Revised September, 2022
WELCOME TO KINKADE & ASSOCIATES WEB SITE. You may have found us because you are seeking information about how and whether or not bankruptcy may help you and your family eliminate or manage debt and rebuild your financial life. Ultimately, your decision on debt relief may be one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. It is important that you not only you get the information you need to make that decision, but that you develop the right debt relief strategy for you and your family. At Kinkade & Associates we believe that information about how we can assist you in understanding your options for debt relief is the first possible step toward eliminating and managing your troublesome debt.
This is the very reason that Kinkade & Associates offers a no-charge strategy session. At Kinkade & Associates debt relief is all we do. Our approach to providing debt relief for our clients is decidedly different from other attorneys who file bankruptcy cases. We do more than discuss your potential options in bankruptcy. During your no-charge strategy session a Kinkade & Associates attorney will talk with you about your financial circumstances and your need for debt relief. After sitting down with you and discussing your circumstances we are able to work with you in order to develop the appropriate individualized strategy for you to gain relief from your debt. We do not offer a “one-size-fits-all” approach that treats you like just another number. Instead, our experience, focus, unique approach and dedication to you, place us in a position to offer you and your family a unique opportunity. An opportunity to discuss and develop a personalized strategy for dealing with your debt which may include, but is not necessarily limited to, potential options in bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
If bankruptcy is right for you, we thoroughly discuss your bankruptcy options with you. Bankruptcy is a legal process available to most individuals and married couples that permits a person or married couple to either eliminate most types of consumer debt (Chapter 7) or propose a repayment plan under bankruptcy court supervision (Chapter 13). Most, but not all, individuals or married couples are eligible for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Sometimes an individual or married couple have a choice about which type of bankruptcy they can file. Making the right choice can potentially be one of the most important decisions you will make. Your individual facts and circumstances will determine whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is right for you.
There are important differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter13 bankruptcy. A person or family’s unique situation will often determine what the best option is. One size does not fit all!
CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY: Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed primarily by individuals, married couples (who meet qualification criteria) or small businesses (who cease business) to eliminate debt and achieve a “fresh start.” When a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed you are granted an automatic “stay” on creditor collection. This means that once a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed creditor collections efforts and tactics, including wage garnishment, court hearings, lawsuits, phone calls, letters and other forms of creditor harassment must stop. If a creditor fails to stop collection efforts after being notified of the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that creditor may be subject to punishment. Once the bankruptcy process is concluded most debts are “discharged,” which means eliminated. Individuals or married couples or receive a discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy are no longer legally liable for discharged debts. Creditors whose debts are discharged cannot legally collect on those debts and in fact may not make any effort to collect on a discharged debt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge erects a barrier to any further collection efforts. However, there are some types of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy including most student loans, most tax debt, alimony, child support, debts arising out of a divorce, court fines such as speeding tickets, debts that were a result of auto accidents involving intoxication, debts that are a result of criminal activity and debts incurred through fraud. Secured debt, such as debt that is tied to a car, home, furniture, appliances or other collateral must be paid if you want to keep the property that is tied to the debt. Understandably, you may have questions or concerns about potential Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Here are some concerns that we frequently address:
– “If I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will I lose everything I own?” This is one of the most frequently expressed concerns expressed by individuals or married couples considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The facts are that most individuals or married couples who are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can keep their home, their vehicles, their furniture, their retirement accounts and their other possessions. Every person or married couple who files Chapter 7 bankruptcy is entitled to keep property worth up to a certain amount that is set by law. The vast majority of individuals and married couples who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy keep everything they own. It is very important to keep in mind that there are limits to the value of property you can keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and not all types of personal property and other assets are protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must consult a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney to learn the details of what types of assets can be protected and the limits of that protection. If you have property that you cannot protect in Chapter 7 then in that case, you may be eligible to consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
– “If I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will I ever be able to have credit again, buy a car on credit or qualify for a mortgage?” The fact is that most individuals and married couples who receive a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge are able to re-establish their credit worthiness in a relatively short period of time. Each individual or married couples’ situation is unique. Often, what folks do after a bankruptcy is more important than the fact that a bankruptcy was filed.
In other words, there is hope.
– “If I work and have income, can I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?” The fact is that most individuals or married couples who qualify for and then file Chapter 7 bankruptcy do have income from working. Although there are limits to the amount of household income an individual or married couple can earn and still qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, statistically most candidates for bankruptcy do qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Each person’s situation is different, and the income test used to determine who may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be performed by a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney. If Chapter 7 is not an option, then it may be that Chapter 13 will be the option for you and your family.
(For other frequently asked questions and answers please click this link for our frequently asked questions page. [LINK TO FAQ])
CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY: Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court supervised reorganization
and repayment plan that permits individuals and married couples who have a steady and reliable source of income to propose a Plan to their creditors to repay some or all of their debt over time, usually a three-to-five-year period. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a monthly payment. The amount of the monthly payment depends upon the household income and expenses as well as the type and amount of debt that needs to be paid through the repayment plan. Chapter 13 may permit you to propose a plan to cure defaults on car loans, home mortgages, student loans and child support. Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop a Sheriff’s sale of real estate, rescue a home from foreclosure and permit repayment of the missed mortgage payments over time. You may be able to eliminate second mortgages and combine payments on cars and other secured debt into one affordable monthly payment. Depending on a person or married couples’s circumstances it is possible that some debt (unsecured debt) can be eliminated without a substantial amount of that debt being repaid. Like a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy stops wage garnishments as well as other collection activities. In the end, for most Chapter 13 bankruptcy candidates, a discharge eliminates unsecured debts not paid during the term of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
DEBT SETTLEMENT – A POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVE TO BANKRUPTCY :
At Kinkade & Associates we are frequently asked by clients if there are any alternatives to filing bankruptcy. Under the right circumstances settling debt may be an option. Debt Settlement is a fairly straight forward concept. Your creditors would like for you to pay your debts in full. However, if you can’t pay your debts in full your creditors would generally prefer to have some money rather than nothing. When possible, we talk with your creditors on your behalf attempt to negotiate settlement with them. Since we are bankruptcy attorneys, creditors recognize that the vast majority of the people we represent do in fact file bankruptcy. Under the right circumstances we may be able to talk with your creditors about settling your debt. If the negotiation is successful your creditor will agree to accept the negotiated lump-sum, a sum that is less than the full amount of the debt you owe. Generally, our average settlement is between 45 – 60% of the debt owed. However, please keep in mind however that this is only an average and actual results vary from person to person and creditors depending on the circumstances. At times a higher percentage is required, especially if a lawsuit has been filed. Debt settlement is not right for everyone. There can be challenges in raising the money to offer lump sums to your creditors as well as potential tax consequences. There is important additional information that you need to know regarding the potential option of debt settlement. If you have any questions, please refer to our web site information page or schedule a no-charge strategy session with an experienced Kinkade & Associates attorney.
The decision to take control of your debt and how to best eliminate and/or manage that debt is one of the most important decisions you can make. Experienced, compassionate, knowledgeable and professional guidance is crucial to your decision being the correct decision for you and your family. If you have questions about whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option for you, the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Kinkade & Associates would be pleased to meet with you, discuss your situation and work with you to develop the most effective and best debt relief strategy for you and your family.