We know you have questions. We have your answers.
*These responses cover most but not every scenario. If you have additional questions or want to discuss your individual case, feel free to contact Curry, Pearson & Wooten P.L.C. We are here to help you.
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My rising medical bills are draining my life’s savings—can I file for bankruptcy in Arizona as a retiree?
Sunny Arizona is a popular destination for retirees and senior citizens to settle in an effort to escape the high cost of living, taxation, and cold weather that so much of the country faces. Despite the relatively inexpensive living costs, however, many seniors find themselves battling either skyrocketing medical costs or plummeting retirement benefits, and wonder just as you did—is there a solution?
For many seniors, bankruptcy can be a very viable option to eliminate your debt and placate your creditors. Many retirement accounts are exempt in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, so you are able to keep the money that you worked your entire adult life to save.
Another benefit to senior citizens in the Arizona bankruptcy filing process is that social security benefits are not counted as income. This means that when filling out your means test, the form that compares your income and your expenses to determine your disposable income amount, any benefits you receive under the Social Security Act are excluded from income calculations. While a portion of your benefits may be included in your disposable income, it cannot be considered as income to disqualify you from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
While bankruptcy can be a very valuable financial tool for senior citizens and retirees overwhelmed with debt in Arizona, there are some very important things to consider before filing. A large portion of older residents have significant equity in their home, and if it is greater than the Arizona homestead exemption, your creditors could use that equity as payment.
If you are a senior citizen overwhelmed with debt, you do not have to fight your creditors alone. Let the Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten help you eliminate your debt and protect what you have worked so hard to earn. Call us today at 602-258-1000 to find out how.
I’m filing for bankruptcy in Scottsdale—how do I choose the right bankruptcy attorney?
When you are looking for an attorney to represent you in your Arizona bankruptcy case, you are not simply looking for a lawyer with a catchy television advertisement or billboard—you are choosing someone that will help pave the way to your financial future.
Just like no bankruptcy case is exactly the same, every attorney and firm has something different to offer. When you are searching for a firm, there are a few very important things to consider in order to ensure that you choose the Arizona bankruptcy attorney that is right for you.
Many larger firms may process several bankruptcy cases simultaneously, but in order to accomplish that they may pass off much of the paperwork and minor details to paralegals or assistants. If your case is anything besides a cookie cutter bankruptcy, it may be best to demand that your case is handled by attorneys. By working with a smaller firm, you can be in regular contact with the attorney handling your case, and be sure that you and your bankruptcy case are receiving the attention you deserve.
When shopping around for a lawyer, you should value transparency and honesty. A good attorney will be frank with you when discussing your case, including your financial outlook and property that you may have to part with over the course of your case. Any lawyer can sell someone on a story that seems too good to be true; a good lawyer will present you with the facts and help guide you through the process from start to finish.
If you are at the brink of making the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy, call the Phoenix and Scottsdale bankruptcy attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten at 602-258-1000. You can set up a complimentary consultation with an attorney to discuss your case and see if our firm is the right fit for you.
My debt is becoming a huge burden, and I am unsure what my options are. Are there any benefits to filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy as opposed to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
There are two primary options for those struggling with debt in Arizona, either filing for a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy or filing for a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy. While you know the differences between the two options, it can be hard to decide which will be the right fit for you.
What Makes You a Better Candidate for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
The primary factor to consider when filing for bankruptcy in Phoenix is your income and assets. If your debt is the result of your income lowering or stopping altogether, you are likely a good candidate for a liquidation-type bankruptcy. While you may lose some of your nonessential property, if you already do not own much, you will most likely be able to keep everything.
What Makes a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy the Right Candidate for You
Not only do you need to feel as though you are able to work with your bankruptcy, you also need to feel like the bankruptcy option you choose is benefitting you. If you have little to no income or assets, the long-term payment plan associated with the Chapter 13 bankruptcy can cause more harm than good—if you fail to complete the plan, your debts will likely not be discharged and you will be back where you started.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to eliminate a majority of your debt while also retaining your property in most cases. A well-planned case can be open and closed within six months, and you can move forward with a more manageable debt load—debts such as mortgages and student loans—as well as a better grip on your budget and finances.
If you are at the threshold of deciding which bankruptcy option is best for you, there is no need for you to make such a major decision alone. The Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can walk you through the entire process from start to finish, to help guarantee that you get the best results possible from your bankruptcy. As you move forward with the next chapter of your financial life, get the guidance you need—call us at 602-258-1000 for a free consultation with one of our lawyers today.
I have heard that filing for a Phoenix Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good option for me, but I am unsure how it works—what debt will I have to pay off, and what will be forgiven?
Arizona Chapter 13 bankruptcies can be confusing to navigate. When most people think of bankruptcy, they typically picture a Chapter 7 bankruptcy where the majority of the filer’s debt is forgiven, but they must also give up a significant portion of his or her nonessential property. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as a reorganization bankruptcy for a very good reason—rather than eliminating your debt, you will be reorganizing your debt into manageable payments.
