Richard West Law Office
We represent hundreds of clients through out Columbus, Ohio in Bankruptcy matters including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Get a Fresh start.
If you need a bankruptcy in Columbus Ohio, there’s good news. There are a number of Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorneys available. Finding the best bankruptcy attorney for you depends on your circumstances. Here is a checklist to help you find the right Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney for you.
The “best bankruptcy attorney” is a matter of opinion, and there are actually several answers. What’s best for one is not the best Columbus Ohio bankruptcy for someone else. Your situation is unique. You don’t have the same circumstances and goals as anyone else. There truly is no “one size fits all” answer.
As of this writing, May 9, 2020, there have been 4,975 bankruptcy cases filed in Southern Ohio, and 2,363, nearly half, filed in the Columbus Ohio Bankruptcy Court. If you need a bankruptcy attorney in Columbus Ohio, you have a lot of company. The number of bankruptcy cases filed will increase, as unemployment due to COVID-19 continues to rise.
This is a key question and, again, is very specific to your circumstances. I’ve been filing personal bankruptcy cases in Ohio since 1986.
There have been numerous economic downturns resulting in the need to file bankruptcy. However, nothing as widespread as the COVID-19 pandemic induced problems.
“It depends” is the answer to the “when to file” question. There are several things to consider.
Loss of Income, Loss of Job, When to File Bankruptcy
The main reason to file bankruptcy in Columbus Ohio is loss of income. But, it’s not just loss of income that triggers the need to file personal bankruptcy. You must also estimate what level your income be when you become re-employed.
Fortunately, nobody stays unemployed forever.
Eventually we become reemployed, but often at a lower income level. And many of us live, if not paycheck to paycheck, but often with expenses that equal our income. So, a lower paying job leaves us short. This is why many in Columbus Ohio see the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Filing bankruptcy in Columbus Ohio can help you manage expenses when you take a new job with lower starting pay by eliminating expenses you can no longer afford.
What a bankruptcy attorney in Columbus Ohio should tell you.
If your financial stress is more than you can handle, your best solution is to contact a Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney who has many years of experience in BOTH Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and also is trained in non-bankruptcy debt relief options.
Bankruptcy is NOT the best solution for everyone.
And, if bankruptcy is the best solution, chapter 7 is not “better” than chapter 13, even if you do qualify for a chapter 7, you may get a much, much better result if you file chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The best approach to find the best solution by comparing ALL options.
First, start with your non-bankruptcy options.
If you can negotiate a deal with ALL of your creditors to obtain a FULL FINANCIAL RECOVERY in a REASONABLE TIME, then you should definitely NOT file bankruptcy.
Even if you can make deals with your creditors that will enable to you to get by without filing bankruptcy, you need to ask yourself if this is better than filing bankruptcy and getting a fresh start faster.
It is critical to realize that non-bankruptcy options often hurt your credit for a much longer time than if you file bankruptcy and rebuild your credit from scratch (I have a proven program that does this amazingly quickly).
Compare Both Bankruptcy Options against each other
Assuming you decide that a bankruptcy makes more sense, you need to explore both chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. This is where finding the right bankruptcy attorney in Columbus Ohio might be harder than you think.
Some Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorneys don’t file chapter 13 at all, or they don’t file many.
Some bankruptcy attorneys are not comfortable taking on the more complex chapter 13 cases, as they last for 3 to 5 years, typically require the attorney to have a much larger staff, as chapter 13 cases are much more involved than chapter 7 cases.
Sole practitioners and very small law firms sometimes chose to avoid the long term chapter 13 cases.
And, if you do qualify for a chapter 7, you might be inclined to choose that option if offered to you, unless the attorney carefully reviews and explains the benefits of both chapters and helps you evaluate both of them.
A careful analysis of both chapter 7 and chapter 13 is needed before you can be sure you are making the right choice.
For example, when we do our taxes, we usually compare single vs. joint filings, so we can be sure we are getting the best refund.
Similarly, your attorney needs to do the same when helping you decide between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The results might surprise you.
A simple example illustrates the danger of not comparing chapter 7 to chapter 13.
Case Study for a typical Columbus Ohio bankruptcy case.
Dan has $25,000 in credit cards, personal loans and medical bills. He has lost income due to COVID-19, was on unemployment for a while (for the first time in his life) but is now working again. His new job pays less, but he is grateful to have it. He simply cannot afford to make even the minimum payments on his unsecured debts. In fact, he has only been able to keep his house payment and car payment current.
Dan’s income loss is more than he can handle. He needs help.
Dan knows he needs to file bankruptcy but is not sure what chapter is best.
He needs to keep his car. He knows he owes a lot more on it, $20,000, than it is worth, only about $10,000. But he needs it and wants to keep it. The payment is $400 per month, and the interest rate is 20%.
A tale of two Columbus Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney experiences
The first Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney Dan saw told him he qualifies for chapter 7, and recommended that Dan file chapter 7 and reaffirm the car payment. This would eliminate all of his $25,000 unsecured debt, and leave him with only his house payment and his car payment of $400 (at 20% interest).
The first attorney did not review options in chapter 13.
Dan is no dummy.
He knows that he needs to consider ALL options to make the right choice. He asked the first attorney if chapter 13 bankruptcy was an option for him, and was told that if he qualifies for chapter 7, this is the quicker, cheaper way to go.
Dan decides to get a a second opinion.
The second Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney agreed that the “cheaper quicker” option was chapter 7 bankruptcy, but then proceeded to explain how a chapter 13 might be a better option.
In Chapter 13, all Dan’s debt could be paid at 1%, almost nothing, just like a chapter 7, but that the car Dan needed to keep, since he bought it more than 2 ½ years ago, could be “crammed down” in a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
This means that Dan could pay only $10,000 for the car, at about 6% interest. So, even with the attorney fees factored in (which would be paid in Dan’s chapter 13 plan) the payment would only be $300 per month.
Dan actually pays LESS for the car and has a LOWER PAYMENT in Chapter 13!
And, he did not have to come up with all the money to file chapter 7 at once, because the second bankruptcy attorney agreed to put all the attorney fees in the plan, so Dan could file for under $500.
Loss of income often leaves us unable to pay our debts as we would like to. Bankruptcy has been the solution to this problem for many in Columbus Ohio.
Your options include non-bankruptcy and bankruptcy solutions, and you need to compare them all.
Bankruptcy options should be evaluated against each other – Chapter 7 is NOT necessarily better even if you qualify for chapter 7. You probably also qualify for chapter 13.
Finding a Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney who has years of experience and who can compare all three options, and is prepared to file a chapter 13 if you need it is critical to getting the best solution for your individual circumstances.
Richard West Law Office is the largest “bankruptcy only” office in Southern Ohio. We file more bankruptcy cases, more chapter 13 cases, and have more top rated Google reviews than any other office in Southern Ohio. If you need a comprehensive analysis of ALL your options, and a proven program to help you rapidly recover your credit after discharging debt in bankruptcy, the Columbus Ohio bankruptcy attorney to talk with is at Richard West Law office. Since 1986 families have trusted Richard West Law Office to help them get a Full Financial Recovery, including recovered credit.
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