The news we heard at Wynn at Law, LLC in February reported that Wisconsin bankruptcy filings last year were at their lowest level since 2007, before the recession. What does that mean to you? Absolutely nothing. Economists care about the number because it means more people are working (maybe) and more people are paying what they owe (probably).
It could also mean that more people in debt sought relief immediately after the mortgage crisis rather than waiting and struggling. There's no shame in that. And there's no shame in waiting until now to file if you've struggled trying to get caught up. About the only thing that fewer filings in 2016 means to you and me is that the bankruptcy judge may have a little less of a backlog of cases. Maybe.
On that note, one of the first questions I get is, 'How long will the filing take?' A lot less time than it took to get into debt, for sure. And a lot less time than it takes to continue to paddle upstream against interest rates, penalties, and harassing phone calls. Depending upon the shape your financial records are in, the process is around four to six months. That's the filing process to get a ruling. If you have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you're still involved with payment plans approved by the court for the following 36 to 60 months.
Before Wynn at Law, LLC files your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, most clients are required to go through pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and get a certificate. I'll have more about this in next week's article. Once we have that and file with the court, the Automatic Stay gives you an immediate break. Take a look at my earlier article on Automatic Stay.
There are several other milestones along the process including the creditor meeting I mentioned last week. Following the creditor meeting, there's a 60-day window for the creditors to possibly challenge discharging your debt. So, from filing to the end of that 60-days, the average case in southeast Wisconsin will take four to six months. Or maybe a little less in light of the recent news.
*The content and material in this original post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Photo: Vladek, used with permission.