What Type Of Bankruptcy Is Right For Me?

Personal bankruptcy usually falls under one of these two types. Chapter 7, or liquidation bankruptcy, and Chapter 13, adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income bankruptcy. Business bankruptcies generally fall under Chapter 11, which is a reorganization bankruptcy, and Chapter 12 bankruptcy for family fishermen or family farmers, which is much like a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy you eliminate all of your qualifying debt in a relatively short amount of time, usually anywhere from three to six months. A court-appointed trustee will examine your assets, your debt, and your income. The trustee will determine if anything can be sold for the benefit of the creditors. In the vast majority of cases in Texas, filers do not lose any of their property due to generous exemptions under either state or federal law. A Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney can advise you on which exemptions will be best for your situation. You can not use both state and federal, and you must choose one over the other. This type of bankruptcy is best if you have mostly unsecured debt such as credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, and sometimes old tax debt.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcies differ from Chapter 7 in that you will be able to keep all of your assets and make payments on your overdue debt. The trustee will go over the repayment plan that you and your attorney have prepared and most likely approve it. The repayment plan will be for a set period of between three to five years, and you will make payments directly to the trustee. The amount of your payment is based on your income and other factors.

This type of bankruptcy benefits people with secured debt such as a home mortgage or vehicles they want to keep and are behind on the payments. The repayment amounts will very often be lower than the original payments. Once you have made the required payments, you are entitled to discharge as in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Any remaining unsecured debt will be eliminated after the predetermined repayment period. You must continue to make payments on your home and your car if you plan to keep those secured assets.

Consult with a Fort Worth Bankruptcy Attorney

If you need help to determine which bankruptcy is right for you, consult a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney. Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service. As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation

Filing An Emergency Bankruptcy

Sometimes you need to stop a creditor’s action fast. Like when you are facing a foreclosure or a repossession. Filing bankruptcy can help. When you open a case, the court puts an automatic stay in place that prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you.

But, completing all the bankruptcy forms isn’t a quick process. If time is running short, you can use a fast bankruptcy filing process known as an emergency bankruptcy filing (or skeleton filing), get the automatic stay in place, and submit the remaining documents later.

The average bankruptcy petition can easily consist of upwards of fifty pages once completed. But when you’re facing a foreclosure auction, repossession, wage garnishment, collection lawsuit, or another time-sensitive situation, getting all of the paperwork done might not be feasible.

However, you have another option.

When you need to file an emergency bankruptcy, you can get your bankruptcy forms filed online quickly. Plus, your attorney can access online filing at any time of the day, any day of the week, and start the online filing process by uploading only a small percentage of the required forms. In the Northern District of Texas (which includes Fort Worth and Dallas) the following forms are required:

  • the bankruptcy petition (the primary document containing identifying information, the chapter you’re filing, and other general information)

  • the names and addresses of the creditors that will be listed in the bankruptcy schedules (often referred to as a creditor mailing list or mailing matrix)

  • a certificate showing that you completed the credit counseling requirement or a request for a waiver

  • Attorney Fee Disclosure

  • Form B121 Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers, and

  • A Declaration for Electronic Filing

If you don’t file the additional documents within 14 days, your skeleton bankruptcy case will be dismissed. Also, be aware that some courts (outside the Northern District of Texas) require other forms. The requirements are published in the local rules posted on your court’s website.

If you have questions about an emergency bankruptcy filing, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney. Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service. As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation

Signs Filing Bankruptcy Might Be Your Best Choice

For many people, bankruptcy still has a stigma surrounding it. Some people think that if they file bankruptcy they are failures or irresponsible for having to seek such relief. In reality, all kinds of people file bankruptcy – rich and poor alike – for reasons beyond their control. Filing bankruptcy can be a life-changing decision, which is why it should not be taken lightly. It is usually a better choice to repay your debts than filing bankruptcy, but for many people their best option is to file bankruptcy and start over with a clean slate. Making the decision to file bankruptcy can be difficult, which is why we have compiled a list of three signs that filing bankruptcy might be in your best interest.

