Bankruptcy F.A.Q.


This page contains general information. Contact a WBG attorney for specific advice.

 

What is bankruptcy?
Why do people file for bankruptcy?
Where can I get more information?
Can I file? Should I file?
Can I file a bankruptcy?
Is bankruptcy right for me?
Can I file a Wisconsin bankruptcy without a lawyer?
Can I file a bankruptcy after I’ve been sued?
How will bankruptcy affect me?
Will I lose all my stuff?
Can I pick which debts to wipe out?
Will bankruptcy ruin my credit score?
Can I stop a foreclosure?
Can bankruptcy wipe out credit card, medical, payday loan, judgment, and tax debt?
How do I start a bankruptcy?
How much does bankruptcy cost?
Is there a waiting period before I can file a bankruptcy?
Divorce and bankruptcy, which comes first?
I’m ready, now what?
How does bankruptcy work?
How long does bankruptcy take?
What happens in a bankruptcy?
Should I reaffirm debts?
Other FAQs
I’ve been sued, now what?
What happens if there’s a judgment against me?

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that allows people to eliminate debt. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     Back to top.

Who files for bankruptcy?

Mostly good people who have had bad luck. Medical conditions, job loss, divorce – they can all result in unexpected and overwhelming financial distress. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     Back to top.

Where can I get more information?

Contact a Wisconsin Bankruptcy Guide attorney for answers to all your debt relief and bankruptcy questions:

Attorney Bret Nason in Platteville – (608) 348-4466
Hanson & Payne in Milwaukee – (414) 271-4550
Lewis & VanSickle in Green Bay – (920) 434-9977
• Christianson & Freund in Eau Claire – (715) 832-1800

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Can I file a bankruptcy?

Yes. However, you may be limited to certain types. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Can I avoid bankruptcy?

Maybe, but the answer depends on your unique situation. There are many facts and alternatives to consider. You should consult a local attorney to discuss all of your debt-relief options.

Meanwhile, avoid these debt traps. And, if you’re thinking about bankruptcy, do these four things and don’t do these five things.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Can I file a Wisconsin bankruptcy without a lawyer?

Yes, you can file a bankruptcy without a lawyer. You can also do your own root canal without a dentist, but it’s not recommended.

Bankruptcy is a complicated area of law, and even many lawyers don’t understand it well. A non-lawyer petition preparer can help you fill out the forms, but cannot give legal advice. If you file a bankruptcy, you will have to deal with a trustee with legal training. And, if a creditor becomes involved in your case, it will likely hire a lawyer. If you can’t afford an attorney to do it right then you may not need to do a bankruptcy at all.

A experienced local bankruptcy attorney will talk with you, get to know the specific details of your financial situation, and then recommend a course of action personalized to your needs. If bankruptcy isn’t your best option, an ethical lawyer will tell you that. If bankruptcy is your best option your attorney will make sure your rights are protected.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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When is it too late to file a bankruptcy?

Quick answer: never. So, for example, lawsuits and judgments won’t stop you from filing a bankruptcy. In fact, filing a bankruptcy stops all court cases, garnishments and other collection efforts. And, after the bankruptcy ends, you can use a state law to satisfy judgments.

That said, waiting to see an attorney about your debt relief options can be a big mistake. Even if it turns out you shouldn’t file right away, you may benefit from exemption planning.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Will I lose all my stuff?

No. Exemptions allow Wisconsin debtors to keep a certain amount of equity in their assets. While the exemptions are not unlimited, they are generous enough that most people don’t lose anything in bankruptcy.

On the other hand, while debt may be discharged in bankruptcy, liens generally pass through unaffected. So you can discharge your mortgage or vehicle debt, meaning you can’t be sued if you stop making the payments. But the creditor will retain its lien and can repossess its collateral if you default.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Can I go bankrupt on just medical bills or just credit card bills?

