Bennett Parker Law Celebrates Five Years

BENNETT PARKER LAW CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS AND COUNTING…

5th-AnniversaryThis month marked the fifth year anniversary of Bennett Parker Law opening it’s doors to the public. It is hard for us to believe that so much time has passed because it still seems like just yesterday that we were unloading boxes. (In fact, some of those boxes still wait to be unpacked.) However, reality sets in when we hear from our former clients that remind us, “no guys, my case was over 3 years ago.” How time flies….
Although the years have presented us with various challenges, we remained committed to fulfilling our original vision of providing outstanding representation at an affordable price along with an Thank Yousemphasis on the personal relationship. And in return, our clients have gone above and beyond to support our efforts.
Whether by sharing their experiences with their friends, reviewing us online, or cheering about us on social media, our clients have taken it upon themselves to ensure Bennett Parker Law’s continued success. And for that, we could not be more grateful. We do what we do each day because we love it. The fact that we can help people in the process and put their lives on a positive path is a bonus.
Each positive comment, post or review helps get the word out to others who may be unsure about how to proceed. When people do reach out to us, we ask each one how they heard about us and the most common answer is from someone else. We know that such referrals come with an expectation of performance which we are happy to continuously exceed.Business Card Evolution
Over the years, Bennett Parker Law has evolved. What started out as a boutique bankruptcy firm, has now grown into a full fledged consumer law firm handling not only bankruptcies but other practice areas as well. We continue to stay true to our roots and offer free initial consultations in all of our practice areas, something unheard of in our industry. We have become a point of first contact: assessing a variety of legal issues and then offering representation, self-help, or trusted referral options – all at no-charge to the person seeking guidance.
We’ve come a long way since we opened our doors five years ago. This year, we celebrated our anniversary with some notable improvements. First, we started the month by holding a photo shoot to update our photos. Second, we settled on and approved a firm logo (five years in the making) which was revealed mid-month. Jen DeskFinally, we ended the month with the launch of our new website and this blog.
As we forge ahead into to year six, we take this moment to pause and look back and thank those who have gotten us to this point. Thank-you to our clients, former clients, friends, fans and supporters! Without you all, we would not be here.

 

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Bennett Parker Law chosen to be one of the three best rated Bankruptcy Law firms in Phoenix.

Bennett Parker Law was recently selected by Threebestrated.com as one of the top three bankruptcy lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona.  Threebestrated.com’s staff handpicked Bennett Parker Law based on what they call “hard work”.  They reviewed Bennett Parker’s reviews, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, cost and their general excellence against other bankruptcy attorneys and determined them to be one of the top three bankruptcy law attorneys in Phoenix.

We here at Bennett Parker have always striven to be the best at what we do.  One of the reasons we enjoy our bankruptcy practice is the ability to change people’s lives for the better.  After filing a bankruptcy, our clients’ lives get better almost immediately.  The collection phone calls stop.  Garnishments stop.  Foreclosures and repossession can be delayed and often times stopped.

This is apparent in the various reviews that have been posted to our Yelp, Google+, and Facebook accounts by our former clients.

Below is a link to the Threebestrated.com review:

https://threebestrated.com/bankruptcy-lawyers-in-phoenix-az

 

 

Debt Negotiation and Settlement – An Alternative to Filing for Bankruptcy

handshake1 Debt Negotiation and Settlement

If you have reached a point where you are a considering filing for bankruptcy, you should consider discussing the issue with an attorney that offers the services of debt settlement. Often you will find that a law office that offers this service will also offer bankruptcy services. If after a consultation you need to file for bankruptcy, you can use the same law firm.

Keep in mind that there are long term consequences that must be explained to you before you file for bankruptcy. This of course assumes that you qualify to file; the laws have tightened up in the last few years and it is not as easy to qualify as it used to be. If you do qualify, you need to consider the alternatives to Arizona bankruptcy. The alternative to a bankruptcy is to negotiate with your creditors over your debts; this includes both the monthly payments, interest, and sometimes the total amount owed. Creditors will often be willing to restructure debt for people in dire financial situations, but the offer must be fair, and done through an attorney. Creditors are less likely to pay attention to an offer from the borrower.

