Filing for bankruptcy in Milwaukee is no easy task. But many people who begin the process feel relief because they know they’re taking steps to get their financial future back on track. If you’re one of the millions struggling financially due to a job loss, illness, or another event in Wisconsin, bankruptcy can help. Bankruptcy makes it possible for you to eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts, giving you a fresh financial start.

So, what are the correct steps to file for bankruptcy in Milwaukee? Read on to get a better understanding of the bankruptcy process.

Learn About Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the most common consumer bankruptcy filed in the U.S. It’s important to know the difference between them because one chapter is more expensive and often takes much longer. Here’s what you should know:

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is referred to as liquidation bankruptcy; however, generally, nothing is actually liquidated at all.  Chapter 7 is often a bankruptcy filer’s first choice for several reasons. Firstly, this option is one where you get to keep all of your assets (house, cars, and bank accounts) while wiping away your unsecured debts (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans)  This option is quick and only takes a few months to complete. This option is also less expensive than Chapter 13 because the length you need representation is much shorter. 

Chapter 13 is a longer process than Chapter 7 because it is a repayment plan based on your ability to repay.  Filers are able to pay creditors through a three-to-five-year repayment plan. Chapter 13 can stop foreclosure proceedings and cure delinquent mortgage payments over time. It is an extremely effective way to consolidate your debt into one affordable payment. 

Consider Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for bankruptcy by yourself is not a good idea. While you do not need an attorney to file for bankruptcy in Milwaukee, we strongly recommend consulting with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. The filing process can be complicated to navigate through alone. Learning how to file for bankruptcy in the State of Wisconsin, or anywhere else in the country, is not something you should be doing on the fly with the possibility of losing assets on the table. You need counseling from a legal expert to guide you and make the bankruptcy process as easy as possible.

A good bankruptcy attorney will:

  • Determine which chapter is right for you
  • Help protect your assets
  • Ensure you meet all deadlines and have the proper paperwork
  • Speak with bill collectors on your behalf

Determine Whether You Qualify to File for Bankruptcy in Milwaukee

You don’t need a particular amount of debt to file for bankruptcy, but there are other eligibility requirements that you will need to meet. The Wisconsin means test calculates whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or if you should file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

To apply the means test, the courts will look at your average income for the 6 months prior to filing and compare it to the median income for Wisconsin. If your income is less than the median income, then you qualify for Chapter 7 relief. If your income exceeds the median income, then you must determine your ‘actual expenses’ to determine which chapter you qualify for.  

Take Credit Counseling & Financial Management Courses

Individual debtors are generally required to obtain credit counseling from an approved provider within 180 days before filing a case. You will also be required to file a statement of compliance and a certificate of credit counseling given by the provider. These courses are offered online or in person. You will get a view of your entire financial picture during this time to determine the best way forward for your situation. For more information on this, please visit the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Easter District of Wisconsin website. Or call the Bankruptcy Law Center; we will walk you through each step of the process and suggest the easiest companies to contact to take the credit counseling courses. 

Gather Necessary Financial Documents & File Bankruptcy Forms

There are several official court forms and financial documents that you will need to provide to the Wisconsin court. You’ll be asked to disclose information regarding your financial affairs such as:

  • Income and expenses
  • Assets and debts
  • Property transfers
  • Other documents if you’re required to pay alimony, child support, or another unusual expense

Your case starts when you file your paperwork with the bankruptcy court. These documents are lengthy and must be filled out properly to ensure you qualify for and will successfully complete the bankruptcy.  That is why hiring an attorney to prepare the documents and represent you through the process is very important.  As soon as your case is filed, creditors are required to stop bothering you soon.

Complete the Final Steps of the Bankruptcy Process

Before you can receive a discharge in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must be examined under oath by a bankruptcy trustee at a hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). This formal meeting typically takes place within 30-40 days of your initial filing. During this meeting, the trustee assigned to your case will verify your identity and ask a few standard questions.  

You will also need to complete a debtor education course and file the completion certificate. 

We’re Your Milwaukee Bankruptcy Experts

Are you looking to file for bankruptcy in Milwaukee? You’ve come to the right place! The Bankruptcy Law Center, LLP is a local law firm specializing in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcies.  We have offices throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, so if you are interested in filing, please find the nearest office located conveniently to you.  

Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation!