Columbus Bankruptcy Attorney
Filing Bankruptcy in Columbus Can Mean a Fresh Financial Start
Financial problems can happen to anyone. All it takes is losing a job, an unexpected illness, accident, or family problems such as divorce, and you can find yourself in a financial hole where you are overwhelmed with debt, harassed by creditors, and worried about repossession of your property and foreclosure on your home. It’s a terrible situation, and you don’t know where to turn or what to do.
The good news is that bankruptcy, a legal way to have many debts eliminated, can put you on the road to financial recovery. If you’re a good candidate for bankruptcy, filing can keep creditors from harassing you and seizing your possessions, allow debts to be forgiven, and provide a way for you to keep your assets and begin to rebuild your life.
However, bankruptcy laws are complicated, and making mistakes can be costly and may even cause your bankruptcy case to be dismissed. Fortunately, you do not have to go up against the system alone. The skilled and experienced Columbus bankruptcy lawyers at at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer have helped thousands of families in Ohio get out of debt, and we can do the same for you.
We offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation and determine whether bankruptcy or some other debt-relief plan is right for you. Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call us today at 614-228-4435.
Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney in Columbus
Why Choose Us?
There are a lot of Ohio bankruptcy lawyers out there, and you should do some research to find the right one for you. We are confident that our attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer have the skills and knowledge to handle your case — no matter how complicated — quickly and efficiently. Here are some reasons to choose us:
- Experience – Our Columbus attorneys focus in bankruptcy, have decades of legal experience, and know the intricate details of federal and state laws and how they apply to you.
- Personal attention – You will meet directly with the attorney who will be handling your case, so that person can get to know you and your needs. We spend a significant amount of time with our clients, listening to you so we can fully understand what you are going through and what your goals are for the future. Your attorney will then help you determine what type of bankruptcy would be best in your situation, and be there for you throughout the entire process, keeping you informed and addressing your concerns.
- Affordable – In addition to our experience, knowledge, and skills, you will find that our Columbus bankruptcy attorneys strive to keep our services as affordable as possible At Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer, we pride ourselves on being one of the most affordable bankruptcy law firms in the area. We understand that those struggling to deal with debt cannot afford to be burdened with large attorney fees, so we will work out a payment plan that fits your needs. In the long run, having our attorneys on your side can save you money by preventing you from making costly mistakes.
Bankruptcy Lawyers in Columbus Explain How Bankruptcy Works
There are Several Ways to File Bankruptcy
The United States Bankruptcy Code provides several ways for individuals to file bankruptcy, and you should know what is involved with each and whether you qualify. The most common types of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 will discharge (eliminate) most or all consumer and/or business debts so they no longer have to be paid. If your income is too low to pay credit card bills, medical bills, utilities, payday loans or personal loans, this may be the best option for you. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is over in a few months, so you can begin rebuilding credit quickly. There are Ohio bankruptcy exemptions (Exemption Laws of Ohio) that list types of property that cannot be sold, including clothing, cars, equipment used for work (like tools) and household furnishings. If you do not own a great deal of property, your possessions may all be exempt, qualifying you for a “no asset” case. When you consult with our Columbus attorney, we will examine and confirm protection of your particular property.
Not everyone is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Ohio requires passing a “means test” in order to qualify for Chapter 7. If your average monthly income for the past six months is below the Ohio median for your size of household, you meet the requirements of § 707(b)(2) to apply for Chapter 7. If you are not eligible for Chapter 7, filing for Chapter 13 is an option.
Chapter 13: Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can consolidate payments to repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. This plan is best for people who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 and who have a steady income, temporary financial problems and a desire to repay some of the debt in order to keep an asset such as a car or a house. By consolidating payment, Chapter 13 allows you to avoid fees and fines. Plus, there is an automatic stay provision of Ohio bankruptcy law that requires that harassing phone calls and letters from your creditors stop during this time. If you successfully complete the court-approved payment plan, the debts covered by the plan are discharged.
Should You Call a Bankruptcy Attorney in Columbus?
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may be wondering if you can do it on your own or whether you should have legal assistance?
It may be possible that filing for bankruptcy on your own could save you money. Understand, however, that any mistakes could cost far more than what you save, and you would not have legal advice on how to do things properly. Even if you represent yourself, there are fees for:
- Mandatory pre-filing credit counseling
- Court filing fees
- Mandatory debt management ‘education’
- Advice and information
- Preparing, copying and assembling forms
- Other court procedures.
Every situation is different. However, in nearly all cases, it pays to consult with us. The skilled and seasoned team at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer knows the intricacies of the courts, the judges, and the system. And most of all, you have nothing to lose since we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your financial situation.
Bankruptcy Attorneys in Columbus Know How to Prepare
Before you file for bankruptcy, there is work that both you and your attorney need to prepare. It is necessary to:
- Gather financial paperwork.
- Complete mandatory pre-filing credit counseling.
- Prepare and assemble your bankruptcy papers. There are 50-plus pages of forms detailing current debts, assets, income, and expenses, and your intentions regarding loans secured by collateral.
- Make copies of forms and assemble them according to local court rules.
