Address220 W. Main Street Ionia, MI 48846
“I have been pleased with the way [Cheryl Chadwick] handled my case. She treated me very fairly, explained everything very well and was willing to do extra to put me at ease about the situation. I’m very grateful.”
“Pat Duff has always been a trusted friend when addressing our legal issues for our family. A class act all the way!”
“We are very happy with Tom Chadwick and the work he has done for us. We refer all of our friend to him ”
“Pat [Duff] is the best. He goes over and above what he has to in order to help his clients. He gives clear advice on the case and he is not only the best lawyer I’ve ever had, he is a friend. Thanks Pat.”
“Tom [Chadwick] assisted us in will preparation and revising previous documents. We were pleased with the amount of time Tom took in explanation of terms and processes. He was very thorough in his explanations and helped us clearly understand what our documents meant. We would definitely work with Tom in the future and are comfortable with referring him to our family and friends for services.”
“Mr. Duff prepared our will and made the entire experience as easy and quick as it could be. He did an excellent job explaining the many scenarios so that we could make an informed decision. We certainly appreciate all his help and his assistant is also wonderful. She was a pleasure to work with.”
“Tom [Chadwick] was great. He explained everything in a way that was easy to understand. He answered all our questions clear and concise. He was very professional but did so on a personal level.”
“It was truly a pleasure! Professional, personable and detail oriented. Asking all the right questions to assure our work would be completed in full and with accuracy.” Patrick Lorvo
“I received the help I needed from Tom Chadwick to fill out my Power of Attorney. He explained it in a language I could understand and went over any questions I had.” Jane Riker
“Cheryl Chadwick is always to the point. If I did not understand something she would take the time to explain it to me. She never hurried me at an appointment. She was thorough with what I needed to give her. She is people friendly! And she smiled a lot! I never felt like she held me beneath her.”
“Mr. Duff handled my Mother’s estate. He answered all of our questions and was very helpful. The office staff was very good also. Thanks very much.”
Bankruptcy is a way for honest, hard-working people to regain control of their finances. Many people become ill and can no longer keep up with regular payments. After the illness, they also end up with expensive medical bills. Others are unemployed or have had their pay reduced. Some people are unable to find work for months or years.
When people are in distressed financial situations, questions arise:
“Can we keep the house?”
“Can our vehicles be repossessed?”
“How can we afford the next emergency?”
The uncertainty adds stress and can take a physical toll.
There are many options for people in this situation, and bankruptcy may be one of them. Our attorneys offer a FREE one-hour debt consultation. In it, we will answer your questions, and discuss your options. Bankruptcy is not always the best answer, but after an evaluation, we will help you choose the option that is best for you.
The goal of a bankruptcy is a discharge of debts. That means you are no longer personally liable on them. Usually all of a person’s unsecured debts, such as credit card debts and medical debts, are discharged. Other debts, such as a mortgage or vehicle loan, are usually reaffirmed, meaning you may keep your house and your vehicles, and keep paying on them (which should be easier, since the relief from your unsecured debts will leave more room in your budget). One immediate benefit to bankruptcy is that, once it is filed, creditors have to stop all collections activities on your debt—no more phone calls, garnishments, law suits—until your bankruptcy case is resolved.
Initial consultation. The initial one-hour consultation is free. The attorney will determine whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you and determine what you qualify for. The most common types of bankruptcy are chapter 7 and chapter 13. Not everyone will qualify for a bankruptcy, so, in order for our attorneys to make an informed decision, you will need to bring the following items with you to the initial consultation:
1. the last two months of paystubs and bank statements (for you and your spouse);
2. proof of any other income (child support, alimony, food stamps, business income, etc.);
3. the most recent tax returns;
4. the most recent property tax or SEV statement for all real estate;
5. the mortgage balance; and
6. a list of all other debts owed.
Deciding to file. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, our attorneys will provide you with a detailed checklist of items needed and a questionnaire which will include all of the information needed to file your bankruptcy case. We will discuss additional documents needed for your file; for example, you will be required to provide a list of everything you own with a fair value and a list of every person or entity you owe money to.
