debt relief. For centuries, individuals have been exercising their right to relief to prevent foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments, lawsuits, and collections. There are primarily two types of bankruptcy filings available to consumers (vs. companies): Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Businesses generally file Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies.
Chapter 7: Under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the court evaluates the value of the property you own and allows you to keep a certain amount of that value. The court then liquidates your property, takes the value above what you are allowed to keep, and applies the proceeds to pay off your creditors.
Chapter 13: Under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the court allows you to keep your property but requires you to continue to make payments towards the property. You submit a payment plan that you believe is affordable to the court and your creditors, and if reasonable, the court will accept the plan. From this point, you begin making your new monthly payments until you reach the end of your plan. In most situations, you are NOT required to pay back debts that are unaffiliated with property you own, such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills.
+ Bankruptcy Facts v. Myths
You should not be afraid of or ashamed of filing bankruptcy. It was specifically created by Congress to help individuals through difficult financial times, and many individuals every year successfully file to eliminate debts and start fresh. Here are some key facts that will better inform you as you consider bankruptcy:
Bankruptcy Is A Widely Used Form of Debt Relief
According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, since 2007, over 800,000 people file for bankruptcy each year, reaching into the millions in certain years. In Northern Georgia, over 30,000 people file for bankruptcy each year, reaching into the 50,000s in certain years. Bankruptcy has become an effective and common means of helping people through difficult financial times.
Everyone Will NOT Know You’ve Filed for Bankruptcy
Like most court proceedings, bankruptcy is a public matter. However, unless you are a prominent business or famous, it is rare that the information will be broadcast. With thousands of individuals filing every month, publications and media don’t have the resources, time or inclination to report such information. Generally, only your creditors, attorneys, and other court officials will be aware of your filing.
You Will NOT Lose All of Your Property
In most cases, filing for bankruptcy will not result in you losing your property. The law allows you to exempt your property and prevents your creditors from attempting to take it. Most individuals successfully complete bankruptcy filings without any effect to the ownership of their property. However, it is vital that you speak with an experienced attorney who will be able to properly evaluate your property values, available exemptions, and any possible issues.
Bankruptcy Will Not Ruin Your Future
Many people believe that filing bankruptcy destroys your credit and forever ruins any chance you may have of reaching a successful financial point in life. This is simply inaccurate. There is long list of individuals who filed for bankruptcy and still became successful. Here is a short list of people you may recognize: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Marvin Gaye, Walt Disney, Donald Trump, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, and Mark Twain. All of these people filed for bankruptcy during difficult times, received debt relief, and went on to become outstandingly successful.
Filing bankruptcy allows you to clear your debt and start fresh. It is a temporary measure of relief designed to help you during times of financial distress. It does not follow you for the rest of your life. After bankruptcy, you are able to better build your credit, purchase property, obtain loans, and take all the necessary steps to live a financially successful and comfortable life.
You WILL be able to Obtain Credit Again
While bankruptcy does affect your credit, it does not ruin it. In fact, most individuals will begin receiving offers for credit cards and loans soon after completing their bankruptcies. Bankruptcy allows individuals to clear debts and other negative information from their credit reports and to begin building their credit once again from a fresh start.
Married Couples DO NOT BOTH have to file
If you are married, you have the option of filing for bankruptcy as an individual. Your spouse’s credit will not be affected by the filing unless you share debts. However it is best to consult with an experienced attorney to determine if it is beneficial to file with your spouse or separately. The attorney will have to evaluate any shared debts and property, available exemptions, and combined income to provide you with the best option.
Bankruptcy CAN HELP with Taxes, Child Support, and Alimony
In many situations, filing for bankruptcy allows you to get rid of federal and state income taxes that you may owe. While not all taxes may be eliminated, bankruptcy can still help you remove penalties and interest that may be owed on such taxes. Child support and alimony are debts that you cannot get rid of. However, filing for bankruptcy allows you to take control of your payments and restructure them so that your monthly payments are affordable.
+ Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: The Quick and Painless Option
The purpose of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to simply eliminate debts that are not attached to property you own. For most individuals, these debts include credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, past due rent, collections, judgment liens, and some taxes. Chapter 7 filings will not help you to resolve past due mortgage or vehicle payments. This type of bankruptcy is ideal for people who are current on their mortgage or vehicle payments, and need help with credit cards, collections, and medical bills.
