Recognized for Excellence in Bankruptcy – Your Financial Life-Saver TM

Chicago Chapter 7 Lawyers

Do you want experienced and capable bankruptcy attorneys?

Our Lakelaw bankruptcy team has handled well over 20,000 chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.
We see and know all the bankruptcy judges in Chicago and Milwaukee bankruptcy courts. We’ve “seen it all” when it comes to chapter 7 cases in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Even if your bankruptcy case is unique, we’ve solved problems just like yours.
If you make less than the median income for a family of your size, you can file a chapter 7 to get rid of or “discharge” most of your debts.

You can keep your car if you keep your car payments up to date. If you own your car free and clear, you can still keep it in chapter 7 if we can protect it with exemptions.

You can keep your house if you can keep your mortgage up to date. If you are fighting a foreclosure in state court, you’ll be able to carry on the foreclosure defense after you file for bankruptcy under chapter 7. If you have a mortgage modification before bankruptcy, it will still be valid after you file for bankruptcy.

Even if you make more than the median income, you may still be for chapter 7. At Lakelaw, our dedicated chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers in Chicago will do a personalized means-test analysis for you. If you “pass the means test” you could file chapter 7. The advantage of a filing a chapter 7 in Chicago is that you can complete your bankruptcy case in about 4 to 6 months. You won’t have to pay monthly installments to your creditors. You’ll probably have just one meeting with you chapter 7 trustee. And you’ll meet with your personal Lakelaw lawyer in advance of that meeting so you’ll be comfortable and prepared. Another advantage of chapter 7 bankruptcy compared to chapter 13 bankruptcy is that you most probably will not have to make any appearances in bankruptcy court or before a judge.

If your debts are not primarily consumer debts, you are probably eligible to file a chapter 7 case even if you otherwise would not qualify under the Means Test. Consumer debts include credit card debts for household items and expenses as well as your home mortgage and student loans. It does not include business debts or taxes. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is frequently available to people who have had business failure or who have investment real estate in foreclosure.

Chapter 7 lets you to get rid most all of your debts fast. The key is that you have to be eligible to file bankruptcy under chapter 7. We’ll do our best to establish your eligibility for chapter 7 if you want to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.

And the very best thing about chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it almost always costs less than chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Find the Right Lawyer for your chapter 7 case.
Our clients and even fellow attorneys are our best references (link back to endorsements on the home page). When bankruptcy under chapter 7 is the only way out, you need a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago whom you can trust. At Lakelaw, we will help you find the right options and decide if chapter 7 is right for you. We know how hard it can be to deal with financial stress. Lakelaw will do whatever the law allows to make chapter 7 bankruptcy possible for you. The Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys at Lakelaw know the judges and trustees in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. They are among the leaders of the Wisconsin Bar.

Get started on your chapter 7 case right now. Call Lakelaw at (312) 360-1501 to set up your first appointment. Then get started with Lakelaw’s unique “Four Steps to Financial Freedom”™ online bankruptcy process – it’s free! (link)

If your debts are not primarily consumer debts, you are probably eligible to file a chapter 7 case even if you otherwise would not qualify under the Means Test. Consumer debts include credit card debts for household items and expenses as well as your home mortgage and student loans. It does not include business debts or taxes. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is frequently available to people who have had business failure or who have investment real estate in foreclosure.

Get started on your chapter 7 case right now. Call Lakelaw at (312) 360-1501 to set up your first appointment. Then get started with Lakelaw’s unique “Four Steps to Financial Freedom”™ online
bankruptcy process – it’s free! (link)

Frequently asked questions about choosing the right lawyer

Are you licensed to practice in Illinois?
All of our attorneys are licensed to practice in Illinois. David Leibowitz has been practicing in Illinois since 1974.

Are you licensed to practice in Wisconsin?
All of our attorneys who practice in Wisconsin are admitted to practice in Wisconsin as well as in all Federal District Courts in Wisconsin. Attorney David Leibowitz is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Non Resident Lawyers Division Board. Attorney Ryan Blay lives in Milwaukee and is Secretary and a Board Member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Young Lawyer’s Division.

