If I am Married, Can I File Bankruptcy Alone?

Will my bankruptcy affect my spouse?

Below is an article written by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci, you can read more articles at https://www.infotapes.com/Articles.

If I am married, can I file a bankruptcy without my husband or wife? 

There are a lot of different answers so don’t expect to call us and get the right answer without a virtual or in-person consultation (which is free) with an experienced Geraci Law attorney. You will have to provide some detailed info to get a reliable answer.

. Married people file jointly, or separately, or just one. You can file alone. Filing a “husband and wife” case saves you on fees and costs. But there are reasons NOT to file joint cases, and reasons you should file together.

Example #1:  “I have credit card debt I can’t pay and just got fired. My spouse makes $130,000 a year, but is not joint on my cards, but we have a joint checking account. I am on title to 2 properties with him but not on the mortgage. Can I file Chapter 7 and get a discharge

Answer: Probably not. Your household income is $130,000 even without you working. The Chapter 7 Trustee would object to discharge of your debt because the household income is sufficient to pay it. On top of it, you own ½ interest in real estate, and only a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan would enable you to discharge your debt and keep your property interest.

Result: When you are back to work, see us about a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan if your spouse and you can’t pay off your credit cards. 

Example #2: “I just got married and have a lot of debt from before my marriage. It’s a second marriage and we keep separate accounts and have no joint property.   My spouse makes $130,000 a year, and pays all the household expenses, since I only make $25,000 a year. Can I file Chapter 7?

Answer:  Yes. Since there are no joint debts, accounts, or property, you are not a member of a “household” that can pay the debt, unlike Example #1 above. Depending on where you live though there are different applications of the “household rule”. You may qualify for Chapter 7, and if not, for a low Chapter 13 payment.

What to do if you are worried about your debt?

A. Please don’t call and expect an opinion on the phone. Have the courtesy to yourself of getting a half hour of free consultation with an experienced Geraci Law attorney.

B. Before you call for an appointment, talk to your spouse. It’s not like you committed a crime, you just have some debt. Your spouse may want to pay it, or may want to pay for your bankruptcy. Bad idea to try to keep it a secret.

so, there are some considerations, it depends on the facts, and there are a lot of secrets:

If you want to file a joint case, both of you must attend your first consultation. You can’t send hubby in by himself. That way you both hear the same advice. . Then you won’t have to go back alone and answer your spouse’s questions. Sometimes we recommend that one spouse NOT file, or that one file Chapter 7, and the other file Chapter 13.

1.   If you want to file your own case separately, that is ok. But if you living in the same household, we do have to know the total household income, and if spouses are keeping separate income and expenses. But one can file without the other.

2.   Wisconsin is one of 8 community property states. You can’t get rid of community debt by filing alone. But if you file alone, your creditors can’t attach community property as long as your non-filing spouse does not file. The same with a residence in Illinois or Indiana held as tenants by the entirety. 

3.   Many people have debts that they had before the marriage. A spouse is not liable for the other spouse’s pre-marital debts.

4.   Domestic support obligations, attorney fees to the other spouse in most cases, and guardian ad litem fees, and property settlement obligations, are not dischargeable in Chapter 7. In Chapter 13, domestic support obligations must be paid, and you can pay arrears ahead of other creditors. Also, in Chapter 13, property settlement obligations that cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 may be discharged. So, you need an experienced attorney if you have marital debt issues.

5.   Your filing does not affect the other spouse’s obligation to pay debts they are liable on. In community property states, like Wisconsin, your bankruptcy leaves your spouse with any debt incurred during the marriage, unless the spouse also files. But then your creditors can reach the other spouse’s community property, although it might be exempt.

6.   If you ran up the bills during the marriage, even though your spouse did not sign for the debt, or even know about it, your creditors may be able to collect from your spouse. Many states have “family expense” laws that make one spouse responsible for the debts of another if the debts were incurred for family purposes. The theory is that each spouse owes a duty to immediate family members to support them. Food, clothing, rent, medical bills and household items can be the responsibility of the other spouse.

7.   Sometimes one spouse will send the other one in, because they don’t want to pay the other’s bills. Then, instead of sending money to bill collectors, you can send your money to your own family. It makes for a happier marriage.

