• Who Will Know If I File for Bankruptcy?

    Who Will Know If I File for Bankruptcy featured imageRecord numbers of new bankruptcy cases across the state are on the rise. And filing for bankruptcy can come with lots of questions and concerns. One of those chief concerns is who will know if you file for bankruptcy?

    Bankruptcy Defined

    Bankruptcy is a legal process consisting of federal rules and laws, offering a solution to financial problems for businesses and individuals. For example, when someone owes more debt than they can pay, bankruptcy assists them by liquidating their assets to clear the debts or establishing a payment plan. It allows individuals and businesses to get back on track with healthy finances and create a fresh start.

    The majority of cases are filed under Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. We’re going to focus on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

    Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

    Chapter 7, known as “straight bankruptcy,” aims to eliminate most, if not all, of your debt in exchange for your property; however, most Chapter 7 debtors keep all of their property. On the other hand, Chapter 13, known as the “wage earners” plan, is a way to reorganize your debt and catch up past due mortgage and car payments. As a result, you’re able to keep your valuable property, your house, cars, and pay off what you can over time. Both of these bankruptcy filings are designed to give debtors a fresh start.

    For more insight into the differences between Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, click here.

    Who Will Know if I File for Bankruptcy?

    The filing of bankruptcy will create a public record. The Petition, Schedules, Statements, and other required documents will be maintained at the US Bankruptcy Court for your jurisdiction. Others will also be notified as required by Federal law.

    Creditors

    The clerk of court notifies that a bankruptcy petition has been filed to any creditor (an organization or individual that you owe money to) that you list when you file. This notice is not a bad thing; rather, it lets creditors know they are not allowed to call you or attempt to collect the debt without permission of the US Bankruptcy Court.

    Loan Co-Signers

    Any individual that you’ve co-signed a loan with will be informed that you’ve filed for bankruptcy. This places the co-signer on notice that you may not be responsible for the debt anymore.

    Bankruptcy Trustee

    The US Bankruptcy Court will automatically assign a Trustee to review your case. In Chapter 7, the Trustee reviews your Petition, Schedule, Statements, and documents provided to them to confirm that a) you are not committing fraud and b) that you have no assets to liquidate for the benefit of the creditors. An experience bankruptcy attorney will know whether you need to be concerned by either of these issues. A Chapter 13 Trustee also reviews your documents to determine the appropriate amount to repay your creditors.

    Credit Bureaus

    Federal law requires the US Bankruptcy Court to notify the three agencies of your bankruptcy. This information remains on your credit report for 10 years, which matches the average length of time non-payment of debt remains on your credit report. At Mummert Law, we can answer your question how this information will impact you obtaining new credit.

    Your Employer or Potential Employer

    Employers are not officially informed when you file for bankruptcy unless:

    • The bankruptcy filing stops a wage garnishment
    • Your employer is listed as a creditor, and you owe them money
    • You are filing Chapter 13, requiring a payroll deduction order for plan payments

    In addition, your current or prospective employer would need to know where to look for your information on a public record.

    Note – your employer or prospective employer is prohibited by law from discriminating against you due to your bankruptcy on record. If you lose your job or are denied employment because of discrimination, contact a bankruptcy attorney immediately.

    If you have questions about bankruptcy or are considering filing, Mummert Law can help! We are available for a consultation, at which time we’ll sit down together, evaluate your position, and determine the best way to proceed. So don’t go it alone when it comes to bankruptcy. Make your appointment with Mummert Law today!

  • Can I Keep My Car If I File for Bankruptcy?

    Can I Keep My Car If I File for Bankruptcy featured imageBesides protecting their homes, people are most concerned about keeping their cars when filing for bankruptcy. So, we’ll share with you what protecting your vehicle looks like when filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

    Bankruptcy helps offer a financial solution to manage better or clear overwhelming debt. And deciding which chapter to file while protecting your car will look different, depending on answers to a few questions. For example, are you behind on your payments? How much equity is in your vehicle? Will you be able to continue to pay for your car in the future?

