Stop Creditor Harassment and Discharge Debt: Usually filing for bankruptcy puts an automatic stay on most collection activities. This allows our lawyers to prevent creditors from making harassing phone calls, work to get your repossessed property returned , and put a stop on wage garnishments.

Depending on which chapter is filed, most types of debt can be eliminated. Our lawyers work with your creditors to do away with medical bills and credit card debt. We offer valuable advice and assistance for clients concerned about student loans and expenses.

Protect Yourself From Unethical Practices: A few precautionary notes: Watch out for lawyers who claim to be “experienced,” but are actually new to bankruptcy law practice, although they may be experienced in other areas. Likewise, watch out for mortgage industry agencies that do not have your best interests at the heart of their lending practices. Finally, watch out for unscrupulous debt counseling, debt settlement or debt consolidation enterprises that create problems rather than providing true debt relief. Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC has the level of experience and the genuine answers that our clients seek.

As a leading Chicago Bankruptcy Law Firm, our lawyers have more than 50 years of bankruptcy experience that we utilize to help you eliminate debt in Chicago and its suburbs. Our focus is on bankruptcy and only bankruptcy, which makes us highly familiar with local regulations, trustees, judges and creditors.

The Bankruptcy Process
Bankruptcy issues can be confusing and financial warning signs can grow into bigger problems quickly. That is why we lay out a timeline designed for your situation. From choosing the right Chicago bankruptcy attorney to rebuilding your credit after filing , we answer all your questions and can help you decide if filing bankruptcy is right for you .

Chapter 7
Receive a fresh start by discharging all of your eligible debt.

Chapter 13
Individuals who can afford to pay some of their debt back can establish a repayment plan with Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11
Also known as “business reorganization bankruptcy,” Chapter 11 permits a company to set up a repayment schedule, allowing for the retention of professional relationships and continuation of business operations.

Chapters 9, 12, and 15
 These chapters deal with bankruptcy options for farmers, fishermen, municipalities and cross-border cases.

Life After Bankruptcy
Foreclosure Assistance: If you want to prevent a foreclosure , filing for bankruptcy may be an option that could save your house. Our lawyers will provide you with the foreclosure information you require.

Chicago Car Repossession Lawyers Defending You In Bankruptcy

Stop A Car Repo Today • Chicago Debt Relief Attorneys

Even if your vehicle has already been repossessed, you may still be able to get it back. Whether your vehicle has been repossessed or is in danger of repossession, act quickly to preserve your interests. You are operating under a strict timeframe — speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.

At Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC, we are focused exclusively on providing debt relief and bankruptcy services in Chicago, Illinois. Our lawyers offer experienced, cost-effective and personalized service, creating strategies suited to fit each unique situation. Call 888-542-1900 or contact us online for a free consultation with an attorney at our firm.

Repossession in Illinois. If you are 31 days behind on payments, your car (or other property) can be repossessed. After repossession, you have 20 days until the car can be sold at auction. Usually, the car is sold for two-thirds its value at most — and you will be expected to pay the balance. Stop Repossession with Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop repossession instantly.

Even if your car has already been repossessed, we may be able to help you get it back. Chapter 13 bankruptcy works in part by allowing you to create a debt repayment plan to catch up on past payments for secured debts like car loans (if you want to keep your car, you will still have to pay for it). The instant you file for bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” usually takes effect — a court order forcing your creditors to stop all efforts at collecting on your debt. This will immediately stop repossession as well as foreclosure and wage garnishment.

If your car has been repossessed, the vehicle sold and the finance company is pursuing you to collect the balance owed, then Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the option for you as a Chapter 7 will discharge your liability on this debt.

If you are facing repossession, you should speak with an experienced lawyer to learn about your options and find out if bankruptcy is right for you. For a free consultation with an attorney at Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC, call 312-853-0200 or contact our offices online.

Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC has offices in Downtown Chicago, South Side Chicago, Calumet City, North Riverside/Berwyn, Northwest Side and Schaumburg.

In any type of bankruptcy, a debtor must declare all income, assets and debts. There is no opportunity to hold back a debt. You cannot keep a loan such as a loan from a family member or business partner in an attempt to keep the effects of the bankruptcy away from that creditor.

