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When you are in debt, it can feel like you are drowning in stress, harassing calls, and bills that keep piling up. These ongoing worries can make it difficult to simply enjoy life, leading to strain that can impact your relationships, your family, and even your health. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to discharge your debts and start fresh. 

When you need a Yakima bankruptcy lawyer on your side, reach out to our team at Symmes Law Group. We offer a case-by-case review of your liabilities, help you determine the best path for your case, and guide you through the courtroom process. As you pursue a debt-free life, contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve that.

How Do You Know It Is Time to File for Bankruptcy? 

Our bankruptcy attorneys are here whenever you are ready to file for bankruptcy, but how do you know if you should? The indicators are different for different people, though many are worried about their image or reputation and how it may be impacted by bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy filings have risen significantly, meaning you are not alone in this situation. 

According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, total bankruptcy filings have risen by 16.8%. Among business filings alone, bankruptcies have increased by 40.4%. The vast majority of these bankruptcies in 2023 were Chapter 7 bankruptcies, meaning many people are choosing liquidation of assets to prevent repossession and foreclosures. 

Our team has handled many cases like yours, and we are ready to tackle your bankruptcy case. We have significant experience getting debt relief fast for our clients throughout Washington, and we are prepared to help many more. If you are one of the many people considering bankruptcy, reach out to us for help with your case.

Automatic Stays Can Help You Stop the Collection Calls 

As you are considering filing for bankruptcy, one of the main reasons may be a concern about the ongoing number of harassing collection calls. These calls may be coming on a daily basis, and you may be receiving threats of legal action. When this is happening, if you are unable to maintain your payments, bankruptcy can provide an automatic stay. 

This automatic stay means that any action taken regarding your debts stops. This can prevent foreclosure on your home, legal action, vehicle repossession, and even utility shut-offs. It gives you time to decide and pursue a bankruptcy case without worrying that your action may be too late. 

When creditor calls are causing trouble for you, we can also determine whether these creditors are following state laws and guidelines as enforced by the Washington State Attorney General or Consumer Lawyers. For example, calls should not occur at all hours, including in the middle of the night. Fortunately, we can determine whether they are acting within the bounds of the law and can help you report violations.

You Have Options When You Choose to File 

One of the first questions you may receive from our bankruptcy lawyers is about your plans for the future. Determining how quickly you want to be out of debt, how manageable your debt is, and other factors like gross income can all impact your options for filing for bankruptcy. Because of this, you may have options to choose from as you navigate your bankruptcy case. 

The factors that impact how you choose to file can include whether you can pay part or all your debts off, how severe your debt is, and what types of debts you have. As we navigate your bankruptcy case, we can guide you through your options and what your end results may be. This way you can identify the best choice for your specific needs.

Chapter 7 

When pursuing bankruptcy, one of your first and one of the most common options for a personal filing is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This option, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, requires that you give up any property that is not exempt per Washington State or Federal Exemption laws typically if applicable.  This non exempt property can be sold or liquidated to pay creditors, however most debtors in bankruptcy do retain all of their assets and receive a bankruptcy discharge after 90 days of filing of their case, eliminating most debts.  

A Yakima bankruptcy attorney at Symmes Law Group may be able to minimize the amount of assets and properties that are sold or liquidated for repayment by properly applying available exemptions. With our firm, you may have opportunities to protect certain assets, such as keeping your car, as you need it to travel to work, for example. You can always contact us to learn more about what may be exempt and how it can impact your bankruptcy case.

Chapter 13

In some cases, you may want to work with a bankruptcy lawyer to protect certain assets that may be lost under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For example, you may be concerned about your home being foreclosed on, but you believe you can make up for that amount within the next three to five years. In these cases, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you make your debts easier to manage and wipe away over time. 

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debts are reorganized under a payment plan to be paid off in three to five years. After this time is over, any remaining debts will be discharged. That gives you a chance to get caught up on missed payments and debts, protect non-exempt property, and avoid losing any property during this time.

Take the Rights Steps When Filing for Bankruptcy 

When you decide the best course of action for your bankruptcy case, we are prepared to guide you through the complex financial steps needed to file for bankruptcy. We can handle the complex financial considerations that need to be made for your case and represent you in court throughout this process. While bankruptcy can technically be filed alone, we make this process as easy as possible for our clients so that they can focus on the relief they receive.

This process can change depending on the specifics of your bankruptcy case, especially which Chapter you file under. However, there are certain general steps you can expect to take as we navigate this process together. Below is a simple guideline of the steps you may take when you choose us for your bankruptcy case.