    If You Must Keep Your Car – Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

    Chapter 7 bankruptcy aims to eliminate most, if not all, of your debt in exchange for your property. Protecting your car in Chapter 7 will depend on whether you’re behind and if your equity is exempt. If your vehicle is worth more than what you owe, or you own it outright, you will need to protect it with a bankruptcy exemption.

    Vehicle Exemption

    To protect certain kinds of property you have equity in, like vehicles, you’d have to apply for an exemption. An exemption permits you to keep specific property so that you can begin with a fresh start after bankruptcy.

    Maryland has property exemptions to include insurance, pensions, personal property, tools of the trade, and wages. However, the state doesn’t have a vehicle-specific exemption. Nor does Maryland bankruptcy law permit debtors to choose federal exceptions (e.g., a federal vehicle exemption). But, the state does have a wildcard exemption that offers filers flexibility, and you can apply it to vehicles. Note – to use a state exemption, Maryland requires individuals that file to have lived in the state for at least two years.

    The Wildcard Exemption

    The Maryland wildcard exemption includes an exemption:

    • Up to $6,000 in cash or other property
    • Up to $5,000 in property of any kind

    You can apply one or both of these exemptions to your vehicle. So, for example, if you need $3,000 of your cash property exemption to cover your tax refund, you can use the remaining $3,000, plus the entire $5,000 in personal property to protect your car, totaling $8,000. Or you can use the entire $11,000 exemption for your vehicle. At Mummertlaw, we are experienced in protecting your cars that have equity.

    Are You Behind on Payments?

    If your car is worth less than what you owe, you’ll have to keep making payments on it to keep it. Because your vehicle is probably collateral against the loan, the loan is a secured debt. And if you don’t pay the loan as previously agreed upon, the lender can repossess the car. Unfortunately, filing for bankruptcy doesn’t remove the lender’s lien, so you’ll have to continue paying off your car or pay for it a different way.

    When you file for Chapter 7, you should be current on your car payments because there’s no mechanism to catch up on missed payments. You’ll have to create a new plan with the lender, or you’ll lose your vehicle. But you could redeem the car or reaffirm the debt to keep your vehicle.

    Redeeming vs. Reaffirming

    With Chapter 7, if you owe more than what your car is worth, you can redeem your car and own it outright. You can do this by paying the lender how much you owe on the vehicle or fair market value, whichever one is the least amount. There are lenders who will loan you money to redeem your car.

    You can also reaffirm your vehicle, which means that you agree that this is a valid debt and that you owe your creditor a certain quantity of money. You will continue to pay on this debt even after your bankruptcy case ends. Therefore, the debt is essentially not part of the bankruptcy, and you won’t be able to discharge it.

    Please note that reaffirmation leaves you with remaining debt after your bankruptcy, so proceed with caution. If you default on the loan at a later date, you’ll be liable for the balance. We will discuss this option before entering into this option.

    If You Must Keep Your Car – Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

    Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reorganize your debt, making reasonable arrangements to pay off what you can over time. For example, suppose you have more equity in your secured assets than you can protect with your Maryland exemptions. In that case, you can reorganize through Chapter 13 rather than liquidate with Chapter 7.

    With Chapter 13, you can:

    • Stop a repossession
    • Catch up on your car payment
    • Possibly reduce your car loan

    You can pay off your car through your repayment plan. You’d make that payment through your bankruptcy trustee, and they’d send a portion to your car lender. However, with Chapter 13, you’ll have to prove you can afford to pay what’s entitled to your creditors in a repayment plan.

    In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can protect your vehicle even if your equity is too much to cover in Chapter 7. To do this, you’ll have to pass the liquidation test.

    The Liquidation Test

    You’ll need to ensure your Chapter 13 payment plan pays the same amount of money to the creditors that they’d receive in Chapter 7. This is known as a liquidation test. Unsecured creditors, such as those you pay your car loan to, must be paid as much as they would in Chapter 7 liquidation.