However, it is important to know that not all debts are the same in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Debts will be categorized by the bankruptcy trustee into three categories:

  • Priority debts, including debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy at all such as back child support and most taxes. These debts must be paid in full over the three- to five-year period of debt repayment that makes up a Chapter 13 bankruptcy debt reorganization plan.
  • Secured debts such as car loans and mortgages. These types of loans involve liens placed on the property. Unpaid back car loan payments or mortgage arrearages will be second priority in the debt reorganization.
  • Unsecured debts, including credit card debts and medical bills, are at the lowest priority for repayment in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In many cases, only a fraction of the total owed is repaid. A cash loan from a family member will usually fall in this category.

Keep in mind that once your debt discharge takes effect at the end of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment period, you will then be free to voluntarily repay any debts that were discharged in part or in whole.

Only three lawyers in Chicago are certified in consumer bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification*. Two are partners at Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC. We are prepared to advise you and guide you through bankruptcy with your best interests at the forefront.

Concerned About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? Contact an Experienced Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney at Billbusters, Borges and Wu, LLC.& Borges, LLC

Call or e-mail us to schedule a free initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.

*The American Board of Certification is accredited by the American Bar Association and sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Commercial Law League of America. Federal law recognizes board certification in bankruptcy. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Whether a debtor files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all income, debts and assets must be declared. A debtor who does not list all debts, including home mortgage and car loan, will be in violation of fundamental requirements for filing bankruptcy.

One of the first questions people have when they’re thinking about bankruptcy is whether they can keep their house and car. For most people, these are the most valuable things they own, and they don’t want to lose them if at all possible. To get a better idea of what happens with homes and vehicles in bankruptcy, we surveyed our readers across the United States about their experiences.

Your House in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy—the kind that gets rid of debt most quickly—you can keep your house under two conditions: You’re current with your mortgage payments when you file (or you’ve recently gotten current through a loan modification), and the laws in your state allow you to protect (“exempt”) all of the equity you have in the property. (For details, see our article on keeping a house or car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.) By giving you relief from other kinds of debts, like credit card or medical bills, bankruptcy can free up money to help you keep up with your mortgage. Most of our readers had this experience: 68% of those who went through Chapter 7 bankruptcy were able to keep their home.

If you’ve already fallen behind on your mortgage payments when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’re likely to lose your house. Filing for bankruptcy lets you stay in your home another month or two, but ultimately, the bank will foreclose on the property. But if the foreclosure sale price is less than what you owe on the mortgage, your remaining mortgage debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. (And you may save money on taxes. For more on this, see our article on Chapter 7 bankruptcy and foreclosure.) Our readers who lost their houses reported an average discharge of $130,000 in mortgage debt after filing Chapter 7.

Your House in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you’re behind on your mortgage payments but want to keep your home, Chapter 13 bankruptcy might give you the time you need to catch up. Under this type of bankruptcy, the court approves a plan for you to repay the past-due mortgage amounts over three to five years, while continuing to make your current mortgage payments. As long you keep up with both of those payments, your lender can’t foreclose on the house.

How often do Chapter 13 filers succeed in completing their repayment plans? Many of the readers we surveyed were still making their plan payments, but of the others, nearly half (48%) had their case dismissed before they were able to complete the plan, which usually happens when a debtor can’t keep up with the payments. It was likely that these readers didn’t have enough income to cover their living expenses (including their current mortgage payments) as well as the monthly plan payments. Bottom line: Despite good intentions, not all Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers are able to keep their houses.

Your Car in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

As with a house, you can keep your car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you’re current with your loan payments (or the car is paid off), and your state’s laws allow you to exempt your equity in the vehicle. Not surprising, the vast majority of our readers (87%) who filed under Chapter 7 were able to keep their cars.

Many lenders will allow you simply to keep making payments on your auto loan after your file for bankruptcy, but they potentially could repossess the car (even if you don’t fall behind on those payments) unless you “reaffirm” the debt by agreeing to a new contract. Still, less than two in ten (17%) of our readers told us they reaffirmed their auto loan debt.

If the car is worth less than the balance on your loan, you can ask the court to let you “redeem” it by paying a lump sum for its actual value—that is, if you can somehow come up with the money. Otherwise, you can choose to give up (or “surrender”) your car, which means that your debt will be wiped out in the bankruptcy. Readers who chose this option discharged an average of $13,500 in debt for their auto loans.

