Dallas Bankruptcy Lawyer

Dallas Bankruptcy Attorney

Any issues revolving around your finances can be stressful to handle, especially in a situation where these financial obligations are out of your control. Ranging from debt collection to paying back loans and high-interest rates, sometimes, the money you do have is not enough to settle these debts. In these situations, bankruptcy is a feasible option for clearing debts and giving you a newfound sense of financial stability. In the Dallas area, the legal team at Steele Law Firm can help provide the expertise in bankruptcy filing that is necessary to help you get a fresh start with your finances.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Although most people associate the word “bankruptcy” with having no money, bankruptcy is a much more complex situation. When declaring bankruptcy, an individual is aiming to get rid of any unpayable debts or outstanding balances that are outside of their means. Filing for bankruptcy places a legal block on any creditors or debt collectors aiming to collect your money, basically giving you a fresh start in terms of your finances. For example, if you have an outstanding medical bill you cannot pay, filing for bankruptcy can prevent any debt collectors from contacting you or soliciting you about paying back that bill.

Bankruptcy is normally the result of compounding debts that end up costing more than what you can afford based on your salary or current savings. Without a stable form of income that can cover different debts, falling behind on payments can lead to calls and harassment from debt collectors, all searching to collect money for one of your specific loans or debts.

In some situations, bankruptcy can be the result of losing your job and being unable to keep up with monthly payments for things like credit card bills or medical bills on a payment plan. The vast array of what can go into a bankruptcy filing varies. However, each case and subsequent filing has a similar process and legal approach.

Common Sources of Debt and Bankruptcy

Accruing any sort of debt is not a new phenomenon, and the average American has some form of debt in some capacity. Even though debt is relatively common, the amount of debt you have determines your financial stability, as well as your ability to pay back any of the balances you owe. Some of the most common forms of debt that individuals tend to accrue include:

  • Medical debt. Medical debt, especially in the form of hospital bills, are large expenses that can be a huge financial stressor in your life, especially if those expenses stemmed from an unexpected event or accident. Factors like insurance, health, and job stability, to name a few, can all affect your ability to pay back any medical debt or hospital bills caused by illness or injury. For those with insurance, these hospital bills can be reduced. Depending on your coverage plan, though, your resulting bills may still be outside of your financial capacity. This can lead to medical debt that you just can’t pay off and eventual collection calls from creditors about settling your remaining balance.
  • Credit card debt. Although credit card debt may seem like a misappropriation of funds or a lack of responsibility when it comes to payment plans, unforeseen expenses that you need to put onto a credit card can cause you to go into debt. For example, if your car breaks down and the estimated cost of repairs goes well beyond what your auto insurance covers, using a credit card to pay for these damages may be the only way to ensure your car gets fixed. Outstanding balances and unpayable credit card debt, especially with interest, can wreak havoc on your finances. If you can’t pay these credit card totals back, you may end up in a position where bankruptcy is your best option for debt relief.
  • Student loan payments. If you don’t receive enough grants or scholarships to cover your higher education expenses, you may rely on student loans. However, once you graduate from school, you are required to start paying those loans back. Your outstanding balance, how long you have been making student loan payments, and the interest applied to the original amount you owe can be a huge financial burden. These payments not only affect your current financial standing, but they can also affect your credit score, leading to more problems in terms of securing housing or making any larger purchases. If these debts and loan payments start to become unpayable due to their size, you might need to file for bankruptcy to clear them.
  • Debts due to job loss. One of the perks of having a steady job is financial stability, and when that is taken from you, either as a result of being fired or another reason for termination, your financial stability is put into jeopardy. For those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, the existence of a savings account or monetary reservoir that can help mitigate a sudden loss of cash flow is not a reality. Using up any available money becomes the go-to remedy for this sudden situation. For those with credit cards in these situations, relying on these cards to pay for essentials like food or groceries can plunge you further into debt, racking up credit card bills that will go unpaid until you find another source of income.

The reasons behind debt and bankruptcy range in scale and scope, but they all can have a severe impact on your financial stability. Although debt feels very shameful and, in some situations, can make you feel at fault for your finances, you should not be ashamed of these hardships. Seeking legal remedies for these problems is normal, and finding the best legal team to help evaluate your situation, support you through the bankruptcy process, and accurately report your finances for your claim are the best ways to work past this period of your life.