    Cramdown your Car Loan

    If you have had your car loan for 910 days or more, and you owe more than your car is worth, you may be eligible to cramdown your car loan. This is also an option for people that have a high-interest rate on their car loans.

    When You Can’t Keep Your Car with Chapter 13

    There are a few instances where you might not be able to keep your car under Chapter 13:

    • If you have more equity in your vehicle, then you can protect with an exemption
    • You have an extremely high car payment and high interest
    • You’re paying for a second vehicle that isn’t necessary

    If you have questions about bankruptcy or are considering filing, Mummert Law can help! We are available for a consultation, at which time we’ll sit down together, evaluate your position, and determine the best way to proceed. So don’t go it alone when it comes to bankruptcy. Make your appointment with Mummert Law today!

  • Prenups and The Second Marriage

    Prenups and The Second Marriage featured imageLike the song says, “Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around.” But entering a second marriage is a bit more complicated than marrying young for the first time. Chances are, your life circumstances have changed quite a bit. Your financial position has most likely improved. In fact, you may have reached retirement age. You may have children from your first marriage. Let’s look at some of the concerns that you might need to address as you remarry.

    Separate Property and Marital Property

    As you begin your second marriage, both spouses are likely to bring money and material goods to the home. Traditionally, separate property has meant property and assets earned or accumulated by individuals before the marriage. Marital property is that which is acquired jointly or earned throughout the second marriage. This can get confusing when a divorce occurs. A prenup will do a great job of defining the two types of property. It can also describe specific items as separate or marital.

    Purchasing of Joint Property

    One of the advantages of being married is being able to purchase property as Tenants by the Entireties, which can protect the property against individual spouse’s creditors. It also allows that property to pass automatically to the other spouse upon the first spouse’s passing. But on second marriages, it becomes complicated. That property is being acquired with assets most likely before the marriage (sale of house or liquidation of investment accounts). A prenup helps define whether those monies are gifts to the marriage or remain traceable back to the original spouse who contributed those funds. A prenup also can set the expectation of who is paying for the house and what happens to that equity from those payments.

    Supporting Your Spouse After Retirement and in Old Age

    Making retirement and old age provisions becomes more important in a second marriage when husband and wife are older. Deciding ahead of time what the provisions for your spouse will be can save additional heartache and provide a clear understanding if the marriage should fail. It also gives the spouse protection should the higher-earning spouse die while the marriage is intact.

    Providing for Children of the First Marriage

    One thing a prenup can specify is a requirement for estate planning once the marriage has taken place. Your prenup ensures that assets can be divided between children from a previous marriage and the current spouse according to everyone’s agreement upon the death of a spouse. It’s possible through estate planning to establish trusts that will support a spouse, and leave an inheritance to the children.

    If the Marriage Fails

    Most people enter into a marriage with the expectation of staying in that marriage. However, nobody knows better than a previously divorced person that things don’t always work out. Having a prenup in place can help make a divorce go peacefully and amicably, with a clear understanding of how assets will be divided. Spouses can agree to have a divorce mediated, instead of fighting it out in court with two lawyers.

    The Upside and Downside of Second Marriage Prenups

    A discussion of second marriage prenups wouldn’t be complete without talking about how that conversation may go. Forming a prenup involves an open and honest discussion around assets, obligations, and expectations. This conversation is not always comfortable. We often avoid it because of the fear of how the other partner will take it. Partners are concerned that it could lead to disappointment and worry that it could damage the relationship.

    But the upside of that conversation is having that difficult conversation; you set your marriage up for success. Having that vulnerable conversation allows both spouses to express their opinions and feelings and know the other spouse values them as a partner. Occasionally, the discussion may lead to calling off the marriage. It’s hard to say whether this is the best thing in the long run. But, the process of drawing up a prenup ensures that both parties go into the marriage with the proper expectations.

