Find the Right Bankruptcy Lawyer for You

The decision to file for bankruptcy is an important one, and if you do choose to file, the process can be long and complicated. The right bankruptcy attorney can greatly simplify the process for you and help you to make the best possible decision regarding your financial future. But how do you know which bankruptcy lawyer is the right one?

Here are some things to look for when choosing a bankruptcy attorney.
A Positive Personality. Financial matters are incredibly personal, but you need to be honest and upfront about your debt, income and obligations to get the best outcome from bankruptcy proceedings. That’s why it’s important that you find an attorney to whom you feel comfortable talking. Choosing someone who is approachable, personal and positive will help you feel at ease and be able to communicate freely.
A Good Communicator. Bankruptcy laws are very complex, but a good bankruptcy attorney should be able to explain them to you in a simple way that you can easily understand. Steer clear of attorneys who talk in fancy legal jargon or who can’t provide straightforward answers to your questions.
An Experienced Specialist. Some law firms handle only a small number of bankruptcy cases every year and may not have the expertise required if your case turns out to be complex. Select an attorney who specializes specifically in bankruptcy or who handles many bankruptcy cases on a regular basis to ensure you get someone who will be able to effectively represent you.
A Good Reputation. A qualified, reliable attorney should be a member of legal associations and be able to provide you with a list of references. While attorneys aren’t permitted to compromise their clients’ privacy, satisfied clients often will offer to serve as references after bankruptcy proceedings. You can also conduct an Internet search to look for reviews about particular attorneys.
Written Agreements. A reputable bankruptcy attorney should be willing to provide your agreement to you in writing and give you time to look over it without pressuring you to sign. Be wary of anyone who insists that you sign a document at a first meeting or who won’t spell out all of your agreement in a written document.
Straightforward fees. A bankruptcy attorney should fully outline his or her fees and let you know what’s included in them. For example, you need to know whether lien avoidance matters, disputes with trustees and non dischargeability actions are included in the fee structure and what other actions or services may result in additional fees.
With more than 25 years of experience as a bankruptcy specialist, I can help you navigate the bankruptcy process and will provide you with clear, expert advice in regards to your case. You’ll receive all of the terms of your agreement in writing and will be charged a fair price for service. To learn more about the debt relief agency and bankruptcy services provided by call me 440-230-3230 to schedule a free consultation.

Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

Even though hundreds of thousands of Americans file for bankruptcy every year, the bankruptcy process remains a mystery to most people. Most people know very little about bankruptcy and are surprised that what they thought they knew was actually the stuff of myth and not of fact. There is a lot of misinformation out there about what it means to file bankruptcy and what bankruptcy involves.

Here are some of the biggest myths about bankruptcy that need to be debunked once and for all:

Myth 1. Bankruptcy has been done away with. You can’t file anymore.

While there were major changes to the Bankruptcy Code in 2005, the option to file bankruptcy is still available for those who are unable to repay debts. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can explain the eligibility requirements and help you decide if you can file.

Myth 2. Only unemployed people can file for bankruptcy.

This is absolutely not true. If you have income from employment over a certain level, you may only be able to apply for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but there are options available for both unemployed and employed people under the current laws.

Myth 3. Medical bills can’t be wiped clean with a bankruptcy.

Nearly any debt that isn’t secured with collateral, such as medical bills and credit card debt, can be discharged as a part of a bankruptcy.

Myth 4. You have to pay back debts in Chapter 13 in full.

With a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you’re required to pay back a percentage of what you owe based on your disposable income. In some cases, you may not have to repay anything, while in others you may have to repay some or all of the funds.

Myth 5. If you file for bankruptcy, you can’t get credit for 10 years.

This just isn’t true. Many people in Chapter 13 are able to continue to get loans while they’re still in bankruptcy, and individuals who are in Chapter 7 often get credit card offers very soon after discharging. While interest rates are often higher soon after a bankruptcy, most people are able to get credit.

Myth 6. Everything you own is taken from you and sold when you file for bankruptcy.

The majority of bankruptcy cases are settled without any assets being claimed at all. It’s rare for people not to keep everything that they own.

Myth 7. You have to owe a lot to file for bankruptcy.