You Have Already Tried Negotiating

If you have a lot of debt, one of the things you can do is contact your creditors to try to negotiate a repayment plan that works for you. If you have already tried to do this and your creditors are not willing to work with you, then you do not have many other choices but filing bankruptcy.

You Have Looked Into Consolidating Your Debts

If you have debt, especially credit card debt, another option is to refinance or consolidate your debt. Debt consolidation refers to taking on new debt to cover your old debt. This means that you will take out a personal loan to cover the costs of your credit card debts, and rather than paying back the individual credit cards, you will be making one monthly payment to your loan provider. This is often beneficial because the loan interest rate is frequently lower than your credit card interest rates. Some businesses call what they do “debt consolidation” when what they actually do is gather a portion of your payments to them and then make offers of a lump sum settlement to creditors when enough money has been accumulated. Be cautious using this type of service; often they take a significant fee from you and do little in return. Meanwhile, your debts continue to grow and you are still subject to debt collection activities, such as lawsuits. If you have tried to consolidate your debt but you still have credit card or other unsecured debt, you might need to consider bankruptcy.

Your Debts Are Much Greater Than Your Income

One of the major reasons people file bankruptcy is because they simply do not have enough money to pay their debts. For example, if you owe $3,500 a month in debts and you only make $3,000 a month, you do not have much of a choice. If your debts greatly outweigh your income, you may need to consider a bankruptcy.

A Fort Worth Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help You Make the Decision

Deciding that you would be better off filing bankruptcy is a serious and life-changing decision. Filing bankruptcy can come with challenges and you will have to be okay with the fact that you may have to deal with these challenges for a couple of years. If you feel like you are drowning in debt and you are not sure which way to turn, you should contact a Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney to help you make a decision. At the Law Offices of Michael P. O’Donnell, we help people make the decision whether to file bankruptcy every day. We know the bankruptcy process inside and out and can help you prepare for what is to come when you file. You will be able to talk with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861 to set up a free consultation. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

Affordable Fort Worth Bankruptcy Attorney and Affordable Irving Bankruptcy Attorney

At the Law Offices of Michael P. O'Donnell, we are acutely aware of the financial strain our potential clients are under. Therefore, we offer affordable payment plans to address each case individually because each case has a different set of circumstances. We make our fees competitive and, in some cases, we can file a case with minimal down payment on attorney’s fees--which often may be paid in installments. The exact fee charged and the amount required down is always determined on a case by case basis and depends upon various factors such as the number and type of creditors, the extent of the assets, the number of previous bankruptcies (if any), as well as the district in which the case is filed and the amount of time involved to handle the case.

If you have questions about an affordable bankruptcy, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney. Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service. As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation

Child Support, Alimony, and Related Attorney Fees in Bankruptcy

Debts owed for alimony or child support are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy case. Alimony and child support payments can not be discharged, regardless of whether it relates to arrearages (past due amounts) or an ongoing support obligation.  However, past due amounts can be paid over time through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and court enforcement action can be avoided.

If a noncustodial parent has become delinquent and isn’t making payments according to the child support order, the custodial parent may go back to court and file an enforcement action, which means that the parent asks the judge to make the delinquent parent follow the support order and make the required payments. Custodial parents can either file this action on their own and represent themselves in court, or hire a private attorney to pursue the action on their behalf.

The judge has several choices in these situations. It’s not uncommon for judges to fine or jail delinquent parents for “contempt of court” (meaning, the delinquent parent disobeyed a court order – in this case, a child support order). A judge might also require a delinquent parent to pay a portion of the outstanding child support as a condition of being released from jail.  Filing a Chapter 13 case can avoid these outcomes.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has also ruled that court-ordered payment of attorneys’ fees incurred in post-divorce / child custody litigation should be recognized as child support, and is also non-dischargeable. Dvorak v. Carlson, 986 F.2d 940 (5th Cir. 1993). The language of the governing statute does not appear to support the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that attorney’s fees related to divorce, alimony, child support or child custody issues are also non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit Circuit Court of Appeals is the federal appellate court that establishes binding legal precedent for all bankruptcy cases filed in Texas.  Therefore, this is the binding common law rule for all Texas bankruptcy cases.

