Local Bankruptcy & Debt Lawyers!
Right here in Georgia and throughout the United States, millions of people are dealing with major debt issues. For many people, the best option to get a "fresh financial start" is bankruptcy. Let our Georgia bankruptcy law team help you get a fresh start today!
Help Is On the Way
With offices in Roswell, Alpharetta, Atlanta and Cumming, bankruptcy lawyers Valerie Sherman and Bill Sherman have filed many thousands of bankruptcy petitions, saved numerous homes from foreclosure, and assisted consumers and families in eliminating numerous debts totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars combined. We're proud to have helped so many wonderful people over the years.
We understand that bad things can happen to good people!
Let our AMAZING experience help you and your family
Now you can benefit from the years of experience we have in dealing with creditors, debt collectors, credit card companies, doctors, hospitals, and big banks who want to sue you, garnish your wages, repossess your car or truck, or foreclose on your home.
When you hire great debt relief attorneys you will instantly feel at ease and fully comfortable in knowing that you have an expert team in your corner answering all of your questions and making sure you are being taken care of. Attorneys Bill Sherman and Valerie Sherman strive every day to offer unparalleled personal service to help keep you sleeping well at night and to bring down your stress level. We know how stressful debt can be!
We always perform an in-depth financial analysis and answer all of your questions. We will let you know all of your options and if you are a good candidate for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy or whether we should do debt negotiation on your behalf.
A Compassionate Bankruptcy Lawyer
Our overriding philosophy as bankruptcy lawyers is quite simple. It is to provide the very best, one-on-one experience for our clients. We believe in individual client attention as opposed to some of the larger bankruptcy firms that view bankruptcy more as a mechanical, factory process. We always strive to provide a compassionate, respectful, and inviting environment for clients, and know that clients appreciate this during what can easily be the most stressful time in their lives. As a bankruptcy lawyers, our experience and approach is client-centered. This allows us to provide a very welcoming and effective bankruptcy service to clients.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcies are the most filed form of bankruptcy in Georgia and throughout the United States. A Chapter 7 eliminates most forms of debt, such as credit cards, medical and doctor bills, personal loans, and most tax debt over three years old. Chapter 7 also wipes-out debt from vehicle repossessions, real estate foreclosures, and debt from old apartments.
However, not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
You must qualify for this type of bankruptcy. We perform a thorough financial assessment to determine if you qualify for a Chapter 7. We look at many factors to determine if you qualify, including your income and expenses.
You can't file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you previously completed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last eight years, but you can file a Chapter 13 instead to get debt relief.
Interestingly, businesses can also file a Chapter 7. All types of companies utilize Chapter 7 to get out of debt.
What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Besides the Chapter 7, the next most common type of bankruptcy for consumers is a Chapter 13. Also known as a “reorganization,” a Chapter 13 allows for the repayment of debt over a three to five year period. Payments under this “chapter” are based, in part, upon your disposable income, which is the income left over after you pay your necessary monthly expenses.
Chapter 13 can really help people in debt. For example, a person can file Chapter 13 on the eve of a foreclosure and save their house. They can put all the money they were supposed to pay on the mortgage but didn't (the mortgage arrears) into the bankruptcy and pay it off over five years. It can also stop car repossessions in the same way.
Our team will help you to regain control of your financial situation so that you can be proactive and take the lead in restoring your financial health. We use bankruptcy as a critical tool in this process; however, it is only part of the process. If you are ready to take control of the process and your financial life, and ready to stop letting it control you, we're ready to help!
STOP DELAYING – GET HELP NOW!
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you need financial help.
The first step to address any problem is to stop procrastinating or simply ignoring the problem. You're probably not going to win the lottery, and your financial problems won't go away on their own – they haven't yet. Unfortunately, far too many good and smart people spend too much time hoping that “things will get better.” And the sad part is, they usually only get worse.
Rather than waiting until the lawsuits pile up and wage garnishments hit and the debt collectors' step-up their harassment, the best strategy is to contact an expert while you still have assets to use in the best interests of your family.
Remember, this is your financial life. You own it and you can regain control over it. But first you have to take an honest look at your situation and then consider your options.
GET INTELLIGENT, REAL ADVICE
The best way to evaluate your situation and your options is to get sound legal advice. There are all kinds of financial scammers offering financial advice, “experts” offering get-rich-quick schemes, and other “consultants” who are happy to take your money.
STOP! DON'T PAY ANY SCAMMERS
Don't spend any more money with the scammers. You don't need any more debt and stress. Call us now at 678-215-4106 for a free case evaluation. Let's talk about getting you a fresh financial start!