There is no minimum amount of debt that you must have to be eligible to file for bankruptcy; however, if you only have a small amount of debt, there may be other options available for you to consider. A reputable bankruptcy attorney will be able to explain these other options to you.

Now you know a little more about the truth behind bankruptcy. If you’d like to learn even more and find out if bankruptcy is the right way for you to get a fresh start, contact Robert A. Boyd, a Willoughby, Ohio, bankruptcy attorney and debt relief agency with more than 25 years of experience. Call 440-230-3230 to set up a free consultation.

Bankruptcy Filing – What Do I Have to Do?

The decision to file for bankruptcy can be wise if you’ve found yourself owing more than you can repay with fees and interest stacking up and saddling you with more and more debt. Still, you may wonder just what’s going to happen if you decide to go forward with a bankruptcy? What’s involved and what specifically will be required of you? Read on to find out.

Step 1: Credit Counseling

Under the current laws, you must go through credit counseling before you can file for bankruptcy. Credit counseling is designed to help you identify the problems that led to your debt and develop a plan that will help you avoid going into debt in the future. At the conclusion of the counseling, you’ll receive a credit briefing document from the certified credit counselor. This must be presented to the bankruptcy court to prove that you fulfilled the counseling requirement. You can complete the counseling in person, by phone or online.

Step 2: Bankruptcy Papers

After completing credit counseling, an attorney will file a petition on your behalf with the bankruptcy court. Along with the petition, you must submit a list of all of your assets and liabilities. Your attorney will help you put together the paperwork, but it will be your job to gather all of the names and addresses of your creditors and the total amount that you owe them. In addition, you’ll have to provide your attorney with information about all of your assets. It’s important that you’re open, honest and willing to provide accurate information during the process.

Step 3: The 341 Meeting

After the paperwork is filed, you’ll need to show up at a meeting with your creditors along with your attorney. A bankruptcy trustee is appointed to oversee your case and any of your creditors that attend are free to ask you questions about your financial affairs at this meeting. You will have to answer their questions under oath and provide truthful answers.

Step 4: Waiting for Discharge

In most cases, your work is finished after the 341 Meeting. Your attorney may contact you to follow up for additional information, but in most cases, your bankruptcy will be discharged within 3 to 6 months after the meeting.

Attorney Robert A. Boyd has been helping members of the Willoughby, Ohio, community and surrounding areas through bankruptcy proceedings for more than 25 years and is here to guide you through the process. To find out whether or not bankruptcy is the right choice for your needs or take the first steps toward filing, call his office at 440-230-3230 to set up a free consultation.

Bankruptcy – Deciding if you need to file for bankruptcy?

You’ve found yourself in a position where it’s just not possible to pay all of your bills. Whether you went into debt due to an illness, the loss of job or an unexpected financial hardship of another kind, you’re worried about how you’ll ever be able to pay what you owe. Is bankruptcy the answer? Follow these steps to decide if bankruptcy is the right way forward for you.

Create a budget with your income, your living expenditures, your mortgage payment and your car payment. How much money do you have left each month? Would you be able to pay off all of your other debts at their current interest rates within 3 years if nothing changes? If so, you may be able to avoid bankruptcy.
Examine your budget further. Is there anything that you can eliminate that would give you more money to pay off your debts? Are any of your creditors willing to reduce the amount you owe them? Do you have any assets that you can sell or could you refinance your home to pay off your debts? If so, you may be able to avoid bankruptcy.
Try credit counseling. Before you file for bankruptcy, you must go through credit counseling anyway, and some people find that the credit counselor is able to get them a debt plan that fits into their budgets so that they can avoid bankruptcy. It’s important that you choose a certified credit counseling program and NOT a debt settlement program. Certified credit counseling services are nonprofit organizations, while debt settlement companies charge fees. The latter services typically fail to produce real results for clients. Most people who use them end up in bankruptcy anyway and are unable to recoup the money they paid in fees.
Look for signs that you can benefit from bankruptcy. Generally, the older a person, the more dependents they have and the larger the amount of debts that they owe, the more likely they are to benefit from filing bankruptcy. You’re also more likely to benefit if you have limited assets and little or no retirement savings and if a large amount of your debt is non-dischargeable.
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether or not bankruptcy is right for you is to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your specific situation. With more than 25 years of experience, Attorney Robert A. Boyd of Willoughby, Ohio, can help you weigh the options and decide if bankruptcy is your best option for debt relief. Contact his office at 440-918-1733 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Most individuals who file for bankruptcy do so through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the simplest of the two types available for individuals. This blog post provides a brief introduction to this form of bankruptcy to help you understand what’s involved.

