Complete Legal Advice Through Bankruptcy

Arkansas’ Best Bankruptcy Attorney

If you’re dealing with a large amount of burdensome debt that is keeping you in a hole, it’s important to seek economic assistance immediately before it gets worse. The experienced bankruptcy attorney at Crawley Law Firm can provide informed financial suggestions and guidance to residents of Northeast Arkansas area. We have vast knowledge in the field, so we are uniquely specialized to give you the right information. You can get yourself out of debt and into better financial standing with solid planning and restructuring. Because there are so many nuances in bankruptcy law, it’s crucial that you seek the help of a qualified bankruptcy lawyer who can get you on the right track.

Filing For Bankruptcy In Arkansas

A bankruptcy attorney can go through the myriad of options available in these circumstances and aid you in selecting the one that makes the most sense for your particular situation. This area of law is broken down into chapters, of which we commonly proceed with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy among others. Depending on the details of your case, these alternatives can help you get your affairs in order with time. You can consult with Mr. Crawley to have him get acquainted with your case and offer you sound advice.

Generally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will consist of turning a debtor’s non-exempt assets into cash. This type of bankruptcy is called a “liquidation” bankruptcy and is available to people who don’t make enough money to pay their debts. Once the bankruptcy is discharged, a trustee or bankruptcy lawyer can be assigned to distribute liquid assets to creditors. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a restructuring of debt payments takes place, which allows debtors to maintain major assets. Some of these exemptions could include assets like your home, retirement accounts, and car among others. A bankruptcy attorney can settle what are exempt and non-exempt items, and a judge will approve a repayment plan. These arrangements can span three to five years or more, and any remaining debts are cleared after that.

Bankruptcy In Arkansas

Bankruptcy FAQs – Understanding The Chapters Of Bankruptcy

Depending on the circumstances, different types of bankruptcy are appropriate. They are referred to by their chapter titles in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The most commonly filed chapters are 7, 11, 12, and 13.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Commonly referred to as “liquidation,” Chapter 7 bankruptcy is available to people whose income does not meet certain thresholds. In this type of bankruptcy, the debtor’s non-exempt assets are liquidated into cash and a trustee distributes that money to creditors. Usually, there are few non-exempt assets.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?

When your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is filed, a trustee is appointed by the court. This trustee – who may or may not be a lawyer – is responsible for reviewing your bankruptcy papers to be sure that you have not hidden anything, did not lie, and made all required disclosures.

You will be called for a meeting of creditors within 4-6 weeks of when the case is filed. This is a very informal meeting with the trustee and takes about 10-15 minutes. You will be asked a series of questions about your case, and the trustee will review the documents that have been filed with the bankruptcy court.

Don’t worry about the meeting of creditors. Why? Because:
1. Creditors seldom – if ever – show up; and
2. One of our lawyers will be there with you to help you understand the process and to represent you during the meeting.

Once your meeting of creditors is completed, you will be required to complete a brief financial management certification course. Most people do this over the phone or online, and it helps you think about how to avoid financial problems in the future. Your Discharge of Debtor is issued about 4 months after the case is filed, and releases you from all of your dischargeable debts. Think about it – four months from now, you could be debt-free.

How Long Does It Take?

Arkansas Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases can be completely finished in approximately four months – sometimes even faster than that.

Of course, in order for the bankruptcy case to be completed quickly, it is important that you do the work needed to get the proper documents to our office. Those documents help us prepare a correct petition immediately, speeding up the process. If there are mistakes or inconsistencies, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee may keep the case open to verify information or look into any issues.

In some difficult cases, if issues arise or there are assets in the case, there is no set answer to when a case will be closed. The bankruptcy trustee may take months or years to review additional documents and conduct an examination of assets. That may or may not interfere with your ability to get a Discharge in Bankruptcy. However, most cases are considered no-asset cases where the trustee does not administer any of your property.

If a case seems to be taking a long time to finish, call our office to talk with one of our staff members. If you have any questions along the way, give us a call so we can ensure you understand what is going on with your case.

Will I Lose My Property?
Most people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arkansas do not lose any property. That’s because the law allows you to keep many types of property when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arkansas. Different states have different rules.

