You should not decide to file for bankruptcy without a lot of thought and research about the pros and cons. But if the benefits of this powerful tool can put you on the road to financial health, then we welcome your questions.
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When you file for bankruptcy, you submit paperwork to the Clerk of Bankruptcy Court asking for immediate relief from all creditor actions. Literally the minute your attorney presses the "submit" button, you are protected. With limited exception, this means that all creditor actions against you must stop.
Filing bankruptcy stops foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, IRS tax levies, and even those annoying collection phone calls.
The Bankruptcy Code is divided in to a number of chapters, some of which give their name to specific types of bankruptcy. The “consumer” chapters are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 – but there are other types of bankruptcies that exist – for example Chapter 11 functions as a business reorganization, Chapter 12 serves as a debt reorganization for family farmers and Chapter 9 operates to allow local governments to reorganize.
The consumer bankruptcy chapters - Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 - are the best choice for 95% of individuals.
By contrast, Chapter 13 functions as a court supervised, 5 year long repayment plan. Chapter 13 works best if you own a house or car that you want to save from seizure, or if you earn to much to qualify for a Chapter 7. Chapter 13 also allows you to reduce your monthly payments and sometimes reduce your total debt.
People who have successfully completed their bankruptcies are often better credit risks because they have no debt and are not eligible to file again for up to 8 years.
Second, there are attorney's fees. Chapter 7 fees run about $1,500 but could be more or less depending on the complexity of your case.
Chapter 13 fees are mostly paid through your plan. You can expect to pay about $600 up front and about $3,900 from the trustee payments made during the 5 year term of your plan.
The starting point for our means test analysis is a review your paystubs from the past 6 months as well as a review of your household budget. Like the IRS tax laws, from which it was derived, the means test uses several complicated formulas to determine whether Chapter 7 might be an option for you, and, if not, what is the range of payments in a Chapter 13.
Your attorney will use a software program to conduct a means test analysis in your case. This is the first step in our representation - to advise you about how a bankruptcy might work in your particular case.
We recommend that you stay away from most of the debt management companies that advertise on radio or TV as many of these companies charge high fees (usually higher than bankruptcy), severely damage your credit and often fail to follow through on their promises.
We have seen several instances where Consumer Credit Counseling (also called CredAbility) is able to help people with excessive credit card debt. They are not as effective if you have other types of debt, such as overdue car payments, taxes or mortgage obligations.
We do think highly of Credability (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Services). Credability is funded by credit card companies but its services are reasonably priced and they do get cooperation from most credit card lenders. They can't do much to stop vehicle repossessions or home foreclosures, however.
You will be expected to understand and calculate the bankruptcy means test, you will need local forms, you will need to know how to get both a pre-filing credit counseling certificate and a pre-discharge financial managment certificate, and you will need to know the proper way to respond to trustee and creditor objections.
You would need to know about the Georgia exemption statute and how to declare your property as wholly or partially exempt. If this is not your first filing, you would need to know about the limitations to the automatic stay, and you could risk all of your assets if you improperly file a Chapter 7.
It goes without saying that Congress has created a bankruptcy law that requires people with no money to spend money on legal representation. As unpleasant and even unfair as this may seem, this is the bankruptcy system we have.
Consumer bankruptcy law firms in the Atlanta area generally fall into two categories - one type is the high volume "bankruptcy mill" firm that files hundreds of cases each month and relies primarily on non-attorney staff or recent law school graduates to handle most matters. These volume firms use either contract lawyers or inexperienced staff lawyers to attend your meeting of creditors hearing. You most likely will never meet your meeting of creditors hearing lawyer until the day of your hearing, and the lawyer will find you by shouting out your name in the hallway.
Smaller firms, like Ginsberg Law Offices, make up the the other type of bankruptcy lawyer you can hire. We file between five and fifteen cases per month and your interaction will be with a licensed lawyer - in our case, you will work directly with Jonathan Ginsberg or Susan Blum. We do not use non-lawyer staff - if you have a question or concern, you can pick up the phone and call your lawyer.
Our firm has also made a commitment to de-mystify the bankruptcy process for you. In addition to this website, we publish a bankruptcy blog and we produce a bankruptcy YouTube channel.
Click the buttons below to read AVVO reviews for both Jonathan and Susan.
If you have already read up about bankruptcy and are ready to get started, we invite you to download and complete our full intake package. This intake package gives us everything we need to prepare a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition for your signature.
As always, we invite you to call our office at 770-393-4985 to ask any questions you may have.
NOTICE: Your information remains 100% confidential with Ginsberg Law. No one else will have access to your info. Your Privacy is always respected. There is no obligation for this review.
Consultations are always 100% FREE & 100% CONFIDENTIAL. Call Ginsberg Law now at 770-393-4985
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Office location: 1854 Independence Square, Atlanta, GA 30338
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