Your Car in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Readers who filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy were also very likely to keep their cars. If you’re behind on your vehicle loan, you can use a Chapter 13 plan to catch up with your overdue payments (as with mortgage debt), but you also have a couple of other options that don’t apply to house loans. In Chapter 13, you might be able to stretch out the car payments over a longer period. Or, if the car loan is old enough, you might even be able to lower the balance on the principal and your interest rate. (For details, see our article on paying off past-due secured debts in Chapter 13.)

Some people postpone talking to an attorney about bankruptcy for months or even years after financial warning signs such as out-of-control credit card debt become impossible to ignore. Billbusters, Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC offers people in the Chicago area a no-obligation bankruptcy suitability analysis. Contact us if you are wondering whether bankruptcy is the appropriate solution to your debt problems.

Common bankruptcy myths often serve as mental obstacles for consumers. Do not let unanswered questions block your path forward. We will gladly take the time now to answer questions that loom large in your mind.

Your Home and Your Car May Be Exempt

A popular bankruptcy myth is the fear of losing one’s house or car. People naturally worry about where they would live or how they would get to work if they were forced to give up their house or car in bankruptcy. This is why of the first questions that we often hear in an initial consultation with someone considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is, “Do I have to include my house and car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?”

You Must List All Debts and Assets When You File Bankruptcy

To answer this question for potential new clients, our attorneys begin by clarifying that people filing bankruptcy must declare all income, assets and liabilities. However, society acknowledges that everyone needs a place to live and transportation to get to work. Bankruptcy laws allow for exemptions that are protected from creditors’ claims – including a home and a vehicle.

By applying bankruptcy exemption laws to their lists of assets, most people filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to keep their houses and cars if:

  • Their budgets enable them to keep up with a mortgage and car loan payments.
  • Loan payments, insurance, and taxes are up to date.
  • There is not more equity in the property that can be protected by the debtors’ exemptions.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are seriously behind on your mortgage or car payments, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a better choice. In Chapter 13, you can repay mortgage or car loan arrearages as part of your debt reorganization plan.

Everyone’s financial circumstances are unique. The best way to find out what Chapter 7 bankruptcy will actually mean to you is to discuss the facts of your debts, income and assets with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Keep in mind that only three lawyers in Chicago are certified in consumer bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification*. Two are partners at Billbusters, Borges and Wu, LLC.& Borges, LLC.

*The American Board of Certification is accredited by the American Bar Association and sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Commercial Law League of America. Federal law recognizes board certification in bankruptcy. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Do I Have to Include All My Debts in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you are considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be wondering whether you have to include all your debts. Perhaps you owe money to a favorite uncle, to a business partner or to your family dentist. You may hope to avoid involving certain people in your bankruptcy at all. You might rather not even tell them that you are going to file bankruptcy – and you certainly do not want them to receive official notices from the bankruptcy court stating that you are off the hook with regard to those debts.

Will Your Bankruptcy Harm Important Relationships in Your Life?

Such concerns are understandable and are natural for people who are contemplating bankruptcy. You may believe that to renege on your promises will damage your relationships.

On the other hand, some of your debts may be attached to things that are special and important to you such as your fishing boat or your child’s musical instrument. So you wonder whether you can simply leave those debts off the list that you submit to the bankruptcy trustee and repay them as planned.

All Debts Must Be Included in Your Bankruptcy Filing

The truth about bankruptcy, however, is that you must include all debts to any debtor(s) anywhere in the world. Even your home mortgage and your car loan must be listed. Any debts that are dischargeable will most likely be discharged if your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is successful. Officially, those debts will cease to exist and your creditors (even your favorite uncle) will be banned from ever trying to collect on those debts.

In fact, however, once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is complete, you are free to direct your money wherever you wish. With a clean slate, you will still be able to repay an old debt if you wish (such as a loan from your uncle), with the understanding that the former creditor has no right to try to collect from you.