If our analysis of your situation shows that you would lose property in Chapter 7, we will let you know before your case is filed. You may decide that it’s worth it to give up something in exchange for a discharge of your debts. If not, however, there are other options, such as Chapter 13 bankruptcy, to help you.

What To Bring?

Filing for bankruptcy in Arkansas can be simple in the right hands. That’s why when you meet with one of our lawyers at Crawley Law Firm, you are asked to bring certain documents and information for us. With the right information, we can get to the heart of your problem quickly and effectively, giving you the help you need. When you come for your consultation, you will need to bring a number of documents.

We must review proof of your last 6 months’ income.

  • If you receive pay stubs (both you and your spouse)
    Bring copies of pay stubs for the 6 months prior to your conference.
    We must have the last 60 days’ pay stubs in the file. If getting all of them is impossible, ask your payroll office to give you something that shows what your gross income, deductions, and net income has been for the last 6 months.
  • If you are self-employed
    Bring copies of all bank statements that will show what deposits you have made.
    Bring proof of all business expenses, taxes, etc. that have been paid out of those funds during the last 6 months.

List of Creditors

    • We need copies of all bills you may have received during the last 2 months, if possible.
    • We also need to know the following information about every creditor you may have.

Name
Correspondence Address
Account Number
Amount Owed

  • Proof of the filing of your last 4 years Income Tax Returns. You have 3 options to obtain your transcripts: Totals of your 2017, 2018, 2019 income, and 2020 year to date income for you and your spouse separately (if married).
    Order them for free by following the step below:
    These must be ordered as soon as possible, but are not required for an initial consultation.
    To order them, please call 1-800-829-1040 and follow the instructions to obtain the tax return transcript. (The number inputs are: 2; 2; enter your Social Security Number (SSN); 1 (if you typed your SSN correctly); 4 (if you filed joint, put in your spouse’s social security number); verify address (put numbers in street address); 4 (to receive the transcript of account in 10 to 15 days); Year; 1 (if the year is correct); 1 (if what you requested is correct); 2 (same type for another year)).
    Go to the second floor of the Federal Building located at 615 S. Main St., Room 314, Jonesboro, AR 72401.
    Pay us $35 for all 4 years for a single filing or $70 for all 4 years for a joint filing.
You can get one FREE annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
If we need any further information, we will let you know.

Chapter 7 And Your Credit Score

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take a huge toll on your credit rating, but luckily by the time your debts are discharged, you’re in a better financial position than before. You’ve hopefully also gained the budgeting and planning skills to make a recovery possible. The basic steps for rebuilding credit are simple; they just require some patience and discipline. The following are some options for acquiring loans and strategies for making the most of them.

Recording Credit Builder Loans
This is a very basic type of loan whose sole purpose is to build your credit. They’re usually offered by small community banks and credit unions. How it works is: you apply for a loan and are approved, but the amount of the loan is deposited in an account. You then make monthly payments determined by the length of the loan, and the bank reports those payments to credit rating agencies, boosting your score. Since there is no risk to the financial institution, approval is very likely. Any missed payments would be reported as well, so make sure you never miss any.
Reporting Secured Loans and Credit Cards
These options work similarly. Cash is deposited in a savings account or CD, and a loan is issued equal to the amount of the deposit. You usually won’t be able to access the money until the loan is paid off, but each payment will be reported to the credit agencies so your credit will improve. Your money will continue to earn interest while in the savings account or CD, and because the risk is low to the lender, the interest rate on loan will be very low.
Rebuilding With Unsecured Loans and Cards
After your credit has been rebuilt somewhat, you’ll be able to apply for an unsecured credit card or loan. Because your score will likely still be low and the bankruptcy still on your report, your options will be limited. The best place to start is with the bank that held your secured loan or credit card. They have experience with you as a customer and are more likely to approve of you. Store cards (retail credit) are other easy-to-obtain cards because they can only be used at the store that issues them, limiting the risk of them being misused. Be aware, though: interest rates tend to be very high on these cards, so carrying a balance is especially harmful.
Rebuilding With Payment Strategies
Initially, you’ll want to make every payment in full every month. Especially on secured cards and loans, this is vital. Once you’ve obtained an unsecured loan, experts recommend not using more than 30% of your available credit limit and paying it off every month in full. After a year of doing this, you can call your financial institution and request an increase in your credit limit. At this point, some people find it beneficial (and some experts recommend) carrying a small balance from month to month. If this is the route you choose, the balance should not be more than 20% of your available credit.
These steps take some time, up to three or four years, to fully take effect. Your patience and diligence will be worth it when you see your credit score increase by up to 100 points.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a very complex area. Luckily, most people who file for bankruptcy in Arkansas do not need Chapter 11 bankruptcy. You can read more about Chapter 11 below; however, in most situations, filing Chapter 11 is overkill for all but the most specialized of circumstances. If you want to learn more about your options, call Crawley Law Firm at (870) 972-1150.