If you have questions about how child support relates to bankruptcy, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation. 

A Note to Homeowners

Scammers are targeting people having trouble paying their mortgages.  Here are some ways to avoid scams that could make your housing situation go from bad to worse.

"We can stop your foreclosure!" "Guaranteed to save your home!" "97% success rate!"

Filing bankruptcy can stop your foreclosure, but if a non-attorney makes claims like these its a sure sign of a rip-off. 

Don't pay anyone who promises to get you a new mortgage.  These so-called "foreclosure rescue companies" claim they can help save your home, but they're out to make a quick buck.

Some con artists use names, phone numbers, and websites to make it appear they're a part of the government.  If you want to contact a government agency, look up the web address or use a phone number listed on the agency website or in other reliable sources like the phone book.

Some scammers offer to handle financial arrangements for you, but instead pocket your payment.  Send your mortgage payments only to your mortgage servicer.

For information on how to save your home through bankruptcy, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you save your home.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

Can I eliminate child support or alimony payments with bankruptcy?

No, you will remain liable for these obligations after your discharge. However, in Chapter 13 past-due child support and alimony can be paid through your plan over 3 to 5 years, and the filing of your case blocks the holder of the claim--either your ex-spouse or the Attorney General’s office--from garnishing your wages to collect the past-due amounts.  You are required to stay current on your regular post-filing support payments in Chapter 13, and your case will be dismissed if you get behind on these payments.

For more information on bankruptcy, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  Although there are many Fort Worth bankruptcy attorneys to choose from, my office distinguishes itself by giving you personalized, caring service.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you ask the bankruptcy court to discharge most of the debts you owe. In exchange for this discharge, the bankruptcy trustee can take any property you own that is not exempt from collection, sell it, and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. In Texas, the types of property people typically own are almost always exempt property, which means you usually get to keep all of your property.  

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you file a repayment plan with the bankruptcy court to pay back some or all of your debts over time. The amount you'll have to repay depends on how much you earn, the amount and types of debt you owe, and how much property you own. Determining which chapter of the bankruptcy code is right for you is a matter to be discussed with your attorney.

For more information on bankruptcy, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation. You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options. I look forward to helping you become debt free. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

 

Filing An Emergency Bankruptcy To Save Your Property

When you need to file bankruptcy immediately to stop a foreclosure or a repossession or for other reasons, consider filing an emergency bankruptcy case.  We will file a "bare-bones" petition containing the essential information needed to commence your case.  Your case will be filed in either the Fort Worth division or the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas bankruptcy courts, depending on your place of residence or the location of your primary assets.  We have convenient offices in Fort Worth and in Irving to facilitate filing.  After filing we have fourteen days to complete the bankruptcy paperwork.  An emergency filing can do many things, including stopping the repossession of your vehicle, stopping the foreclosure on your home, and stopping the IRS from garnishing your wages, due to the imposition of the automatic stay immediately upon your filing, which acts as an injunction against creditor action.

Bankruptcy is a powerful tool to use when the circumstances warrant it.   For more information on bankruptcy and how it might help you, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.,

Lawsuits and judgments: Is it too late to file for bankruptcy?

Receiving a lawsuit from a third-party collection agency is common for people who are in debt with credit cards, car deficiency balances, and personal loans.  You might not have thought that a small credit card bill of $2,000.00 could become a debt of $10,000.00 or more. This can happen because creditors and the collection agency assignees of the debt add interest, attorney fees, late fees, etc.  Some people discard the lawsuit documents or ignore being served with a lawsuit, but that does not make the debt go away.