    When You Need Help

    At Mummert Law, this is an area in which we specialize. We support peaceful marriages. In the event it doesn’t work out, we support peaceful divorces. If you would like help drawing up a prenup for your second marriage, turn to Mummert Law for help. Call us today, and let’s set up an appointment to discuss your concerns and priorities.

  • Senior Prenups – Love in the Golden Years

    Senior Prenups – Love in the Golden Years

    What a joy it is to discover love again in our golden years. Having the companionship of a partner can help to keep a person feeling younger and vital. Often they meet with disappointment from their adult children, which causes tension in what should be happy times.
    This is just one of the reasons that seniors agree on prenups before they marry. Let’s take a look at a few other reasons why a senior prenup might be a good idea.

    Asset Accumulation

    By the time a person reaches retirement age, their financial picture will look significantly different from their twenties or thirties. There might not have been much to worry about in their younger days. As a person’s portfolio grows, so may the concerns about passing that wealth on to children and grandchildren.
    You may own a home, your retirement account, and even a business in addition to other assets. These decisions are much easier to discuss before a marriage occurs, as long as you move gently and consider each other’s feelings.

    Balancing Your Legacy

    Every circumstance is different, but the balance between providing for your spouse, if necessary, and leaving an inheritance for your heirs is important to most seniors entering a marriage. Balancing these priorities to provide for both should bring peace and harmony into the new blended family.

    Negotiating the Day-to-Day Expenses

    With the possibility of each partner bringing assets to the marriage, one of the issues that the couple might want to include in a senior prenup is how the couple will support the household and living expenses.
    They may decide to support the household expenses equally or according to the assets that each has. If one partner has significantly fewer assets, it may not make sense for them to participate in the household expenses to any significant extent.

    What About Divorce?

    Nobody enters a marriage thinking about divorce, but divorce can become a reality in any marriage. A prenup can clarify a variety of decisions that a couple must make when deciding to dissolve their marriage. This is especially helpful, as some couples have already been through a horrible experience with a previous divorce.
    Although a prenup may address the division of assets, it can also recommend that couples use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to settle disputes. These methods include mediation, collaborative law, or arbitration. Using these methods can prevent the couple from ending up in court. They won’t have to pay expensive divorce lawyers and fight it out in court.
    Do You Need Help With a Senior Prenup?

    At Mummert Law, we help couples with their prenups. We also serve as mediators, both court-appointed and private. This is beneficial since we have seen the outcomes that give us additional insight into factors that need to be considered in a prenup.
    If you need help drawing up a prenup with your spouse, please contact us at Mummert Law. Although love is lovelier the second time around, both spouses should still enter the union clear-eyed and understanding their position. We will be happy to consult with one or both of you and help negotiate the best terms for your new marriage.

  • Domestic Agreements for Millennials

    Domestic Agreements for Millennials featured image
    Today’s millennials take a different view of marriage than those that came before them. They are waiting longer to get married. Some are deciding not to marry at all but to form a domestic partnership instead. In fact, some will prefer the word “partner” to “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Quite a few married couples also prefer the term “partner” to “husband” or “wife.”

    What’s in a Word?

    You may ask yourself what the big deal is. Most millennials want to use terms free from stereotypes, and “partner” indicates a more even distribution of power. When you’re partners, you work together and divide things evenly. In past days, “partner” was used to mean someone you were in business with. Then, it became for people in a romantic relationship, usually younger people, refer to themselves as partners, whether married or not.

    Making a Contract

    What’s a partnership without a contract? Quite possibly because they have waited longer to get married, millennials have had plenty of time to think about what they want from a relationship and a partner. They feel like contracts increase clarity about their expectations, both from themselves and from their partner.

    What Points are Outlined in a Domestic Relationship Contract?

