Bankruptcy and Consumer Law Practice
Crain|Schuette Attorneys offer bankruptcy representation with a focus on debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Our attorneys have assisted hundreds of clients through these complicated processes.
Here is how we approach these cases.
Our potential clients range from those surviving on minimal income and assets, to those with substantial income and assets. There is no typical bankruptcy client—every case is unique. For this reason, during our initial engagement with clients, we focus getting to know our clients’ backgrounds and goals. Based on what we learn about our clients, we can then help seek a solution with the endpoint in mind. Once we have some insight into your situation, we help you understand your options.
While there is usually some event that prompts someone to contact us about bankruptcy (such as being sued by a creditor or receiving a garnishment), we help people step back and look at the bigger picture. Our goal is to ensure that going through bankruptcy will have the intended effect—relief from the stress of being pursued by creditors and a chance to rebuild.
To File or Not to File
There are few decisions that can have such a life-altering impact as the decision whether to file bankruptcy. Practically no one manages his or her finances so as to deliberately arrive at the point where bankruptcy is a necessary or desirable option. It is not a decision to be taken lightly because it has a lasting impact, both positively and negatively. We are sensitive to how difficult the decision can be and have the experience to know when to advise against filing. Either way, it is important to seek competent legal advice from an experienced attorney before deciding whether to file for bankruptcy.
Types of Bankruptcy (Liquidation vs. Reorganization)
Chapter 7 – Liquidation
For many clients, Chapter 7 is the ideal option and the most expedient means by which to improve their financial situation. Here are the basics of a Chapter 7 case:
- Liquidation (selling) of clients’ unexempt assets (property that can be taken from the debtor and sold to pay creditors) and paying the proceeds of the sale to the clients’ creditors.
- Whatever debts remain unpaid after liquidation are discharged, which simply means the clients’ legal obligation to pay the debts is terminated.
- While there are some debts that cannot be discharged, most can and clients are allowed to claim exemption for some assets, such as their home, car, clothing, furniture, etc.
- In a typical Chapter 7 case, clients keep most (and sometimes all) of their property and only repay those debts secured by the collateral they wish to keep after the bankruptcy (such as home loans or auto loans).
- Chapter 7 allows clients who can afford their regular monthly payments for secured debts (such as home or auto loans), but cannot afford the additional payments on unsecured debts, such as credit cards, and medical bills, to have the unsecured debts discharged.
Reorganization Under Chapter 13
Chapter 13 is a voluntary option in bankruptcy that allows debtors to restructure their debts in a manner that allows them to repay some or all of their debts over the course of 3-5 years while being protected from their creditors by the bankruptcy court. Clients who have been harassed by debt collectors are especially grateful for this.
Here are some reasons why someone would consider filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy:
- Debtors with monthly income exceeding the allowable limits for Chapter 7.
- Debtors who received a discharge of their debts in a previous Chapter 7 within eight years, or in a previous Chapter 13 case within six years.
- Debtors have delinquent payments on secured debts, such as home or auto loans.
- Debtors have domestic support (child support, alimony/maintenance) payment arrears.
- Debtors have assets that exceed the allowable exemptions and would risk liquidation (selling) of their property by the bankruptcy trustee in Chapter 7.
- Debtors are paying high interest on secured debts and may reduce the interest rates in Chapter 13.
- Debtors may pay administrative costs of their bankruptcy case through their Chapter 13 plan payments.
- Debtors may wish to restructure tax debts and other priority claims (Domestic Support, restitution payments, fines, etc.)
If you find yourself in difficult financial circumstances, please feel free to contact us for a confidential consultation.
Mike Carey leads CSA’s bankruptcy practice out of our Kentucky office. After serving nearly ten years in the military, he left active duty in 2005 to pursue his goal of becoming an attorney. He had completed his undergraduate degree and law school by 2010 and was admitted to the practice of law in Kentucky in May 2011, while continuing to serve part-time in the Kentucky Army National Guard. Mike began representing debtors in bankruptcy cases almost immediately after starting his first legal job, and has steadily grown his law practice ever since. Narrowly focusing his practice in this area of law, he has now represented hundreds of debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. He views his bankruptcy law practice as an opportunity to help a large number of people deal with financial distress, one of the most stressful aspects of modern life. While filing for bankruptcy is not a pleasant experience for anyone, his approach helps clients to focus on the big picture, and the hopefully much less stressful life after bankruptcy.
Upon graduating from law school in 2002, Amanda joined the firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers & Moore, P.S.C. (BOAM) in Bowling Green, Kentucky as a full time attorney. At BOAM, Amanda practiced in the areas of insurance defense litigation, bankruptcy, education and school law and banking law. In 2015, Amanda joined CRAIN|SCHUETTE ATTORNEYS. Amanda is licensed to practice in all state courts in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Ms. Blakeman is also licensed to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She is a member of the Bowling Green-Warren County Bar Association and the Kentucky Bar Association.