When you are in the beginning stages of filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debt will be divided into three different categories. The amount you pay on each debt will be dependent on what category it falls in:
These debts, as the name implies, are top priority in your repayment plan, and you will be required to pay in full. This includes alimony, child support, most tax debt, and—if you are a business owner—any wages or benefits you owe employees.
- Priority: These debts, as the name implies, are top priority in your repayment plan, and you will be required to pay in full. This includes alimony, child support, most tax debt, and—if you are a business owner—any wages or benefits you owe employees.
- Secured: Secured debts are debts that are associated with tangible collateral, such as the mortgage on your home. You will be required to pay the full amount that gets you back on-schedule with your original loan payments.
- Unsecured: Unsecured debt, or debt with no collateral such as credit card debt, is a bit of a grey area. Your repayment plan will mandate that you put any remaining disposable income, after you make payments on your priority and secured debts each month, towards your unsecured debt. This may vary based on what you earn and what you owe.
It can be difficult to project how much you will end up repaying without the help of an experienced attorney. The Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers at Curry, Pearson, & Wooten can help you assess your situation and give you a solid picture of what your financial life in repayment will look like. Call us at 602-258-1000 or toll free at 888-929-5292 for a complimentary consultation with an attorney today.
I am researching the process of filing for bankruptcy in Arizona, and keep hearing about secured versus unsecured debt—what is the difference?
When you are at the threshold of filing for bankruptcy in Phoenix, your debts will be looked at in one of two ways: either secured or unsecured.
A secured debt is a debt that you owe that has attached, tangible property acting as collateral. The two most common kinds of secured debts are home loans and auto loans. If you fall behind on payments, your creditors are able to seize the collateral—your home or car—to settle your debt.
The majority of your debt is likely considered unsecured. These debts do not have any collateral, so it becomes messier for both the creditors and yourself when you fall behind on payments. Debts that overwhelm the majority of us—like credit card charges, medical bills, and student loans—usually fall under this category.
Because there is not specific property attached to unsecured debts, creditors face extra challenges when trying to settle your outstanding charges. Typically, your creditors will report your delinquency to a credit reporting agency or file a lawsuit against you. A creditor generally cannot begin seizing your property or garnishing your wages until a court settlement has been reached. One common exception includes federal student loans, which allow the Department of Education to garnish your wages without court action.
For your other unsecured debts, the court will decide to either garnish your wages or assign specific property to your unsecured debt to sell against your debt.
While this may sound intimidating and make you feel helpless, you are not alone. The Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can help you put an end to creditor harassment. Call today to find out how at 602-258-1000 or toll free at 888-929-5292.
My wife and I are divorcing on good terms, so we would like to avoid litigation and are considering pursuing divorce mediation in Scottsdale. Are there any cost or time benefits associated with this method?
Today, more and more married couples are deciding to separate in an amicable manner, and are looking for a way to proceed with divorce in a manner that does not pit each spouse against each other in traditional litigation.
Mediation is not for every couple, but if you have both decided that you would like to remain on good terms and have a clear-cut idea of how you want to divide your assets, property, or parenting duties, it may be a good choice for you.
The good news with mediation is that it generally costs far less than carrying out a divorce in the Arizona court system. When a couple commits to mediation as a way of ending their union, they are generally in agreement on most key issues in their divorce, and simply need a medium to discuss their wishes in a legal setting.
This also means that the process is much quicker, as couples do not need more time to argue over details of how to proceed. In legal settings, time is money, so mediation is often a win-win for spouses who simply wish to end things in a clean, friendly manner and move forward.
Choosing an experienced Arizona divorce mediator will help ensure that your experience is as fast and cost-effective as possible. A professional that is well-versed in mediation will be able to meet both your needs and the needs of your spouse in an efficient, painless manner. If you are seeking a skilled mediator, contact our Scottsdale family law attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC today. Call 888-929-5292 or 602-258-1000 for a free consultation now.
I’m considering filing for bankruptcy in Phoenix but the whole process has been overwhelming. Where do I start?
When your financial situation has gotten to the point that you are considering bankruptcy, it is easy to let fear take hold and push you to pursue a fast remedy. Quick decisions in bankruptcy can often lead to more financial troubles down the road, and taking a moment to understand the process can benefit you in the long run.
Our Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC believe in a well-planned strategy to approaching a bankruptcy. We want you to feel fully informed and comfortable moving forward with your case, and this generally involves two initial steps:
A careful analysis of your financial situation ensures that all parties (namely you and your attorney) are fully aware of what you stand to lose in a liquidation or reorganization.
- A full inventory of your assets helps us to determine how to proceed with your case. If you have too many assets, you may not be able to take full advantage of your bankruptcy, so we will advise you how to proceed.
