If you find yourself struggling with your debt due to a job loss, being underemployed, or illness, you may find that you have fallen behind on your utility bills. If you are worried that your lights or your water are about to be shut off, contact a bankruptcy attorney to stop the actions against you.
One of the benefits of filing bankruptcy is that it puts an immediate stop to bill collectors due to the automatic stay. All actions will stop, such as vehicle repossessions, foreclosures, phone calls, letters, and utilities shut off. The automatic stay also temporarily stops all lawsuits against you by creditors.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stop utility shut off for up to 20 days. Within that time, the debtor can either pay the remaining balance on the bill or stop services and have the bill wiped away in bankruptcy. When you have received a cut off notice, and you just don't have the money to pay it, sometimes contacting your utility provider can get you some more time. Several low-income energy assistance programs can help you with your monthly utility bill if you qualify. By contacting your local Health and Human Services organizations, you can usually find some agencies to help you.
If you have more debt problems than just utility bills and you don't know how you are going to pay them, contact a Roseville bankruptcy attorney today.
When your bankruptcy is completed, and all of your qualifying debt is eliminated, you may start to think of how to obtain good credit again.
While you were going through the bankruptcy process you had to attend credit counseling. The purpose was to teach you how to make and stick to a reasonable budget. Once you're no longer facing the crisis of bankruptcy, people often eliminate the use of their budget. This is a good time to evaluate and adjust a new budget to keep your finances under control.
Credit Card Choices
You may be surprised to find offers of credit soon after you file bankruptcy. While having some credit may be necessary, you want to be careful not to be overwhelmed in credit card debt again. Some of these new offers of "no credit bad credit, no problem" will have high-interest rates or extended payment terms. You may want to avoid these offers as the payments may be higher than what you can reasonably expect to keep up with. The credit cards that you do have try to pay your balance in full each month to avoid new problems and fees.
Make sure you understand the terms of your credit card, including the late fees, and if your interest rate will go up after a certain introductory period. Another reason you may be offered credit soon after your bankruptcy is the creditors know that you'll be unable to receive another bankruptcy discharge for eight years.
Follow-up Actions After Bankruptcy
Do you have a copy of your bankruptcy discharge proving that your debt has been eliminated? This document will protect you from creditors attempting to collect after the bankruptcy case is closed. If you still hear from collection agencies after your debt was eliminated, you and your lawyer may be able to sue for damages.
∙ Checking your credit report for accuracy is easier now than ever with all the free apps that we have available to us. Making sure the information is correct goes a long way to building your credit.
∙ Are you shopping around for credit with reasonable terms? Don't assume that because you were told you were a poor credit risk that your interest rates will be high.
∙ When you apply for credit for home or car, provide a reasonable explanation for your financial problems by showing any documentation on how you have resolved them.
Loss of income is one of the main reasons given when consumers file bankruptcy. Job-related financial stress and layoffs being the reasons cited most. Being unemployed and underemployed with no reliable source of income makes it next to impossible to pay your debt. Filing bankruptcy can give you financial relief by eliminating all of your qualifying debt.
Some are fortunate enough to get unemployment benefits when they lose their jobs. The amount is rarely sufficient to cover your debt, and the government checks won’t last forever. It may help you pay the necessities while searching for another job. Whether you receive unemployment checks or not, your bills may soon pile up, and you could risk losing your home or your vehicle.
We are advised to have a few month’s worth of our monthly debt saved up for situations just like this. Rarely do we act on this advice. Most of us make enough to last until the next payday, and if the payday doesn’t come, we soon find ourselves overwhelmed in debt and swamped with creditor phone calls demanding payment.
If you have no income and no prospect of a job in the near future, even bankruptcy may not save some of your assets. Your creditors will demand to be satisfied in some way. Bankruptcy can stop your creditors from calling and give you and your attorney the time to get your finances in order and make a plan to eliminate them.
When you get hopelessly behind in your debt and don’t see a way to pay everything you owe, bankruptcy can give you financial relief. You can get a fresh start on a debt-free future in as little as three to six months by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
When you file bankruptcy, you will get an automatic stay preventing your creditors from any further action taken against you to collect on your debt. All phone calls, letters, wage garnishments, evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs will stop. If a creditor violates the stay, you can take them to court for damages.