Debts That Chapter 7 Can Remove:
- Credit Cards
- Past Due Rent
- Judgment Liens
- Personal Loans
- Contractual Debts
- Medical Bills
- Past Due Utilities
- Some Taxes
Debts That Chapter 7 Cannot Remove:
- Mortgage Payments
- Vehicle Payments
- Student Loans
- Child Support
- Some Taxes
- Criminal Restitution, Fees, and Fines
Eligibility to File a Chapter 7 – The Means Test
To file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the law requires that you do not make too much money. The “Means Test” is a calculation of your income, expenses, and debts that determines whether you are eligible to file for bankruptcy. IT IS VITAL that you consult with an experienced attorney when making this calculation. If you file for bankruptcy and are not eligible, your case may be dismissed and the filing will remain on your credit. Additionally, the court allows for several deductions that only experienced attorneys may be aware of, and which may be essential to determining your eligibility to file.
The Process After Filing
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a short term bankruptcy that usually takes 3 to 6 months to complete. In most cases, you will only be required to attend one hearing, called a “341 hearing,” which will generally consist of 10-20 minutes of questions to confirm the information you provided when you filed. We will be with you at the hearing. Completion of documentation and communications with the court and other officials is handled by your attorney. At the completion of your bankruptcy you will receive a “discharge” of your debts which will remove your legal responsibility to pay such debts.
The Fresh Start
Once you’ve completed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your unsecured debts will be discharged. At this time, they should be removed from your credit reports, and you can begin to build your credit again.
+ Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Restructuring Your Payments
The purpose of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to allow you to restructure your debts and monthly payments so that your monthly expenses become affordable again. We evaluate your expenses and income and place you in a monthly payment plan for 3 to 5 years to allow you to more capably pay your debts. This bankruptcy is ideal for people who are behind on their mortgage payments, vehicle payments, child support and alimony payments, and certain tax payments. Your unsecured debts, such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical debts, are normally set to be eliminated without receiving payment (similar to a Chapter 7). Some debts like student loans may be deferred through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy but cannot be discharged with interest continuing to build.
Chapter 13 Is Best if You're Behind on:
- Mortgage Payments
- Vehicle Payments
- Federal or State Tax Payments
- Child Support and/or Alimony Payments
Eligibility to File a Chapter 13 and Your Chapter 13 Plan
Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not generally have an eligibility requirement. When you file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney evaluates your debts, expenses, and income to determine the amount you will have to pay per month for 3 to 5 years to satisfy the Court and your creditors. This monthly payment schedule is referred to as your “Chapter 13 Plan.” It is important you consult with an experienced attorney, as your payments are set for 3 to 5 years during which you are obligated to complete them.
The Process After Filing
Once you file a Chapter 13, you are required to attend one hearing, called your “341 hearing,” in which you will be asked several questions to confirm the information provided when you filed. This hearing is more detail oriented and lengthier than Chapter 7 341 hearings. Within the next few weeks after this hearing, a “Bankruptcy Trustee” will evaluate and provide a list of “objections” to your case. These objections address potential issues with your case. A second hearing, called your “confirmation hearing," will then take place to ensure these objections are resolved. Your attorney will work with the Trustee and you to take care of these issues so that they are resolved. After your confirmation, the remainder of your case should be simple – You will be responsible for making your payments each month and providing basic documentation each year until your case is complete.
The Fresh Start
As Chapter 13 bankruptcies may take 3 to 5 years to complete, you don’t receive the type of immediate debt relief as you would in a Chapter 7. While in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy most of your debts will be consolidated into a monthly payment so that you will only have to maintain your regular household expenses to maintain. If you have a mortgage, you will be required to continue to make your forward moving payments in addition to your bankruptcy payment. Thus, most individuals will have less than a handful of monthly payments. At the same time, you will not be allowed to incur any new debts without court permission. Once you’ve completed your payments, you will either be current on your debt payments, or they will be completely paid off – allowing you to continue to maintain your debts with ease as you begin building your credit again.
+ What are the Costs of Filing Bankruptcy?