Arizona debt negotiation, when done properly, will always be done by an attorney. An attorney will be able to explain the financial repercussions of a bankruptcy to you and contrast that with the effects of debt settlement. One of the issues that can be explained is the effect of bankruptcy on your credit rating. The number of years that a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report are greater than a few bad marks for late payments. The presence of a bankruptcy on your report will have such a strong influence on your credit score, that there is very little you can do to counteract it.

Once you file a bankruptcy you will not be able to file again for many years, so you want to make sure the time is right to file. It may be best to attempt a debt settlement first and if it works, you will be able to pay back your debts and salvage your credit rating. You can save bankruptcy as an option in the future.

A person who is a good candidate for debt settlement is someone who can pay most of their bills each month; A person who would be able to meet all of their debt obligations if only a few of the monthly payments were lower.

There are several law firms in the Phoenix area that offer a free consultation. If you are short of cash, lawyers understand this and will offer payment plans. Most importantly you should understand that debt settlement can be a good alternative to bankruptcy, but this type of debt negotiation should be done by an attorney. There are many companies that offer to help settle debt by negotiating with your creditors, some of the businesses are well intentioned, while others are unscrupulous and will only take your money. Phoenix debt negotiation, in order to have it done properly. should always be done through an attorney.

Chapter 7 Arizona Debt Elimination

creditrepair e1382217723679 Chapter 7 Arizona Debt Elimination

While there are four types of bankruptcies that affect consumers under the Bankruptcy Code, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is by far the most popular form of bankruptcy and the one that most people have heard of before. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a straight liquidation of a debtor’s debt. The Bankruptcy Court is concerned with three issues: the Debtor’s income, the Debtor’s assets, and the Debtor’s liabilities.

The most important of those three issues is a Debtor’s income. The Court is looking to make sure that the Debtor is someone who should be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona or should they be filing a Chapter 13 repayment plan or not file bankruptcy at all. In looking at a person’s income the Bankruptcy Court conducts a means test of the debtor’s income. This test is designed to make sure that the individuals who make more than the medium income in Arizona are not allowed to take advantage of the benefits of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The means test looks at your income from the past six months. It uses this income to develop a six month average that is then used to forecast what the next six months should be. This number is then compared to the medium income in Arizona to determine if the person is eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the number is below the median income then the case is presumed not abuse and the person is eligible for a Chapter 7. If the number is above the median income the person is presumed abusive and not eligible for a Chapter 7 unless they can rebut the presumption of the abuse.
What this means in non-legalese is that the person must now prove through various forms of deductions to that income number that they should still be eligible for a Chapter 7. Things like taxes, insurance, union dues, medical bills, and educational expenses are deducted from the income amount. If the new number is now below the median income the person is eligible for a Chapter 7. If not they can file a Chapter 13 or look toward another avenue for help like debt negotiation.

If a person is eligible for a Chapter 7 the next major issue is that persons assets. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Department of Justice appoints a Trustee to manage the person’s case. It is the Trustee’s job to guide your case along the bankruptcy process. They are required to review a person’s asset to determine if there is anything that should be liquidated or sold and then split amongst your creditors.

A person’s assets are divided into two categories exempt assets and non-exempt assets. Exempt assets are protected up to a certain point and include things that most people use on a daily basis like clothing, furniture or a car. Non-exempt assets are not protected and can be seized and sold by the Trustee and then split amongst your creditors. These types of assets include things like boats, motorcycles, stocks, bonds or comic book collections.

Most people’s assets are protected under Arizona law.

Finally, a person’s liabilities are why they file for bankruptcy protection. Whether it is being too far upside down on their home, like most people in Arizona are now, a large amount of credit card debt or medical bills, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help resolve these problems.

Unsecured debt like credit card debt, medical bills, collection accounts and deficiency balances from repossession or foreclosures can all be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy as long as that debt was not incurred with fraud or the debt was incurred in bad faith.