In some cases such as with your mortgage and/or car loan, you may elect to reaffirm a debt in order to avoid repossession of your property by the former creditor. Talk to an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy law attorney about how to position yourself most favorably when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Discuss Your Debts With an Experienced Chicago Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Bring your tough questions to Billbusters, Borges and Wu, LLC.& Borges, LLC with confidence. Remember: only three lawyers in Chicago are certified in consumer bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification*. Two are partners at Billbusters, Borges and Wu, LLC.& Borges, LLC. Contact us to schedule a No Obligation Consultation and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at Billbusters, Borges and Wu, LLC.& Borges, LLC.

*The American Board of Certification is accredited by the American Bar Association and sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Commercial Law League of America. Federal law recognizes board certification in bankruptcy. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

  •        Motor vehicles or certain equity in them
  •        Clothing and household goods that are deemed necessary
  •        Pensions
  •        A portion of equity in a home or earned but unpaid wages
  •        Certain public benefits such as Social Security income and public assistance
  •        Tools associated with the person’s profession

Illinois enables debtors to opt out of federal exemptions and simply go by the state laws.  However, those laws place certain restrictions on some commonly exempt property. For example, state law dictates that only up to $15,000 in a home may be exempt from bankruptcy. The law also states that up to $2,400 in one car may be exempt and only up to $1,500 trade tools may be exempt.

Assets that are not exempt could possibly be converted. For example, nonexempt assets such as cash could be spent on items that would be considered necessary to living, such as rent or food. Additionally, an asset such as a boat or rental home could be sold, and that money could be used to purchase a vehicle.

The American Bar Association points out that while exemption planning is typically permissible, debtors should work with a professional because a misstep could result in getting charged with fraud. Leaving creditors with no real means of recovery could prompt a court to determine that the debtor engaged in fraudulent activity.

As the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation points out, some common signs of a loan modification scam include the following:

  • The organization requests an upfront fee.
  • The organization wants you to sign over the deed to your home.
  • The organization states that you need to pay to participate in the federal “Making Home Affordable Plan” program
  • The organization says it can accept your mortgage payments.

Instead of falling for a scam, there are several other steps you can take to restructure your mortgage. First, you may be able to call the loan provider directly and simply ask about your options. In some cases, the provider may agree to give you more time to make payments or adjusting your interest rate. The sooner you place the call, the more likely the mortgage holder is to work with you.

You can also work with an accredited counselor. The IDFPR states that you should check with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to find an approved agency.

Our attorneys have years of experience navigating mortgage issues and foreclosure cases. We have successfully negotiated with lenders to help people stay in their homes. For more information on this topic, please visit our page regarding changes to your mortgage.

An offer in compromise is an agreement that enables you to pay the government less than what you owe. According to the IRS, you may be eligible for an offer in compromise if one of the following is true:

  •        You are disputing the amount that you owe.
  •        Your income and assets are less than the tax liability.
  •        Making the payment in full would lead to an economic hardship due to “exceptional circumstances.”

If you are able to pay off your tax debt through installments, you may not qualify for an offer in compromise.

Before requesting a settlement, you should be sure to file all your tax returns and make any mandatory estimated tax payments for the current year. The IRS also requests that business owners make the current quarter’s required federal tax deposits.

If you are granted an offer in compromise, you will have the option of making the payments in installments. These should be made in full and on time, or else the IRS could find you in default and mandate that you pay the full amount of the original debt.

For more information on this topic, please visit our page regarding paying your taxes.

In 2013, Champaign County put a mediation program in place to assist people facing foreclosure. The University of Illinois College of Law’s Community Preservation Clinic trained the staff and mediators there. Now, the clinic is working with officials in Macon County to launch a similar program.

The program would enable borrowers to meet with their lenders under the guidance of a trained mediator. During these meetings, everyone would work together to find a way to either rework or reinstate the mortgage loan. If the process does not work, the case could proceed to foreclosure.

The hope is that a grant for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office would help cover the cost of the program. The initial proposal has undergone several changes, including a new, tentative $75 fee to help pay for the program. Late in 2013, Macon County submitted paperwork to the Illinois Supreme Court for its approval. However, the high court has yet to give the program the green light.

Regardless of whether or not such a program is in place, anyone in Illinois should know that working with a mortgage lender is an option. People who have questions about this topic should speak to an attorney.

Source: Herald & Review, “Foreclosure mediation waits for Supreme Court OK,” Ryan Voyles, Jan. 18, 2016