Is It Possible to Discharge Holiday Credit Card Bills in Bankruptcy?

Is It Possible to Discharge Holiday Credit Card Bills in Bankruptcy?

The holidays are a time of indulgence and frivolity, in addition to gift-giving. Many people overspend during the holidays, because they want to buy more gifts for their family and friends. However, with the coronavirus, extra bills and job losses after the holidays, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. You may think that filing for bankruptcy may be the answer. Here is information for you about holiday credit card bills during the bankruptcy process.

Holiday Debts in Bankruptcy

There are two types of bankruptcy for individuals or families–Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your debt is discharged, which means that all of your debt will be eliminated through the bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 plan, your lawyer will sit down with your creditors and work out a payment plan.

With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are exceptions to the law, especially when it comes to credit card debt. One of the most notable exceptions is with the “luxury goods” clause. If you purchased any item with your credit card that was over $650 as a gift, you cannot discharge that debt. Bankruptcy law prohibits you from purchasing luxury items for 90 days before you declare bankruptcy. There are many items that people buy over the holiday season that could amount to over $650: jewelry and electronics come immediately to mind.

If you did purchase an item that is over $650 on your credit card, and you want to declare bankruptcy, what should you do? You can wait the 90 days after your luxury item purchase and then you can declare bankruptcy, or you may want to switch to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, where this rule may not apply. You can also return the item to the store for a refund before you file for bankruptcy.

There are some exceptions to the rule of luxury items in a bankruptcy. The court does not specify what can be considered a luxury item, so it is up to each judge to make that decision. An item that you might consider a luxury may not be counted. If you have concerns about your credit card debt in bankruptcy, speak with a bankruptcy attorney.

Let us help you gain a fresh financial start. Call our attorneys toll free in Brunswick at 866-214-7036. We also welcome all inquiries through our online contact form. Serving the entire state of Georgia.

Filing Bankruptcy in the Time of COVID-19

Filing Bankruptcy in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended a lot of families during the last year. Nearly 350,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, and over 20 million people have been infected. The unemployment numbers are staggering as well. If you have reached a point in your financial crisis where you can’t continue to pay your bills during this time, here are some guidelines for filing bankruptcy during COVID-19.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy allows you to discharge your debt. There are two forms of individual bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets may be sold in order for all of your debts to be discharged, but you won’t owe money after your court date is complete. You can also choose to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which means you, your lawyer, a trustee, and your creditors work out a payment plan for your debts. You usually don’t sell assets, but instead you work to pay off your debt while you are protected from creditors.

Changes During COVID-19

First, you need to know that from the time your lawyer files your paperwork and receives a number for your case, you are protected from creditors. Because of court closures related to COVID-19, you may not have your case heard or meetings for months, but you still have a case.

Also, you need to know that under legislation that passed last March related to COVID-19, called the CARES Act, that has stipulations for the pandemic. First, if you choose to file Chapter 13, you may have extended time to have your payment plan–up to seven years. One of the most important changes to the bankruptcy laws is with stimulus checks. The CARES Act specifies that any stimulus checks you get you are allowed to keep, and your creditors can’t withhold them.

If you have concerns about your personal finances during COVID-19, or you need help deciding whether or not bankruptcy is right for you, you can always talk to an attorney. Bankruptcy attorneys are well-versed in current COVID-19 legislation.

Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Need to File Bankruptcy Before the Holidays? Here Are Some Quick Tips

Need to File Bankruptcy Before the Holidays? Here Are Some Quick Tips

Bankruptcy can be the key to getting your finances back on track if you use it correctly. It’s not necessarily going to wipe away all of your debt, and it’s not a free pass to run up a large amount of debt and get away without paying it. However, it can help if used at the right time. Is right before the holidays the best time to file bankruptcy? It all depends on your current situation. However, there are some things you need to know about bankruptcy and the holidays.

A Holiday Bonus Could Impact Your Means Test

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will have to pass the means test. This test looks at what income you have received in the past six months and uses that to determine if you qualify to have your debts discharged. However, this income is not limited to your regular paycheck. It also includes any money you may from other sources, including holiday bonuses. If you get a large bonus, it could make you ineligible for Chapter 7. Since the court only looks at the income you received before the date you filed, you may want to file before the holidays so that bonus doesn’t impact your eligibility.

If you receive cash gifts for the holidays, those are also considered income for the means test. File before these gifts are given to you so you do not have to claim them.

Gifts Are Not Necessities

Bankruptcy law states that any credit card purchases made within 90 days of your bankruptcy that are more than $675 and are for luxury goods are non-dischargeable. This means if you spend a lot of money on gifts for Christmas and then file for bankruptcy, those debts are likely to remain your responsibility. In fact, if you made a large number of excessive luxury purchases, the court may deny your case or investigate you for bankruptcy fraud.

