Däna (pronounced "Donna") Wilkinson, has been a bankruptcy lawyer in South Carolina for 20 years. She is certified as a bankruptcy specialist by the South Carolina Supreme Court.


Author: Dana Wilkinson, Attorney at Law

29 Mar How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost?

Prospective clients often ask me "How do I pay you when I am bankrupt?" The cost of filing bankruptcy, and how you pay your attorney, is a primary concern to virtually everyone who considers bankruptcy. Attorney fees for filing bankruptcy depend on a number of factors--prevailing cost of living where you live, the relative complexity of your financial situation, competition among bankruptcy lawyers in your area, and what kind of bankruptcy you are planning to file. Most bankruptcy lawyers charge attorney fees on a flat fee basis, with the fee designed to cover the work that the attorney anticipates will be necessary in that case. Additional fees may be charged for non-standard work. My practice is to get some preliminary information from a prospective client, so that I have an idea of the amount of work that will be involved in the case, and set a flat fee at that point. That seems to be the prevailing procedure followed by most bankruptcy attorneys practicing in my region. No two cases are alike, and they vary in complexity so much that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work.
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26 Mar Bankruptcy Semantics

[caption id="attachment_39900" align="alignleft" width="201"]Get help with your bankruptcy! Get help with your bankruptcy![/caption] Bankruptcy law is a very specialized area of the law. Like the practice of medicine, the practice of law has become increasingly specialized, and bankruptcy is one of the areas of the law that demands specialization. It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an acceptable level of competence without specialization. When a professional specializes, however, he or she may fall into the habit of using a specialized jargon as well. That can pose a barrier to communication with clients.
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26 Mar Do I Have to File Bankruptcy with My Spouse?

bankruptcy petitionWhile many married couples file bankruptcy jointly, there is no requirement that they do so. You are entitled to file your own, separate, bankruptcy, just as you are entitled to your own credit rating. A joint filing is advisable when both parties are responsible for a significant amount of debt, whether or not the debt is joint. If most of the debt is joint debt, a bankruptcy filing by one spouse will not stop collection attempts--phone calls, letters, or lawsuits--against the non-filing spouse. Even if each spouse has his or her own debt, if both spouses are overextended, a joint filing may save time, trouble, and attorney fees.
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22 Mar Is Chapter 13 the Answer, or Are You Kidding Yourself?

L. Jed Berliner's recent post, Bankruptcy, Mortgages and Miracles, got me thinking about when a Chapter 13 is appropriate in order to stop a foreclosure. Chapter 13 can be a last, and sometimes only, chance to save your home. But when is Chapter 13 the right choice? First, some basic facts about what a Chapter 13 can and cannot do. In most cases, a Chapter 13 won't change the regular monthly payment you are required to make on your home mortgage (or mortgages, if you have more than one). Chapter 13 will not change the interest rate on your mortgage, or stop an adjustable rate from increasing your payment, or prevent a balloon payment from coming due. Shortly after filing Chapter 13, you will be required to resume making regular payments. (This is because most people cannot pay off their mortgages in 60 months, the maximum term of a Chapter 13.)
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19 Mar In Chapter 7, Can I Keep My Car?

If I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, I can't lose my car, can I? I hear that question from clients all the time, in one form or another. Many people assume that if they have only one car, that car can't be taken to pay their debts. After all, in most parts of this country, you have to have a car in order to get to work, and many jobs require the actual car! You need transportation for work, for medical care, to take care of your family. How can a bankruptcy trustee take your car if it is necessary for you to work or care of your family? Unfortunately, in many states, you can lose that car.
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