    No two relationship contracts are alike. They can cover everything… work responsibilities, domestic chores, custody of pets, even custody of frozen embryos. These contracts can cover everything that a millennial might list in a pre-nuptial agreement… Without the nuptials! They may indicate what happens if one of the partners is unfaithful. Who gets to stay in the apartment or house? What if one of the partner’s parents becomes ill and needs to move in? Who takes out the trash, and who does the laundry? How is income divided? How we divide the sofas, TVs , pots, pans, and utensils.
    All these questions, and more, make up the topics that are likely to cause disagreement if the relationship is in trouble, and dissolving it seems the only course of action that makes sense.

    Are Relationship Contracts New?

    These relationship contracts have been around for years since the sixties. They are more popular than ever, and many millennials view these adult problems as a fact of life. We must remember that most of them witnessed firsthand what devastation a divorce or breakup can cause. Not only did they see their parents (and then their parent’s boyfriends and girlfriends) fight over how to divide monthly expenses, but also who gets the Kitchen Aide mixer, when a relationship fails.

    Are Relationship Contracts Necessary?

    The simple answer is yes. When people get divorced, there is a set of laws how to divide property as well as how to handle financial obligations and support. But for unmarried couples, the trickiest situations for me to handle are unmarried couples. These agreements set a framework for not only partners to know what to do, but more importantly for a Judge to know what to do.
    Millennials understand the importance of thinking things through and gaining clarity in their relationships. Failure to sign an agreement before beginning a living arrangement may be a deal-breaker for one or both parties. One thing’s for sure, the conversations that take place while constructing a relationship contract can get quite lively! But the benefits to be gained by talking things out and planning intentionally may outweigh the disagreements that take place and help to form a more perfect… “partnership!”

    At Mummert Law, we can help you define your relationship… on your terms! Not sure what to put into a relationship contract? Disagreeing over terms? These are situations where we can help mediate between the partners and help come to an agreeable solution.
    If you’d like help to form a relationship contract with your partner, Mummert Law can assist you. Contact our office and make an appointment for a consultation.

  • Five Reasons to Settle Your Divorce Through Mediation

    Five Reasons to Settle Your Divorce Through Mediation Featured

    Getting divorced is never a pleasant situation. We’ve all heard horror stories about the fights and unexpected outcomes. As a lawyer, I’ve seen my share of ugly divorces. The battles don’t surprise me anymore. Couples can fight over the kids, or the Kitchen Aid mixer, and all with the same passion. I’m a proponent of using the dignified approach of mediation to dissolve a marriage. Here are some great reasons to use a mediator to guide you through the decisions involved in an amicable divorce.

    Save Money by Using Mediation

    In a traditional divorce, driven by lawyers who have been hired by each party, the fees can be sky-high. In most cases, each party pays their own lawyer, and the price tag may be shocking. As the two lawyers each argue and negotiate back and forth on behalf of their individual clients, the costs continue to climb. Did you know the cost of a traditional divorce can reach five, or even six figures before it’s complete? Everybody saves money by working through mediation.

    Mediation Saves Valuable Time

    Over and above time requirements set by the state, traditional divorce cases are lengthy. In Maryland, it can take eighteen to twenty-four months, or longer. Separating through mediation is considerably faster, and it’s possible for eligible participants to be divorced in around sixty days. Taking more time doesn’t usually shed light on anything new. It just drags the proceedings out and prolongs the healing process when you’re ready to get on with your life.

    Mutual Agreement Through Divorce Mediation

    During mediation, both parties can review each other’s documents, and negotiate an informed settlement with the help of the mediator. Documentation for financial information can be requested by the individuals themselves, instead of having to pay a lawyer to request them. The beauty of this arrangement is people are more likely to have confidence in the documents submitted, since they are done so voluntarily. Since both parties have a voice in the solution, enforcement issues are less likely to come up later.

    Be Kinder to Your Children… Choose Mediation

    Divorce is especially hard on children. As stressful as it may be for adults, kids often feel emotions they can’t put into words. Mediation is a great way to work together to bring about the best outcome, especially for your children. Co-parenting is an essential part of being a divorced parent. Going through the mediation process creates the best chance for the two parents to work together in the future.