While you do need to be careful about what you’re charging on credit and what holiday cash gifts or bonuses you get, bankruptcy may still be the right move to make before the holidays. It gives you the chance to start off the new year with the hope that your financial woes will soon be behind you.

Should My Spouse and I File Jointly or Only One of Us For Bankruptcy?

Should My Spouse and I File Jointly or Only One of Us For Bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy can be as confusing as it is worrisome. When done incorrectly, a couple could lose most of their belongings. However, with a bit of planning, and with the assistance of a skilled lawyer, a couple can clear their debts and maximize the amount of property they retain.

The Mechanics and Results of Filing for Bankruptcy Jointly

When a couple files for joint bankruptcy, the assets and property of both spouses are included in the bankruptcy estate. Joint bankruptcy also includes all debts from both spouses. Filing for joint bankruptcy can be beneficial when both spouses are facing debt, as the bankruptcy can be resolved in one process. The couple will only have to worry about paying one filing fee and hiring a single lawyer. Joint filing is advised when the couple lives in a community state (I.e. California, Nevada) and amassed most of their debt during their marriage. In this instance, the spouses can clear their separate debts and decide what to do with their jointly-owned property. Another instance where joint bankruptcy is beneficial is when the couple lives in a state that permits double exemptions. Double exemptions will allow the couple to retain more of their property after the bankruptcy is finished.

The Mechanics and Results of Filing for Bankruptcy Separately

When a couple files for separate bankruptcies, all of each spouse’s separately-owned property and all jointly-owned property are considered part of the bankruptcy estate. Filing separately is required when one spouse has a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the past eight years or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within the past six years, as that spouse will not be eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Separate bankruptcies may be required when the spouses are legally separated. Some states exempt certain types of property when the spouses file separately. Another instance where filing separately would be a better option is when one spouse has most or all of the debt, and the couple does not jointly own anything of significant value.

The Williams Litigation Group has extensive experience in bankruptcy law. Our team of legal experts can advise married couples in Brunswick, GA, on the best way to file bankruptcy. If you and your spouse would like to know more about protecting your assets during the bankruptcy process, call our office at 866-214-7036, or fill out our contact form. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Should You Consider Bankruptcy if You Fell Behind on Mortgage Payments Due to the Pandemic?

Should You Consider Bankruptcy if You Fell Behind on Mortgage Payments Due to the Pandemic?

There is no shortage of personal financial crises to go along with the health crisis which is currently sweeping across the globe. The coronavirus pandemic has cost the jobs and incomes of millions of people all across the country.

For those here in Georgia who have been hit the hardest by the furloughs and shutdowns, contemplating the possibility of bankruptcy to address their mounting financial concerns is something that should be on the table for everyone. That’s where the financial law experts at Williams Litigation Group can offer a few insights on deciding what move is right for you.

Being Honest About Your Situation

The truth is that most people are honest and hardworking. They believe in paying their debts and fulfilling their obligations. However, sometimes life brings obstacles that we simply were not prepared for and cannot overcome the way we would prefer. If you find yourself in a situation where you are only sinking further under water each month with no relief in sight, bankruptcy may be the right decision.

Weighing Your Options

In Georgia, the choices you have are between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each of them offer their own their own set of rules and guidelines and which one exactly is best suited for will depend on the details of your particular circumstances. With Chapter 7 you get the chance to get out from underneath a number of bills over the course of a few to several months.

Although you will need to liquidate assets in order to pay back some portion of your debt to various creditors, your home and automobile may be excluded, depending on the amount of equity available in them. You will also need to qualify by being below the median income level for a household of your size.

Chapter 13 on the other hand, offers clients a chance to establish a payback plan of 3 to 5 years instead of simply discharging debts. This is a great way to navigate a difficult financial situation in the present while expecting things to improve in the near future.

To better understand which option might be best for you, get in touch with the bankruptcy specialists at the Williams Litigation Group here in Brunswick. Out team of legal experts is always ready to lend a helping hand to their neighbors.

Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Types of Debt That Are Non-Dischargeable

Types of Debt That Are Non-Dischargeable

Debt is part of everyday life. Many people however find themselves in situations where the debt is so overwhelming that they have to file for bankruptcy. According to the constitution, you can always get a fresh start through reorganization as provided in Chapter 13 or liquidation as provided by Chapter 7. In both of these cases, the bankruptcy court has the power to discharge certain debts to ensure that the creditor doesn’t take measures against the debtor such as seizing collateral and so forth. However, there are cases where some debts cannot be discharged.