This information is important, and must be accurate. Omitting income or assets (this includes trying to hide money) can be grounds for not getting a discharge and for being charged criminally. Be upfront with your attorney about everything so that the attorney can determine the best way to keep as many of your assets as possible. If there are assets not included in the bankruptcy filing but are discovered later by the trustee, you run the risk of losing those assets.
Filing for bankruptcy. The attorney usually takes a few weeks to go through all the information and documents you provided and input the information into the bankruptcy program. Whether you provided all the information the first time and how organized it is will play a big role in how quickly your attorney can finish preparing your documents for filing. Missing documents can significantly delay the process. Everything that was asked for at the initial consultation is needed in order to file your case. After the attorney has inputted all your information your case is ready to file. You will come into the office, sign the documents, and your case will then be filed. Filing is an important step in any bankruptcy: as soon as your case is filed, a hearing date will be set, and a notice will go out to all of your creditors notifying them that they must stop all collections activities immediately.
Emergencies. If you have an emergency—such as garnished wages, a bank account about to be seized, or your home going into foreclosure—we are able to prioritize your case and file it—immediately, if necessary. The attorney’s ability to do this will largely depend on you: the faster you deliver the specific documents requested by your attorney, the faster your case can be filed.
341 meetings – Meeting of creditors. You will be required to attend a “341 meeting,” which is a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee regarding your case. The trustee is not the judge in your case; he or she is an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice who makes sure that all creditors are treated fairly. The trustee will ask several questions regarding your finances and let you know if he or she requires additional documentation. The trustee’s main goal is to find and distribute assets of the case to creditors while ensuring that debtors receive a legal fresh start. Creditors are also invited to attend the meeting. Creditors rarely appear, but if they do they also ask questions that will help them determine if they wish to pursue a lawsuit to prevent your debt from being discharged.
Discharge of debtor. If the trustee does not require anything further following the meeting, and you have filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is nothing left to do but wait. A discharge of debtor is usually issued four to six months following the date of filing. If you filed chapter 13 bankruptcy then you will continue to make monthly payments to the trustee for the duration of the payment plan, file annual reports with the trustee, and a discharge of your debts will be entered approximately five years and two months from date of filing.
1. Collections cases. If you receive a complaint from the court notifying you that you are being sued for a debt you should always file an answer before the deadline. Your deadline is 28 days from service if you were served by mail and 21 days from service if you were personally served. You can find instructions and the court form for answering here.
2. Temporary payment plans. If you have a collections case against you, and there is already a judgment against you, you can request a payment plan directly from the court. That payment plan must be strictly followed, but can often provide temporary relief until your bankruptcy is filed. The form needed to request a payment plan can be found here.
3. Retirement accounts. Before you take money from your retirement account to pay your debts, or “catch up” so things will “get better”, contact us for a free consult. Most retirement accounts can be preserved in a bankruptcy. Using your retirement savings to pay today’s debts is rarely in your best interests.
An asset is any item you own that can be converted into cash.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows most unsecured debts to be discharged. Debtors do not usually make payments or have payment plans with a trustee in a chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a debtor to make payments to the trustee under a payment plan to repay the debts. The payment plan is takes into account reasonable, regular, monthly expenses of the debtor.
The person or entity that is owed money by the debtor.
The person who owes money to others.
This is the judge’s order which says the debtor no longer owes money on all the dischargeable debts. Non-dischargeable debts would include student loans, income taxes, child support, alimony, and other payments required in a judgment of divorce.
Secured debt is debt that is attached to an asset. When debt was created, the creditor’s interest was “secured” with collateral. A home loan is usually secured by the home itself, and mortgage is the evidence that the home is collateral. A vehicle loan is usually secured by the vehicle itself, evidenced by a lien. Other secured debts boat loans, business, etc.
Unsecured debt is debt that is not attached to anything. It has no “collateral.” Credit card debt and medical bills usually fall into this category. Most personal loans are also unsecured.
*We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for Bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
FREE 1/2 hour initial consultation