From here, we can determine whether you best qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 case seeks to eliminate your debts and sell your nonexempt assets back to your creditors, and is known as a liquidation bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy works best for people with little to no income or assets.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, better known as a reorganization bankruptcy, is best for people with a steady income that will be able to pay back a portion of their debts through a scheduled payment plan. Many people choose this option since it generally allows them to keep all property and assets.
One thing is certain in your bankruptcy case—it should be specifically tailored to your financial condition and your needs. Speaking with the right Arizona bankruptcy lawyer can help you move forward confidently. Call Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC today to set up a free consultation to discuss your options; we can be reached at 602-258-1000 or toll free at 888-929-5292.
I have recently filed for divorce in Arizona, and my spouse is planning to move to a different state. Will this negatively affect our custody hearing?
In very bitter and high-conflict divorces, gaining child custody can turn into a “power play” of sorts. While some parents use custody to gain leverage in divorce proceedings, many parents become so consumed with what they believe is best for the child that they do whatever they feel is necessary to make that happen.
It is not uncommon in Arizona divorces for one spouse to move out of state. Many parents become concerned that should that happen, the spouse in the different state may gain an advantage in a custody hearing should that state has different rules.
In 1980 the United States passed a law, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which dictated that the home state of the child has jurisdiction over establishing the custodial agreement. This is to prevent parents from “forum shopping,” or finding a state that will offer a more lucrative custody order that may conflict with the initial ruling.
The PKPA also states that taking a child across state lines to gain custody or restrict parental visitation is a federal crime. If after your Arizona child custody hearing your spouse does move out of state, his or her visitation with your child must follow the guidelines expressly laid out in your Arizona custody agreement. Should your spouse take your child out of state against the custody order, he or she could possible face felony charges under the Fugitive Felon Act.
Your children mean the world to you, and a divorce and custody agreement should not compromise your legally named visitation rights. If you are concerned about your spouse moving across state lines, contact the Phoenix child custody lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 866.929.5292.
During a traffic stop in Phoenix, a drug dog alerted police and my car was searched. I’m now facing felony drug charges in Arizona. Is there anything I can do?
Facing felony drug charges in Arizona is scary, and it’s important to do everything in your power to defend your rights. Of the thousands of drug convictions that are handed down every year in Arizona, around two-thirds of those are felony convictions, which have the potential to limit your options for the rest of your life. These cases most commonly involve marijuana or paraphernalia, but many other illegal drugs are also represented, including methamphetamine, cocaine, crack-cocaine, prescription drugs, and more. K9 units are used extensively in the searches that lead to felony drug arrests in Arizona, and our Phoenix criminal lawyers may be able to help you after a case in which an Arizona drug dog alerted police to search your car.
In drug dog cases like yours, a Phoenix drug defense attorney will pay special attention to the circumstances that led to the search of your car. Although a well-trained and properly handled drug-sniffing dog can alert police and provide probable cause for a search, some of these dogs do make mistakes. If the dog was overworked, undertrained, or improperly handled, the evidence found during the search of your car may not be permissible in court. However, because so much depends on the individual circumstances of your case, you will need to speak with your attorney about exactly what happened and your options for defense.
Our Phoenix criminal lawyers would be happy to review your case in more detail and advise you more specifically on your next course of action. We can investigate the circumstances of your arrest and help determine if a mistake was made by the drug dog or handler before, during, or after the search of your vehicle. Give us a call today at 1-888-929-5292 or use our confidential online contact form to schedule your FREE consultation with a Phoenix drug lawyer today.
For more information about felony arrests in Arizona and how a skilled criminal defense attorney can help, please take a look at a FREE copy of our informative book Arizona Criminal Law – What You Must Know.
What should I do with our credit cards if I’m getting divorced in Arizona?
Responsibility for debt, including credit card debt, is divided in a divorce much like property. However, credit cards can represent some unique difficulties, especially if both spouses used the card or if you held a joint account.
Because Arizona is a community property state, you can be held responsible for paying off credit card charges your spouse made during the marriage. This may even be the case if the credit card account was not in your name or was set up as a joint account. Because so much depends on your individual situation, you will need to work with your spouse and your Phoenix divorce lawyer to determine how that debt will be handled in your divorce.
Keep in mind, however, that most credit card companies will continue to hold you responsible for any money owed on an account attached to your name. Even if the court has ordered that your spouse pay that portion of the debt, you could be subject to collection actions if your spouse fails to make those payments.
If you are getting divorced in Arizona and need help separating assets, reach out to a friendly and experienced Phoenix family law attorney today at 1-888-929-5292 for guidance. We understand that divorce is often a difficult and confusing process, and we are here to stand by your side from beginning to end.
If you would like to learn more about who we are and what we do, please also request your completely free copy of our helpful book Arizona Family Law - How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times.