How to File for Bankruptcy in Dallas, TX

The process for filing for bankruptcy may seem nerve-wracking, but having the right legal team at your side can help. Starting with your initial filing, depending on what kind of bankruptcy you are filing for, the filing fee attached to each kind may vary. For example, filing for Chapter 7 costs around $335, whereas filing for Chapter 13 is closer to $310 in initial fees. From then on, your case will be presented in court, where your combined list of assets and debts are negotiated with representatives of your creditors to help settle these debts. After the resolution of the case, your debts will be cleared. You can then start working on building back your credit and financial stability.

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a particular type of bankruptcy filing that helps protect your assets from seizure during your court appearance regarding the settlement of your debts. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy claim can help with a variety of debt-related problems, including:

  • Foreclosure. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help give you the time to repay any property-related debts, like mortgage payments.
  • Repossession. Depending on what property has been seized by creditors, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can help limit or restore any property that has been repossessed to pay back your debts.
  • Stop collection calls. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy settlement can stop any debt collection services from harassing you to pay your remaining balance
  • Restore utilities. Based on any outstanding balances you have with utility companies, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy order can restore those services and keep them turned on, regardless of a history of non-payment or unpaid balances.

The scope of issues that can be resolved with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing may seem wide, but this is not a cure-all for any money-related issues. For example, if your license has been suspended due to your failure to pay DUI-related court charges, these debts will not be cleared upon the resolution of your case. On the other hand, certain other legal obligations regarding your debt can potentially be eliminated. Additionally, you may also not be required to pay back all of your remaining debt. This is commonly referred to as a discharge of debts.

What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Depending on your financial situation, as well as any expected financial gain, especially in terms of job security or initial financial standing when declaring bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be more suited for your particular case. As mentioned previously, Chapter 7 bankruptcies are more focused on keeping your assets in your possession and restoring any assets that were taken in the debt collection process. These proceedings also help put up any blocks for future contact from debt collectors regarding certain debts or loan payments that you use in your bankruptcy filing. They also help you eliminate your debt.

Chapter 13 filing is primarily focused on reviewing your total financial standing, as well as your financial capacity when dealing with any debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy also provides you the opportunity to pay back any debts that are within your ability to pay while discharging any that are beyond the scope of your financial standing. By utilizing a court-scheduled payment plan, these remaining balances that are within your ability to pay back, you can settle these accounts without fear of repossession or hassle from creditors.

Does Bankruptcy Affect Credit?

Depending on what kind of bankruptcy you file for, as well as your financial standing before filing, the effects of declaring bankruptcy can be reflected in your credit score. Negative credit balances can remain as part of your credit score report for up to nearly eight years after your lowest reported score, whereas a bankruptcy filing lasts for the next ten years. The lingering effects of filing for bankruptcy can follow your credit activity for years after settling your debts. However, those seeking to file for bankruptcy will most likely have poor credit already, so filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will do little to further negatively impact your credit score.

Because of its focus on allowing you to repay your debts, Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives you the ability to start working on your credit score as soon as your case is settled. Depending on the length of your payment plan, as well as what debts need to be paid for you to be considered debt free, you can work through a large portion of your debt. For example, if you have a court-ordered payment plan that spans over the next six years, your bankruptcy filing will only be on your file for seven years after that initial filing date.

That means you only have to wait one more year after you’ve paid off your debts until your filing is removed from your credit report. Overall, the impacts of bankruptcy filing do tend to follow you after your settlement, but the relief of being able to live debt-free can help you get in the right headspace to start working on your credit.

When to Find a Dallas, Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for bankruptcy can be impacted by a host of different factors and circumstances, making the legal process seem convoluted and confusing at times. The advice of a bankruptcy lawyer can be extremely beneficial for helping your case move smoothly. A Dallas bankruptcy attorney can help you with understanding the differences between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 filing, figuring out an accurate payment plan, compiling assets, filing your case, and answering any questions you have along the way.

At Steele Law Firm, we specialize in bankruptcy filings and debt-related practice fields. We provide the expertise to help you properly file your case and get the results you need to secure your financial future. Our legal team can provide you with the necessary legal knowledge to properly present your case with the non-judgment needed to process any financial-related legal filings. For expert bankruptcy lawyers in the Dallas area, contact us today.

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