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.
- Page 3
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.
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.
How is the litigation process started?
One commences legal action by filing with the Court a "Complaint." A Complaint is a legal document normally created by legal counsel which alleges the various wrongs committed and specifies the relief desired, usually a monetary reward. The Complaint is subject to rigorous requirements and, if not properly drafted, it may be objected to by the responding party ("Motion to Strike," "Motion to Dismiss," etc.) and the Court may dismiss the action or require the pleading to be amended. The party bringing the action is called the Plaintiff. The party defending is the Defendant. Should the Defendant seek its own relief against the Plaintiff, then the Defendant may file in the same action its own Complaint which is called a "Counter Complaint."
What is the discovery process?
Discovery usually consists of serving requests for production of documents (to obtain papers and other forms of evidence); serving written lists of questions that must be answered under oath (interrogatories); and examining witnesses under oath, before a notary public (depositions.) It is the lawyers who perform the discovery, not the court, and attorneys for the parties have the right to engage in reasonable discovery as they deem appropriate. While the court will settle disputes between the lawyers involving discovery, and while the court may stop unreasonable discovery, most courts allow tremendous latitude to counsel in conducting discovery and the process normally takes months, and quite often, takes years. Arizona state court depositions are limited to four hours. Federal court depositions have no presumptive time limit. Since the answers given by the party or witness may be used at trial to convince a judge or jury, and since alteration of testimony at trial from that of the deposition can result in total destruction of the witnesses' credibility, discovery effectively determines the winner or loser in the bulk of civil cases. Well over ninety percent of all cases settle before trial. However few cases settle before discovery is completed.
What is alternate dispute resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term for a full range of dispute resolution methods (such as arbitration, mediation, etc.), both private and court-connected, designed to help parties resolve their conflicts. In the courts of Arizona, ADR supports a wide range of alternative programs to assist parties in settling pending court disputes without resorting to trial. Court-connected ADR programs are offered in many Superior Court Divisions, such as the Civil, Family, and Probate Divisions. ADR also serves the Justice Courts.
Are litigants required to participate in an alternate dispute resolution process?
Depending on the amount in controversy, and jurisdiction of the dispute, parties may have to voluntarily submit to non-binding arbitration. The Arizona Supreme Court amended Civil Rule 16(g) regarding Alternative Dispute Resolution (Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure). Under the newly amended Rule 16(g), parties to Civil disputes have a duty to consider ADR, confer with one another about using an ADR process, and report the outcome of their conference to the court.