YOU NEED A PLAN
People tell us that the worst part of having financial issues is the uncertainty. Which bills are coming next? When is the next collection agent going to call and harass you? Am I going to be sued? Will my wages be garnished? Is my bank account safe from judgments or a levy? Will someone foreclose on our house? How am I going to buy food if we run out of money? What am I going to do?
If you ignore the problem you allow your creditors and their debt collectors to take control of the situation, and as you may already know, the collectors can be mean and ruthless. They're actually paid to be mean and ruthless!
Where are the bankruptcy courts located?
Bankruptcy is provided for in the United States Constitution and bankruptcy law is federal law, although there are some state components. The Northern District of Georgia bankruptcy courts are located in four different locations. These courts are located in:
- Atlanta (at 75 Ted Turner Drive, SW)
- Gainesville (at 121 Spring Street SE)
- Newnan (at 18 Greenville Street)
- Rome (at 600 East First Street)
Where you live determines which bankruptcy court will get your case.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question: Can I file for bankruptcy?
Most likely. The law provides multiple chapters to file under. When you have too much debt, millions of Americans turn to bankruptcy. It's in the United States Constitution!
Question: I'm married. Does my spouse have to file?
No. Many times just one spouse files bankruptcy.
The better question really is: "Should my spouse file?" This is a fact-specific inquiry we do that focuses on your assets, your spouse's assets, when you were married, and when the debts were incurred. That's one of the many reasons we perform a thorough financial assessment as part of our engagement.
Question: Will I lose everything if I file for bankruptcy?
No. The vast majority of bankruptcy cases filed from Georgia result in no assets being taken from the debtors.
The whole purpose of a bankruptcy is so you get a fresh start in your financial life, and retaining items such as your house, your vehicles, and your personal belongings, as well as your retirement accounts, is certainly essential to that fresh start.
Each person has his or her unique set of property interests and we discuss that with you at our initial meeting and tell you whether any of it is at risk.
Question: Can bankruptcy help me save my home?
Yes. That's a major reason for filing bankruptcy. Filing a Chapter 13 can stop a foreclosure and help you retain your home or property.
Question: Do I have to disclose my current income?
Yes. Your income will be used to help determine your eligibility and which chapter (7 or 13) you utilize. You will have to disclose your income in your petition for bankruptcy filing, before proceedings can start.
Question: Can you be denied a student loan because you or your parents file bankruptcy?
Absolutely not. Section 525 of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits discriminatory treatment by any governmental or other student loan program on the basis of filing a bankruptcy. This means that a student loan agency cannot deny your loan application based on the filing, by you or anyone you know, of a bankruptcy.
Question: If I file bankruptcy, can I be fired or denied employment?
Absolutely not. An employer cannot fire someone because of a bankruptcy. This is set forth in Section 525 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Question: Is it too late to file bankruptcy if I'm being sued or already have a judgment or wage garnishment against me?
No. The good news is that it's almost never too late to file bankruptcy. If it's a dischargeable debt (meaning one that isn't incurred through fraud, or a domestic support obligation, or one of the others Congress has excluded from discharge), you can still eliminate the debt even if a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you and gotten a judgment, or you are having your wages garnished.
Question: Can I transfer assets out of my name into someone else's before filing bankruptcy?
Don't do this before speaking with a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer. You don't want to take chances. And not unless they are sold for “reasonably equivalent value.” Otherwise it can be recovered by the bankruptcy court as a fraudulent transfer.
Question: Can I Get Credit Again?
In-depth research has clearly demonstrated you will be more likely to get credit after you have filed bankruptcy than if you do not file at all. This is because bankruptcy totally removes the debts you cannot afford to pay. Simply put, after you file bankruptcy, you don't have any debt. And having less debt and a job makes you look very appealing to lenders.
Question: What is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure?
Sometimes it is possible to negotiate to have the lender accept your voluntary surrender of the property to avoid foreclosure. This is known as a "deed in lieu of foreclosure. Your mortgage company will not accept a deed in lieu if there is a junior mortgage or other lien on the property. In that case a foreclosure would be necessary to clear title to the property.
Question: What is the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debt?
Secured debt, commonly mortgages, car loans, etc., is debt that is secured by real or personal property. Creditors can generally claim the property that secures the debt in the event of a bankruptcy filing, unless you are current on the payments. Unsecured debt, including credit card balances, personal loans, medical bills, etc., is debt that is not secured by any type of property.
Question: Are there any debts that I can't eliminate by filing bankruptcy?
Yes, some debts can't be gotten rid of by filing. Here are some debts you can't eliminate in bankruptcy:
- child support;
- most student loans;
- court fines and criminal restitution; and
- personal injury caused by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs
Question: Do you have to list all your creditors in your bankruptcy petition?
Yes, the law provides that you must list in your bankruptcy petition all your creditors. A creditor is any company or any person, even a family member or friend, that you owe money.