Secured Debt like mortgages and car loans can either be surrendered or reaffirmed. If a secured debt is surrendered you are no longer responsible for that debt. The secured property will be returned to the lender. If you reaffirm the secured debt you obligate yourself to all the original terms. Should you default on that loan the lender can repossess or foreclose and possibly sue you for the deficiency.

Certain debts like taxes, child support, alimony, student loans, criminal fines and restitution cannot be eliminated in most circumstances.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona can help provide someone with a fresh start where they are no longer worried about answering the phone or the door.

Arizona Chapter 13 Debt Repayment

Capture12 e1402414288571 Arizona Chapter 13 Debt Repayment

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization plan where an individual pays a Chapter 13 trustee a set amount of money for a period of at least three to five years. A Chapter 13 faces the same three major issues that are involved in a Chapter 7. The Bankruptcy Court is concerned with a person’s income, assets and liabilities. However, how these issues are dealt with is dramatically different in a Chapter 13.

In a Chapter 13, a reorganization plan is created that deals with these issues. This Plan accounts for the persons income in determining how much a person can afford to pay into the Plan. A person’s assets are also significant because a person who would have had a non-exempt asset, like a boat, seized and sold in Chapter 7 is able to keep that asset but must pay into the Plan the value of that asset. The Chapter 13 Plan also deals with the person’s liabilities and how much is paid to each liability through the Plan. How each of these issues is dealt with in a Chapter 13 Plan is important.

Income in a Chapter 13 is viewed from two angles. First, the Bankruptcy Court is concerned with whether or not the Chapter 13 Plan filed with the Court is feasible. This means that the person must be able to afford to pay the Plan payment each month. If a Plan requires that a person pay $1,000.00 a month but that person can only afford $500.00, the Court will find that the Plan is not feasible and it will not be confirmed.

Second, the Plan must pay all of the person’s disposable income into the Plan. If the Plan proposes to pay $500.00 a month into the Plan, but the person can afford to pay $1,000.00 the Court will require that all of the person’s disposable income be paid into the Plan.

A person’s assets are divided into two categories exempt assets and non-exempt assets. Exempt assets are protected up to a certain point and include things that most people use on a daily basis like clothing, furniture or a car. Non-exempt assets are not protected. These types of assets include things like boats, motorcycles, stocks, bonds or comic book collections.

Unlike a Chapter 7 where a non-exempt asset is seized by the Trustee and sold, a person in a Chapter 13 can keep the non-exempt asset. However, they must pay into the Plan the value of that asset. If you owned a boat free and clear and it was worth $10,000.00, in a Chapter 7 it would be seized and sold and split up amongst your creditors. However, in a Chapter 13 you have a choice of paying $10,000.00 into the Plan to keep the asset.

A Chapter 13 also deals with a person’s liabilities in a dramatically different than a Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13the reorganization plan splits your debts into different categories and deals with them in different ways. Secured debts like a car are paid in full under the Plan. The person no longer makes a car payment and only pays the Chapter 13 Plan payment each month. The Plan also pays any back taxes or child support that a person might owe.

Unsecured debts are paid a certain percentage based upon the amount of disposable income an individual has left over each month and whether they have a non-exempt asset they wish to keep. At the end of the Plan if the unsecured creditors only received 10% of what they were owed, the rest is eliminated or discharged in the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 also allows someone who is behind on their mortgage payments to come current and not lose their house to foreclosure. The payments they are behind are placed into the Plan and paid over the life of the Plan. As long as the Plan is completed and the person continues to make their regular plan payments the house cannot be foreclosed on.

However, in the current financial climate where most people are upside down on their house and no longer have the equity they once did a Chapter 13 offers another important option for someone who might have more than one mortgage on their home. If the home is worth less than the first mortgage a Chapter 13 offers the opportunity to “cram down” or strip off the second mortgage in Bankruptcy Court. If the person completes their Chapter 13 Plan then the second mortgage is considered discharged or eliminated.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies are complicated and can often be trying for people because they no longer have discretionary income.

However, they also represent a huge opportunity for some people to pay off taxes, child support, or eliminate large amounts of debt that would not be possible normally.

