Being unable to manage debt can be incredibly overwhelming. If you’re in Monroe and struggling to meet your financial obligations, you might find some relief by consulting with a bankruptcy attorney. Thankfully, it’s easy to find an experienced lawyer in Monroe who can explain your options and possibly help you through the process of declaring bankruptcy in Michigan.
Documents to Show Your Monroe Bankruptcy Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy in Michigan involves lots of paperwork. But once you get everything in order, it should go on smoothly. Before you meet with your Monroe bankruptcy lawyer, it helps to prepare the following basic documents:
Proof of Identification
Your social security number will be verified before you can file for bankruptcy. Make sure you prepare your actual social security card. Alternatively, you can also present your W2, in case you can’t present your card for whatever reason.
To prove your identity, you’ll also need to present a valid photo ID. That could be any identification card issued by the United States government. Just make sure that the name reflected in your ID is the same as the one that appears on your social security card. Among your best options are your driver’s license and your Michigan state ID card.
You’ll need to provide an accurate picture of your current financial standing. Start with documentation on your debt. Show proof of what you currently owe and how you’ve been managing for the past six months. Include statements of all credit cards you may have.
Then, provide all documentation you have on your cash flow. Prepare proof of the income you’ve been receiving for the past six months. If you’re employed, bring your contract, which should reflect how much you’re paid and your contract duration. Additionally, present your bank statements from the past six months as well as your last two tax returns.
Property & Investments
Prepare documentation on all your properties that have any value. That might include ownership documents of your Monroe home or any other real estate properties in your name, whether in Michigan or elsewhere. Also include any vehicles—whether for transportation or recreation—as long as they’re in your name.
Apart from your properties, you also need to present documents on your retirement and investment plans. Include statements for your 401k, 403b, or annuities. Also include any stock certificates, bonds, life insurance policies, long-term deposits, or any investment instruments you may have.
Once you’ve shown these documents, your Monroe bankruptcy attorney might ask you to prepare additional paperwork to support your specific case.
Declaring Bankruptcy in Michigan: Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13
There are multiple types of bankruptcy and, although the laws don’t change between states, there are certain details that are specific to Michigan. For example, income limits and property liquidation exemptions are different based on where you’re declaring bankruptcy. Your Monroe bankruptcy lawyer should be able to determine the best approach for your case and figure out whether you qualify for chapter 7 (debt elimination) or chapter 13 (debt restructuring).
Chapter 7: Eliminating Debt
For many, the best way to get debt relief is to eliminate their financial obligations completely. That’s the main goal of filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. While that sounds like the most ideal approach, it does have its repercussions. That includes a major impact on your credit score, which would affect your access to credit for several years.
Additionally, it’s not easy to qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your Monroe bankruptcy attorney will have to determine your eligibility by assessing your financial position in relation to Michigan’s threshold. Should you qualify, however, all properties not exempted by Michigan law will be liquidated in order to pay back at least part of the amount you owe. Although that might seem like a daunting and painful process, you have the opportunity to walk away debt-free.
Chapter 13: Restructuring Debt
For certain cases, debt restructuring through chapter 13 bankruptcy is the most ideal option. Although it doesn’t immediately erase debt completely, its impact on your credit score is less severe. Additionally, your bankruptcy attorney in Monroe will have the best chance of protecting all the properties in your name. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also easier to qualify for since your income won’t be evaluated based on a specific threshold.
The greatest benefit of chapter 13 bankruptcy is the ability to extend your repayment period to allow for more manageable payments. Generally, you’ll be allowed to settle your entire debt by making monthly payments over a period of up to 5 years. Although you’ll still need to settle your debt, your bankruptcy lawyer in Monroe should be able to help you negotiate for manageable repayment terms that will give you financial, emotional, and mental relief.
The Michigan Bankruptcy Process
Filing for bankruptcy in Michigan is a fairly straightforward yet meticulous process. Most of the painstaking work will happen prior to filing when you and your attorney will work together to strategize and compile all the necessary documents to make your case. Once you’re ready with all the requirements, your Monroe bankruptcy attorney will head to the US bankruptcy court to file your case.
Once filed, the US bankruptcy court will assign a trustee to your case. Your creditors will also be notified of your filing. Then, on a predetermined date, you’ll need to appear before your trustee to answer a few questions about your situation. Typically, this doesn’t last longer than a few minutes. Continued correspondence between your lawyer and your trustee will generally span weeks until a decision is released.
Selecting a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Monroe
You and your lawyer will have to go back and forth before your entire bankruptcy case is settled. So, find a bankruptcy attorney in Monroe if that’s where you live. But more important than their physical location is their experience. Ask them about their successes at the bankruptcy courts of Michigan. More specifically, ask them about cases similar to yours and the outcomes of each.
Keep in mind that your lawyer isn’t just there to collate your documents and do the actual filing. Their most significant role is to find the best solutions to your specific situation and also determine the best ways to protect your assets. Hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Monroe, but one that isn’t experienced and knowledgeable enough in both Michigan and federal laws definitely won’t be in your best interest.
Having to deal with overwhelming debt in Monroe can be extremely difficult, especially without access to the right kind of help. When you feel like you can’t rectify your situation on your own, a bankruptcy attorney can help you navigate through the laws and debt relief options in the state of Michigan. All you need to do is find a competent lawyer in Monroe and reach out.