At the beginning of a bankruptcy you must list all of your debts – even those you plan to pay – and all of your assets. You will sign that list under penalty of perjury and then your trustee will ask you, under oath, whether the list is complete. So, for example, there is no such thing as a “medical bankruptcy” covering only hospital and doctor bills. And, while we’re on the subject, there is no law that says paying a little bit each month to a doctor or hospital will protect you from being sued or garnished. On the other hand, there is no limit on the amount of medical bills you can discharge if you qualify for bankruptcy relief.

Note that the bankruptcy discharge stops creditors from collecting, but it doesn’t stop debtors from paying. So even if you do a bankruptcy, you can still pay back that loan you listed from Uncle Bob, who helped you out when you needed it most.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Will bankruptcy ruin my credit forever?

Most people who file bankruptcy already have a low credit score. Others are heading in that direction. Wiping out debt in bankruptcy begins the process of rebuilding credit. The day after your bankruptcy you can get a secured credit card. Over time, more lenders will allow you to borrow more money. After ten years the bankruptcy falls off your credit report altogether.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Can bankruptcy stop a foreclosure?

Any type of bankruptcy can temporarily stop a foreclosure. But if you want to save your home it becomes more complicated. And there are non-bankruptcy options as well. Consult a WBG attorney for your best strategy.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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What debts will bankruptcy cancel?

The typical bankruptcy discharge covers most debts – medical bills, credit cards, payday loans, and even judgments. Surprisingly, bankruptcy will eliminate certain taxes as well. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

No reputable lawyer can tell you how much debt relief services will cost without first knowing all of the details of your situation. Are you above or below median income? Can you pass through the means test? Are you current on your mortgage or car payments? How many creditors do you owe money to? Most of these questions can’t be answered in a 2 minute phone call. An experienced local bankruptcy attorney can provide a debt relief consultation at which you will learn about all your debt relief options, obtain a recommendation, and receive an estimate of fees and costs.

With that in mind, we can give you a rough idea of the charges involved for a basic bankruptcy. Depending on the complexity of your individual case, you might pay more or less, but most attorneys will charge somewhere between $1500 and $2500 (including the filing fee) for simple Chapter 7 cases and between $3000 and $4500 for simple Chapter 13 cases. Again, more complicated cases can be more costly – sometimes much more costly. So these numbers are not a fee quote for your individual case.

Think you can’t afford a bankruptcy? Think again. Note that, while you must pay the fees for a Chapter 7 in full before the attorney can file your case, you can start a Chapter 13 with a down payment and then pay the remainder through the plan. Or, if you are truly poor, you may qualify for legal aid. Wisconsin has six legal aid offices across the state. Here is a list of the counties they serve (click for contact information):

Adams County (Friendship) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Ashland County (Ashland) – Judicare
Barron County (Barron) – Judicare
Bayfield County (Washburn) – Judicare
Brown County (Green Bay) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
Buffalo County (Alma) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Burnett County (Siren) – Judicare
Calumet County (Chilton) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
Chippewa County (Chippewa Falls) – Judicare
Clark County (Neillsville) – Judicare
Columbia County (Portage) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Crawford County (Prairie du Chien) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Dane County (Madison) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Dodge County (Juneau) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Door County (Sturgeon Bay) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
Douglas County (Superior) – Judicare
Dunn County (Menomonie) – Judicare
Eau Claire County (Eau Claire) – Judicare
Florence County (Florence) – Judicare
Fond du Lac County (Fond du Lac) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Forest County (Crandon) – Judicare
Grant County (Lancaster) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Green County (Monroe) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Green Lake County (Green Lake) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Iowa County (Dodgeville) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Iron County (Hurley) – Judicare
Jackson County (Black River Falls) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Jefferson County (Jefferson) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Juneau County (Mauston) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Kenosha County (Kenosha) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Racine)
Kewaunee County (Kewaunee) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
La Crosse County (La Crosse) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Lafayette County (Darlington) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Langlade County (Antigo) – Judicare
Lincoln County (Merrill) – Judicare
Manitowoc County (Manitowoc) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
Marathon County (Wausau) – Judicare
Marinette County (Marinette) – Judicare
Marquette County (Montello) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Menominee County (Keshena) – Judicare
Milwaukee County (Milwaukee) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Monroe County (Sparta) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Oconto County (Oconto) – Judicare
Oneida County (Rhinelander) – Judicare
Outagamie County (Appleton) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Green Bay)
Ozaukee County (Port Washington) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Pepin County (Durand) – Judicare
Pierce County (Ellsworth) – Judicare
Polk County (Balsam Lake) – Judicare
Portage County (Stevens Point) – Judicare
Price County (Phillips) – Judicare
Racine County (Racine) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Racine)
Richland County (Richland Center) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Rock County (Janesville) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Rusk County (Ladysmith) – Judicare
St. Croix County (Hudson) – Judicare
Sauk County (Baraboo) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Madison)
Sawyer County (Hayward) –Judicare
Shawano County (Shawano) – Judicare
Sheboygan County (Sheboygan) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Taylor County (Medford) – JJudicare
Trempealeau County (Whitehall) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Vernon County (Viroqua) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (La Crosse)
Vilas County (Eagle River) – Judicare
Walworth County (Elkhorn) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Racine)
Washburn County (Shell Lake) – Judicare
Washington County (West Bend) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Waukesha County (Waukesha) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Waupaca County (Waupaca) – Judicare
Waushara County (Wautoma) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Winnebago County (Oshkosh) – Legal Action of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)
Wood County (Wisconsin Rapids) – Judicare