Once they decide to file bankruptcy, most people feel almost immediate relief from their crushing debt. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you determine what chapter of bankruptcy will best suit your needs — allowing you to keep the most assets and discharging the most debt.
Most of your unsecured debt will be eliminated in bankruptcy. Unsecured debt is based on your credit score and a promise to pay, such as credit cards, medical debt, payday loans, and other personal loans. Secured debt has collateral attached to it and works a little differently in bankruptcy. If you would like to keep your home and vehicle, you will need to make a court-approved plan as to how you plan to pay the arrears. Additionally, you will need to pay your current mortgage and car note if you wish to keep the collateral.
Some debt can never be wiped away in bankruptcy. Alimony, child support, current taxes, and fines and fees to government agencies cannot be eliminated no matter what type of bankruptcy you file. Not paying these obligations can get you in serious trouble and perhaps even a bit of jail time.
Bankruptcy allows you to eliminate all of your qualifying debt, essentially wiping to start clearing your credit report. Contact a Sacramento bankruptcy attorney today to find out how bankruptcy can help you.
When you miss payments, your creditors may call you frequently in an attempt to get you to make a payment. The stress from the constant calls can be overwhelming. When you file bankruptcy, a process called the “Automatic Stay” stops your creditors from contacting you in any way regarding your debt.
“The automatic stay is one of the fundamental debtor protections provided by the bankruptcy laws. It gives the debtor a breathing spell from his creditors, stopping all collection efforts, all harassment, and delays foreclosure actions. It permits the debtor to attempt a repayment or reorganization plan, or simply to be relieved of the financial pressures that drove him into bankruptcy.” (Senate Report No. 95-989)
The automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file your paperwork with the bankruptcy court, there are no hearings or signatures required of the judge. All wage garnishments, evictions, utility shut-offs, and vehicle repossessions must also stop, and any other collection attempts against you. If a creditor contacts you in violation of the stay, you may seek damages with the court.
Relief of Stay
A creditor may ask the court for relief of the stay if they feel their collateral is being exposed to an undue risk that may unfairly affect the creditor’s interest. If the judge grants the relief, the lender may resume collection attempts against you.
The stay will remain in effect for a reasonable time to allow you to make arrangements with the court as to how you will handle your debt. If the debt is eligible to be eliminated in a Chapter 7 case, then there is no reason for the lenders to contact you as you will no longer be legally responsible for the debt. And if you are reorganizing your secured debt as in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, provisions will be made to repay the arrears.
For the purpose of figuring out what type of bankruptcy will suit you best, you need to know how most of your debt is classified. Typically, consumer debt falls into two categories, secured and unsecured. Unsecured debt is obtained by a favorable credit score and a promise to pay, such as credit cards, medical debt, payday loans, utility bills. Secured debt usually has some type of collateral, like a home or a car.
According to a recent article in CNBC, 55% of American households have credit card debt. If your debt is from credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills, you have unsecured debt. When you fall behind in these payments, you will start to receive phone calls and letters asking for your payment. If you fail to pay these bills, your creditors could potentially sue you for the debt. If your creditors are successful in their suit, the judge could allow a lien against your home or your property.
If you are behind in your house payment to your mortgage company or behind in your vehicle note, you have secured debt issues. Under certain conditions these lenders will have the right to seize the property held as collateral after you start missing payments. If you wish to keep the collateral, you should speak to the lenders to try to work something out. If they are unwilling to work with you or don’t give you enough time, you have bankruptcy options.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy mostly deals with unsecured debt. In as little as four to six months, all of your qualifying unsecured debt can be eliminated. Some unsecured debt like child support and alimony will not be discharged in bankruptcy, and you will need to continue to make these payments.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps those that have secured property they would like to keep but are behind in payments. Usually, they have received a foreclosure notice or notice to repossess the vehicle when they file bankruptcy. Chapter 13 is considered a reorganization bankruptcy. You will have three to five years under a court-approved repayment plan to pay your arrears. When you have successfully completed your payments, any unsecured debt remaining will be discharged. You will need to continue to pay your secured debt if you wish to keep the collateral.
No matter what type of debt, or what kind of bankruptcy you file, the automatic stay interrupts all collection attempts against you. Phone calls, letters, wage garnishments, foreclosures, evictions, repossessions, utility shut-offs all must be delayed until you make arrangements with the court how you will proceed with your debt, either eliminating it or reorganizing it.