A lawsuit can turn into a judgment which later can get turned into a garnishment or a lien against your home or other real property.  The longer you wait, the more your options disappear, and the more problems will arise.  One way to avoid debt collection from these lawsuits and judgments is to file bankruptcy. However, not all debts can be discharged in bankruptcy.  Some examples of debts that cannot be discharged are child support, alimony, and debts incurred through fraud.

A bankruptcy attorney is able to determine whether or not a bankruptcy will benefit you regarding the lawsuit or the judgment you have on your record.

For more information on bankruptcy and how it might help stop a lawsuit, I recommend consulting a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.,

Why clients are choosing Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney Michael P. O'Donnell

Since my law firm’s inception, I have always believed in putting the rights and interests of my clients first. This client-focused approach to legal representation continues to separate my firm from the competition. I value the reputation I have cultivated over the years and continue to shape my firm's processes and procedures around this tradition of excellence.

I offer clients:

  • More than 30 years of successful bankruptcy filings
  • Risk-free, initial case consultations
  • Easy payment plans and flexible payment options
  • Cost-effective solutions
  • Personal attention from an attorney who is directly involved in your case from start to finish
  • Friendly, approachable, and communicative legal counsel

Though it may feel like there is no end in sight, I encourage you to speak with our compassionate team as soon as possible. With my help, a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, you could have access to the resources, support, and guidance you need to regain your financial footing. Because I recognize that no two cases are alike, I can create an individualized solution which is designed with your short and long term interests in mind.

There is light at the end of the tunnel! Learn more about your potential debt-relief options by calling experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney Michael P. O'Donnell at 817-732-7590. You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

What Is The Credit Counseling Requirement?

Individuals are not eligible for relief under any chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code unless they obtain “an individual or group briefing” from an approved nonprofit credit counseling agency before the case is filed.

1. Agencies Must Be Approved. The credit counseling agency must be approved by the United States trustee. You can go to the U.S. Trustee website for a list of approved credit counseling agencies.

2. 180 Days Before Case Is Filed. The counseling session must occur within 180 days (roughly 6 months) before filing for bankruptcy. A counseling session occurring more than 6 months before the case does not count as a valid session.

3. Certificate Required. The Debtor must obtain a certificate which proves that the counseling session took place. The certificate must be filed with the bankruptcy pe­tition.

4. Method (in Person, Telephone or Internet). The required briefing may take place in person, by telephone or on the internet.

5. Fee. The law states that the agency must provide the counseling session without regard to the debtor’s ability to pay a fee. However, there are no published standards to determine the income level at which a person can be said to have an ability to pay. Most approved agencies charge a fee between $9.95 and $60 for the session.

6. Exceptions. There are very limited exceptions to the credit counseling requirement. The only exceptions are for:

a. Adequate Counseling Not Available. Districts in which adequate counseling services are determined by the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator not to be available. This exception does not apply to cases filed in the Northern District of Texas.

b. Incapacity, Disability or Military Duty. Debtors who are incapacitated, disabled, or on active military duty in a combat zone. A person is considered “incapacitated” only if he has a mental illness or mental deficiency such that he is incapable of realizing and making rational decisions with respect to his financial responsibilities. A “disability” means that the debtor is so physically impaired as to be unable, after reasonable effort, to participate in an in-person, telephone, or in­ternet briefing.

c. Exigent Circumstances. The exception relied upon most is for situations involving exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances means that the debtor was required to immediately file the case without completing the counseling session. To qualify, the debtor must:

  • file a written certification with the court;

  • describe exigent circumstances that merit a waiver of the counseling requirement;

  • state that the debtor requested credit counseling from an approved agency before the case was filed;

  • state that the counseling was unable to obtain the services during the 5-day period beginning on the date on which the debtor made that request.

The court cases that have interpreted this exception have been very strict in enforcing it. A debtor will almost never be able to come to a lawyer within the last few days before a foreclosure sale and file a case without completing the credit counseling session. The debtor will never be able to excuse a failure to at least try to obtain credit counseling or credit repair before filing the case by obtaining counseling the day after (or even one minute after) the case is filed. The court simply has no discretion to allow the debtor to obtain the counseling after the case is filed if he/she did not even try to obtain the counseling services before the case was filed.

