Personal Injury Settlement and Bankruptcy.

You’ve just settled your auto accident case and paid off your attorney, but you may still have crushing medical bills to pay that exceed the remaining balance of your settlement.  What can be done?  Can creditors come after your settlement that is supposed to be your nest egg?  Not necessarily!  You have to follow specific rules if you have to file bankruptcy on the medical debts.

Disclosure

It is bad enough to be injured in an accident, but to lose your claim for compensation can be devastating. Personal injury claims can be exempt in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are sometimes lost because the debtor failed to disclose the claim or did not know how to protect it.  When in doubt, disclose everything.

A settlement is an asset like any personal property and it is your responsibility to disclose any settlement with your bankruptcy attorney and it should be listed on the bankruptcy schedules.  If you do not, you may not be able to exempt the funds of the settlement and they could fall into the hands of the trustee.

Ironically, many claims lost for failure to disclose would have been exempt anyway, had the debtors listed them. By attempting to protect the claim by not disclosing it, the debtors in such cases lost out. (The courts have taken a hard line of late on undisclosed assets, even in cases where the entire claim would have been exempt had it been reported.)

Exempting Your Settlement or Claim

There are exemptions that can protect all or part of the proceeds of a damages award or a settlement. In Wisconsin, you can keep up to $50,000 from a personal injury award or settlement.

Although this exemption is limited and does not exempt compensation for pain and suffering and actual pecuniary (monetary or actual losses), there are often other ways to protect your claim.

Proper Bankruptcy Planning

If you’re settlement exceeds the $50,000 allowed in Wisconsin, you can used other exemptions and careful bankruptcy planning to exempt more of your settlement.  It is essential that you speak with an experience Wisconsin Bankruptcy Attorney to walk you through the steps in securing your financial future and preparing for your bankruptcy.

Don’t lose your right to compensation for an accident. If you have been injured in a car accident or other incident, it is critically important to (1) tell your bankruptcy lawyer about any potential claim you may have, and (2) tell your personal injury lawyer that you are considering filing for bankruptcy. As you can see from the above, how an award or settlement agreement characterizes the damages can impact whether the funds are exempt. Your attorneys can work together to reach the best possible outcome for you.

Family First Expo on Saturday, Sept 21st!!!

Are you looking to find businesses in the Madison area that are focused on families?  Come to the Family First Expo on Saturday September 21st from 10am-2pm.  This will give parents and families an  opportunity to meet with local resources that can help them  with college prep, nanny services, child development, family health, estate planning and child guardianship.

I have created a facebook event where people can signup!!!

https://www.facebook.com/events/175008599353650/

The event will be held at the American Family DreamBank right on the capitol square.  So, if you’re at the farmers market or just want to have a fun Saturday morning, please stop by!

Let anyone that you  know that my be interested in this event!!!

Expo

 

When is the Best Time to Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney?

First let’s go over the worst case scenario.  If you have received a document notifying you that your wages are going to be garnished, served with a lawsuit, or foreclosure of a home in immanent, then this is the worst possible time.  If your car has been repossessed and now you have no way to get to work, this is again a terrible time to contact an attorney.  The key is to reach out before things come a head.

While a bankruptcy attorney could still help you, it is better to contact an attorney and come up with a solid legal plan before you start to lose assets.

The best time to speak to a bankruptcy attorney is when you know your finances are not where they should be and you are having a hard time paying the bills that you have.  You may be current on the financial obligations that you have, but you are beginning to feel the pressure of these obligations.  Thisis the time that you want to start looking at what strategies are available.

It is important to note that looking for a bankruptcy attorney, does not commit you to filing.  The attorney should be available to give information and assess your situation.  The attorney should be able to go through the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy

The key takeaway is to be proactive.  If you feel that you have debts that are adding stress to you life, consider speaking to an attorney before creditors are foreclosing on your home or repossessing your vehicle.

Please feel free to call Kemp Law Firm with any questions at 608-218-4092

What are the Steps to Filing Bankruptcy in Wisconsin?

A very short and sweet article on the steps that you need to go through to file bankruptcy.  The source is the Bankruptcy Law Network.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with financial difficulties or hardship, please feel free to have them call Kemp Law Firm at 608.218.4092.

