Bankruptcy Lawyer in Shreveport, Louisiana
Experienced Shreveport-Bossier City attorney Joseph Greenwald has the experience you need, whether you are fighting against personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal charges, or more.
Shreveport Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy law is a difficult topic to understand. Many people are unaware of what filing for bankruptcy in Louisiana involves. However, this financial option might provide a new beginning, and end ongoing stress from financial troubles. The constant stream of harassing phone calls and threatening letters from creditors makes a bad situation even worse if you are deeply in debt. It’s likely you can’t pay everyone, no matter how badly you want to.
With very few exceptions, you are protected by the federal bankruptcy court from the day you apply for bankruptcy. All debt collection harassment efforts by creditors must stop:
- Calls to your home, place of employment, or family members
- Sending bills or threatening letters
- Any attempt at a lawsuit by creditors or collection agencies (lawsuits already filed against you must be dropped)
- Wage garnishment
- Foreclosures and repossessions of homes are suspended (at least temporarily in Chapter 7 and often permanently in Chapter 13)
Keep in mind, your creditors don’t go away until your obligations are discharged, but they can’t approach you directly any longer. If any creditor or third-party bill collector continues to contact you about your debt, an experienced Shreveport LA bankruptcy lawyer can intervene. Any creditor who willfully violates the automatic stay may be placed in contempt of court and ordered to pay you damages as well as attorney expenses.
At the Greenwald Law Firm, we realize that declaring bankruptcy is a major decision, and you likely have a lot of questions and concerns. An experienced Shreveport bankruptcy lawyer helps you decide whether it is the right choice for you to file bankruptcy. Our Shreveport LA law firm walks you through the bankruptcy process from beginning to end to get you on the path to a fresh financial future.
Common Bankruptcy Proceedings
The most common form of bankruptcy is Chapter 7. There are some basic steps to understand about the bankruptcy process, so you know what to expect if you file for personal bankruptcy relief.
1. Determining Eligibility
Before you start the bankruptcy process, you must first see if you are eligible. While you don’t have to carry a certain amount of debt to qualify, you do need to earn less than a certain income for a Chapter 7 filing. For a Chapter 13 filing, you must be able to afford payments on your debt.
Also, take note that debt counseling must be completed within 180 days of filing, according to bankruptcy law. Your attorney has a list of approved credit counseling providers so that you may check this off the to-do list. Your bankruptcy case can’t move forward until you give the court a certificate of completion.
2. Means Test
You will need to complete a “Means Test” that looks at your assets and liabilities to see if you qualify for Chapter 7 protection. You may be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you don’t fulfill the eligibility standards.
3. Submission of Forms
Your bankruptcy filing forms must be resubmitted to the bankruptcy court. You must ensure that all of the information provided is accurate, as any source of income not revealed could lead to suspicions that you’re trying to commit bankruptcy fraud. Every asset and debt must be listed on the different schedules that are presented with your bankruptcy petition to the bankruptcy court.
4. Assignment of Trustee
A bankruptcy trustee is assigned to your case once your documentation is filed. The trustee checks to see if you have assets to sell to pay off some or all of your debt. Exemptions exist that allow you to keep assets up to a specific value, such as vehicles, the value of your home, work tools, and other necessary items.
5. Meeting of Creditors
There will be a Meeting of Creditors where you may be asked questions concerning your financial problems and the information on the documents you filed to the court. Remember, you are under oath for this meeting. Creditors that want to contest a debt discharge may show up, but generally, this is not the case.
6. Confirmation of Eligibility
You are confirmed to be eligible for Chapter 7 at this point in the process. If not, you may be able to file Chapter 13.
7. Liquidation of Nonexempt Property
If you have nonexempt property or assets that can be sold to pay obligations, the trustee in charge of your case decides whether or not to seize the property. Having bankruptcy lawyers working with the trustee is critical at this point. Your Shreveport bankruptcy lawyer can help you keep part or all of your nonexempt property.
8. Reaffirmation of Secured Debts
During this stage, the trustee works with you on secured debts. These are obligations secured by property such as a car or a home. You have the option to reaffirm the debt, which basically implies you want to keep paying it.
9. Debt Counseling Course
Attending a debt counseling course regarding budgeting and finances is mandatory. This is to provide you with training to protect you from ending up in such a situation again. It’s possible that you’ll be asked to complete a form showing you’ve successfully completed this course.
