At some point potential bankruptcy clients at Halcomb Singler just know that it might be time to consider filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This point typically comes when they are no longer able to juggle their debt payments and are finding themselves struggling to pay for the most basic of necessities such as food, gas, electric and water. If you are at that point it’s time to speak with a lawyer. If you live in Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, Noblesville, Tipton, or anywhere else in the surrounding Indianapolis area I (Erika Singler) will personally meet with you for one free initial consultation to talk about bankruptcy. I will not have an assistant or paralegal explain the process to you and then just come in to meet you at the last minute.
So, if you are sitting at home in this freezing cold Indiana day thinking to yourself that you really do need to talk to an attorney about bankruptcy give me a call at (317) 575-8222 or click here to complete our information form and I will contact you. However, since I know that most people initially look to the internet for information, here’s some info you should know if you are thinking about filing bankruptcy in 2014 in central Indiana.
While there are more than 2 different bankruptcy chapters in the US Code, most people file either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. On their most basic levels in a Chapter 7 you don’t make any payments to repay debts and in a Chapter 13 you do make payments to repay debts. There are numerous considerations to determine whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 would be better for you. Any bankruptcy lawyer can tell you the pros and cons of a Chapter 7 or 13 in your particular situation.
When you file any type of bankruptcy you can only have so much “stuff” that is protected. For example, if you own a home that is valued at $400,000.00 and is paid off you would not be able to keep that in a Chapter 7 and not likely (although not impossible) that you would be able to keep it in a Chapter 13. If you have lived in Indiana for the past 2 years and are filing bankruptcy in Indiana, on the actual date that your bankruptcy petition is filed (which is almost certainly not going to be the first date you speak with a lawyer) you are allowed to have the following amount of property* that cannot be taken in bankruptcy:
1. $350.00 in cash, funds on deposit and stock;
2. $9,350.00 in household furnishings, equity in a car, or other personal property;
3. $17,600.00 in home equity.
4. A virtually unlimited amount of 401k funds, IRA funds or Pension;
5. 100% of the cash value of a life insurance policy set up at least a year ago that names a spouse or dependent child as beneficiary.
*If you are filing a joint bankruptcy with your spouse these exemption amounts double. There are some other exemptions that can be used in Indiana bankruptcy, but these are the most commonly used.
First, this very moment may not be the best time to file the bankruptcy petition. It is a good idea to speak with a lawyer about your situation, but it may be a good idea to wait to actually file the petition until after you have received your income tax refund. The reason for this is that if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy prior to receiving and spending your 2013 income tax refund received in 2014 you will likely lose it in bankruptcy. Many people also use a portion of their income tax refund to pay for bankruptcy.
Next, please, please please do not start moving around your assets, giving stuff away, putting another person on the deed to your house, deed your house to another person, or any other important financial move prior to speaking with a bankruptcy lawyer. I have said it once, and I am sure I will say it again……but if you think that you are going to outsmart your creditors or the bankruptcy code you are incorrect. Don’t try to do any sort of bankruptcy planning on your own because it is likely to cause more harm than good. In my experience there are few issues that cannot be planned for correctly prior to the filing of a bankruptcy. However, there are much more often steps that my clients have taken on their own prior to seeking advice before bankruptcy that have been much more difficult to handle and sometimes will prevent that person from being a good candidate for bankruptcy.
Last and most important, your situation is probably not as bad as you think. I have met with thousands of people about the possibility of bankruptcy or those who simply needed assistance negotiating a settlement who had been sued. I almost never walk out of a client meeting thinking that a situation is really bad and that there is not a lot I can do to help a person with their debt struggles. Making an appointment to determine your options is the best way to solve your debt problem. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Halcomb Singler, LLP, is a debt relief agency. It helps people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. No attorney-client relationship with the firm of Halcomb Singler, LLP, is created through this blog. Also, please note that Erika Singler is an attorney licensed in Indiana and does not seek to practice law in any jurisdiction in which they are not properly authorized to do so. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be relied upon for the circumstances of any individual(s) or businesses.