Chapter 11 is a type of bankruptcy usually filed by businesses, but also available to individuals under specific circumstances. If an individual has assets in excess of the requirements to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or has debts too high for Chapter 13, it may be appropriate. If you and your lawyer decide to file Chapter 11, this information below will provide an overview of the steps and timeline of the process.

Filing For Protection From Creditors
Under Chapter 11, once the petition is filed, the court grants what’s called an “automatic stay.” This means that all collection attempts must immediately end. This gives the debtor relief from calls, letters, and other efforts to collect on the debt. Foreclosures are automatically halted as well. This stay lasts until the reorganization plan is approved by the court. Usually, a period of four months is given to developing this plan, but in some cases, the courts may extend that time up to 18 months.
Developing A Reorganization Plan
Next, the petitioner and their lawyers will make a plan to repay the debt and reorganize the business in a way that allows them to continue business operations while cutting expenses (and, in some cases, liquidating assets) in order to do this. The end goal of this plan is to serve as a contract between the debtor and the creditor, spelling out how the business will be run during the repayment period. The creditors do have the right to propose alternative plans if they are unhappy with the terms of one proposed by the debtor. This is rare in Chapter 11 filing, and it’s more likely that the creditors would move to have the bankruptcy re-filed as Chapter 7.
Waiting On A Plan Confirmation
The plan must be approved by the bankruptcy court, and this is referred to as “confirmation.” When making this determination, the courts are looking to make sure the plan is likely to work, submitted in good faith, and in the best interests of the creditors. This last issue is a little complicated, but it usually means that the creditors must receive at least as much as they would under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Securing A Discharge of Debt
At the end of this process, which usually takes between three and five years, the remaining debts will be dismissed. This is called “discharge,” and it only occurs if the debtor has acted in accordance with the reorganization plan, including paying down the debts as specified.

As with any other kind of bankruptcy, not all debts are subject to being discharged. Debts for alimony, child support, some kinds of tax debt, and others will not be relieved by the filing.

For small businesses, the timeline of events is shortened, and some of the details of the process change. In fact, of all the bankruptcy options, Chapter 11 has the most variables. Each plan is individually tailored to the financial situation of the debtor, so it can be very complicated. It is important to approach this option with the help of a skilled and experienced lawyer to ensure it is the appropriate option for filing.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13, commonly referred to as a “wage earner” bankruptcy case, involves a reorganization of your finances to allow you to pay back some or all of your debts over a period of time. Chapter 13 does NOT require you to repay all of your debts. Instead, it involves repaying a certain amount of debt in order to keep all of your property. Some creditors will be paid in full, others will get a percentage. This is a case by case determination and depends on what needs to be accomplished.

If your goal is to stop a foreclosure, garnishment, repossession, or get back a vehicle after it’s been repossessed, then Chapter 13 may be right for you. Some people think of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, like credit counseling or debt management. The main difference is that under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your creditors do not get a say about how much they get paid – the law and the bankruptcy court make the decision.

The real beauty of Chapter 13, however, is that it changes when you need it to change. If your income goes up or goes down, or if you decide that the house or vehicle isn’t worth saving, you can always go back to the bankruptcy court to modify your repayment plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is complex, and many cases fail because they are not handled carefully. We have the experience to make your Chapter 13 case a success, giving you the chance to get a fresh start and protect all of your property. When you come to our office for your free, no-obligation consultation, we’ll analyze your situation completely to come up with the right solution for you.