The General Principle
The idea behind Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to eliminate all dis-chargeable debt by selling off the debtor’s “unprotected” assets. Because of this, the bankruptcy is referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy.

What Is Liquidated During a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
When your attorney files your petition, a trustee will be appointed to administrate your bankruptcy. The trustee will look over your list of assets and determine what, if anything can be sold. You will have the opportunity to make certain things exempt, including:

– Your home unless the equity exceeds $125,000 and a car that is not worth more than $3500.

– Household goods and personal belongings are generally exempt because they don’t have enough value to sell to pay back debts.

Any retirement funds that you have are also generally not able to be taken as a part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In most cases, debtors are able to exempt enough of their property that they are not required to liquidate any of their assets in order to have their debt discharged.

Who Can File for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
In order to qualify for a discharge under Chapter 7, your income must fall below a certain level. A questionnaire called the Means Test is used to determine whether or not you are eligible to file under Chapter 7.

What Kind of Debt Can Be Lowered or Discharged in Chapter 7?
Nearly all unsecured debt like credit card debt and medical bills can be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Secured debt like mortgages and car loans are not impacted by Chapter 7 in any way. Student loans and most taxes are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

How Long Does It Take to Receive a Discharge of Your Debt?
In most cases, the debt from a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will be discharged within 3 to 6 months.

What Are the Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides a simple, fast way for individuals who are saddled with debt to start over. Most people do not have to liquidate assets in order to receive the benefits of Chapter 7.

What Are the Drawbacks to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
If you do have any unprotected property, it can be sold to pay off all or a portion of your debts if you choose to file Chapter 7. Also, the program will not help you avoid foreclosure on your home or the repossession of your vehicles.

To learn more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, contact the office of Attorney Robert A. Boyd at 440-230-3230. As a bankruptcy attorney with more than 25 years of experience, he can answer your questions and help you decide if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, what is bankruptcy in Ohio ?

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is available for individuals and sole-proprietor businesses that have fallen into debt and are struggling to meet all of their obligations.

The General Principle
With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the opportunity to reduce your debt and retain all of your property. This type of bankruptcy is typically called a “reorganization.”

Who Can File for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Any individual or sole proprietor who owes less than $383,175 in unsecured debt and less than $1,149,525 in secured debt can file for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. There are no income caps, but you must have a job or monthly income to qualify.

What Kind of Debt Can Be Lowered or Discharged in Chapter 13?

During a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can have all or some of your unsecured debt like credit card and medical bill debt discharged. It’s also possible to have the amount that you owe on secured debts like mortgages and car loans reduced. Student loans cannot be discharged with Chapter 13.

How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Work?
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be required to pay back a portion of the debt that you owe. The amount can vary from nothing to 100 percent of the total amount and will depend on the amount that you owe, what types of debts you have, what your income is and what your expenses are. You will not be required to pay the entire amount at once. Instead, the trustee will set up a payment plan that will include a monthly payment amount that will be more affordable than your current monthly debt payments.

How Long Does It Take to Receive a Discharge of Your Debt?
Your remaining debt will be discharged once you make all of the payments that are required by the payment plan agreement. This is usually within 3 to 5 years of when you file.

What Are the Benefits of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
The benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy are that if your plan is approved, you may keep all of your property. This type of bankruptcy can also help you avoid foreclosure of your home and car repossession. As an added benefit, you can still qualify for Chapter 13, even if you make too much money to file through Chapter 7.

What Are the Drawbacks to Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
The largest drawback of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that you will have to make payments as a part of the process. You won’t be able to simply wipe the slate clean and get an immediate fresh start as you can with Chapter 7.

Interested in learning more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Attorney Robert A. Boyd can help. As an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Willoughby, Ohio, who has helped area residents with bankruptcy filings for more than 25 years, Bob can answer all of your questions and help you decide if Chapter 13 is the right option for your needs. Contact his office today to schedule a free consultation.

Chapter 7 Versus Chapter 13: What’s the Difference?