Question: How does filing bankruptcy stop creditor actions against you?
When you file a bankruptcy petition, the court issues an ‘‘automatic stay,'' which is a legal action that prevents creditors from pursuing collection efforts or lawsuits against you in an effort to collect a debt. If the creditor has already seized funds after the petition was filed, in many cases those funds must be returned. Your bankruptcy attorney will explain what legal actions are available to recover these funds.
Question: When will the harassing telephone calls stop?
As soon as you file bankruptcy, all of the creditors are notified that you have invoked your constitutional right to file bankruptcy. Upon receipt of that notice, all of your creditors are bound by the Bankruptcy Code to cease any and all communication with you. They cannot call you, write to you, sue you, foreclose on your house, repossess any items from you, garnish any wages or take any other legal action whatsoever.
Question: What Causes People to File for Bankruptcy?
People file for bankruptcy relief for many different reasons. But the "Big 3" are:
- Health problems/medical bills
- Loss of Job or underemployment (making a lot less than you used to)
Question: Will I lose my cars?
The bankruptcy process is designed to help you keep the vehicles necessary for your family. Either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can provide the necessary protection so that you can retain the cars required to maintain your family needs.
Question: When can I apply for credit again?
There's certainly no law that prevents anyone from extending credit to you immediately after you file bankruptcy, The decision whether to grant you credit in the future is up to each creditor. But creditors aren't required by law to extend you credit within any specific time frame.
Question: What if there are some debts I want to make sure get paid?
Even if a debt is legally discharged in a filing, you can choose to pay it. And choosing to pay one of course doesn't mean you have to pay all of your discharged debts.
We have clients complete a questionnaire that collects information about property, expenses and creditors. We also ask for relevant paystubs or other income statements, tax returns, credit reports and other basic information.
Question: Will someone come to my home?
The quick answer is almost certainly not. For a bankruptcy you must list all your assets. Unless you have very expensive collectibles or similar valuables, it will be clear that your assets are exempt. So the trustee won't bother to send an appraiser to your home.
However, all this changes if you don't tell the truth about your assets. A creditor or personal enemy may tell the authorities. If that happens, you'll be dealing with a very suspicious trustee. And if substantial assets are uncovered that were not disclosed, you could face federal criminal charges.
Question: Can I get rid of income taxes through Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Generally, we have a good shot at eliminating income tax debt more than 3 years old.
Question: Is it Difficult to File for Bankruptcy?
Not if you're using an experienced and knowledgeable Georgia bankruptcy lawyer. People get scared of the process because it involves the federal court system and you need the right information and documents prepared in exactly the right way. However, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can make the process as seamless and comfortable as possible. We can explain exactly what will happen, what you can expect, and how we can help you and your family achieve a happier, debt-free future as soon as possible.
Question: Will I Lose My License Because of Filing Bankruptcy?
No. The bankruptcy law prohibits the government from denying, revoking, suspending or refusing to renew a license, permit, charter franchise or similar grant because of filing bankruptcy.
Question: Can my creditors still try to collect a debt from me even after I file bankrupcty?
No, and if a creditor tries, they risk being held in contempt of court. Furthermore, you may be able to sue that creditor for damages for even trying.
Question: Can I change from one chapter of bankruptcy to another?
Generally, you can convert a case from one chapter to another. However, there can be pitfalls in doing so. If you're thinking that this is a possiblity you want to explore, you should consult a local bankrupcty lawyer to discuss your options.
Question: Should I work with a credit repair company?
Credit repair companies are scams. It is highly recommended that you first speak with an attorney about your financial issues before working with a credit repair company.
Question: In Georgia, can I get rid of medical bills and hospital bills by filing?
Yes, under the bankruptcy statute, medical bills are dischargeable in a bankruptcy. It is actually a very common reason that individuals and families are forced to file for bankruptcy.
Question: What are the credit counseling and financial management courses?
To file for bankruptcy, the law requires a debtor to complete a credit counseling certificate. This certificate must be filed with the Bankruptcy Court.
To receive the bankruptcy order of discharge, a debtor must also complete a financial management course before the case has concluded. There is generally a fee for the course. This certificate must be filed with the Bankruptcy Court.
Question: What debts are not dischargeable?
Here are some debts that are generally non-dischargeable in bankruptcy:
- Student loans
- Most tax liabilities (but some are)
- Court-imposed fines
- Debt incurred by fraud
- Debt incurred in a personal injury action where punitive damages were awarded
- Child support and spousal maintenance
Question: Will I have to go to court?
Usually, no. You will, however, need to attend a meeting of creditors, also known as a trustee meeting or "the 341." There's no reason to be concerned. Trustees are generally friendly and professional individuals, and should not be feared. Their job is to ask you simple questions, ones which we'll prepare you for in advance.