As a result of these requirements, the exigent circumstances exception will almost never apply.

If you have questions about bankruptcy, I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

Can't I Make Small Payments On My Credit Cards And Eventually Catch Up?

You could try, but depending on how far you are behind it is probably unlikely that you will ever pay off your credit cards in full. When you fall behind, the credit card companies will substantially raise your interest rate, causing you to get further behind. You will eventually exceed your debt limit and be charged over-limit fees, too. If you have $15,000 in credit card debt, with an average interest rate of 17% and pay $300 per month, it will take you almost 7 years and 4 months to pay off the debt, and you will have paid in over $26,000. If you’ve fallen behind on your cards, and your average interest rate is 27%, it would take you approximately 12-1/2 years to pay off the debt at $350 per month. If you qualify, bankruptcy can eliminate all of this debt within 3-1/2 months.

If you have questions about bankruptcy, I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

10 Well Known People Who Filed Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy used to have a stigma attached, but after a period of time people began to realize bankruptcy isn’t something to be ashamed of or avoid, that it’s a service created to help people who’ve been hit with hard times. Imagine those sleepless nights, the weight on your shoulders and the fear of opening your mail all GONE. That’s exactly what bankruptcy can do for you. Can you recover from bankruptcy? Take a look at the list below to see some of the most successful people who came back from bankruptcy.

1) Abraham Lincoln

Ironically, Abraham Lincoln’s face is all over our money. It’s ironic because Abraham Lincoln once didn’t have a dime to his name and now his head is printed on the $5 bill. Before his presidential days, Honest Abe ran a store not nearly as successful as his later endeavors. It's safe to say Lincoln wasn’t the best storekeeper. Lincoln owed $1,000 (almost $28,000 in today’s currency) after his partner died. Despite this, Abraham Lincoln went on to be one of the most famous and inspirational presidents.

2) Walt Disney

Everyone knows who Walt Disney is, but people often don’t know that he filed bankruptcy. When a film deal turned sour and Walt’s client didn’t pay, he had nothing except debts and bills. Five years later, Walt went on to create Mickey Mouse and one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies.

3) Henry Ford

Henry Ford filed bankruptcy in 1903, but that did not stop him from building a huge automotive empire. He tried, failed, and tried again. He kept on trying until his dream became a reality. His net worth at the time of his death in 1947 is estimated at $199,000,000,000 in today's dollars – yes, billion. Who’d have thought Henry Ford had ever filed bankruptcy?

4) Donald Trump

A famous businessman, 45th President of the United States, and a keen user of the phrase “you’re fired!” Donald Trump is no stranger to bankruptcy. Still in business and profiting, Donald Trump has filed for business bankruptcy not once, not twice, not three times, but four times.  Donald Trump is the third President to have filed bankruptcy.

5) Larry King

Before Larry King was a huge hit on American radio and television, he was in over $350,000 of debt. The same year Larry filed for bankruptcy would be the very same year he would embark on his 25-year career as one of the most popular radio and television hosts in America.

6) Ulysses S Grant

Ulysses Grant is the second President to have filed bankruptcy. He was the leader of the Union army in the Civil War and our nation's 18th President. After serving as President, Grant was a partner in a Wall Street investment firm and was cheated by a swindling partner and left destitute. Grant went on to create literary works that brought him back from bankruptcy.

7) Wayne Newton

In 1992, Wayne filed for bankruptcy to help with the $20,000,000 debt which he’d accrued trying to sue broadcasting giant, NBC. Within seven years, Wayne was financially stable again and rebuilt a fortune despite his bankruptcy.

8) George Foreman

Before George’s lean, mean, grilling machines, he was a boxer down on his luck and out of pocket. He filed for bankruptcy before reinventing himself and becoming a highly successful entrepreneur with a wide range of kitchen products. George Foreman has an estimated wealth of over $250,000,000.