Should You File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?

You are not required to have an attorney in order to file for bankruptcy. In some cases, you can file on your own if you are willing to put in some time and research. However, in most cases, it’s a good idea to have a bankruptcy attorney.The importance of an attorney depends on the complexity of your case and whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Read on to learn more about when it is feasible to file bankruptcy without an attorney and when you should strongly consider hiring one.

When Is it a Bad Idea to File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?
In certain situations, it is almost always a good idea to hire an attorney to represent you in bankruptcy.

If You Need to File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

There are many reasons to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of a Chapter 7. You may want to file a Chapter 13 because you wish to catch up on mortgage arrears, get rid of your second mortgage, cram down your car loans, or pay back nondischargeable priority debts. Or maybe you simply make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7. No matter what your reason is, it generally means that your case may be too difficult to file on your own.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies are a lot more complicated than Chapter 7s. In addition to filing the official bankruptcy forms (and perhaps some local forms), you must also design a proposed repayment plan, something that is very difficult to do without the expensive software that most attorneys use. Also, certain actions such as stripping your second mortgage or cramming down a car loan will usually require filing additional motions and paperwork with the court.

As a result, even some attorneys will limit their bankruptcy practice to Chapter 7 cases because they feel they are not qualified to handle a Chapter 13. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Chapter 13 cases filed without an attorney get dismissed by the court. So if you are planning to file a Chapter 13, it is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney.

If You Have Certain Chapter 7 Cases

Certain Chapter 7 cases are more complicated than others. Your Chapter 7 will usually be more complex if you own a business, have income above the median level of your state, have assets of any type, or have aggressive creditors who can make claims against you. If any of the above applies to you, you risk having your case dismissed, your assets being taken and sold, or facing a lawsuit in your bankruptcy to determine that certain debts should not be discharged. In that case, it is advisable to hire an attorney to handle your bankruptcy.

If You Are Not Comfortable Doing it on Your Own

Even if you have a simple Chapter 7 case, bankruptcy can be an intimidating and time consuming process. You will need to accurately fill out many forms, research the law, and attend hearings. If you are not comfortable with any aspect of the bankruptcy process, you should consider hiring an attorney who will prepare the forms, attend the hearings with you, and guide you through the process.

Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners

If your small business is struggling with debt, bankruptcy may provide some relief. Whether bankruptcy can help depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the legal form of your business — for example, is your business a sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, or limited liability company?
  • whether you are personally liable for business debts
  • whether you want to close your business or keep it running, and
  • how much and what types of debts you have.

We offer free one-hour initial consultations to individuals and small businesses who are consumed by overwhelming debt. During these consultations, our attorneys are able to help business owners address the current business situation and will provide a plan to guide the business owners to their desired outcome, whether liquidation or reorganization. Call (602) 343-6250 to schedule your appointment today.

Can Bankruptcy Help with Medical Debt?

Medical Bills and Bankruptcy

The rising cost of health care and the growing number of Americans without adequate health insurance coverage has led many people to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate their medical debts. Medical debt is treated as a nonpriority unsecured debt in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  This means that your medical debts will not receive priority if the trustee is able to make any payments to your creditors. Even if a portion of your medical debt is paid through your bankruptcy, the remainder will be wiped out when you receive your discharge.  So if you are struggling with large amounts of medical debt, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be your easiest and best option to relieve this burden.

Are There Limitations on Discharging Medical Debt in Chapter 7?

There is no limit or cap on how much medical debt you can discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

However, you must still qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to qualify for a Chapter 7, your income must be low enough to pass a disposable income means test.  Further, even if you pass the means test, filing a Chapter 7 may not be in your best interest if you have a significant amount of assets you can’t exempt.

At Bennett Parker Law, we offer free one-hour initial consultations to individuals who are consumed by overwhelming medical debt. During our consultations, our attorneys are able to review an individual’s income and assets to determine is a Chapter 7 is in their best interest. If you would like to know more, call (602) 343-6250 to schedule your appointment today.