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.

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.)

Many debtors hope to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy rather than Chapter 13 because most or all consumer debts can be discharged in just a few months with a Chapter 7. However, co-signers are not protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. A debt discharge applies only to the person or couple who files bankruptcy. It does not extend to any other person whose name may be on a loan. Creditors will most likely pursue co-signers after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and demand repayment.

Debt Reorganization Includes Co-Signed Debts

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, debts are reorganized and put into a repayment plan that last for three to five years. During that time, creditors are not allowed to collect on debts included in the plan. A bankruptcy trustee collects one payment each month and pays prescribed portions to each creditor.

Because a co-signer is protected from collection attempts by creditors during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it may be the best type of bankruptcy for a debtor. There may be very large co-signed loans that would be unmanageable or irreparably harm trusting relationships if they were included in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These debts can also be treated as a special class in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and be paid ahead of other creditors to protect the co-signer.

Discuss Your Unique Situation With an Illinois Bankruptcy Lawyer

No sweeping advice such as statements made on this Web page will necessarily apply in all individual circumstances. For this reason, you should bring your concerns to the attention of a bankruptcy attorney in a personalized consultation.

Only three lawyers in Chicago are certified in consumer bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification*. Two are partners at Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC.

What About Debt Troubles and Co-Signed Loans? Contact an Experienced Chicago Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Co-signed loans should be handled with care as you prepare to file bankruptcy. Contact us today to discuss your unique circumstances and the best debt relief solutions for you.

Married couples are not required to file bankruptcy together. Individual circumstances will indicate whether it is in your best interest for you and your wife or husband to file bankruptcy jointly or whether just one of you should file.

Sometimes It Is Best for Only One Spouse to File Bankruptcy

There are often good reasons for one spouse to stay out of bankruptcy such as when that person has received or is expecting a large inheritance. Perhaps you or your spouse shares ownership of a family cabin with siblings. Filing bankruptcy could put both the property and family relationships at risk. Perhaps one of you is a partner in a small business, and you wish to leave the business completely out of the bankruptcy.

It may be best for that spouse not to file in a situation such as one of these scenarios. The two of you can choose to collaborate on paying off any debts of the non-filing spouse once the bankruptcy is complete.

When the Non-Filing Spouse is a Co-Signer on a Loan in the Bankruptcy

What if the spouse who is not going to file bankruptcy is a co-signer on debts held by the filing spouse? In this circumstance, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the best option. Chapter 13 bankruptcy protects a co-signer such as a non-filing spouse from collection efforts during the three- to five-year period of debt repayment.

Therefore, for many couples, a better question is, “How can we maximize the benefits of bankruptcy when one of us chooses not to file?” A frank discussion with an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney is an excellent way to determine the answer to this question.

We would like you to know that only three lawyers in Chicago are certified in consumer bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification*, and two of those are partners at Ledford, Wu & Borges, LLC. We are prepared to advise and guide you through Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, with or without your spouse.

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.