9) Milton Hershey

Prior to Milton Hershey’s successful career as a chocolatier, he filed bankruptcy after running an unsuccessful candy store for six years. He didn’t give up there. He returned home and created a company where he would perfect milk and caramel production, only to sell the company for $1,000,000 so he could finance his ambitious project of perfecting milk chocolate which would be known as The Hershey Foods Corporation, known now as The Hershey Company, or more well-known as just Hershey.

10) Francis Ford Coppola

Some of you may not know Francis Coppola. Coppola is the writer, producer and director of The Godfather trilogy and other box office hits. Even though he filed for bankruptcy, it hasn’t affected his career and he’s still in production making awesome movies.

No Shame in Filing

Now that you’ve seen a list of 10 successful people who filed bankruptcy and went on the great success—and there are many more people—maybe you’ll feel a little better about bankruptcy. Bankruptcy isn’t anything to be ashamed of and should be utilized where possible by those who need its protection. Unfortunately, no one can predict a hardship which may knock our lives into financial chaos. Bankruptcy was given to us by Congress as a way to deal with financial problems. So if you have a mountain of debt, don’t bury your head in the sand; tackle the problem and consider what bankruptcy can do for you. 

If you have questions about bankruptcy, I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?

Have you been struggling with debt problems for a long time?  If so, making the decision to file for bankruptcy relief is a big step. Many people, once they make the decision to file bankruptcy, want to get it done as soon as possible so they can get on with their lives free from the burden of unmanageable debt.  Therefore, one of the most common questions we are asked is, “When will my bankruptcy be over?”

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Cases filed under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code are also known as “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy cases.  In a Chapter 7 case, a bankruptcy trustee evaluates the debtor’s assets to determine if any of the assets have non-exempt equity.  If an asset has equity that is not protected by a bankruptcy exemption, the trustee may liquidate the asset and use the funds to pay the debtor’s creditors on a pro-rata basis.  Almost all Chapter 7 cases filed in Texas are no-asset cases. In a no-asset case, the debtor usually retains all of his or her property. A debtor will receive a discharge, or elimination, of his or her debts in approximately 3-1/2 months after filing, and the case will be subsequently closed. A no-asset case is usually closed 4 to 5 months after the date the case was filed.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Cases filed under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code are also known as “an adjustment of debts of a person with regular income”. This type of case is usually used to stop a foreclosure, stop repossession of a vehicle, or to pay a non-dischargeable IRS debt. In a Chapter 13 case, the debtor proposes a bankruptcy plan outlining how his or her various creditors will be treated in the bankruptcy. The debtor makes monthly payments to a Chapter 13 trustee and the trustee disburses those payments according to the terms of the confirmed bankruptcy plan. The length of the bankruptcy case is based on the length of the bankruptcy plan. Most plans require the debtor to make payments for 60 months; however, depending on the debtor's income, the case may be as short as 36 months in length. Once all payments are made to the trustee, the trustee will complete a final accounting and the case will be closed.

If you are struggling with debt, contact Michael P. O'Donnell, attorney at law, to discuss your bankruptcy options. You have choices for dealing with your financial problems and I will help you find the solution that is best for you. As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your specific situation. You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options. I look forward to helping you become debt free. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.  

Mistakes To Avoid In Bankruptcy

Make the bankruptcy process easier for yourself by avoiding these common mistakes. Although we can work around most of these mistakes, why dig a deeper hole before you file?

Anything You Do Shortly Before Filing Bankruptcy Is Looked At Very Carefully

If you think that there’s even a 1% chance of your filing bankruptcy, leave everything the way it is right now, and come in for a free initial consultation. Too often, I see good-minded people making their situation worse by some of the things that that do just before coming to see me for a free initial consultation.

