Elgin Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy Representation in Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties
If you are worried about debt or are in danger of losing the things most important to you, it is time to speak to an Elgin bankruptcy lawyer. Jim Young has 30 years of experience helping over 5,000 individuals and businesses eliminate debt and protect their assets through bankruptcy. He offers trusted, hands-on representation designed to maximize relief and make the filing process as easy and painless as possible. No matter your financial circumstances, Jim is confident he can provide the guidance and advocacy you need to get a fresh start.
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A Dedicated, Dependable Attorney
Jim Young understands what is at stake when you are facing seemingly insurmountable financial difficulties. As a former Special Assistant Attorney General, he has the knowledge and insight required to successfully navigate and make the most of these complex legal procedures. Jim will work directly with you from start to finish and will always make himself available to answer your questions, address concerns, and provide case updates, including after-hours and on weekends. In addition to assisting with bankruptcy filings, Jim represents individuals and businesses in consumer and commercial real estate transactions.
What Can Filing for Bankruptcy Accomplish in Illinois?
As an individual or business, filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy affords you the protections of the automatic stay. This court order prohibits creditors from taking collection actions against you, meaning you will be temporarily safe from foreclosure, repossession, lawsuits, and wage garnishments. In many cases, the automatic stay remains in effect throughout your case, so you will potentially have months or even years of protection. Under certain circumstances (and with proper planning), you may be able to keep many of the assets most important to you after the stay is lifted, including your car and home.
Completing a bankruptcy case generally allows you to discharge qualifying unsecured debt, including medical debt, credit card debt, unpaid utility bills, and personal loans. To secure a discharge in a consumer Chapter 7 filing, you must liquidate non-exempt assets, though many types of property can be exempted and kept. In a Chapter 13 case, you must honor a payment plan that reorganizes your debt and lasts between three and five years. Businesses can opt to reorganize their debt through Chapter 11 or liquidate through Chapter 7. As a seasoned Elgin bankruptcy attorney, Jim Young can help you understand your options and what filing can specifically do for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Can File for Bankruptcy?
If you are an individual consumer, you most likely qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but not both. Your eligibility will depend on your current level of disposable income. If you have very little money left over each month after paying essential expenses (including secured debts), you may be a good candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have a considerable amount of money available each month, you can likely afford a Chapter 13 payment plan.
You only tend to be ineligible for bankruptcy if you have previously filed in the past few years. You cannot file for Chapter 7 if you received a Chapter 7 discharge within eight years or a Chapter 13 discharge within six years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is unavailable if you previously filed for it within the past two years or if you filed for Chapter 7 in the last four years.
Businesses typically file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 relief. A business may file for Chapter 7 if they are looking to shut down, liquidate, and distribute company assets. A company will pursue Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they wish to continue operating.
An individual or business could be prohibited from filing for bankruptcy if they are found to have defrauded their creditors. Examples of disqualifying fraud include selling assets to friends at a price below market value to avoid liquidation or attempting to conceal property in a filing.
What is a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also frequently referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy.” It is intended for individuals who have minimal disposable income or businesses looking to shut down operations. The filing process is comparatively brief and involves the sale, or liquidation, of non-exempt assets. The proceeds of the liquidation are used to partially compensate creditors for outstanding obligations. Once liquidation is completed, an individual filer receives a discharge of qualifying unsecured debt, including credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills. Again, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is relatively fast, often lasting only between four and six months.
Can Bankruptcy Save My House from Foreclosure?
Potentially, yes. If you are at risk of foreclosure and wish to keep your home, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be your best option. The automatic stay will stop a pending foreclosure so long as a sale has not already taken place. The foreclosure cannot generally continue until your bankruptcy case is over, so you will potentially have three to five years of protection. Your Chapter 13 payment plan will need to address your mortgage arrears and bring your loan current. Ideally, the debt reorganization should give you the funds you need to manage future mortgage payments post-bankruptcy.
What Is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization bankruptcy and does not involve liquidation. Filers propose and commit to payment plans that work to address all of their debts. The size of the monthly payment is based on the individual filer's current disposable income, so no one is expected to pay more than what is practical. Payment plans last between three and five years, and filers receive discharges of qualifying unsecured debt (including credit card debt, medical debt, unpaid utility bills, and personal loans) after making all payments.
What Can I Keep If I File for Bankruptcy?
Liquidation only affects non-exempt property. Many types of property are considered “exempt” under the law and can be kept by the filer with proper planning.
Examples of assets that can often be protected from a Chapter 7 liquidation in Illinois include:
- Equity in your home (up to $15,000)
- Equity in your vehicle (up to $2,500)
- Personal property (including family photos, books, health aids, and clothing)
- Tools of your trade (up to $1,500 in total value)
- Money needed for spousal and/or child support
- Unemployment benefits
- Workers' compensation benefits
- Veteran's benefits
- Many types of pension and retirement benefits
- $4,000 of value in an asset or assets of your choice (excluding real estate)