    Control the Outcome of Your Divorce Through Mediation

    When a divorce winds up in court, there’s no way to know what the outcome is going to be. It makes life difficult when it comes to planning for the future. A lawyer driven divorce can turn lives upside down without warning. A mediated divorce brings an agreed-upon outcome, so the transition to becoming a divorced family is much more peaceful. It’s also interesting to note the court is likely to order mediation anyway, even if you’ve already paid hefty legal fees.

    Who Can Be a Divorce Mediator?

    Technically, anyone can be a mediator. To be a court appointed family mediator, he/she must be qualified through eighty hours of initial training, and an additional four hours a year of continuing educational training. Court appointed mediators are usually lawyers or mental health professionals. But lawyers who specialize in mediation bring added value to the table. Because they have experience in family law and have had a chance to interact with and observe a judge’s decisions in divorce cases, they have a better understanding of the process and risk of going to court.

    Interested in Learning More About Mediation?

    I am qualified through training, education, and conducting countless mediations in family law cases. I serve as a court-appointed mediator in family law. My education and training in high-conflict cases and working as a parent coordinator allows me to look at things from a better perspective.  It’s rewarding when I help people refocus negative energy. Instead, I help them gain an appreciation for doing what is best for the family. I handle high conflict cases on a regular basis. I take great pride in working with people to reach an agreement both parties can agree to comply with. I enjoy helping families be as stress-free as possible when going through divorce.

  • Understanding Your Bankruptcy | The Reaffirmation Option

    Understanding Your Bankruptcy The Reaffirmation Option

    The process of bankruptcy includes altering or breaking the agreement you made with your creditors in the first place. Sometimes it’s necessary to do this to keep your financial footing. How does it affect your secured debt? Secured debt is the money you borrowed to buy property… ranging from your car to your furniture, even your jewelry. Let’s take a look at the reaffirmation option and how it affects your ability to keep your purchases within your bankruptcy.

    Reaffirmation – Keep Your Property

    In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, to reaffirm your debt basically means that you agree that this is a valid debt and that you owe the money to your creditor, and you will continue to pay on this debt even after your bankruptcy case ends. In essence, it means that particular debt is not part of the bankruptcy and will not be discharged.

    Some Conditions of Reaffirmation

    If you are in delinquent status on the debt at the time of the Chapter 7 filing, you will not be able to reaffirm the obligation. The trustee may seize the property and sell it and use the money to pay off the unsecured debt owed to other creditors. Your lender could also file a Motion for

    Relief From Stay to reposse or foreclose upon the property.

    Even after you reach a reaffirmation agreement with the lender, it must be filed in court as part of your bankruptcy to be considered valid. The judge must also decide if you will be able to make the payments that were negotiated and stated in the agreement.
    It is possible that the judge will reject your reaffirmation agreement if it seems like it will cause you or your family financial hardship, or that you won’t have the money to make the payments as stated. Before a Judge rejects the agreement, a hearing will be held where you will explain to the Judge why you need to reaffirm this debt and how you plan on paying the debt each month.

    Important Reaffirmation Strategy Considerations

    You may be in a situation where you will need to keep specific property that has been purchased with secured debt. The loan agreement may stipulate that the creditor can seize your property if you do not make the payments as agreed. STAY CURRENT on this debt. It is unusual for a creditor to agree to a reaffirmation commitment if you are behind on payments. This may prevent you from having the option of reaffirmation.

    Remember that reaffirmation leaves you with remaining debt after your bankruptcy, so proceed with caution. When making your decision, be sure to get advice from your attorney on the following:

    • Is this the only way you can keep the property?
    • Will you realistically be able to pay the balance?
    • Can you get the creditor to readjust the balance due to give you breathing room?

    Reaffirmation is Only One Option

    When you’re filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have options. It’s essential to get good legal advice before filing, to ensure that everything is processed correctly and in your best interest. At Mummert Law, we help people every day to reduce and reorganize their debt through bankruptcy proceedings and negotiations with creditors outside of bankruptcy. Contact us today for your consultation appointment. Let’s sit down and discuss your situation. We can help you too!

  • Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Versus Chapter 13

    Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Versus Chapter 13

    These days, finances are complicated for many people. We see record numbers of new bankruptcy cases across the state. If you’re not familiar with the different types of bankruptcy filings, it can be confusing. Today, we’re going to talk about the differences between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You’ve probably heard of both types but may not understand the difference between the two. We’ll clarify that now.

    What are the Similarities Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

    Both types of bankruptcy can bring relief from a crushing debt load that you are unable to handle, but they do it in very different ways. Both strategies can be done on your own but are better handled by competent attorneys that specialize in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a complicated procedure, and not for amateurs.

    What are the Main Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

    The goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to eliminate most, if not all, of your debt. The debt is “discharged” through the process, and you no longer owe it to the creditor. However, the Trustee may be able to sell assets for the benefit of the creditors.
    Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different, and it serves as a way to reorganize your debt, make reasonable arrangements to pay off what you can over time, and make it more manageable for you. If you have a debt that could be sold in Chapter 13, the Chapter 13 Plan most likely will let you keep that asset.

    Do You Have to Be a Business to File Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?

    No, business entities other than sole proprietorships cannot file using the Chapter 13 option… only individuals or sole proprietors have this option. Chapter 7 can be used by both businesses and individuals. For individuals, you will eliminate the debt when you’re in over your head. For businesses, you will not receive a discharge, but you will put the world on notice that the business is shut down.

    Are There Financial Restrictions for Chapter 13 and Chapter 7?

    Yes, both types of bankruptcy filings have some restrictions. For you to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a means test, and your disposable income must be low enough. We must also protect the assets that you want to keep.
    Eligibility for Chapter 13 is determined by the amount of secured and unsecured debt you are currently carrying.

    How Long Do Both Options Take To Receive a Discharge?

    When you file for Chapter 7, it will most likely take approximately four to six months to receive your discharge of debt. Remember that Chapter 13 is more about restructuring than eliminating, so you will get your discharge when you’re finished making your arranged plan payments. The process usually varies between three to five years.

    Weighing the Pros and Cons of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

    There are pros and cons to both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. The main benefit of filing Chapter 7 is that it’s over relatively quickly, and most of your debts are discharged, meaning you can move on at that point. When you file Chapter 7, however, some of your property can be sold to pay down debts, and there’s no way to prevent repossession or foreclosure.

    Looking at the Pros and Cons of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

    When you file to restructure your debt under Chapter 13 Guidelines, you can keep your property, and you’ll have up to five years to repay your past due car payments or mortgage payments. On the downside, it will take three to five years to complete your Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and you’ll end up paying back a portion of unsecured debts as well.

    How Do I Figure Out Which Method is Better For Me?

    If you are not sure which filing option would be better for you, Mummert Law can help! We are available for a consultation, at which time we’ll sit down together, evaluate your position, and determine the best way to proceed. Don’t go it alone when it comes to bankruptcy. Make your appointment with Mummert Law today!

  • Consensual Adoption

    Consensual Adoption 800

    Consensual adoption usually represents a happy day and the best of circumstances. When a stepparent who has been raising a child gets to adopt that child and become their parent, officially and legally, the whole family has cause for celebration.

    Steps to Consensual Adoption

    First, the prospective parent files a Petition for Adoption. What happens next depends on consent. Consent means the biological parent has agreed to give up their parental rights and allow the proposed adoption to go forward. If there is no consent attached to the petition, the court issues a Show Cause Order. It is sent to the parent who is being asked to grant consent.
    After being served, the parent who has been issued the Show Cause Order has thirty days to respond to that order. This is one of those situations in law where time is of the essence, and there is no wiggle room for procrastinators. In the absence of a response within 30 days, it is considered to mean consent is given. If you are planning to withhold consent, it is vital to reply and to make sure your reply reaches the court within the thirty-day window.