How Does It Work?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arkansas is similar to, but not the same as, Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we will work with you to prepare a plan that outlines how you will pay what you need to pay to accomplish your goals. A Chapter 13 process lasts a minimum of three (3) years and can run as long as five (5) years, depending upon your income and debt levels. During this time, you will make monthly payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee assigned to your case. Your creditors cannot take any action against you during this time – including lawsuits, wage garnishees, and foreclosures.

About thirty (30) days after your case is filed with the court, you will have a short meeting with the Chapter 13 Trustee. Don’t worry! Your lawyer will be there with you to answer any questions you have. After this meeting, there is a ten (10) day period for creditors to object to their treatment in the plan. Most objections are procedural and won’t require you to attend any more hearings. If objections are filed, we will get them resolved. Once all objections, if any, are resolved, your case will be confirmed. You will continue to make your payments for the duration of your confirmed plan. Upon completion of the plan, the court will issue you an Order of Discharge, your case will be closed, and your bankruptcy should be complete.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a very smooth process if your case is prepared properly. At Crawley Law Firm, we pride ourselves on the number of successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases we have filed, and look forward to helping you as well.

How Long Does It Take?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take anywhere from three to five years. The cornerstone of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the Chapter 13 Plan, the document that creates the roadmap for how your repayment plan will be handled. The Chapter 13 Plan depends on a number of factors but relies heavily on your household income and allowable expense levels for your household’s size and income level. Those expenses are set by the Office of the U.S. Trustee, and may in some cases be higher than your actual expenses. It’s a sliding scale that looks to a number of factors and requires a complex set of calculations.

Other factors that go into your Chapter 13 Plan are the amount of debt you have and the value of your assets. If you’re thinking about Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the best thing you can do is review your options. We’ll outline the entire process for you and help you determine if Chapter 13 is right for you.

What To Bring?

Filing for bankruptcy in Arkansas can be simple in the right hands. That’s why when you meet with one of our lawyers at Crawley Law Firm, you are asked to bring certain documents and information for us. With the right information, we can get to the heart of your problem quickly and effectively, giving you the help you need. When you come for your consultation, you will need to bring a number of documents.

We must review proof of your last 6 months’ income.

If you receive pay stubs (both you and your spouse)
Bring copies of pay stubs for the 6 months prior to your conference.
We must have the last 60 days pay stubs in the file, if getting all of them is impossible, ask your payroll office to give you something that shows what your gross income, deductions, and net income has been for the last 6 months.

If you are self-employed
Bring copies of all bank statements that will show what deposits you have made.
Bring proof of all business expenses, taxes, etc. that have been paid out of those funds during the last 6 months.

List of Creditors

We need copies of all bills you may have received during the last 2 months, if possible.
We also need to know the following information about every creditor you may have.
Name
Correspondence Address
Account Number
Amount Owed

Proof of the filing of your last 4 years Income Tax Returns. You have 3 options to obtain your transcripts: Totals of your 2017, 2018, 2019 income, and 2020 year to date income for you and your spouse separately (if married).
Order them for free by following the step below:
These must be ordered as soon as possible, but are not required for an initial consultation.
To order them, please call 1-800-829-1040 and follow the instructions to obtain the tax return transcript. (The number inputs are: 2; 2; enter your Social Security Number (SSN); 1 (if you typed your SSN in correctly); 4 (if you filed joint, put in your spouse’s social security number); verify address (put numbers in street address); 4 (to receive a transcript of account in 10 to 15 days); Year; 1 (if year is correct); 1 (if what you requested is correct); 2 (same type for another year)).
Go to the second floor of the Federal Building located at 615 S. Main St., Room 314, Jonesboro, AR 72401.
Pay us $35 for all 4 years for a single filing or $70 for all 4 years for a joint filing.

Driver’s License and Social Security Card.

You can get one FREE annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
 If we need any further information, we will let you know.