Question: What Is A Chapter 7 Trustee?
Bankruptcy trustees work for the bankruptcy court. When we file your Chapter 7 petition, an impartial trustee is appointed to administer the case. The Chapter 7 trustee will preside over the meeting of creditors and determine whether there are any nonexempt assets available for the benefit of creditors.
Question: What Is A Chapter 13 Trustee?
There are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees. Some trustees only handle Chapter 7 cases, while other trustees only handle Chapter 13 cases. When we file your Chapter 13 petition, an impartial case trustee is appointed to monitor the case and administer payments under the plan.
Question: Will my immigration status be affected by filing bankruptcy?
No. It does not affect immigration status at all. Many people are concerned and worry unnecessarily that they will somehow jeopardize their immigration status if they file for bankruptcy. This is incorrect. Filing bankruptcy has no affect on immigration status.
Question: What are Priority Debts?
In a bankruptcy petition, your debts are must be classified as either priority, secured, or unsecured. Each is treated differently depending on which chapter (7 or 13) is filed. Priority debts in consumer filings are usually limited to government tax liabilities and support obligations. Priority creditors under the law have certain rights to payment over other creditors.
Question: Can My Co-signers Be Protected?
Yes. Under the law, Chapter 13 bankruptcy co-signers who are liable with the you on consumer debts are protected from the collection activities of creditors.
Question: What is a bankruptcy discharge?
A bankruptcy "discharge" is vital and is the main reason most people file a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy case. Once the bankruptcy court here in the Northern District of Georgia enters a "Discharge Order" at the end of a bankruptcy case, you are no longer personally obligated to repay the dischargeable debts and the creditors are prohibited from attempting to collect on debts that have been discharged.
Question: Can I Keep My Paychecks and Earnings?
Yes! Under the law, any garnishment of your check because of a judgment by a creditor must stop immediately after the bankruptcy has been filed.
How can you determine whether a debt is secured?
Perhaps the best way to determine whether a debt is a secured debt is to review the documents signed at the time the debt was incurred. If the debt is secured, the documents will state that and will describe the creditor's security interest, which is usually in the property that is the subject of the financing.
Question: What Is The Meeting of Creditors?
Also called a Section 341 meeting, it is a required administrative hearing under the bankrupcty law which allows the trustee to ask you questions regarding your financial situation.
Question: What Is The Confirmation Hearing?
Confirmation hearings are held in Chapter 13 cases. This is where the judge approves the proposed repayment plan. Following confirmation, the trustee begins making payments to the creditors who have filed claims in the case. The confirmation hearing takes place after the meeting of creditors.
Question: Can I have a Bank Account Following Bankruptcy?
Yes! You can keep your bank account or you can even get a new bank account. Many people for some reason think that they will not be allowed to have assets after a bankruptcy like a house or bank account. It's just not true. Bankruptcy exists to help people, not hurt them.
Question: Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?
Yes. The automatic stay prevents bill collectors from taking any action to collect debts, and that includes calling you.
Question: What About Student Loans?
Under the bankruptcy statute, student loans are not discharged unless you can prove that repaying the student loan would create an undue hardship on you and your dependents. Undue hardship is difficult to establish but it can be done.
Question: What's a reaffirmation agreement?
A reaffirmation agreement is used to legally reaffirm a debt. Reaffirming a debt is completely voluntary and isn't required by the bankruptcy law. You may certainly voluntarily repay any debt instead of signing a reaffirmation agreement, but there may be good reasons for wanting to reaffirm a specific debt. This is common when a vehicle is involved.
Question: Can I Continue Making My House Payments In and After Bankruptcy?
Yes! You can keep your home (that's what bankruptcy is designed for!), and if you utilize a chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, you could also catch up your mortgage payments if they have gotten behind.
Question: I owe back taxes to the IRS and the State of Georgia. Can I discharge them in bankruptcy?
Possibly. Certain taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy while others cannot. Even if your taxes cannot be discharged, filing a plan of reorganization may allow you to pay back your taxes interest and penalty free over five years.
Question: Can I file bankruptcy if I'm being sued by a creditor?
WE'LL HELP YOU!
Let attorney Valerie Sherman & attorney Bill Sherman help you take control over your financial future by setting up a plan to: (1) stop the harassing phone calls and collection letters and lawsuits and wage garnishments; (2) ensure that your “protected” assets (like your house and cars) are truly protected; (3) walk you through the whole bankruptcy process (including representing you in court); (4) negotiate any repayment terms (if necessary); and (5) help you design a plan to restore your good credit and ensure a bright financial future for you and your family.
Take the next step to a brighter, debt-free future and call us at 678-215-4106 now! Don't you deserve a fresh start?