Are your lawyers recognized in the field?
Our attorneys have been invited to speak at major conferences including the Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy
Conference of the American Bankruptcy Institute and the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights Bankruptcy Conference. David Leibowitz is past chair of the Consumer Bankruptcy Committee of the American Bankruptcy Institute. Carrie Zuniga serves as the bankruptcy law liaison to Great Lakes Naval Base in North Chicago, Illinois. She has also spoken at the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Central States Regional Bankruptcy Conference. Justin Storer has served on the Bench-Bar Liaison Committee for the bankruptcy court in Chicago. He’s spoken at the Chicago Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Committee. Our bankruptcy attorneys have published articles on the subject in the American Bankruptcy Journal and other professional journals.

Will I have my own lawyer?
Yes. You will have one lawyer who is responsible for your case from start to finish. However, other lawyers may be assigned to handle particular aspects of your case as necessary. You will always be able to “go to” your assigned attorney.

Are your lawyers well qualified?
All of our consumer bankruptcy lawyers are either board certified as consumer bankruptcy attorneys or in the process of obtaining this certification with the American Board of Certification. Board certification is not recognized or a requirement to practice law in Illinois. Wisconsin does allow attorneys who are Board Certified to identify themselves as bankruptcy specialists. The Bankruptcy Code also recognizes board certification as a consideration with respect to professional fees.

Milwaukee Chapter 7 Lawyer

If you are seeking a bankruptcy attorney in Southeast Wisconsin, you’ve come to the right place. Lakelaw can serve you in Milwaukee and Kenosha. We’ve been practicing in Wisconsin since 2006. Our Milwaukee office serves clients not only in the city and county of Milwaukee but also in surrounding areas such as Waukesha County, Ozaukee County, and Washington County. We started in Illinois but our Wisconsin supervising attorney, Ryan Blay, lives in Milwaukee and practices in both Milwaukee and Kenosha. Ryan is a leader in the Wisconsin Bar. He serves on the Board of the Young Lawyers Division and recently was elected to be its secretary. He is very active in the Wisconsin Bar’s Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights Committee. Ryan has been invited to be a speaker at its programs and has been a contributor to the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal. We have a particular advantage of being licensed in Illinois as well as Wisconsin. So if your business or finances involve both Wisconsin and Illinois, we can be in a particularly advantageous position to represent you – we know the “rules of the road” in both states.
Wisconsin is different!

In Wisconsin, need to know two different types of exemptions for your bankruptcy case. We need to think about community property law. Wisconsin bankruptcy courts have their own local rules of bankruptcy procedure. Wisconsin bankruptcy trustees have their own ways of doing things.

We know the territory. Our Wisconsin bankruptcy lawyers are at home in Wisconsin. You’ll can expect home-town service from our Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys and our Kenosha bankruptcy attorneys.

Chapter 7 Process

What must I do before I file a chapter 7 case?
Before you file a chapter 7 case, you have to sign a retention agreement with your bankruptcy attorney, take credit counseling, provide all the information your lawyer needs to help you prepare your bankruptcy petition, schedules and statement of financial affairs, pay all of your attorneys’ fees and costs and read, review and sign all of your bankruptcy papers.

How does my case get filed?
Your bankruptcy lawyer must file your bankruptcy case by computer through the bankruptcy court’s internet website.

What happens when my case is filed?
All creditors get notified that you filed your bankruptcy case. All debt collection stops. All lawsuits stop. All foreclosure actions stop. The court assigns a bankruptcy trustee to handle your case. The court assigns a time and place for you to meet with the bankruptcy trustee. This meeting is called the “341 meeting” or “the meeting of creditors.” The reference to “341″ is a reference to a section of the Bankruptcy Code. The “meeting of creditors” means that creditors are invited to attend. In practice, creditors rarely attend this meeting.

What is the automatic stay?
The automatic stay is a part of the Bankruptcy Code which makes creditors stop harassing you from the moment your case is filed. If creditors continue to sue you or collect debts, tell us. We will make them stop. If they don’t stop, we will make them pay.
What is the meeting of creditors?
You will attend the meeting at the place designated, usually a courthouse. Bring your photo-ID and social security card. You also need to provide current paystubs and current bank statements if the trustee requests them. The trustee will ask you questions about your case. You will know all the answers about your case. And your Lakelaw attorney will prepare you for this meeting. In almost all cases, your Lakelaw attorney will be present at this meeting. In unusual circumstances, we might arrange for a local attorney to assist us in attending this meeting. We will always inform you if this applies to you. This meeting typically is only a few minutes long. Usually, the trustee will conclude the meeting and determine whether or not any further steps are to be taken. In most cases, the trustee will find that there are no assets to administer and conclude the meeting without further action.