There are two main types of bankruptcy available for individuals: Chapter 7 versus Chapter 13. The aim of both types of bankruptcy is to help people who are in debt discharge all or some of their debt obligations; however, there are many differences between the two types of –bankruptcy, including:

  1. Selling Assets.
    With a Chapter 7, you may be required to sell unprotected and non-exempt assets in order to repay your debtors. The list of “protected” property however is long and in the majority of cases, all property is able to be exempted from consideration, meaning no property is sold. Chapter 13 rarely involves the sale of assets.
  2. Income Requirements.
    Individuals with too large of a disposable income are not eligible for Chapter 7. There are no income requirements for Chapter 13.
  3. Employment Requirements.
    There are no employment requirements for Chapter 7. You must be employed or have regular monthly income to qualify for Chapter 13.
  4. Debt Requirements.
    There are no minimum or maximum debt amounts when filing for Chapter 7. For Chapter 13, you cannot owe more than $383,175 in unsecured debt or more than $1,149,525 in secured debt to qualify.
  5. What’s Included.
    Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge nearly all unsecured debt, save for student loans, taxes, and certain other obligations. Chapter 13 can discharge all of the debt included in Chapter 7. In addition, it can also involve a reduction in the principal balance on secured loans like car loans and mortgages.
  6. Payment Requirements.
    With Chapter 7, you are not required to make any type of payments to creditors. If you have no assets to sell, covered debts are fully discharged. If you do have assets to sell, the difference between the sale amount and the total that you owe will be discharged. When you file for Chapter 13, you may be required to make payments to your creditors. The amount that you will need to repay will be established by the trustee based on your monthly income and expenses and the amount and type of debt that you have. Repayment amounts can range from 0 to 100% of what’s owed.
  7. Length of Time Until Discharge.
    Under Chapter 7, debts are usually discharged within 3 to 6 months. With a Chapter 13 filing, your debts will not be discharged until you make your final payment to your creditors. Typically, payment plans last for 3 to 5 years.

To find out more about bankruptcy and determine whether or not it’s the right choice for you, contact Attorney Robert A. Boyd, a Willoughby bankruptcy attorney with more than 25 years of experience. He will fully explain the options to you and help you decide if Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or a bankruptcy alternative is most likely to benefit you. Call his office at 440-230-3230 to schedule a free consultation.

What Should You Do If You’re Hit by a Drunk Driver?

Any auto accident caused by the actions of another driver can leave you reeling and feeling victimized, but when the driver of the other car was a drunk driver behind the wheel, you feel especially violated. The driver’s reckless action of damaging your vehicle, caused you emotional pain and may even have you injured and unable to work. The law is on your side when you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, but you need to know what steps to take to move forward.

Your anger over being hit by a drunk driver is understandable and so is your desire to sue him or her for what they’ve done; however, in many cases, the best way move forward is to settle through the insurance company rather than through litigation.

In Ohio, drivers must carry a minimum amount of car insurance to pay out settlements in the event of an injury. Often times, insurance companies are willing to pay fair settlements in the event of drunk driving accidents. This is especially true if the person who hit you was convicted of Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired. Settling through the insurance company is the fastest way to get compensation and will cost you the least amount of money.

Of course, if the insurance company does not offer you a fair amount, you can pursue legal channels. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine what a reasonable settlement would be and work with you to try and negotiate that amount with the insurance company. If the matter cannot be resolved through negotiations, then your attorney can help you file the court case against the insurance company and/or the driver.

Before you speak with an insurance company or an attorney for the drunk driver, you need to take action and find a lawyer to represent your interests. You need someone on your side to ensure that you get fair compensation for pain and suffering, current and future medical expenses and lost wages.

Attorney Robert A. Boyd has been helping people in Willoughby, Ohio, and the surrounding areas get the fair settlements that they deserve after being hit by drunk drivers and can do the same for you. Contact his office at 440-230-3230 for a free consultation and answers to your questions about personal injury law.

Worker’s Comp Basics: Claims & Benefits

An on-the-job injury can happen in a second, but its effects can impact you for a lifetime. Worker’s compensation laws are designed to protect you and help you get the money you need to cover lost wages and medical bills. Read on to learn more about filing for worker’s compensation in Ohio.