Debts That Aren’t Discharged In Bankruptcy

While the objective of both Chapters 7 and 13 is to provide people with a fresh start unencumbered by their past debts, there are a few debts that cannot be discharged. These will include:

  • Child support and alimony. This will also include the attorney’s fees for the same.
  • Taxes that haven’t been paid yet such as tax liens. In some cases, however, when the taxes date back several years, some of the federal, state, and local taxes can be discharged.
  • Debts that were left off the bankruptcy petition.
  • Penalties and fines that are owed to government agencies
  • Debts that arose from willful and malicious injuries to properties or people.
  • Cooperative or condo housing fee debts.
  • Criminal restitution, penalties and fines imposed by the courts
  • Student loans. Although notoriously difficult to discharge in a bankruptcy court, student loans can be discharged if there is evidence of undue hardship on the individual or their dependants.

Can A Discharge Be Denied?

Although these discharges come as a great relief to the debtor, there are cases whereby the debts cannot be discharged. One such reason is when a debtor doesn’t comply with the rules and procedures provided in both Chapters 7 and 13. A judge can also deny a discharge if the individual or company files for bankruptcy too often between a certain period of time. In such a case, the court will view it as a habitual thing and deny the petition. Additionally, your creditors have a say in discharging certain debts. They may oppose to the discharge, but ultimately the court has the final say.

Want to learn more? Call us and let us help you understand bankruptcy laws and the types of debt you have. Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

How PPP Relief Can Affect Bankruptcy

How PPP Relief Can Affect Bankruptcy

Business owners here in Georgia have had to face most of the same challenges and difficulties that their counterparts in other states have had to deal with during the coronavirus pandemic. Two-plus months of nonessential business and office closings have left a devastating toll on many small and medium-sized business owners.

As a result, many of these companies filed for and received Payment Protection Plan assistance in the form of loans and grants. Unfortunately for many businesses this simply was not enough. With bankruptcy left as their only viable option many of them are now wondering how those PPP payments will be factored in? This is where a team of legal professionals such as the Williams Litigation Group can help.

Understanding the Difference Between Loans and Grants

The first thing to understand is the fact that loans and grants are both part of the PPP program and that you may have received one or the other, or both. This is important because the grants are not required to be paid back, so long as the stipulations and requirements were met. Most of the grant paybacks are waived under the conditions that the funds be used for certain purposes such as covering employee payroll, rent and other utilities, as well as equipment or material costs.

You May Qualify for Dismissal of Loan Debt

Under many circumstances, PPP loans are dismissible in your bankruptcy filing, as long as certain things within your business and paperwork are handled properly and with the courts full knowledge before the process begins. The most important thing in this situation, as with any other information regarding your business and its finances is to make sure that you are completely upfront and transparent with all of your financial records and notes.

Making Sure You Cover All Legal Bases

The knowledgeable and experienced team at the Williams Litigation Group in Brunswick has years of experience helping its clients deal with the intricacies of bankruptcies, as well as navigating through the murky and confusing details of bankruptcy law. Don’t let confusion or misunderstanding end up complicating or upending your case. Give the experts a call or stop by and see them in person as soon as possible. Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Can Covid-19 Actually Help Your Bankruptcy Case?

Can Covid-19 Actually Help Your Bankruptcy Case?

As the country continues to reopen and tries to recover and move forward while still dealing with the effects of the coronavirus and the havoc it has wreaked on people’s personal and financial lives, folks in here in Georgia aren’t shielded from any of life’s realities which still exist. And for people who are contemplating or going through a bankruptcy that truth is self-evident.

But the friendly and helpful experts at the Williams Litigation Group have been specializing in these types of cases for years. And even though Covid-19 may have thrown a wrench in the way the proceedings work, the law is still the same and these folks know the law. Here are a few things that have changed in light of the new court processes:

A Slow-Moving System Grinding to a Near Halt

As hard as it may be to believe, the onset of this pandemic may help with certain aspects of your bankruptcy case, particularly when it comes to time-sensitive issues or other aspects which normally function under very strict deadlines. The fact that allowances must be made where all of the necessary parties can appear at the same time through video conferencing or phone calls creates a little bit of leeway in scheduling and filing timelines.

Easier Court Appearances and Paperwork

As a result, everything from the client’s appearance in court to the various types of documentation and legal paperwork which must be filed has become somewhat more convenient. Instead of battling traffic and fighting through crowds you can now sit in the comfort of your own home or office and deal with all necessary appointments pertaining to your case.

Experienced and Professional Legal Help Is More Crucial Than Ever

As if bankruptcies weren’t difficult enough before, now with the global pandemic, creating new protocol and procedures for how and where these types of cases take place, it is now even more important to make sure that you are working with attorneys who are comfortable dealing with these issues in any setting.

The legal professionals at the Williams Litigation Group in Brunswick, Georgia have years of experience with bankruptcy law. This means they can practice it on your behalf in person, over the phone, as well as online and in video conferences.

Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

What You Need to Know Before Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

What You Need to Know Before Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Folks are grappling with financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With our government restricting movement (with good intentions) the economy has taken a major hit; the income-streams of a lot of people have been affected, and their savings are running dry. This pandemic has driven many folks into debt, causing them to entertain the idea of declaring bankruptcy.

Filing bankruptcy is the legal route by which people who are burdened by debts they cannot repay seek fractional or full reprieve from their creditors. Each year, countless businesses and people declare bankruptcy. Considering the psychological distresscaused by unpaid debts, getting declared bankrupt is not always as bad as it’s made out to be.

But before moving to court, ensure that you understand the following.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

It’s the most common type of bankruptcy because it enables you to get rid of your unsecured debts by just giving up a part of your assets. Most debtors prefer it over Chapter 11 or Chapter 13. It can be executed quickly, and the debtor is not asked to repay the loan over an extended period. The debtor also gets to keep most of their property, especially if they had no luxuries to their name. The entire process might last three to six months.

Before you initiate the process, you want to be sure that you are eligible. Start by analyzing your debts. There are certain types of debts you cannot escape from e.g. child support, tax bills, and student loans. You must also determine what properties you are allowed to retain.

The debtor initiates the process by filing the bankruptcy forms, where the court extracts details of their property, debts, income, expenses, and business transactions. The debtor pays the filing fee, or requests a waiver, and submits the documents to a court-approved trustee.

The debtor attends a meeting between the trustee and the creditor, where the trustee challenges the information in the bankruptcy form, and also listens to the creditor. If your petition is successful, the court gives an order that you are released from qualifying debts.

What Happens to the Debtor’s Property?

Their property may be divided into two categories: exempt and non-exempt property. With exempt property, creditors may not claim it. The exemptions are designed to protect the debtor from losing the essential property. Non-exempt properties may be sold to repay the debt.

Discharge

Creditors and the trustee have two months to object to the discharge after the meeting. This is done by starting a lawsuit in the court. If the creditor doesn’t start a lawsuit within two months, then the court will free the debtor from their unsecured debt.

The debtor is required to take an online course before the discharge. They have to pay a certain amount for the course, but if they are of low means, they can apply for a fee reduction or waiver. Once the court issues a discharge order, the creditor has no right to pursue them again.

Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Has Coronavirus Affected Your Business? Here are Five Ways to Protect Your Company from Bankruptcy

Has Coronavirus Affected Your Business? Here are Five Ways to Protect Your Company from Bankruptcy

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the global economy. With people locked away in their homes, and businesses shut down, the economic ramifications cannot be wished away. Considering that most small businesses rely on their daily revenues to pay off their debts, the slow economic activity caused by Coronavirus is likely to push them into payment defaults. If you are a small business owner and your creditors are pursuing you, you probably feel like you are at the gate of bankruptcy. It doesn’t have to be so. Here are some of the ways to protect your business from bankruptcy.

1. Adopt an Online Business Model

Our technological evolution has opened the way for virtual economies. And during this pandemic, with the brick and mortar businesses closed down, buyers are shifting to online markets. This is precisely why Amazon is overwhelmed with transactions right now. You can hire a web developer to create an online home for your business, and attract your target audience via advertisement and content marketing.

2. Collect What is Owed to You

Just as your creditors give you predatory looks, you should also go after those who owe you money. It’s time to go through your accounts receivable and demand payment from these parties. This is why businesses must invest in solid, record-keeping platforms.

3. Utilize Government Programs

You can take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program to keep your business afloat. The main requirement is that you don’t have more than 500 employees. More than 1.6 million PPP loans have been approved. Taking advantage of this government initiative buys you time to gather resources.

4. Talk to Your Creditors

It might not work with every creditor, but it’s a commendable move nonetheless. It mainly involves persuading your creditor to reduce payments or extend the repayment window. You have to have strong persuasive skills to do it well. Considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic, creditors are likely to be agreeable.

5. Reduce expenses

When a business is in dire straits, there’s no option but to tighten the belt. Go through your expense account and get rid of the luxuries. And if your business is facing imminent collapse, you might have to cut your employees’ salary or even lay some of them off.

A business can also reduce costs by switching business partners. For instance, if you are stuck with suppliers who have high quotes, just forego them and seek out suppliers with lower quotes, and better payment terms.

The more information at our disposal, the more power in our hands; in the age of the internet, we have a solid way of digging up information to help us make vital decisions. Great decisions can easily translate into low expenses.

Many external factors influence the performance of an economy. A pandemic, such as the one we are witnessing now, can severely hurt the economy. And this forces business owners to think outside the box to avoid bankruptcy.

Call us in Brunswick toll free 866-214-7036 or complete the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

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