When you file either a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, the Court requires that you pay a filing fee. The cost of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335.00 and for a Chapter 13 is $310.00. We understand financial difficulty is the reason you are considering bankruptcy in the first place, and as such, offer installment options for each of these filing fees.
Pay $0.00 down initially, with the remaining filing fee to be paid in installments. Your eligibility will to setup installments will depend on your income.
Pay $75.00 initially, with the remaining filing fee to be paid in two monthly installments of $117.50.
In addition to paying the filing fees for your case, you will also have your attorney’s fees. In a Chapter 13, your attorney’s fees are consolidated into your monthly payment so you do not pay them directly. In a Chapter 7, your fees are paid directly by you. Our firm offers competitive rates and a variety of payment options, based upon each individual’s case and circumstances. After you complete your Free Consultation, we will provide you with a clear quote and available payment options.
+ Why Choose Our Firm? The Patel Law Group Difference
Law firms that claim to be helpful experts in bankruptcy are a dime a dozen. So what makes us any different?
- We go over all your options for relief, including bankruptcy. If there are better alternatives to filing for bankruptcy, we will go over them with you so that you can make the choice with which you are most comfortable. While bankruptcy is usually the most effective and conclusive method of resolving major debt, it may not be your only option. During each consultation, we will assist you in reviewing alternatives to bankruptcy which may assist you.
- Personal attention and care – We are not a bankruptcy mill. Many bankruptcy firms are businesses, popularly referred to as “mills,” focused on filing as many bankruptcy cases as possible in order to meet their bottom lines. In some cases, they rush prospective clients through quick consultations and file cases without fully informing their clients. In other cases, they initially treat clients well, but once a case has been filed, you and your case will rarely receive detailed attention and assistance. At our firm, we understand that filing for bankruptcy is an important and all too stressful decision. We take the time to evaluate each person’s circumstances in detail and provide everyone with the attention they deserve. Our commitment to personal care begins from our consultation and will last past the completion of your case.
- Expertise and Experience – You will meet with an experienced attorney. Our attorneys have actual long-standing experience filing bankruptcy cases. Do not be fooled by every law firm that states they have “X Years of Experience.” While several firms will tell you they have decades of experience, the attorneys you may meet with will have far less experience. In many situations, the attorney who assists you will be a new graduate or have less than a year of experience in bankruptcy. When you consult with our firm, you will meet with an attorney who has several years of experience filing thousands of bankruptcy cases. You will be comfortable knowing that the information and advice provided to you comes from an experienced attorney.
- Communication and Responsiveness – A lack of responsiveness has been cited as the most frequent complaint by clients against law firms. Here at The Patel Law Group it is our priority to ensure that you are able to contact us at any time. We work diligently to provide every client with prompt and efficient responses to any and all concerns regarding their cases. You can be assured that we will reply within a reasonable time-frame.
- Affordable Prices and Payment Options – We take into consideration the financial difficulty you are in when structuring our fees. Our attorney fees are competitive, and are based on the level of complexity of each case. Upon a completion of your consultation we will provide you with our standard fee for your type of case. Because we understand the level of financial difficulty and stress that bankruptcy places most individuals in, we offer a variety of installment payments as well as a variety of discounts based upon each person’s situation.
Get Started Today
If bankruptcy is an option that you are considering, please contact us and we will setup a FREE CONSULTATION for you. During our consultation, we will review your information and assist you in determining which bankruptcy chapter would be best for you, how the filing would affect you, and which alternatives to bankruptcy may be available.
We offer Early Morning, Evening, and Weekend Appointments Upon Request. Same Day Appointments Are Also Available.
For Your Consultation
Our consultations provide us with the information we need to provide you with your best options and to advise you accordingly. As such, we require you provide certain information.
During your consultation, please ensure that you have the following information or documentation available:
Income Information for you and your spouse, if married:
Your recent pay advices, retirement income, business income, and other income
Your income tax return for the previous year
Information regarding all the property you own:
Estimated value of your property
Estimated total loan amount remaining to pay off your property, if applicable
*Installment payment option of $0.00 for Chapter 7 bankruptcy prospective clients is only available contingent upon evaluation of the client’s source of income.