8.   Sometimes you are involved in a “bust-out scheme”, where you and your spouse loaded up your cards on purpose, and now plan to get rid of the debt. That may raise objections by creditors and the U.S. Trustee, depending on the facts.

Therefore, while you may be able to file a case alone, you may have to take into consideration both your spouse’s income, even if you keep your income and expenses separately, and any liability your spouse may have for your debts. You can protect your spouse from this liability by a joint filing, or, you can pay the debts that your spouse is liable for in a Chapter 13. Then, while you make the Chapter 13 payment, no creditor can bother your spouse. The same theory applies to co-signed debts.

This is one area where an experienced Geraci Law attorney is worth their weight in gold!

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com

Will I Lose My Home if I File for Bankruptcy?

The housing market is booming – houses are selling non-stop. Your house is your asset! Geraci Law wants to protect your asset in a bankruptcy.  You want Geraci Law on your side.

The real estate market is booming but folks are struggling to pay down debt. Whether high minimum payments or job loss/income change – debt is a problem. So what do you do if you own real estate and need bankruptcy help? Some common questions we get:

Will I lose my home if I file for bankruptcy?

Can I keep my home if I file for bankruptcy?

I have equity in my home – what happens to it if I file for bankruptcy?

Attorney Peter Francis Geraci answers your questions about Bankruptcy and Homes.

The housing market is booming – houses are selling non-stop. Your house is your asset! Geraci Law wants to protect your asset in a bankruptcy.  You want Geraci Law on your side. You only meet with attorneys at Geraci Law – you are not meeting with a paralegal or a petition preparer.

Best news? Consultations are free with Geraci Law Attorneys. Geraci Law is currently taking cases in the great states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

How to Save Inherited Property from Foreclosure

Below is an article written by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci with instruction on how to stop foreclosure on an inherited property. Read more articles written by PFG at https://www.infotapes.com/Articles.

At Geraci Law, we sometimes have a client whose relative died, and they are an heir. For instance, Son is Mom’s only heir, Mom passes away, but Mom’s house is in her name, she left no will, and she had a $40,000 mortgage with payments of $600 a month.

Son obviously wants to get the title changed into his name, so he will have to file a lawsuit in Probate Court to get an Order Declaring Heirship and Distribution of the Estate.  This may take 6 or 8 months. In the meantime, Son finds out that the mortgage is a year behind, and the mortgage company his filed a foreclosure. 

Son wants to prevent the mortgage company from foreclosing, force it to accept a payment plan on the arrears, and force the mortgage company to accept payments on the mortgage going forward, since he does not want to pay it off. Son wants to keep paying Mom’s mortgage because he can’t refinance until the Probate Court transfers the property to him.

Good news. Son can file Chapter 13 to propose a payment plan on the past due mortgage payments, and force the mortgage company to accept his payments on mom’s mortgage in the future. 

One way to get the title to the property in Son’s name immediately, if there are other heirs who do not want any part of the property, would be to get all the heirs to sign an affidavit of heirship, identifying all the heirs and stating that they all agree on the transfer of the property to Son, and have them each sign on a warranty deed from them to Son. Then, record the affidavit of heirship at the recorder of deeds, and then record the deed.  Son now not only has an “equitable inheritance interest” that would enable him to file Chapter 13 regarding the property, but also title interest. Assuming Mom had no other property that required Probate, his problem is solved!

Many mortgages contain a “due on sale clause” stating that if the borrower dies or files bankruptcy, the full amount of the mortgage balance becomes immediately due. That clause is not enforceable, because of a provision in the Garn-St. Germain Act of 1982 12 U.S. Code § 1701j–3.”Preemption of due-on-sale prohibitions” which exempted inherited property from having a “due on sale” clause enforced. The Act does permit acceleration of a mortgage when property is sold, but not when a person dies and the heirs want to make the mortgage payments.

The other situations where a “due-on-sale clause’ can’t be enforced are when a home equity loan or other lien is placed, when a surviving joint tenant takes title, on transfer to a spouse or child of a co-owner because of divorce and the spouse or child will life in the home, or when a borrower transfers property into an inter-vivos living trust.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

Behind on Your Mortgage? Call PFG. 

The number of serious delinquencies is at a 10 YEAR HIGH – if you are behind on your mortgage, call Geraci Law.