Discuss Your Debts and Financial Status With a Bankruptcy Attorney

Before we make any decisions or take action on your bankruptcy case, we want to start by getting to know our client, discuss the specifics of their claim, and determine which chapter of bankruptcy they are a good candidate for. This conversation will include a detailed discussion of your debts, income, and any assets that may be impacted by your case. At Symmes Law Group, we offer free consultations, which can be done remotely through Zoom or a phone call, or you can speak with us at our office.

Gather Your Documents

Once we determine what chapter of bankruptcy is best for your case, we begin by gathering the detailed information we need about your specific situation. That includes any tax returns from the last 2 years, pay stubs, and a complete list of your creditors. You will also be required to complete a credit counseling class before we take any further steps.

Sign Your Petition

Following the completion of your class, the gathering of your documents, and the pain of any legal fees, we began work on your bankruptcy petition. During this process, we will create a petition filing for bankruptcy under the specific chapter that best suits your case. We will also stay in close contact with you throughout this process, ensuring that we have all the information we need to avoid any delays or issues with your case.

Meet With Your Creditors 

Once your petition is signed and filed, there is typically a bankruptcy hearing with your creditors and a bankruptcy trustee and typically no creditors are present. This meeting does not generally last long, but be sure you are prepared with extra time because other cases may also be convening. During this meeting, any final information will be gathered, and decisions will be made about your case, depending on the specifics of the chapter you file under.

Complete Your Credit Classes and Finalize Your Plan 

Once you complete the step and complete your second credit class, you will then have your case confirmed, unless there are any objections or changes that need to be made other than your plan being confirmed. For those who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debts are typically discharged about 60 days after this final meeting. For those who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your plan confirmation means that you can soon begin your payment plan.

Yakima Bankruptcy FAQ

When you are considering bankruptcy, you may have plenty of questions for our firm. For example, you may not even be sure whether you are eligible for bankruptcy, or you may need answers about the specifics of your case. No matter your situation, our team is prepared to answer your questions.

Can I file for bankruptcy on my own, without an attorney? 

While filing for bankruptcy on your own as possible, it can lead to certain difficulties involved with your case. For example, you may be able to file much faster and without delay when you have Yakima bankruptcy attorneys with experience handling bankruptcy cases like yours. An attorney can also help you avoid accidental fraud, which can also impact your future, so do not hesitate to seek out our team for the help you need.

Do I need to file for bankruptcy? 

There is no minimum amount of debt you must reach for bankruptcy and you can be current on your debts when filing. For example, if your home is being foreclosed on, your utilities are being shut off, or creditors are constantly harassing you, bankruptcy can pause these situations so that you can get your debt under control. That can make a significant difference for you and your family.

If I file for bankruptcy, do I have to liquidate my business? 

For business owners, bankruptcy may be a scary idea, as you may be afraid that it will lead to the liquidation and closing of your business. However, bankruptcy offers options for repayment rather than liquidation, depending on your needs and what you want to do with your business. We can help you choose the right chapter of bankruptcy to file under if you decide to file based on what you want your future to look like. If your business has no resale value and minimal assets you can also continue to operate the business.  

Will filing for bankruptcy discharge my student loans? 

Most federal student loans are non-dischargeable debts according to Federal Student Aid. That means that, unlike many other debts, they are not easy to remove through bankruptcy. However, if we can prove undue hardship, your student loan debts may be discharged in certain cases.

How will filing for bankruptcy affect my credit? 

Bankruptcy can have an impact on your credit score, although most bankruptcy filer’s credit score actually increases due to eliminated much of the debts. With that said, bankruptcy can remain on a credit report for up to 10 years, according to Experian. You can even qualify for a home loan in about 2 years or while in Ch. 13 and purchase a car right after filing.  

Pursue Debt Relief With a Compassionate Bankruptcy Attorney Serving Yakima, WA

When debts accumulate, you may face the difficulties that come with them. Fortunately, our Yakima bankruptcy lawyers can provide the necessary tools and guidance to help you recover from these challenging circumstances. We understand the strain and confusion you may be experiencing because of this challenging situation, and we are prepared to guide you. 

Bankruptcy can be an intimidating process, but with our team on your side, you have a chance to start with a clean slate following your bankruptcy case. We are prepared to help you get started with a consultation about the tools and services we offer our clients. To learn more about our services, reach out by calling or filling out our online contact form.

  • Richard Symmes

    Hi, Richard here.

    Book a time on my calendar to receive a calendar invite along the option to schedule a Phone, Office or Zoom consultation.

    You may also fill out the contact form to get in touch and get a copy of my free e-book Guide to Living Debt Free in Washington State, Bankruptcy and Other Alternatives.