Your Debt Relief Options

At Grand Rapids Debt Relief, we have spent a lot of time working with our clients solving their problems with all sorts of debt. Over the years we have answered so many questions and explained what makes each of our clients’ situations so unique over and over, that we decided to create a blog to help everyone understand debt relief options.

This post is intended to give you a guide to how to approach researching debt relief options online, and how to think about what friends and family members may tell you about debt relief options. At the end of this post, we will tell you what to expect in the next few posts that will follow. For additional information, you can look on our Media page. We will be posting links to brief podcasts and videos from time to time. Those podcasts and videos will deal with more specific topics and situations that come up in our practice that we think may be interesting to you from time to time. They will also deal with economic issues that could impact consumers in the United States.

So many of our clients ask questions that either begin with a comparison to another person they know or refer to something they read online. We always encourage our clients to be careful about what they read online and what they hear from others about their experiences dealing with debts. There are a number of reasons to be very cautious about the stories of others and the information available online.

When talking to others about financial matters or their experiences in bankruptcy cases you should not assume that your experience will be the same or similar to theirs. No two bankruptcy cases are exactly alike. No matter how similar you believe your situation is to your friend’s, your experience may be very different from the story your friend tells you. You have different creditors, you owe different amounts, you own different things with different values, and there will likely be different people participating in your case. The same is true with debt settlement that may be completed outside bankruptcy.

We are definitely not telling you to avoid these conversations. In fact, we believe that you should talk to more people about their experiences. Doing so benefits you in many ways. Talking with others can put your mind at ease by reminding you that you are not alone in dealing with financial chaos, burdens, and feeling overwhelmed. Talking with others can also let you know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will see that they made it through and are still happy and likely on the road to a better financial life with less stress and more time for things they care about.

When searching the internet, the answers you find may or may not be helpful or applicable to your situation. There are many true and completely accurate pieces of information that are available online that could very easily mislead you about your case or as to what the best solution to your problems with debt may be. Beyond the uniqueness of your situation, the complexity of bankruptcy law and of laws related to debtor and creditor relationships are the reason for this.

For example, while bankruptcy law is rooted in the United States Bankruptcy Code, a federal law that is the same throughout the United States, state laws are used to define ownership of property and in some (but not all) cases, how much property can be protected by someone who files a bankruptcy case. Because of that, a person who files bankruptcy in Florida or Texas will have a very different ability to keep that person’s home than a person who files bankruptcy in Michigan, while a person in Michigan may have a very different ability to keep cash, cars or some other property.

Additionally, bankruptcy cases are filed and adjudicated in federal courts and procedure is governed by federal rules, but each of the 96 districts in the federal court system has its own local rules that impact how things are done. These rules do not impact anyone’s rights or responsibilities. They do change when or how you are required to do things, to whom you must provide specific information and documents, and can impact what information and documentation must be provided. In addition, local customs and practices develop over time between attorneys and bankruptcy trustees. These customs develop into the norms of how we interact with each other. Think of these as the routines of your household, and consider an outsider determining that he or she will do everything in reverse order, in your house. Everyone would be confused, as if things were being done the wrong way, even if it all got done. This is how you are likely to feel after reading an online source in California, then talking to a bankruptcy attorney about filing bankruptcy in Michigan.

Just like we said about talking to your friends, we think online research is good. But, when you do it, you should look for the right kind of information, and be able to filter out the information that may be informative but is not directly helpful or important to you. Our recommendation is that you do online research and look for information that is very general in nature while not paying much attention to the more specific information. Seek out broad descriptions of how to negotiate with creditors to pay a lump sum settlement or reduce payments. Seek out websites that tell you what Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is, what property you can keep in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, and when you can or cannot keep property in such a case. Look for a general overview of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and information about when you might be required to file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7. Look for a description of reasons why you might want to file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

When researching, ignore the details related to how much time you have to do specific things within a bankruptcy. You should rely upon your bankruptcy attorney and the attorney’s staff to help you with timing and the requirements of the rules. If you find a website that clearly tells you the generally applicable information and then explains what to expect in a specific region, that site is providing reliable information.

In the coming posts, you should expect to find informative posts about each of these topics. Our posts will explain general details and concepts that are true nationally, and provide specific information that is meant for people in Grand Rapids and West Michigan, where we are located. We will clearly distinguish between general information and information specific to the Western District of Michigan throughout our posts. We hope that you find our site helpful and informative!

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