Getting a Claim Number

In Ohio, an initial claim form must be completed in order to receive worker’s compensation. The form is known as FROI-1. Often, it is filed automatically by a Managed Care Organization certified by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation when you first seek medical care for your injury. If one wasn’t filed, you can file one yourself. After the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation gets the form, they will send you a claim number and open your case. You will need to save this claim number, as it must be printed on all correspondence that you have with the bureau.

What Are the Types of Worker’s Comp Claims?

There are three main types of claims:

  1. Injured Worker Claims are for individuals who became hurt due to an accident or on-the-job conditions.
  2. Occupational Disease Claims are for individuals who developed chronic medical conditions directly as a result of their work.
  3. Death Claims are filed by the dependents of individuals who were killed on the job.

What Are the Types of Worker’s Comp Benefits?

There are six main types of worker’s compensation benefits which you may or may not be eligible for:

  1. Medical Benefits is health insurance coverage that is provided to you while you are injured and unable to work.
  2. Temporary Total Compensation provides 100% of wages while you are recovering from an injury or illness. This compensation can continue until you return to work, until your doctor writes a letter that you can return to work, your job provides you with a new position that you can do despite your injury or you reach a point where your injury will not improve further.
  3. Permanent Total Compensation provides 100% of wages on an ongoing basis for those who have suffered injuries or illnesses that will forever prevent them from working.
  4. Wage Loss Compensation provides a portion of your wages if you return to work and must take a pay cut due to your injury or you have to take a new job that pays less due to your injury. The compensation covers all or part of the difference between your previous and new wages.
  5. Permanent Partial Disability is a payout for a disability that stems from an accident. This benefit may be paid alongside other benefits.
  6. Violation of a Specific Safety Requirement is a payout that you receive if your employer violated a specific safety requirement and that violation caused your injury. This benefit may be paid alongside other benefits.

If you’ve been injured on the job, a worker’s compensation attorney can help you ensure that you get what the law entitles you to and that you’re not bullied or pressured by your employer, their insurance company or their legal representation. Attorney Robert A. Boyd has been assisting residents of Willoughby, Ohio, and the surrounding areas with Ohio worker’s compensation claims for more than 25 years and will look out for your interests as you navigate the claims process. Contact his office at 440-230-3230 to schedule a worker’s compensation consultation and find out more.

Estate Planning – 8 Top Tips

Thinking about what will happen to your assets after you pass away isn’t pleasant, but it’s necessary if you want to make sure your wishes are carried out and your family is provided for. The good news is that estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. These 8 tips will help get you started thinking about how to proceed with estate planning.

A will is essential. The will is the document that spells out who you want to receive your assets. It’s a straightforward document that simply needs to be signed by a witness. You don’t even need to file it with any court. Just place it somewhere safe. Let someone you trust know where it can be found.
Double-check your beneficiaries. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies have named beneficiaries who will receive the assets if you pass away regardless of what your will says. Make sure you know who’s currently listed on these accounts.
Consider co-ownership. If you jointly own property with someone, the other person will inherit the property when you pass away regardless of what’s in your will. Again, make sure you have the right names on your home or car to ensure that it passes on the way that you intend.
Have your spouse sign, if needed. If you want your 401k account to go to someone other than your surviving spouse if you pass away, he or she will need to give up the right to inherit your account in writing.
You don’t have to leave it to your kids! You’re in no way obligated to leave anything to your children. You’re free to allocate your assets any way that you wish with your will and to name anyone that you wish as the beneficiary of your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
Don’t worry about income tax on inheritance. Your heirs won’t have to pay income tax on what they receive from your estate unless they receive money from any tax-deferred retirement plans.
Spell everything out. Make your wishes 100% clear in your will. You don’t want heirs to be fighting over items once you’re gone, so be sure to specify who should receive not just monetarily valuable items, but also sentimental items.
Don’t forget your business. If you own a business, you need to have a business succession plan in place to ensure that it changes hands the way that you desire. This can be done at the same time as when you set up your estate plan.
To learn more about estate planning, contact Attorney Robert A. Boyd of Willoughby, Ohio. He’s been helping area residents with their estate planning needs for more than 25 years and can help simplify the process for you and ensure that your wishes are carried out and your assets are protected in the future. Give him a call at 440-230-3230 to set up a consultation or get answers to your questions.