10. Debts Are Discharged
Your unsecured consumer debt is dismissed at this point, and your bankruptcy case is finished and closed. This means your debt is gone, and creditors may no longer contact you. Credit card bills, medical expenses, utility bills, personal loans, and other comparable obligations are eligible for discharge. You are ready to start over financially once your bankruptcy is completed.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Louisiana (Liquidation)
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy or liquidation. In most cases, this chapter lets you get rid of unsecured debts including medical expenses, credit card debt, and monetary judgments. Not all debts are discharged, but you can get back on track financially by wiping out most of your eligible debts.
Creditor harassment must also cease once Chapter 7 is filed. This includes collection attempts, phone calls, and wage garnishment efforts.
However, in most circumstances, you’ll have to keep paying secured creditors in order to keep the collateral (cars, houses, etc.).
Many clients are scared they will lose everything if they file for bankruptcy. This is a myth. Bankruptcy exemptions and other federal exemptions allow most who qualify to keep all or most of their assets.
In any case, you need the guidance and legal representation of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Shreveport bankruptcy lawyer Joseph Greenwald at The Greenwald Law Firm can help examine your financial situation and determine if you are a candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Louisiana (Business Reorganization)
Large businesses, and in some cases, individuals with very large debts, can file for “reorganization bankruptcy” as defined in Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. This type of bankruptcy tends to be the most complicated. In Chapter 11, the trustee restructures the obligations while the business continues operating normally. This way, organizations have a better chance of surviving as strong enterprises. However, the debtor remains responsible for repaying creditors from the company’s future earnings. If the business fails, it will have to file for liquidation bankruptcy and sell its assets to pay any outstanding debts.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Louisiana (Personal Reorganization)
If you can’t afford to pay your creditors despite having a steady income, Chapter 13 may be an option for you. Chapter 13 bankruptcy holds off foreclosure, repossessions, and debt collection attempts while giving you the time to pay only the part of your unsecured debts that you can afford. Except for those you wish to give up, you will not forfeit any assets.
Complete elimination or a significant reduction of your secured debt is often possible with a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Depending on your financial situation, you’ll make a fixed monthly payment for anywhere from 36 to 60 months. Though there are some exceptions, debts not paid under a Chapter 13 plan are typically discharged.
In Louisiana, most bankruptcies are filed under Chapter 13. This is likely because it is considered to have fewer negative consequences than Chapter 7 while still providing both immediate and long-term debt relief.
Secured vs. Unsecured Debts
Debts supported by collateral are referred to as secured debts. If you default, your creditor may seize the collateral, which is a tangible, physical item that can be sold to pay all or part of your debt. Collateral for secured debts includes items like your home and car.
Unsecured debts, on the other hand, are not secured by anything. Credit cards and medical bills are common examples. Secured debts aren’t discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless the collateral is surrendered. Most unsecured debts, on the other hand, are dischargeable. The chapter of bankruptcy you file will be heavily influenced by the type of debt you have.
Should I File for Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can give you the fresh start you need to achieve your debt-free goals and in many cases, filing for bankruptcy is the best choice. However, there are still other factors to consider before making a decision.
First, make sure you exhaust all other possibilities before choosing bankruptcy. This includes contacting your lenders to see if they offer a payment plan, selling assets to get money to pay off obligations, cutting needless spending like eating out, or taking a debt counseling class.
Determine whether you have any debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Secured debts, such as vehicle loans and mortgages, as well as student loans, alimony and child support, and liens on property are all examples of debt that cannot be eliminated.
Bankruptcy is a difficult choice to make, and if not done properly, it can have long-lasting consequences. Before you file for bankruptcy, schedule a free case evaluation with a Shreveport bankruptcy lawyer to make sure you understand all of the requirements and potential consequences.
Why You Need a Shreveport Bankruptcy Lawyer
At Greenwald Law Firm, our consumer bankruptcy attorneys understand that filing bankruptcy is a scary prospect. Our knowledgeable bankruptcy attorneys will lead you through the process, answer your questions, and help you find the debt relief solution that is best for you and your family.
There is no charge to speak to us. To schedule a free initial consultation with experienced consumer bankruptcy attorneys, call the Greenwald Law Firmin Shreveport LA at 318-219-7867. Our bankruptcy law firm can help explain your Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy needs and discuss the pros, cons, and myths surrounding the bankruptcy process so you can make informed decisions.