    Open vs. Closed Adoption

    In a closed adoption, the biological parent no longer has parental rights. They may have been given up voluntarily or taken from them as a result of a “fitness” test. They do not have visitation rights nor the right to have any say in the rearing of the child.
    In an open adoption, the biological parent may be granted limited access to the child going forward, as agreed by the two parties. Both parties will agree on when and under what conditions the parent has access to information about the child as he or she grows up, may visit the child, or have the ability to contact them.

    The Role of Mediation in Consensual Adoption

    You may be wondering why you need an attorney or mediator if everything is agreed upon. The truth is, when it comes to matters of family law, such as adoption, it’s essential to have a legal and binding agreement. It’s also important to have a professional who is aware of all the issues involved in an adoption, whether it’s an open or closed adoption.
    Put simply, people tend to change their minds over time. What they agree to today, they may challenge in the future. Having legal rights in this situation will prevent confusion in the future.
    Things are different today than they were in the past. Through genetic family tracing, people are finding out as adults that the people he/she through were their parents are not actually their parents. Furthermore, parents who gave up all rights to children when they are young are having a person show up in their inbox or on their doorstep, asking if they are their biological parents.

    A mediator has the experience to know all the issues which can help create a durable plan for what happens in the future. A mediator can help both the adoptive parents to begin addressing these issues now, including suggestions of when the child may need counseling to address the age-old question of “Who am I?”

    Why I’m Your Best Choice for a Mediator in Your Adoption Case

    I’m a trained mediator, an attorney for children, and an attorney for parents. I’ve seen too many adversarial scenarios and the effect it has on the kids. Adoption through mediation is peaceful and best for everyone, from the individual to the whole family. Rely on my experience and care to guide you through the process with a minimum of drama and the best possible outcome.

  • Are All Bankruptcies Created Equal?

    Are All Bankruptcies Created Equal 800

    Of course, they aren’t. Just as each individual and their circumstances are unique, so are bankruptcy cases. This is not the time to shop for the bargains or use a Groupon. Bankruptcies are serious matters and deserve the best attention and services available. The amount of paperwork involved in processing a bankruptcy claim has increased over time. It now requires over 50 pages of information to file your petition. Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy.

    Do You Know the Best Time to File?

    As your lawyer, I recognize timing is a critical part of preparing your petition. Filing in July and August is the best time to get your filing done. This is typically several months after you’ve received your tax refund, and there are still five months remaining until the end of the current tax year and next return filing. As your bankruptcy attorney, I work with you to develop the most effective filing strategy.

    Bankruptcy – Getting Your Ducks in a Row!

    It is of the utmost importance to make sure your file is complete and organized. If your documents are in order, it makes it easier for processing when all parties have the answers and information they need. An organized file will make it easier and quicker for the Trustee to arrive at a decision about whether you are deserving of a discharge of debt.

    Who Is Preparing Your Bankruptcy Petition?

    This is a significant difference you will see as you are reviewing law firms. When you hire Mummert Law, I’m signed on personally to prepare your petition. I do not ask a paralegal to do this critical work for me. I want to be familiar with the ins and outs of your case and to know it thoroughly. Once the documents have been prepared, I sit with you, and we look over them together. We will check for understanding, and discuss anything you’re not sure about. At this meeting, I can let you know what areas are concerning to me, and what you can expect when we file.

    Personalized Service

    I do not treat any bankruptcy case as “cookie cutter.” Every bankruptcy I’ve ever filed is entirely different from every other one. Each one has its own challenges. My responsibility is to make sure you are in a good position as we move through the stages. My goal is for a positive outcome.

    But, I also serve as a trusted advisor who advocates for you at every turn. Bankruptcy is a stressful experience for most people, and I work to ensure it’s as stress-free as possible. Organization, strategy, and attention to detail can save so much time in the process, and that’s what you’ll get when you hire me to help you with your bankruptcy.

    If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, and want to explore your opportunities, call me today, and let’s sit down and talk about your case.