- File forms with the court.
- Pay the required filing fee.
- Run the means test calculator to determine your bankruptcy options.
- Determine how much of your property is exempt.
- Meet with the bankruptcy court trustee and creditors (341 Meeting). At this meeting, the trustee can ask you questions about the information on your forms. Creditors can ask questions and object to or challenge exemptions you are claiming.
- File motions to eliminate liens and to respond to objections from creditors.
- Complete the mandatory pre-discharge Financial Management course. (The U.S. Trustee’s Office approves credit counselors for use in the Ohio Southern District Bankruptcy Court.)
Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney in Columbus Helps Discharge Debts
Bankruptcy Eliminates Eligible Debts
Not every debt can be discharged in bankruptcy – only those that are eligible. Ohio exemption laws do not protect you from every debt or creditor, and debts can be treated differently depending on whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. When you meet with your Columbus bankruptcy attorney, it can be determined which of your debts are eligible to be discharged.
Bankruptcy does allow you to discharge medical, credit card, and several other forms of consumer debt. It generally cannot discharge debts that include:
- Child Support
- Most Student Loans
- Tax Debts
- Debts Incurred Through Fraud or Theft.
These are called “nondischargeable debts,” and you will still have to pay them when your bankruptcy is complete. However, because your other debts have been eliminated, bankruptcy makes it easier to pay the nondischargeable debts that remain.
Our affordable bankruptcy lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, understands the distinctions and can provide the best legal advice to protect your assets and provide financial freedom.
Columbus Bankruptcy Lawyer Answers FAQs
Facing bankruptcy can seem overwhelming, and it’s natural to have questions and concerns. Your individual questions are best answered in your free consultation, but to get you started, here are some answers to questions that our bankruptcy lawyers in Columbus are often asked.
Ohio has many bankruptcy exemptions you can use to protect some property when filing for bankruptcy, such as a home, car, and retirement account. Exemptions are protected from being seized in a bankruptcy procedure. Allowed amounts of some exemptions changed on April 1, 2022, and include:
- Ohio Homestead Exemption – protects equity in real estate or tangible personal property that you or your dependents use as a residence, including your home, condominium, or mobile home. You must reside in the property when bankruptcy is filed.
- Ohio Motor Vehicle Exemption, up to the allowed amount of equity in one vehicle.
- Ohio Wildcard Exemption, allows you to exempt any property of your choosing up to the allowed amount. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2329.66(A)(18).)
- Personal Property, including specific amounts for cash, jewelry, household goods and furnishings, tools of the trade, spousal or child support, a burial plot, and 75% of wages.
- Pension and Retirement Benefits
- Miscellaneous Ohio Exemptions, including: 529 savings plans, benevolent society death benefits, crime victim’s compensation received during 12 months before filing, disability assistance payments, earned income tax credit and child tax credit, unemployment compensation benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and workers’ compensation.
Exemptions change periodically. You can verify exemption amounts on the Ohio Legislature’s website, or by consulting with our bankruptcy lawyers who will help you understand how the exemptions apply to you.
You must live in Ohio at least 730 days before filing, in order to use Ohio exemptions. Otherwise, you would use your previous state’s exemptions.
If you weren’t living in any particular state during the two years before filing for bankruptcy, you would use the exemptions of the state you lived in for most of the 180 days before the two-year period that immediately preceded your filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).)
Also, to claim the total value of the Ohio homestead exemption, you must have purchased and owned the property for at least 1,215 days before filing for bankruptcy, or your homestead exemption is limited by federal law.
Yes. Due to the automatic stay provision of bankruptcy laws, you get immediate relief when your Columbus bankruptcy lawyer files your case. We put your creditors on notice so all harassment stops.
There are laws in place that say once a person files for bankruptcy, all harassment by creditors must stop. That means your phone will stop ringing and your mailbox will no longer be flooded with letters from creditors. You no longer have to avoid phone calls and let unopened mail pile up on the dining room table. Creditors can no longer try to contact you at work or contact your family members.
If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the filing can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. With Chapter 13, the bankruptcy filing stays on the report for up to seven years. As long as the bankruptcy stays on your credit report, it may limit your ability to receive credit or the interest rates you may pay. However, chances are that bankruptcy will not severely lower credit scores since your debt-to-income ratio is reduced, which is a major factor in scoring credit. After your bankruptcy is successfully completed, it may actually become easier to get credit and loans, as it is recognized that you are no longer weighed down by unpayable debt.
In most situations, bankruptcy won’t affect your current employment. If you are looking for a new job, a potential employer could become aware of your bankruptcy on your credit record. Federal, state, and local government agencies are prohibited by law from using your bankruptcy as a reason not to offer you a job. However, in private industry, while most employers do not conduct a credit check, when you are applying for certain jobs such as in the financial industry, employers may conduct a credit check as part of their hiring process.