What happens next?
You will have to take a financial management course online. This is required but is inexpensive and not especially time consuming. Most of our clients find this to be more useful than the mandatory credit counseling you must take before filing a bankruptcy cse.

What about my car loan?
You usually can reaffirm your car loan – this means keeping up your normal payments. But you have to sign a reaffirmation agreement within a short time after your meeting of creditors. Don’t sign a reaffirmation agreement unless you can afford to make the payments on your car in the future. If you have any questions or issues about this, please discuss it with us?

What if creditors are unhappy with me?
Sometimes, a creditor may sue you to force you to pay a debt even though you filed a bankruptcy. This requires a separate defense. We can handle this for you but it will require a separate fee.

What about taxes, divorce obligations or student loans?
These sorts of debts are not usually wiped out by chapter 7. Other arrangements must be made. Please discuss this with us.

What happens next?
You will receive a discharge. This eliminates most, if not all of your debts. You may still have to pay on your mortgage if you want to keep your house even if the lender can’t collect from you if you don’t pay.

How does the discharge help me?
Creditors can’t sue you on debts you owed before the bankruptcy. If they try, call us. We will make them stop. If they don’t stop, we will make them pay.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions

What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is your legal right to get out of debt and get a fresh start. It’s guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bankruptcy Code.

What can I expect from my bankruptcy case?
You can expect to eliminate or discharge all dischargeable debts – this includes credit card debt, medical debt, personal obligation on mortgage debt, judgments, and most other debts. You can expect to stop all law suits, all wage garnishments, all harassing collection calls and all threats to collect debts. In chapter 13, you will have a chance to catch up on mortgage arrearage and even missed payments on your car loan. You can eliminate some tax debts if they are more than 3 years old. You may even be able to eliminate a completely unsecured second mortgage on your home. You can get your drivers’ license back if it was suspended for failure to maintain insurance.

What can’t I expect from my bankruptcy case?
You can’t eliminate debts for alimony or child support in bankruptcy. You can’t eliminate recent tax debt. You can’t eliminate “trust fund” tax debts for items such as sales tax you collected or withholding from your employees’ paychecks. In most cases, you can’t eliminate student loan debts in bankruptcy. You can’t eliminate fines in bankruptcy. You may have to give up some of your property to a bankruptcy trustee in a chapter 7 case if it is not exempt. You can’t hide your assets and you can’t give them away to friends, family or relatives to avoid this.

How often can I file a bankruptcy case?
You can file a chapter 7 case only one time every 8 years. If you file a chapter 7 case, you can’t get a discharge in chapter 13 for another 4 years. If you get a discharge in a chapter 13 case, you can’t get a discharge in chapter 7 for another 6 years.

Is Illinois chapter 7 bankruptcy right for me?
Illinois chapter 7 bankruptcy cases will allow you to eliminate most of your debts. You’ll keep most if not all of your property taking into account Illinois exemptions. But if you need to catch up on house or car payments, chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois is not the best option for you.

Is Wisconsin chapter 7 bankruptcy right for me?
Wisconsin chapter bankruptcy cases will allow you to eliminate most of your debts. You have the choice of using either Wisconsin exemptions or Federal exemptions. Exemptions under federal and Wisconsin law are reasonable and generous. By selecting the right exemptions and planning properly, you have a very good chance of keeping most of your assets. Wisconsin follows community property law, so it’s important to take into account your spouse’s economic position. Ask our Wisconsin bankruptcy attorneys about community property law if you are married and especially if you plan to file your bankruptcy case separately from your spouse.

Is Illinois chapter 13 bankruptcy right for me?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Illinois is a good option for people who want to keep their assets. It is mandatory for those who make more than the median income and don’t “pass the means test.” It’s a great option for people who are behind on their mortgage or car payments and want to catch up. In Illinois, you have to file your chapter 13 case before a sheriff’s sale if you are trying to save your house. Chapter 13 in Illinois is a great option for people who need help settling claims from their divorce cases which are not alimony or child support (“domestic support obligations.”)

Is Wisconsin chapter 13 bankruptcy right for me?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Wisconsin is a good option for people who want to keep their houses or cars. If you make more than the median income for Wisconsin families your size and don’t pass the means test, chapter 13 bankruptcy is your only choice. You can use chapter 13 to save your home in Wisconsin at any time before a sheriff’s sale is confirmed. Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Wisconsin is also available to help people resolve property settlement type claims in their divorce.