Getting A Home Equity Loan To Pay Bills Instead Of Filing Bankruptcy

Your house is not an ATM machine, and you can’t borrow your way out of debt! Sure, you might have a lower payment, but you can lose your home if your income changes and you can’t pay back the loan.  On the other hand, if you can’t pay your credit cards, they can harass or sue you but they can’t take your home. Once you file bankruptcy, the harassment must stop and a Chapter 7 discharge, if you are eligible, will eliminate all of the credit card debt.

Cashing In Your IRA Or 401(k) Instead Of Filing Bankruptcy

Your retirement account is exempt property, which means creditors cannot touch it. So, why give it to your creditors? You'll need this money for your retirement. 

As a Fort Worth bankruptcy lawyer, I've seen people clear out their retirement accounts to pay some of their bills, then ultimately have to file bankruptcy to handle the remainder of their bills.  Come to see me before you take money from your retirement accounts.

Waiting Too Long

It’s human nature to put off unpleasant events, but the best time to handle debt problems is when things are not going your way financially. If you wait until you have more income, it may cost you more to get out of debt. Take advantage of bad financial times by getting a fresh start.

Case in point: A lady came in for a debt consultation following her divorce. She qualified for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which there are no payments to a trustee, but she chose to do nothing. Much later, she came in for another debt consultation because her situation had changed: she had gotten married. She qualified for bankruptcy, but this time she was not eligible for a Chapter 7; she had to file a Chapter 13 that required a plan payment of several hundred dollars a month for five years. Even though her new husband didn’t file bankruptcy, we had to consider all household income. By delaying the inevitable, she brought her old debt problems into her new relationship.

The advice here is to resolve your debt problems with bankruptcy while you’re "down.” If you wait until you “get back on top of your game”, then it may cost you more or even be unavailable.

Here’s a common situation: People sometimes come in for a debt consultation after they have ignored a credit card lawsuit, which resulted in a judgment being entered against them. They come in looking for answers because the cash in their bank account has been garnished by the creditor that obtained the judgment. In most cases, had the person come in when they were first sued, we could have stopped the lawsuit and protected the cash.

The advice here is to consult a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney as soon as you are sued. Doing nothing can make the problem bigger.

Failing To List Everyone You Owe

You must list everyone you owe. If you don’t list a creditor, then you will still owe the creditor after the bankruptcy is completed.

Failing To List Everything You Own

Tell your lawyer about everything you own, even if you think it is “exempt” or if you want to “keep it".

List It, Or Lose It! If you fail to list property in the bankruptcy, then it may not yours after the bankruptcy case is completed. Property of the estate in a bankruptcy case includes "all legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as of the commencement of the case."

Let’s say you have a car accident claim, but you don’t list it. After the bankruptcy case is over, you lose any right to assert that claim in separate litigation.  This is known as the doctrine of judicial estoppel.

Keeping More Debt Than You Can Afford

Although you must list everyone you owe, you get to choose which debts you want to keep.

Here’s the key point: If you want to keep possessions that are secured by the property, you’ve got to keep paying for them! The flip side of that coin is this: the more you keep, the more you must pay. So, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Having Too Much Cash

You are limited as to how much cash you can protect in a bankruptcy case. Determining just how much you can protect requires a review of several factors. If you have too much cash, then I will suggest some bankruptcy estate planning strategies. The key point here: don’t give it to family before you come to see me. We must talk before you move anything around!

Filing Bankruptcy When You Have A Substantial Tax Refund Pending

Tax refunds are treated like cash in the bank. If you have too much, we may need to do some bankruptcy estate planning to protect it.

Large Credit Card Usage Shortly Before Filing Bankruptcy

Significant cash advances, balance transfers, or purchases on a credit card shortly before filing bankruptcy can create problems for your case. How much is too much? How soon is too soon? It depends on several factors. Stop using the cards, and let’s talk.

Repaying Family Members Less Than A Year Before Filing

The most common problem is that the client repays a family member with their tax refund, then the client comes to see me about bankruptcy. That payment to the family member could be a problem in your case; it could be seen as a "preferential transfer", which is not permitted. If you can, wait until after your case is completed to repay family members.

