Bankruptcy in Wisconsin
Are you contemplating bankruptcy or hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Wisconsin? Are you tired of creditors calling for payments you can’t make? Maybe looking for a way to get out of debt and have you exhausted all other options? Then bankruptcy might be the solution you seek. It is a legal option that can erase a portion or all of your debts.
Types of Bankruptcy in Wisconsin
Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals and businesses get a fresh financial start. It eliminates a portion of or all of their debts or financial liabilities. In Wisconsin, to be approved, individuals must prove they have a hardship that prevents them from staying current on their financial obligations. Keep in mind that not all debts qualify. Some liabilities, such as child support arrears, delinquent taxes, alimony, and student loans generally do not qualify for discharge. Consumers who find themselves falling behind in debt can file either Chapter 7, 11 or 13. To determine which option is right for you, you’ll need to assess your goals, assets, and income. You should also consider working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
In Wisconsin, the US Bankruptcy Court is divided into the Eastern District and Western District of Wisconsin. The main office of the Eastern District is located in Milwaukee, and the main office for the Western district is located in Madison.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Many people find Chapter 7 to be the right solution for their circumstances because it provides them with the opportunity to start over financially. However, before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should thoroughly assess your income and ability to repay what you owe. You should also speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Wisconsin who can help you to decide if a liquidation plan is right for you.
Typically, individuals approved for Chapter 7 lack stable income or have experienced a change in circumstances that has resulted in an inability to manage their debts. Though Chapter 7 erases debts, the tradeoff is you may have to give up certain possessions, such as your home, car or some other assets. However, once you file your petition, an automatic stay goes into effect that requires all collection activity against you like foreclosures and garnishments, to stop temporarily. However, the automatic stay does not prevent all collection attempts. For example, if you owe child support or restitution for a criminal case, you are still liable for those payments.
If the Wisconsin debtor’s current monthly income is more than the Wisconsin median, the debtor must take a Means Test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As well, individual debtors must file a Certificate of Credit Counseling and complete a Debtor Education course prior to bankruptcy filing.
The Department of Justice provides a list of these courses that have been approved for use in Wisconsin. Of note, if your debts are successfully discharged, you may be prohibited from being granted another discharge under Chapter 7 for eight years.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is more complex than other types of bankruptcy. It is often used by businesses and certain types of people. It allows petitioners to restructure their debts with a reorganization plan, so they are easier to manage over a determined length of time, usually four to 18 months. The main benefit of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it does not require petitioners to sell off or liquidate their assets to pay what they owe. It does allow debtors to negotiate with their creditors a reorganization plan that enables them to stay current on their debts moving forward.
Filing a Chapter 11 case in Wisconsin typically begins with completing a Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. Currently, Filing Fees of $1,738 should accompany the Petition. However, if you are reopening a Chapter 11 case, the filing fees are currently only $1,167. Keep in mind, the Court may allow you to pay the fees in installments.
Other forms to file with the Court include:
- List of Creditors Who Have the 20 Largest Unsecured Claims
- Statement About Your Social Security Numbers
- Credit Counseling Certificate
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a debt restructuring or wage earners plan. In Wisconsin after you file, the courts will assign a trustee to examine your liabilities and assets and ability to pay bills. Unlike other types of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 involves you restructuring your debt with a three to five-year repayment plan. The flexibility of this repayment plan will depend on what property you want to keep and how steady your income is. It may also give you the opportunity to have some or most of your debts discharged.
Filing for Chapter 13 in Wisconsin can start with completing a Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. You must also pay Filing Fees, typically $313 if it is a new petition, and $235 if you are reopening a case. The Eastern District of Wisconsin provides a Filing Requirements checklist that includes:
- Bankruptcy Petition Preparer’s Notice, Declaration, and Signature
- Bankruptcy Petition Preparer’s Disclosure of Compensation
- List of Creditors Mailing Matrix
The Bankruptcy Process in Wisconsin
There is never an ideal time to declare bankruptcy. However, if you are unable to pay off what you owe within five years, filing for bankruptcy can help you to lessen the negative impact on your situation and help you get back on track.
In Wisconsin to begin the filing process, gather all of your financial records, including monthly expenses, debts, assets and annual income. This information is crucial to give the courts an accurate picture of your circumstances. Failure to provide all necessary information can result in your petition being denied.
In some cases, Wisconsin property owners can find exemptions from bankruptcy. Under Wisconsin law, a debtor may exempt as much as $75,000 of equity in a homestead that the debtor occupies as a principal residence. Other exemptions can include life insurance, pensions, and burial provisions. Keep in mind, you also have the choice of using the Federal Exemption Statutes instead of the Wisconsin exemptions.
At least six months before you file for bankruptcy, eliminate unnecessary spending. Do not run up the balances on your credit accounts. You’ll also need to complete an approved credit counseling course, usually online or over the phone. Credit counseling is necessary to help you learn financial literacy and help you learn better financial habits. Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to include in your filing. If you don’t have the certificate of completion from the credit counseling course that you took, the courts will reject your bankruptcy petition.
Work With an Experienced Wisconsin Lawyer
Hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer in Wisconsin during this process can help reduce the costly risks of self-representation in court. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer understands state and federal bankruptcy laws. He or she can help you understand which laws apply to your case, especially which debts that can be discharged or can’t be discharged. An experienced Wisconsin attorney can also offer you guidance to improve the outcome of your case.
Keep in mind that there are debt management alternatives and financial resources that may benefit you more than bankruptcy, such as debt consolidation. Though bankruptcy is an attractive solution, it is best as a last resort. Do you need immediate help? Then one of our experienced lawyers in Wisconsin can guide you through the entire bankruptcy process. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Wisconsin state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!