1. Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
No. However, bankruptcy is not just a matter of filling out forms. Bankruptcy affects important legal rights including your right to a fresh start in bankruptcy while being able to keep assets that are exempt from creditor attachment. An attorney will be able to ensure that your bankruptcy is filed properly.
2. What do I do when creditors call me after I have paid a retainer to the attorneys at Moellring & Ambler law offices?
You may tell your creditors you are filing bankruptcy and refer them to Moellring & Ambler.
3. What is the difference between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 is a type of bankruptcy wherein your dischargeable debts are wiped out and the debtor gets a fresh start. Chapter 13 is a type of bankruptcy in which the debtor repays a percentage of his debts over a period of 3 to 5 years.
4. I filed bankruptcy in the past. If I have to file again, what are the time limits?
Debtors are only allowed to file chapter 7 every eight (8) years. A chapter 13 in which a debtor is eligible for a discharge can be filed four (4) years after a previous chapter 7. Other options may be available in a chapter 13.
5. Can I keep my car and house if I file bankruptcy?
In most cases, yes. It depends on the amount of equity in your assets. Equity is the difference between what you owe against your assets and the value of those assets. If you have too much equity in your assets, a chapter 13 may be a good option.
6. If I inherit money, will the bankruptcy court take my inheritance?
It depends on the timing of the inheritance. If you inherit money before you file bankruptcy, you need to let your attorney know that so you can discuss your options. If the inheritance is triggered because of a death that occurs within 180 days (approximately 6 months) after you file bankruptcy, the inheritance is considered an asset in your bankruptcy and will most likely have to be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee. If the inheritance is triggered because of a death that occurs more than 180 days (6 months) after the filing of the bankruptcy, it is yours to keep.
7. Can I discharge my school loans in a bankruptcy?
Usually not. The bankruptcy code provides that any debt for an educational benefit is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, there is an exception for “undue hardship.” The undue hardship standard is very difficult to overcome. You would have to have no hope for financial security in the future.
8. Will bankruptcy stop wage garnishments?
Yes, bankruptcy will stop wage garnishments from judgment creditors and wage assignments. If you have been sued for credit card debts, medical bills, repossessions and other debts, creditors may garnish your wages or bank accounts. Bankruptcy stops all that and allows you to get a fresh start.
9. What are exemptions?
Exemptions are laws that let you keep certain assets. In both Missouri and Illinois, exemptions are based on state law even though bankruptcy is federal law. Your attorney will ask you questions about your assets to determine if they are exempt under the appropriate law.
10. Is there such a thing as a medical bankruptcy?
Not specifically. However, many people find relief from medical bills through the bankruptcy process. It is hard enough to deal with the underlying medical issues let alone the financial burden of medical bills. Too many times, the doctors and hospitals will not take a payment you can afford and will sue if a payment is not made to the medical provider’s satisfaction. Bankruptcy will wipe out those medical bills and give you a fresh start.
11. Do I have to go to Court to file a bankruptcy?
Debtors who file bankruptcy must appear at a creditors’ meeting. A creditors’ meeting is conducted by a bankruptcy trustee, a court appointed attorney. The trustee looks out for the unsecured creditors and verifies that the debtor has presented true and accurate information. Of course, your attorney will be at your creditors’ meeting with you.
Veterans Disablity Benefits
1. Why does a veteran need an attorney to represent them before the Veterans Benefit Administration?
It is not required to have an attorney represent you in the appeal process. However, once you have been denied service compensation on application there are several deadlines and decisions that must be made to ensure that the VA is processing your claim properly. An experienced VA attorney will be able to ensure that all the evidence needed to prove your case successful is submitted to the VA correctly and timely. The attorney will be better prepared for any future hearings the sooner they become involved in the claims process.
2. What is service connection?
A service connected disability is a disability that can be linked to or is a result of military service. The VA provides monthly benefits for disabilities that can be proven to have been caused by or a result of military service.
3. Will my benefits start from the date I was released from service?
Generally, no, your benefits will start from the date that you file your application.
4. What is a non-service connected pension?
A veteran may be eligible for a non-service connected pension if he or she served during a period of war, meets the income guidelines and is disabled.
5. What do I need to prove to get compensation benefits?
A veteran must provide evidence of a current condition, an event in service and a link between the current condition and the event in service. A nexus opinion from a treating physician or through a compensation and pension examination is often necessary.
6. How do I appeal a rating decision?
The veteran has one year for the date of the decision to file a Notice of Disagreement with the Regional Office. This can be completed by the veteran in the form of a letter to the Regional Office simply stating that they disagree with the decision and a desire to appeal. At this point it is in the best interest of the veteran to seek the assistance of an attorney.
7. How does a VA attorney or an agent get paid?
VA attorney’s and agents are not legally allowed to take a fee until a notice of disagreement has been filed or an appeal is made to a Board of Veteran’s Appeals decision. If you request the services of an attorney for your appeal, a fee agreement should be discussed prior to the filing of any appeal.
8. Can my service connected benefit be reduced?
Yes, any service connected condition can be reduced if the service connected disability improves.
9. What is the AOJ?
The AOJ is the Agency of Original Jurisdiction. This is the Regional Office where you file your application and Notice of Disagreement.
10. Where can I file an application for compensation?
The VA has an application online called Veterans On-Line Application, VONAPP, that can be accessed through ebenefits this is an online version of VA Form 21-526, Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension. The form can also be filed via paper form and mailed to your local VA Regional Office. There are several different forms and possible applications that could be filed it is in a veteran’s best interest to seek representation before completing an application.