Law Offices of David P. Leibowitz LLC
Lakelaw is a registered assumed name for Law Offices of David P. Leibowitz LLC
Until recently, a homeowner or renter who fell behind with Wisconsin Electric/WE Energies in Wisconsin for gas and electric service could file an action under Section 128.21 of the Wisconsin Statutes to prevent a disconnection.
The Chapter 128 filing is a common filing in Wisconsin and is an attractive alternative to bankruptcy in some cases. It is usually cheaper than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and very easy to file. All that is needed to begin is a petition asking the circuit court of the county of residence to accept the repayment plan. The plan will allow 36 months or less to repay a selected list of unsecured creditors (no car notes or mortgages) in full. It stops interest and fees from continuing and allows time to pay off debts without having to go into bankruptcy. It also creates an order preventing wage garnishments and other actions to collect on judgments.
However, thanks to a recent ruling from a Milwaukee county judge, WE Energies is no longer required to accept this payment plan to prevent a disconnection. Instead, consumers will have to call in to WE’s toll-free number (800-843-4565) to set up payment arrangements to prevent their service from being shut off.
§128.21 filings can still be appealing but may not be the solution when it comes to past due utilities. If you are a Wisconsin resident, you may be eligible. Please call us at (262) 694-7300 to discuss bankruptcy and Chapter 128 as options to solving financial crises, including outstanding utility bills.
Who is the Judicial Conference of the United States? It is a group of judges and other policy members who help shape how the courts run in our country. You may not have been aware of the Conference until today, but one of its recent decisions will affect thousands of bankruptcy filers each year.
Right now, the filing fee owed to the courts for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is $299. The Chapter 13 filing fee is $274. There are also fees for certain actions taken during a bankruptcy – scheduling additional creditors ($26); filing an adversary proceeding ($250); filing an appeal ($250); and a creditor filing a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay ($150).
As of November 1, these fees are all set to rise. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 fees will go up by $6, and the other actions will increase as well. These fees will allow the courts to balance their own budgets and handle the large number of bankruptcy cases filed each year.
With the costs of bankruptcy set to rise, now is a good time for both bankruptcy filers and for creditors to discuss how these news laws will affect them. For more information on bankruptcy and its filing fees, call Lakelaw at 1-800-LAKELAW or (262) 694-7300 in Wisconsin.
We’ve consulted with thousands of people who often ask us a version of the same question: “How do I improve my credit?” Whether you are coming out of bankruptcy, in foreclosure, or just a typical consumer, there are several easy steps you can take, as seen on sites such as this, to improve that all-important credit score.
1. Fix your payment history by paying as many bills as possible on time, responding immediately to collection agencies when they call or write about a debt, and paying certain debts in full so they no longer have a balance owed.
2. Avoid excessive balances on credit cards and loans that are simply too expensive (or have too high an interest rate) to repay in full. That includes loans for furniture and other items where “no money down!” is promised, but interest rates immediately become outrageous the moment the promotional period ends.
3. If you have a credit or charge card you pay every month on time, keep it open. Positive payments are your friends. Also, start early if you can by taking out very small limits on credit cards when you are young (but not going overboard with using them) to establish a good history from an early age.
4. Check your credit report periodically (our firm recommends Annual Credit Report because it is free) and avoid paying to view the reports. There is no need to pay $20 per month or more for a company to “monitor” your credit report and send you the same reports you can get for no cost every year.
The bottom line is that credit is a statistic, a figure or number you can help manipulate and stay strong to help you when you need it. Beyond the obvious advice to pay everything on time, you can manage which debts are outstanding, which are closed and which carry large balances to be a smarter, strong consumer. For more information, contact Lakelaw at 866-LAKELAW ((262) 694-7300 in Wisconsin), or a trusted financial advisor.