Wisconsin Bankruptcy Attorneys
Providing Debt Relief Solutions in Madison, Wisconsin Dells, & Manitowoc
At West & Dunn, we understand the toll that mounting debt can take on an individual or business. We recognize that loss of income or serious illness can result in financial hardships that may seem insurmountable. In many cases, these unforeseen and unpreventable events lead to evictions, mortgage foreclosures, excessive credit card debt, and other severe consequences. If you have found yourself in this situation, our Wisconsin bankruptcy lawyers can help.
Wisconsin Chapter 128 Actions
At West & Dunn, we recognize bankruptcy is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. To that end, we regularly assist individuals with “amortizations of debt,” an alternative to bankruptcy permitted under Wisconsin Statute Chapter 128. These “Chapter 128 Actions” allow you to negotiate repayment plans for certain types of debt so long as you have consistent income.
Most unsecured debts, including credit card debt and medical debt, are potentially eligible for Chapter 128 Actions, which must be authorized by the applicable Wisconsin court. Amortization plans cannot last more than three years in total, and the process does not involve eliminating any debt.
Our Wisconsin bankruptcy lawyers are committed to helping you secure a fresh start and will explore all available relief solutions. We strive to provide you with the knowledgeable guidance you need to make an informed decision.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Wisconsin, here are the general steps you need to follow:
- Determine whether bankruptcy is the right option for you: Bankruptcy is not the best solution for everyone, and it's important to understand the consequences of filing for bankruptcy. It's a good idea to consult with a bankruptcy attorney or financial advisor to determine whether bankruptcy is the best option for your financial situation.
- Complete credit counseling: Before filing for bankruptcy, you are required to complete credit counseling with an approved agency. This counseling will help you understand your financial situation and explore alternatives to bankruptcy.
- Determine which type of bankruptcy to file: There are two main types of bankruptcy available to individuals in Wisconsin: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
- File bankruptcy petition: Once you have determined which type of bankruptcy to file, you will need to complete and file a bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court. This will include information about your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
- Attend creditor meeting: After filing the bankruptcy petition, you must attend a meeting of creditors. This meeting allows your creditors to ask you questions about your financial situation.
- Complete debtor education: After the creditor meeting, you must complete debtor education with an approved agency. This education will help you develop financial management skills to help you avoid financial problems in the future.
- Receive discharge: If your bankruptcy case is approved, you will receive a discharge of your debts, meaning you are no longer legally obligated to pay them.
It's important to note that bankruptcy can be a complex and stressful process, and it's highly recommended that you work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Wisconsin to guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for Individuals
If you have little to no current income, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you efficiently discharge unsecured debts, including credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills. Not everyone will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however. You must first pass the Wisconsin Means Test, which involves comparing your current income to the state’s average median income for your household size. If you currently make less than the average median income, you will almost certainly qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If your income exceeds the average median income, you must calculate your disposable income by subtracting qualifying expenses from your total income. If you have little to no disposable income left over, you may still qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Otherwise, you may need to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. Our team can help you complete the Means Test and verify whether you qualify for Chapter 7 relief.
What Is the Automatic Stay in Chapter 7?
Upon filing your bankruptcy petition, you will be protected by the automatic stay, a court order that prevents creditors from pursuing collection actions against you. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you do not have to make any additional payments to be eligible for a discharge. Instead, non-exempt assets will be liquidated to partially compensate creditors.
You can use state or federal exemptions to protect many of your most essential assets from liquidation. Wisconsin allows you to exempt a substantial amount of equity in your home, equity in your vehicle, a certain amount of personal property, and most of your pension and retirement benefits.
Once non-exempt assets have been sold, most filers will be granted the debt discharge. In many cases, the entire process is completed within several months of filing. Our bankruptcy attorneys can help you make the most of available exemptions, minimize what you lose to liquidation, and efficiently secure the relief you need.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for Individuals
If you have considerable current income but are burdened with overwhelming debt, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you reorganize your finances, protect your assets, and eliminate certain debts. You will typically qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your current income exceeds the average median income for your household size in Wisconsin and you have substantial disposable income.
How Long is the Automatic Stay in Chapter 13?
Like with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy triggers the automatic stay. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not involve a liquidation process but does involve making monthly payments based on what you can currently afford. Most Chapter 13 repayment plans will last between three and five years. In many cases, the automatic stay remains in effect for the entirety of the bankruptcy, meaning you can potentially be protected from collection actions for up to five years.
Certain types of debt receive “priority” in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and must be addressed before non-priority debts. Priority debts include missed mortgage payments, missed spousal support payments, and recent income tax debt.
Upon completing your repayment plan, you will generally be permitted to discharge any remaining unsecured debts. Our legal professionals can help you prepare and propose an effective reorganization plan.
Contact West & Dunn today to get started with our Wisconsin bankruptcy attorneys.
Why Hire Our Bankruptcy Lawyers At West & Dunn
Our experienced Wisconsin bankruptcy lawyers can help you overcome financial difficulties and work to eliminate overwhelming debt. We regularly assist individuals and businesses with filing Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions, and our team can serve as your guide and advocate throughout each stage of the process. When you come to us for help, our legal professionals will carefully evaluate your case and review your bankruptcy options. If bankruptcy is not right for you, our firm can also help you pursue debt relief through a Wisconsin Chapter 128 Action.
Don't navigate the complexities of bankruptcy alone. Contact West & Dunn today to schedule a consultation and explore your options for a brighter financial future.
I am grateful they took my case and I highly recommend them.- Andrew L.
An outstanding representative for all veterans.- Dr. R.
This firm is very knowledgeable in VA Laws and Regulations, understanding that every case is unique to the individual.- Ray Reid
The professional skills and commitment Attorney Dunn has consistently shown in each of my appeals is confirmed by her success.- Tedd Welch, Vietnam Veteran
They were extremely responsive, professional and honest.- Michael B.