What to Expect
Before you come into the office for your initial appointment, we ask that you complete the provided Intake Sheet. This will give us an initial overview of your assets and liabilities, whether foreclosure proceedings have been initiated against you, your household income and other details of your financial affairs.
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At the initial meeting, Jack Lezman will review your information and discuss your options. If we agree that a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most appropriate, you may then retain Jack Lezman as your legal representation. We will then provide you with paperwork to complete and a list of documents needed to file your petition.
Once you have provided all the necessary documents, we will schedule another meeting to review all the documents and sign the bankruptcy petition. We will then file your case and notify all your creditors.
About one month after filing, the court will schedule what is called a 341 meeting or meeting of creditors. In a Chapter 7 proceeding, discharge should occur between 75 and 90 days after the 341 meeting. In a Chapter 13 proceeding, there is a similar meeting with the Chapter 13 plan trustee to confirm your plan and discharge will occur after you have completed your plan and made all payments, usually over a period of 36 to 60 months.
Let Jack Lezman help you. Call for a consultation.
Are You Bankrupt?
If you are deeply in debt and wondering if you should consider filing for bankruptcy, ask yourself the following questions:
Are any of your credit card accounts more than 30 days late?
Do you only pay the minimum payment due on your credit cards?
Have you reached the credit limit on one or more of your credit cards?
Do bill collectors call you at home or work?
Do you have multiple mortgages on your house?
Do you live from paycheck to paycheck?
Are you behind on your house or car payments?
Is your house in jeopardy of foreclosure or has your house been foreclosed or your car repossessed?
If you have answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions call Jack Lezman to schedule a consultation. He can help you examine your options and get back on track financially.
The Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, all of the petitioner’s dischargeable debts are eliminated. Secured creditors, such as the banks holding mortgage and car loans, must continue to be paid if the petitioner is going to keep the property. To file under Chapter 7, your current monthly income must be less than the median income in your state or a “means test” calculation must show your monthly income minus expenses over a five year period is $6,000 or less and includes 25 percent or less of unsecured debt.
If you do not qualify to file under Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 proceeding might be appropriate. In a Chapter 13 proceeding, also sometimes called a “wage earner plan”, a five-year plan is put together to pay back creditors at least part of what they are owed. Secured creditors will continue to be paid and unsecured creditors will be paid back without interest based on what you can afford to pay. Chapter 13 also allows you to catch up on past due mortgage and vehicle payments over the life of the plan.
Why You Need an Attorney
Bankruptcy law is confusing and complex, especially in light of the recent changes enacted in the fall of 2005. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will protect your interests and make sure there are no errors or missteps in your filing.
Jack Lezman will fight for your rights in the bankruptcy court and make sure your interests are not trampled by creditors and others.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 is an enormous piece of legislation designed to reform bankruptcy law and require more debtors to pay more of their debts.
However, statistics show that 85 percent of the people that would have qualified under Chapter 7 of the old law will still qualify under the new law.
Some of the major changes include:
A Means Test for Chapter 7 Eligibility.
Before the new law, the court had discretion to determine whether your case qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, now applicants are subject to a two-part means test. First, after taking out certain necessary expenses like rent and food, it will be determined whether you can afford to pay 25 percent of “non-priority unsecured debt”, like credit cards. Then your income is compared with the state’s median income. If your income is more than the state’s median income and you can afford to pay more than 25 percent of the unsecured debt, you will not be allowed to file for Chapter 7. If your income is lower than the state median you may file a Chapter 7.
Mandatory Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.
The new law requires you to meet with a credit counselor sometime during the six-months prior to applying for bankruptcy and a requirement of final discharge of debts is attendance at money management classes. These may both be done online for a small fee.
Under the new law, a debtor will be unable to obtain a discharge in a Chapter 13 proceeding if he or she obtained a discharge in Chapter 7, 11 or 12 within four years of the filing of the new case, or in Chapter 13 within two years of the new case.
In addition, a Chapter 7 debtor will not be able to receive a discharge if a prior discharge was granted within 8 years of the new filing.
Establishing what you can afford to pay.
Under the new law, courts are required to apply living standards determined by the Internal Revenue Service to decide what is a reasonable amount to pay for rent, food and other living expenses in order to determine how much you can afford to pay on your debts.