Behind on Your Mortgage? Call PFG.

After the housing bubble burst in 2008, millions of Americans faced foreclosure on underwater properties. Over a decade later, homeowners are facing a new battle – job loss as a result of COVID-19.

Federal protections like the CARES Act halted foreclosure and eviction actions. But those protections ended on 7/31/2020. According to Black Knight – a mortgage/home data company, the number of SERIOUS delinquencies meaning a homeowner is at least 90 days behind is at a 10 year high.

The GOOD news, bankruptcy can help in most cases. If you are behind on your mortgage, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy with Geraci Law can STOP the foreclosure. You are in a repayment plan to get current with your mortgage.

Chapter 13s are court supervised repayment plans. Once a chapter 13 case is filed, you are under bankruptcy protection from foreclosure or collection effort from your creditors. The BETTER news, Geraci Law can file a case in as little as ONE DAY to stop the foreclosure. We routinely file Chapter 13s for no money down.

If you got behind and you can afford your house – do not wait! Call Geraci Law for a free consultation to figure out a solution to keep your shelter in place.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

Happy Easter from Geraci Law!

Geraci Law staff wishes a Happy Easter and offers some shelter in place ideas.

Happy Easter from Geraci Law!

Geraci Law wishes you and your family a Happy & Safe Easter! It’s not the Spring or Easter we were expecting. If you are struggling financially right now, we’re here from you.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 25,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com

Some tips from Geraci Law Staff during shelter in place: 

Attorney Jason Kara – have a theme night – even though you cannot go to the beach, bring the beach to you!

JAK

John Senese – playing dress up is ALWAYS a good plan.

SEN

Elizabeth Doren – if you have preschoolers at home, buy activity books on Amazon or the Dollar Store for $3-$5.

EMS

What Happens to My Credit?

Geraci Law answers 5 common questions about credit after filing for bankruptcy. What is “good” credit?

What Happens to My Credit?

Geraci Law answers 5 common questions about credit after filing for bankruptcy. What is “good” credit?

When can I apply for credit?

You can apply for credit after your case is discharged and closed.  But should you apply for credit? You do not want to find yourself in the same position you just discharged in bankruptcy. You are a credit risk immediately after filing for bankruptcy. Creditors KNOW you filed for bankruptcy and after bankruptcy you have limited bankruptcy relief options. These creditors prey on you because you are a credit risk so you WILL get loan offers.

Any credit preapproval you receive will usually come with high interest rates. It may be better to NOT use credit. SAVE money, make house/car payments ON TIME, stay away from the high-interest credit debt and personal loans.

When can I buy a house?

You can apply for a home loan after your case is discharged and closed. Some people are approved while they are IN a bankruptcy. FHA loans might be an option. For a conventional loan, usually its two years after a bankruptcy discharge. Geraci Law is here to help with the process. If you need your bankruptcy paperwork – YEARS down the road, you can log into your Geraci Law Client Corner account to print. You can also search Geraci Law in your app store on your phone to download our Geraci Law app.

What happens to my credit score after filing Chapter 7? Chapter 13?

In your post-bankruptcy life, you should focus on rebuilding financially. Start with a savings account and build an emergency fund. If you have a car payment or mortgage payment, continue to make those payments ON TIME to work to reestablish a payment history.

You will get credit offers in the mail – do your research! Look at the interest rates – if you are going to use the credit, then make sure you pay off what you borrow every month. Do not accept the first offer that comes your way. Review the small print, stay away from the predatory lenders.

When can I buy a car?

After the bankruptcy is discharged and closed you can buy a car. If you are in a Chapter 13 right now, you need court approval if you are looking to FINANCE a vehicle. Craig’s List is a great option to buy a car for cash. You’ll get advertisements from car lots in the mail after bankruptcy – make sure to review the terms. Avoid the high interest, older vehicles without a warranty.

How do I rebuild credit?

  • Pay all of your bills on time! Timely payments prevent late charges and helps you reestablish a payment history.
  • Make sure all of your creditors are reporting to the three major credit agencies (Experian, Transunion, Equifax).
  • Dispute incorrect items on your credit report. Don’t ignore your credit report! All agencies have options to dispute right on their web site, make sure to follow up.
  • Make a large down payment – making a large down payment on any kind of credit make lenders more likely to grant a loan. Your goal should be to put down 20% of the total cost.
  • A small secured credit card is a really great way to build credit with very little risk.