Transferring Or Giving Property To Family

You may be able to protect your property while it’s in your possession or control, but not after you have given it to someone. This may be considered a "fraudulent transfer", depending on when the transfer is made. So, keep it and you may be able to protect it.

If you have questions about bankruptcy, I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your particular situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

 

Can I Stop The Title Loan Company From Repossessing My Car or Truck By Filing Bankruptcy?

Yes. If you qualify, filing chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop your title loan company from repossessing your vehicle.  It can also let you pay them back over time at a reasonable interest rate, with a payment that you can afford. 

If you are delinquent on your title loan payments or you see that you won't be able to pay the loan back as fast as the title loan company wants, and you live in the Fort Worth, Texas area, the Irving, Texas area, or the surrounding counties, contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861 to schedule a FREE consultation.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case EvaluationAs an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can help you decide what to do to save your vehicle.

Can My Bankruptcy Trustee Take The Money I Withdrew From My IRA?

Yes, in certain circumstances.  If you have claimed the IRA as exempt under Texas law, and you take out a lump sum during a bankruptcy and do not reinvest it in another IRA (a nontaxable rollover) within 60 days, then the money is no longer considered an IRA and it may be seized by your bankruptcy trustee.

My recommendation: Don't take a lump sum distribution from your IRA during a bankruptcy if you have claimed the funds as exempt under Texas law, unless you are doing a nontaxable rollover to another qualified plan.  Check with your bankruptcy lawyer first.  The safe bet is to wait until the bankruptcy case is not only discharged but closed.

If you have questions about bankruptcy, I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your particular situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

I Filed Bankruptcy In The Past. Can I File Another Bankruptcy?

Yes, but to receive a discharge of your debts in your second bankruptcy a certain amount of time must have passed.  The time required between bankruptcy filings to receive a discharge typically runs from the date of filing of your previous bankruptcy to the date of the filing of the new bankruptcy.  There are exceptions to these rules, but generally:

  • The time between successive Chapter 7 bankruptcies is 8 years, from the filing date in the first case.

  • The time between successive Chapter 13 bankruptcies is 2 years, from the filing date in the first case.

  • The time between a Chapter 13 followed by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is 6 years, from the filing date in the first case.

  • The time between a Chapter 7 followed by a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is 4 years, from the filing date in the first case.

If your first bankruptcy was dismissed without prejudice prior to discharge, you may not have to wait at all depending on the specific facts of your situation.

If you are struggling with your finances and need to eliminate your debts, bankruptcy may offer the relief you seek.  I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your particular situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817) 732-7590 or (972) 819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.

Why can't I use an online service to file bankruptcy or file a case on my own?

Be wary of websites that promise to fill out the bankruptcy forms for you or to file a bankruptcy for you when you are not meeting with a lawyer approved to practice law in Texas.  If something goes wrong in your bankruptcy, you may be on your own.  Personally, while observing creditors meetings or while sitting in bankruptcy court, I have seen cases go seriously wrong because someone filed a bankruptcy by themselves without an attorney or relied on an online service.  Bankruptcy is complicated and includes a lot of required forms and has strict deadlines.  Failure to timely file forms, correctly complete forms, and meet deadlines can result in your bankruptcy case being dismissed.  When a bankruptcy is dismissed your debts are not discharged and you no longer have bankruptcy protection.  If you refile, you must start over from the beginning, pay the filing fee again, and may face additional legal hurdles that would not have occurred had the case been filed correctly in the first place.

If you are struggling with your finances and need a rapid way to eliminate your debts, bankruptcy may offer the relief you seek.  I recommend using a qualified Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney.  As an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney, I can offer advice on how to proceed based on your particular situation.  You and I can meet face to face to discuss your options.  I look forward to helping you become debt free.  To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact me at (817)-732-7590 or (972)-819-3861.  You can also send me an E-mail or complete the Free Case Evaluation.