Chapter 13 And Your Credit Score

Assessing Your Finances
The first step to improving your financial situation is knowing where you’re starting from. Obtain your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and make sure they are all correct. If you find any discrepancies, it’s important to clear them up as soon as possible. Next, sit down and make a realistic, clear-eyed budget. This will give you the information you need to take the next steps. Finally, put together at least a small amount of savings in case of an emergency. At this point in the recovery process, it’s important that an unexpected expense is not allowed to put you in debt that could spin out of control.
Special Considerations for Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcies have some features that make them different from Chapter 7 filings, both to consumers and credit reporting agencies. In Chapter 13, you’ll have likely held on to real assets such as land, homes, and cars. This means that you will come out of bankruptcy with assets that can be used as collateral, and creditors know that. Beware of “credit recovery firms” that offer to fix your financial problems. They are usually a scam, preying on people who are recovering from a difficult financial time.

Another thing to be aware of after Chapter 13 is reaffirmed debt. Your repayment plan may have included debts that you agreed to pay normally in spite of your bankruptcy. If this is the case, you’ll still have those payments until they’re fully paid off, as they are not discharged at the end of your bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 is a longer process than Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and credit scores begin to rebound after the date of filing, not the date of discharge. This means you’re likely to see a higher score coming out of bankruptcy with this type of filing.

Steps To Rebuilding

Now you’re ready to make a plan to rebuild your credit score. This process can take a long time, several years in fact, but don’t get discouraged or impatient. It’s far from impossible, and taking the following steps will help get you there.

Secured Credit Cards
A secured credit card functions like a normal credit card, except that it requires a deposit in the amount of the credit limit in a savings account with the issuing bank. Because this minimizes the risk to the bank, the interest rate is typically low. Payments are reported to the credit rating agencies, so they’ll raise your credit score. Because of this, though, any missed payments will affect your score negatively.

Unsecured Loans
After your credit has begun to look better, you’ll want to apply for an unsecured loan or card. Keep an eye on interest rates and required monthly payments, though. Your score will likely be on the lower end still, so rates are likely to be high. Don’t let fees and interest eat into your budget and damage your overall financial recovery.

Mortgage Issues

Sometimes mortgage companies just don’t pay attention to the laws. Even if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure, the mortgage company will often keep on tacking on illegal fees and costs. This inflates the balance on your mortgage, making it impossible to keep up with payments — and forcing you deeper and deeper into the foreclosure sinkhole. That’s why at Crawley Law Firm, we know that Chapter 13 filing is a powerful tool to stop the sale of a home in foreclosure — but it’s just the beginning of the work needed to protect our clients.

What do we do? We go one step beyond a traditional bankruptcy law firm.

As soon as the case is filed, our experienced team of mortgage abuse professionals starts to gather information about your mortgage account. Not only do we look at your closing documents, but you also get a complete history of the loan.

Our Team Will:
Make sure that your monthly mortgage payments are being properly applied under the terms of the mortgage and note.
Review the escrow account to ensure that it is properly managed under federal law.
Guard against any unreasonable and unnecessary charges, fees, costs, and expenses being assessed against your mortgage account.
Monitor the loan to make sure that bankruptcy payments are being applied correctly.
Determine who the true owner of your mortgage and note is.

Functions of Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy filing is not a cure-all for indebted people, but it can relieve a great deal of the burden of debt. Here is what bankruptcy is designed to do:

Eliminate Or Reduce Unsecured Debt
Unsecured debts are things like most types of credit card debt, i.e., debt that is not tied to a specific piece of property. This is the kind of debt most bankruptcy relieves.
Nullify Certain Liens
Some secured debts can be eliminated in certain types of bankruptcy filings. Judgment liens, which are liens ordered by a judge, are an example of the type of lien that can be eliminated.

Keep in mind that not every type of debt is avoidable (able to be eliminated) in bankruptcy. In later articles, as we explore each chapter, we’ll spell out the specific benefits, limitations, and applicability of each.

Halt Collection Attempts
Calls from collection agencies and creditors are incredibly stressful for people trying to regain financial solvency. From the time of filing, courts prohibit this type of communication from creditors.
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Crawley Law Firm can assist you in getting your finances under control. Make your financial future a priority with a qualified professional to point you in the right direction. Reach out to set up a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.

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