 

  • Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 25,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com

Worried About Assets? PFG can help!

Do you own a house, car, or another asset you want to keep? Are you worried that Chapter 7 bankruptcy means you won’t get to keep your property? Geraci Law & PFG can help!

Worried About Assets? PFG can help!

Do you own a house, car, or another asset you want to keep? Are you worried that Chapter 7 bankruptcy means you won’t get to keep your property? Geraci Law & PFG can help!

Geraci Law has over 40 years of bankruptcy law experience. We’ve seen it all. Geraci Law can help you eliminate debt and keep your property. We’ll figure out the best plan of action to fit YOUR needs.

Hiding things NEVER works. Tell us and we’ll figure out the best option to receive a discharge. Experience means a lot. Knowing you have the world-class representation of Geraci Law on your side make the process easier.

From Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s, The Complete Book on Bankruptcy

If your house is worth a lot of money, or even if it is only worth more than your mortgage plus homestead exemption, you may not be able to file a Chapter 7 and still keep the house. You may have to do a Chapter 13 repayment plan to protect your equity in the house. It is necessary to bring in a recent appraisal if you want competent advice from your attorney. You do not need an expensive appraisal. You may already have one if you have recently refinanced the house, or if you recently purchased it. A letter appraisal from a local real estate agent will do.

 

Example: Mr. and Mrs. Robertson have fallen behind in their house payments, because Mr. Robertson was ill for 6 months. They were served with a foreclosure suit, and want to save their house. They have no other bills. Their neighbors, the Smiths, have a lot of bills, but they are current only on their house payment.

The Peter Francis Geraci Chapter 7 or 13 Solution: The Robertson’s can file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Act to pay the 6 months of arrears, and foreclosure costs, over as long as 36 months. They have to start paying their regular mortgage payments again, but the mortgage company has to stop the foreclosure, and accept regular payments again. The Smiths can file under Chapter 7, and discharge all of their debt, and they can keep their house since it is worth $80,000, and their equity is less than $15,000 allowed as exempt from creditors under Illinois law. Other states have other laws relating to homestead.

Read more of The Complete Book on Bankruptcy @ https://www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com/

Stop Foreclosure – Can Geraci Law Help You?

Do you want to keep your home? Can you afford the home but not the arrears in a lump sum? Geraci Law helps thousands of people save their homes.

Do you want to keep your home? Can you afford the home but not the arrears in a lump sum? Geraci Law helps thousands of people save their homes.

House

Can Geraci Law save my house?

We’ve helped thousands with a Chapter 13 interest free repayment plan that spreads your mortgage arrears over a 3-5 year plan. At the end of the bankruptcy, you’ll discharge any unpaid debt like credit cards, medical and be current with your mortgage.

“What about “loan modification”?   Don’t fall for scams.  Don’t pay any money for help.  Deal direct with your lender.  When you do, expect

o   they won’t reduce the amount you owe and rarely the interest

o   your term will go from 15 to 30 years, you will never own the place

o   it is usually a scam so you don’t pay while applying, and then they foreclosure

What do I do?  If you are behind in your mortgage, call Geraci Law to

o   eliminate or consolidate OTHER debt so you can pay your mortgage

o   stop foreclosure and pay past due amounts over 3 years or more

Loan modification scams:   just search on “Legal Helpers Debt Resolution” or “Morgan Drexen”.  Don’t be scammed! Call Geraci Law. Never send money to an internet scheme.

How does Chapter 13 help with mortgage foreclosure or past due mortgage payments?

  1. It forces your mortgage company to accept your payments going forward
  2. If forces your mortgage company to accept payments on arrears
  3. It consolidates your vehicles and debts so your mortgage gets paid first

How does Chapter 7 help with mortgage foreclosure?  It could eliminate your other debt to free up your budget to pay the mortgage.

Is it too late to save my house? Ask Geraci Law!  Geraci Law can file a case in as little as ONE day BUT you shouldn’t wait until the last minute. Sooner is better than later!

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 20,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!  Read more at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.