Attorney fees vary, based on factors such as how complicated your case is and which chapter you are filing under. Attorneys typically charge more to handle Chapter 13 cases, which are more complex than Chapter 7. Attorneys also charge more if there are special issues that require spending more time to resolve. At Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer, we know how important it is for you to be able to afford the costs of bankruptcy, since you are already under financial pressures. We invite you to compare our services and fees with those of other law firms in the area, and we think you will be pleasantly surprised, as we pride ourselves on keeping our costs low and not piling up add-on fees. Because we are highly experienced and focus on bankruptcy, we offer a streamlined approach that is very affordable. By efficiently analyzing your situation and your options, we can prevent you from making mistakes that can wind up costing you more in the long run. During your initial consultation, we will explain the fees and give you a quote.
You are bound to have more questions, and we are here to answer them. Call an affordable Columbus bankruptcy attorney at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today.
What Makes a Good Columbus Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Good attorneys should have experience and extensive knowledge in the law and in their field. They also should be someone you can relate to and feel comfortable with. Your attorney should answer your questions and concerns, inspire confidence, provide advice and assistance, and show you the best way to proceed to a fresh financial start.
Your attorney should give you a personalized case evaluation and counsel regarding your debt relief options, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 debt reorganization, debt settlement negotiations with creditors, and foreclosure defense for mortgage holders. Your attorney should handle your individualized situation professionally and uniquely, implementing solutions without delay.
When you are choosing a bankruptcy lawyer based in Columbus, Ohio, it is a good idea to consider the following:
Experience – How long have they been in practice? How many bankruptcy cases have they filed? Do they specialize in bankruptcy, debt relief, and related matters?
Personalized Attention – Will you be able to personally meet with the attorney who will be handling your case, and will you be able to contact them directly if you have any questions?
Affordability – Will they be able to structure fee payments that you can manage?
Your Columbus bankruptcy lawyer should offer skill, experience, compassionate understanding, and competency, as well as affordability. The Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer law firm strives not only to keep our fees low, but, if necessary, to work with you to arrange affordable plans for payment prior to filing. And we make sure there will be no delays or mistakes, resulting in the debt relief you need. If you want to contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, but worry about how you’ll afford it, we understand. We’ll take care to make sure your payments are affordable. That’s one of the important topics we’ll go over during your free initial consultation.
Reasons Why You Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio
It only makes sense that those filing for bankruptcy would want to keep their costs as low as possible. Hiring our affordable bankruptcy lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, can be a wise investment and may even wind up saving you money. Here are some reasons why:
1. Avoid Unexpected Costs
If you try to save money by filing bankruptcy on your own, it can actually cost you more in the long run. Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer will make sure you don’t wind up with unexpected and unnecessary costs because you made mistakes. For example, people often make mistakes when taking the Chapter 7 means test, such as:
- Failure to match income listed with income documentation
- Listing child support payments that you haven’t actually made
- Adjusting the standard housing deduction to claim mortgage payments that you did not pay in the six months prior to filing
- Using the wrong household size by not considering whether household occupants are financially interdependent and form one economic unit
- Taking deductions that are not allowable, such as 401(k), and retirement account contributions, 401(k) loan repayments, and college expenses for your child
- Not taking deductions that you deserve, such as payments made under court order, marital adjustment deductions if your spouse isn’t filing for bankruptcy together with you, and taxes and insurance that are not part of your mortgage payment escrow
- Duplicating deductions such as marital adjustment deductions.
2. Ensure a Successful Process
The bankruptcy process is complex, and mistakes can result in complications that can cause denial of your discharge of debts or, even worse, lead to accusations of fraud and the filing of criminal charges.
3. Receive Trusted Advice
A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney in Columbus understands the distinctions between the various types of bankruptcy and can provide the best legal advice to help you decide which is the best way to protect your assets and get back on the road to financial freedom.
4. They Work for You
Our bankruptcy attorney in Columbus can make sure everything is filed correctly, while also paying fees in a timely manner. We will appear in court on your behalf, file motions to eliminate liens, and respond to objections from creditors.
Since the initial consultation is free, it pays to make an appointment with our Columbus bankruptcy attorney to determine what options are best for you. Call us today at 614-228-4435.
Call Our Columbus Bankruptcy Lawyers For Help
The skilled, seasoned, and affordable team at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer is available to guide you through a correctly filed bankruptcy that can eliminate many debts, provide protection from creditors, and give you a fresh financial start.
Our compassionate team has helped many people in similar situations and are ready to help you. Call our bankruptcy attorney in Columbus for your free consultation to evaluate your individual situation. Rest assured that we will make sure you avoid costly problems before, during, and after your bankruptcy so you can truly get that fresh financial start.
NEED TO FILE BANKRUPTCY IN COLUMBUSGET DEBT RELIEF NOW
Talk to an Affordable Bankruptcy Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, and Relieve Your Stress
Because the process is so complicated, it makes sense to take advantage of our free consultation offer. Contact the experienced and compassionate Columbus debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer for help, information, and support through this process. We will evaluate your entire financial situation, discuss your options, and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case.
No matter how bad things seem right now, they can get better. Getting on the phone and setting up a consultation with us may be your first step toward a fresh start.
Delaying likely will only make your situation worse, so call our office today at 614-228-4435 to set up your free consultation. Work with us to determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.