Can I keep my property in bankruptcy?
Illinois has sufficient exemptions to protect most people in bankruptcy. Most people will keep their homes and cars in an Illinois bankruptcy case. Wisconsin gives people the choice to use either Wisconsin exemptions or Federal exemptions. These are more generous than those in Illinois and our Wisconsin clients rarely have to lose any property in a bankruptcy case.

Can I get credit after bankruptcy?
Yes, you can get credit after bankruptcy. Frequently you can get credit right away after bankruptcy – even credit cards. Maybe you won’t get a large line of credit. But you can start to re-establish your credit right away.

Can I get my driver’s license back after bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can get your driver’s license back if you lost it for driving without insurance . You can’t get your drivers’ license back through bankruptcy if you lost it for drunk driving, OWI or DUI.

Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?
You can file bankruptcy without your spouse. In Wisconsin, however, we take into account the laws of community property. We always must take into account your spouse’s income in figuring out your eligibility to file chapter 7 or chapter 13 under the “means test.”

Can I file bankruptcy in Illinois?
You can file bankruptcy in Illinois if you lived in Illinois the greater part of the 180 days before the date you file bankruptcy.

Can I file bankruptcy in Wisconsin?
You can file bankruptcy in Wisconsin if you lived in Wisconsin the greater part of the 180 days before the date you file for bankruptcy.

Can I sue my creditors?
Sometimes. If creditors violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, we can sue them. If creditors violate the automatic stay – which stops creditors from taking action against you after bankruptcy – we can sue them. And if creditors violate the discharge injunction – which protects you from creditors’ actions after bankruptcy – we can sue them. If your creditors called your cell phone with an automated phone call without your permission, we can sue them. It’s your job to keep good records and notes of everything that happened. You gather the evidence and we will protect your rights. You might be surprised how much you might be able to recover in this sort of situation.

Can I continue with any lawsuits I had before bankruptcy?
If you file a chapter 7 case, any lawsuit you had before bankruptcy would be continued by the chapter 7 trustee. Any money you receive would be paid to creditors. If creditors are paid in full, you get the rest. You keep any portion of the settlement which is exempt. If you file a chapter 13 case, you can continue the lawsuit on your own. Any proceeds of the lawsuit would be paid to your chapter 13 plan. Your chapter 13 plan could be modified to take into account the additional money you might receive from the settlement of the lawsuit.

How long will bankruptcy be on my credit report?
Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years. However, the impact gets smaller with each passing year.

Can I get rid of student loans in bankruptcy?
Rarely. Some people who have a hopeless economic situation, never will be able to work, and have tried very hard to resolve their student loans, can eliminating their student loans. However, laws and the application of laws can change. We will always advocate for you. In particular, if you are permanently disabled or otherwise unable to work, we can seek a discharge of your student loans because of your substantial hardship.

Can I lose my job if I file for bankruptcy?
You can’t be fired or otherwise discriminated against on the job if your file for bankruptcy. Some types of employers can consider your bankruptcy for future employment. Some industries, particularly the securities industry consider bankruptcy a big problem.

Can I lose my security clearance if I file for bankruptcy?
Many of our clients find that the must file a bankruptcy to keep their security clearance because it clears up their credit problems. Andre filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy, got rid of all his debts and maintained his security clearance.

Can I file for bankruptcy with my spouse in a same-sex marriage?
If the same-sex marriage is legal where you were married, then it will be recognized in bankruptcy. Lakelaw welcomes clients regardless of sexual orientation. We filed bankruptcy for couples before the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional.

Can I file for bankruptcy if I am in the military?
Yes. Lakelaw offers members of the military on active duty as well as career veterans or veterans of foreign war a 20% discount. We make special arrangements as well for disabled veterans. Lakelaw honors the service of our nations’ servicemen and servicewomen. Please note that to file a bankruptcy in Illinois or Wisconsin, you have to have had a presence for the greatest portion of the last 180 days. We maintain a very strong relationship with service-people at Great Lakes Naval Station. We even filed a bankruptcy case for a medic while he was stationed in Iraq.

Lakelaw has offices in Chicago and Milwaukee as well as in Waukegan, Illinois and Kenosha, Wisconsin. We represent people and small businesses throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, particularly in the areas between Chicago and Milwaukee. Areas served include Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County and McHenry County and throughout Northern Illinois. We also represent people and small businesses in Kenosha County, Racine County, Milwaukee County, Waukesha County, Washington County and Jefferson County in Wisconsin and throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.


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