I am often asked what to I need to do to file a bankruptcy. My reply is you have taken the first step. You have contacted a bankruptcy lawyer seeking information. Only with this information can you determine if you can file bankruptcy and if bankruptcy is the right thing for you to do. I thought I would make list of the things you should do.

1. Get Some information. You can do some basic information on how bankruptcy works by visiting a good website like this one.

2. Contact a bankruptcy lawyer for a consultation. Most bankruptcy lawyers will offer your first consultation for free.

3. Visit the lawyers website for more information.

4. Gather up your financial information. Bankruptcy lawyers will provide you help with this. My office has a package we send prior to consultation either by email, snail mail, or by directing people to our website. There is a list here of what we need to review.

5. Its time for your consultation. This is the most important stes. Only by meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer will you gain enough information to make a good decision. This first meeting will give you the basic information on how bankruptcy works in general. It can give you the information on how bankruptcy will work in your case. However there is often a lot of information that the bankruptcy lawyer will need to review to determine if bankruptcy is for you and the type of bankruptcy that is best for you.

6. Gather up and bring to your lawyer all the additional information and documents the lawyer asks for.

7. Get a copy of your credit report.

8. Retain your lawyer (pay the lawyer). Remember you still have not filed bankruptcy.

9. You may now have several contacts with your lawyer and the staff depending on how complicated your case. These meeting are important to make sure your paperwork is accurate

10. Take your credit counseling course. You can not file bankruptcy unless you have completed a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. Your lawyer will provide you with information on how to do that.

11. My office provides a draft to our clients ahead of their signing appointment. It is very important to review this document for missing creditors and to make sure all the questions are answered truthfully and correctly.

12. Signing the paperwork. You will then go over the paper in detail with your lawyer to make sure it is correct and accurate. There are a number of different documents to sign. Once these papers are filed your answers cant be erased. Make sure you have all your concerns addressed before the papers are sent to the court.

13. Once you have signed the papers, the lawyer hits a button and you case is filed electronically with the bankruptcy court. You are given a case number. You have now filed bankruptcy. A meeting of creditors is scheduled. There is a lot more still to be done but you have now filed bankruptcy.

What You Should Do After Your Bankruptcy Discharge

A great article posted on the Bankruptcy Law Network on what to do after you have been granted a bankruptcy discharge.

Got your bankruptcy discharge?

Great! You’re on your way to a fresh start.

Now you’ve got work to do.

◊ List the debts that didn’t get discharged. Family support, recent taxes, student loans, or taxes for years for which you haven’t filed bankruptcy are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The discharge order doesn’t say what debts survive.

◊ Verify lien balances The discharge eliminates your personal liability for dischargeable debts; liens survive. If you plan to keep a house or car encumbered with liens, find out what you owe and resume payments. Otherwise, the creditor can enforce its lien by foreclosure or repossession.

◊ Rearrange banking Online banking and automatic bill pay may have been disabled while you were in bankruptcy.

◊ Set up automatic savings Bankruptcy probably brought home to you how little net worth you have and how thin the safety net is. Arrange for automatic savings for both an emergency fund and for retirement.

◊ Save your bankruptcy papers- You’re nearly certain to encounter efforts by buyers of zombie debt to collect debts that have been discharged in your case. You need to be able to show that the debt was scheduled in your case. Creditors with notice, and those they sell their worthless accounts to without notice, were discharged.

◊ Join a credit union Credit unions are owned by their members. They are in business to make loans to members. Rates are usually better than the banks, and the profits flow to members. About the only kinds of credit I’m enthusiastic about are car loans and home loans. Plan to be eligible to apply for a loan by joining now.

◊ Check insurance coverage If you elected to surrender property through the bankruptcy that still stands in your name, make sure that you are insured for liability. Liaibility insurance covers you for claims of anyone injured on your property. Electing to surrender property doesn’t take you off title til someone else goes on title. Don’t let post bankruptcy claims arising from property you’re trying to get rid of spoil your fresh start.

◊ Pull a credit report Several months after your discharge, check your credit report to make sure all discharged debts reflect a zero balance. The ugly history can properly remain, but you are entitled to a showing that you now owe nothing.

Take advantage of the opportunity that bankruptcy has provided, and go forth and prosper. Good luck.