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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What is the waiting period for bankruptcy?

There is no waiting period. In fact, with electronic filing, you could take your credit counseling course and file a bankruptcy the same day you meet with your attorney. However, a same-day rush filing often creates more problems than it solves. So you should contact a debt relief attorney sooner rather than later.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Should I file a bankruptcy before or after my divorce?

Your divorce attorney may want you and your spouse to file a “joint” bankruptcy. This eliminates debts, making for an easier divorce. But it isn’t always the best strategy. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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How do I get started?

Your bankruptcy begins before you file by providing accurate and complete information to your attorney. This stage is crucial to the success of your case. Don’t have an attorney? Here’s how to pick one.

To actually file the case you’ll need to take a credit counseling course and then pay a fee and file (a) a petition, (b) a list of creditors, (c) a social security number statement, and (d) proof that you took the credit counseling course. See THIS PAGE for more information.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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How long does bankruptcy take?

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you file a case quickly. And sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered. However, as the old saying goes, “act in haste, repent at leisure.” So if you have the time you should expect to spend a few weeks preparing. That will increase the chances that your case will go smoothly after you file.

Most people file Chapter 7 bankruptcies. A typical Chapter 7 runs about four and a half months start-to-finish. During that time you will likely go to court only once. The case could run longer in the rare event that a creditor objects or the trustee finds assets to administer. In contrast, Chapter 13 payment plan bankruptcies take three to five years.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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What is the bankruptcy process?

That depends upon what kind of bankruptcy you file. Follow this link to read about Chapter 7. Follow this link to read about Chapter 13.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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Should I reaffirm debts in bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges most debts. If you reaffirm a debt then it won’t be discharged – you’ll still owe it. Whether to reaffirm a debt is a complicated decision. Work with your attorney to determine your best option.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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I’ve received a “summons,” what should I do?

The summons gives you a deadline to “answer” or a date to appear. What happens next depends on whether you want to fight the lawsuit. Read more on THIS PAGE.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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I’ve got a judgment against me, what can I do?

The other party can try to enforce the judgment by garnishment, seizure of non-exempt property, and other means. Read more about judgment enforcement on THIS PAGE.

You may not need to do anything about the judgment because you are judgment-proof. Other options include a state court payment plan. Or your best strategy may be to file a bankruptcy. Schedule a debt relief consultation with a local debt relief attorney to determine your best option.

Call a WBG attorney for a confidential debt relief consultation.     

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This page contains general information. Contact a WBG attorney for specific advice.
Wisconsin Bankruptcy Guide is provided by law firms designated as Debt Relief Agencies by the federal government because we help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code. We also provide other types of debt relief options.

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