Based on your family size, your income over the past 6 months is over the Median amount for your community. Median income is based on US Census Bureau records, which change quarterly.
Why complicated? Because in order to file Chapter 7, your attorney must find and be able to prove a enough deductions so you can qualify to file Chapter 7. If you are filing a Chapter 13, your attorney should also be looking for as many allowable deductions on the Means Test. Why? So that the amount you are required to pay on your debts is as low as possible.
You owe a substantial amount of federal income taxes. What is substantial? Anything you think is a lot qualifies, but typically 10% or more of your annual income.
Why complicated? Most tax debts are not eligible to be eliminated through bankruptcy. If your attorney is willing to go the extra mile to investigate ways that you can eliminate your tax debt, it is worth paying some extra legal fees. Unless you want to pay all your tax debt!
You have a car loan you want to keep.
Why complicated? Most creditors require you to sign a "reaffirmation agreement" in order to keep the car. If you chose to have your attorney represent you on this matter, it involves extra work, and may even require the attorney to show up in court with you for an additional appearance so the Judge can approve the reaffirmation.
You are paid "under the table," receive 1099 payments as an independent contractor, or have your own business.
Why complicated? If you have kept wonderful records of your business activity, you probably did not keep these records in the way the bankruptcy court requires. Unless you are willing to re-do your financial books in the way the bankruptcy court needs them, your attorney will have to go through and present your books according to the rules of the bankruptcy court.
Unfiled tax returns
If you don't have to file tax returns, your case isn't complicated. But if you should have filed and haven't, your bankruptcy case will be complicated.
Why complicated? Because the Bankruptcy Court requires you to provide at least 2 up to date tax returns within days of your bankruptcy case being filed. If you are not able to provide these tax returns, multiple court appearances will be required, which both you and your attorney must attend.
You or someone in your family has a lot of medical debt.
Why complicated? Medical debts typically do not show up on a credit report. So every single medical debt will have to be manually processed into your bankruptcy from your stack of bills. This can be very time consuming work, as even a brief stay in the hospital can result in 20 or more providers sending you bills, including doctors you never met, such as the pathologist, radiologist, and multiple consultants that reviewed your file at the request of your doctor. If any one of these medical bills shows up after you have filed your bankruptcy, your attorney must amend your case, send notice to the missing creditor, and sign and file an affidavit swearing that s/he served this creditor according to the local bankruptcy rules. An additional court filing fee is required. Yes, it is "no fair" that medical debts make your bankruptcy complicated. But extra work means extra costs.
Delinquent mortgage payments
Your mortgage payments are delinquent and you wish to keep the real estate.
Why complicated? It is only complicated because you want to keep the real estate. If you don't mind losing the real estate to foreclosure, there won't be any complications. But if you are delinquent on making your mortgage payments, there will be a number of different things your lawyer will have to do to help you to keep your property. And you will be calling your attorney to get answers to the many questions you will have. There could be a substantial amount of extra work involved which will make for some interesting complications.
Wage garnishment or judgment lien
Why complicated? Although stopping a wage garnishment is a fairly simple and quick task for your attorney, many times because you need to have this wage garnishment stopped quickly, your attorney will have to put a rush on your case. In addition, if you own real estate, whether you know it or not, the creditor may have recorded the court judgment and turned it into a lien against any real estate you own. While a homestead will protect you from having the creditor forcibly sell your home, in order to remove the lien, your attorney must file additional paperwork with the court and attend a hearing in front of the bankruptcy judge.
You moved into the state during the past 2 years
Why complicated? Unless you have lived in the state for the past two years, the property you own that is eligible to be protected is controlled by the laws of the state where you used to live. And in all likelihood, your attorney is only familiar with the laws in the state where s/he is licensed to practice. So while your attorney can look up the laws in other states, interpreting how and whether these laws apply to property that you own can be tricky and a complication.
You are anxious, don't trust your attorney, have lots of questions and concerns about your case, or don't follow instructions.
Why complicated? Although your attorney is required to give you a general explanation of the bankruptcy process, if you are overly worried, have a lot of questions, or fail to respond to instructions from your attorney to provide documents or complete mandatory classes required by the bankruptcy laws, your case can go from simple to complicated pretty quickly. Because attorney time is billed at hundreds of dollars an hour, if you want to keep the total cost of your bankruptcy case down, cooperate with your attorney and ask questions only when it is necessary. If you don't trust your attorney, this attorney may be the wrong attorney for you. Unless you can't trust anyone.
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