Bankruptcy in Wisconsin

Frank Lloyd Wright, the world's most famous and prolific architect, loved Wisconsin so much that he made it his summer home and designed Taliesin East (near Spring Green) to reflect the beauty of nature he saw in Wisconsin. If Frank Lloyd Wright filed bankruptcy (and he did), it's okay if bankruptcy is the right path for you as well.

In this article, we'll show you how Wisconsin bankruptcy law differs from the laws of other states; discuss the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies; show you how to find and select a bankruptcy lawyer; and describe how to prepare to work with a bankruptcy attorney.

How Wisconsin Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States

The amount of assets you can protect through bankruptcy varies from state to state. If you're a Wisconsin resident, you can choose between the Wisconsin exemptions or the federal exemptions to protect your assets.

  • The Wisconsin exemptions are relatively generous; for example, you can protect up to $75,000 of home equity or $150,000 for a married couple, filing jointly.
  • In addition, you can protect up to $5,000 in a car and husband and wife may double to $10,000.
  • There is also a personal property exemption of $12,000 and, again, husband and wife may double this amount.

It will likely give you peace of mind to know that most Wisconsin residents, who file bankruptcy, don't lose any of their assets. None.

Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in Wisconsin: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

When you file for bankruptcy protection, you must indicate whether you're filing under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 offer an end to creditor harassment and a clean slate.

The two main differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are:

  • Whether you have to repay any unsecured debts back.
  • How long it takes to finalize your case.

Chapter 7 takes about 6 months and you don't have to pay back most unsecured debts such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills.

On the other hand, Chapter 13 takes 3 to 5 years because you have to pay back much of your debt, although under renegotiated and more favorable terms.

You attorney will help you to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 by meeting the means test or whether Chapter 13 is the best path for you.

How to Find and Select a Bankruptcy Attorney

Since Frank Lloyd Wright's bankruptcy lawyer is not likely available, we suggest that you ask for referrals from loved ones or professional advisors. Otherwise, you can do a Google search for "Find a Wisconsin Attorney" and investigate the attorneys who pop up.

Look for someone who has years of bankruptcy experience and who limits practice to bankruptcy.

The next step is to have a conversation with prospective attorneys. Ask what you can expect, fees, and communication procedures. You likely want to have your telephone calls or emails answered in a timely manner.

Lastly, what's your gut reaction? Did you like that bankruptcy attorney? Will you feel comfortable working together and asking questions? Will you be treated professionally?

How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Unfortunately, preparing for working with a bankruptcy attorney is much like preparing your taxes. Pull out and organize all of your financial paperwork.

Your attorney will ask you to fill out lengthy forms; it's necessary and will help you to get where you want to go.

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