Thomas P. Riley

(517) 787-2196

thomas@thomasrileylaw.com

Jackson Office:

500 W Michigan Ave. Suite 1

Jackson, MI 49201

Adrian Office:

142 E Maumee St.

Adrian, MI 49221

 

CONTACT US

We are a debt relief agency.  We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Thomas P. Riley Law Office, PLC is located in Jackson, Michigan and Adrian, Michigan and primarily serves clients in Southern Michigan, including the following counties: Jackson, Lenawee, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Use of this website does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between you and our firm. The content of any communication you send to us, electronically or by any other means, will not be considered confidential unless and until we agree to undertake the legal services you may request. You should not send any confidential information to the firm by any means unless you have already spoken with us and we agreed to help you. See Our Disclaimer for more information. The information on these pages is here for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be legal advice. We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Services Offered

Thomas P. Riley Law Office specializes in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Other services include Wills, Deeds, and Estate Planning. Read the descriptions below to learn more about your options and how we can help you.

You may also want to read our guide on Choosing between Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a means-tested liquidation bankruptcy that wipes out your unsecured debts such as credit card debt and medical debt, for those who are below a predetermined income threshold. There is no monthly repayment plan under chapter 7, however some assets may be seized by the trustee and sold to repay creditors.

Beginning the Process:

For qualified individuals we will begin the process of filling out the forms required by the bankruptcy court for Chapter 7. The Bankruptcy Code also requires you to complete two financial management courses with an outside financial counseling agency. The first one must be completed before filing, and the second one must be completed after the filing. These are relatively straightforward courses, and can be completed online or over the telephone. When we meet with you, we will give you recommendations for cheap courses that you can take (and no, we do not get paid for the referral). Upon completion of the course, the course provider will send us a certificate of completion, which we will file with the court.


Our firm will make every effort to exempt as many of your assets as we can (and in many cases, we can exempt everything you own). Exempt assets cannot be seized and sold by the bankruptcy trustee.

We may be able to exempt some or all of the following:

  • Your home

  • Your car

  • Your motorcycle

  • Normal household goods and furnishings

  • Some jewelry and furs

  • Firearms

  • Sports and hobby equipment

  • The money in your bank accounts

  • The interests that you have in 401(K), 403(b), Keogh, SEP IRA, and SIMPLE IRA plans, other retirement plans, and life insurance policies

  • Over $1.2 million in traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs

  • Social Security payments, disability payments, veterans benefits, workers compensation benefits, unemployment benefits

  • Welfare benefits and food assistance benefits

  • Child support and alimony benefits that you receive

  • Crime victims compensation and wrongful death payments


Once we complete the forms, we will go over them with you in detail to ensure their accuracy and completeness, and then we will file them for you with the Bankruptcy Court.
 

 


After Filing:


A few weeks after you file for bankruptcy, there will be a meeting at the courthouse with the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors. These meetings are sometimes known as "341 hearings." These meetings are typically simple and usually do not last more than 7-15 minutes. The trustee will ask you some questions, and sometimes a representative from one of your creditors may show up and ask you a few questions. We will be there with you the entire time.

The law also requires you to complete the second debtor education course after you file.  Like the first course, this second course can be completed online or over the phone.  The course provider will send us another certificate once the course is completed, which we will file with the court.

 

 


After the Hearing:


After the meeting, there will be a period of time for your creditors to file any objections that they might have. If no objections are filed, then you will likely receive your discharge in the mail within a few days after the objection period ends. If all of your assets are exempt and there is nothing for the trustee to distribute to your creditors, then the court will likely close the case shortly after you receive your discharge.

Sometimes, we can exempt part of the value in an asset, but not all of it. If there is any nonexempt value to any asset, we will also contact the Trustee after the hearing and determine if an agreement can be reached to avoid having the asset sold off to pay your creditors. This often involves making payment(s) to the Trustee for the value of the asset. If a deal cannot be reached, then the Trustee will seize the asset, sell it, and use the money to pay your creditors. If this is the case and the Trustee sells off the asset, then the value that was exempted will be returned to you.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization, and often a reduction, of your debt for those with the means to make payments to their creditors. Under Chapter 13, your debts will be restructured and we will come to terms with your creditors to make reduced monthly payments over a course of 3 - 5 years.

Beginning the Process:


For those with incomes too high to qualify for Chapter 7, we will begin the process of filling out the forms required by the bankruptcy court for Chapter 13.  With a Chapter 13, we will work with you to come up with a Chapter 13 Plan that will require you to make reduced, affordable payments each month to the Trustee for a period of 3 - 5 years.  This Plan will ensure that your creditors are paid at least a part of what the are owed, while also ensuring that you aren't forced to make payments that you cannot afford.

Once we complete the forms and the Chapter 13 Plan, we will go over them with you in detail to ensure their accuracy and completeness, and then we will file them for you with the Bankruptcy Court.

The Bankruptcy Code also requires you to complete two financial management courses with an outside financial counseling agency.  The first one must be completed before the case is filed, and the second one must be completed after the case is filed.  These are relatively straightforward courses, and can be completed online or over the telephone. When we meet with you, we will give you recommendations for cheap courses that you can take (and no, we do not get paid for the referral).  When you finish the course, the course provider will send us a certificate of completion that we will file with the court.

 

 


After Filing:


A few weeks after you file for bankruptcy, there will be a meeting at the courthouse with the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors. These meetings are sometimes known as "341 hearings." These meetings are typically simple and usually do not last more than 10-20 minutes.  The trustee will ask you some questions, and sometimes a representative from one of your creditors may show up and ask you a few questions. We will be there with you the entire time.

After the 341 hearing, the trustee and your creditors will have a time to make any objections that they might have to the proposed Chapter 13 Plan. As they are received, we will work with the creditor and the Trustee to resolve these objections as much as possible. Once the objection period has ended, there will be a hearing, where the court will decide whether to confirm the Chapter 13 Plan. If all of the objections have been worked out, then the plan will be confirmed. If there are still unresolved objections, the judge will decide whether to confirm the plan over the objections. If the Plan is not confirmed, then we will work with you to figure out a new Plan.

You will need to make the first payment to the Trustee within 30 days after the case is filed. After the first payment, you will need to make a payment every month to the Trustee. Usually, this payment is simply deducted from your paycheck each payday and sent to the Trustee by your employer. Once the plan is confirmed, the Trustee will begin distributing the payments to your creditors.

The law also requires you to complete the second debtor education course after you file. Like the first course, this second course can be completed online or over the phone.  The course provider will send us another certificate once the course is completed, which we will file with the court.

 

 


At the End of the Plan:


Once the Plan has run its course, we will file the appropriate paperwork that is necessary to end the case. Most debts that were not fully paid off during the course of the Chapter 13 Plan will be discharged. A discharged debt means that it is a debt that you will no longer owe, and your creditors will be prohibited by court order from contacting you or trying to collect the debt. Some debts, such as a mortgage on your home, will survive the Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some other debts are not dischargeable by law, such as student loans. However, all other debts, such as credit card and medical debts, will be completely discharged.

Wills, Deeds, and Estate Planning

A will is a legal document that states your wishes for your various properties, possessions, accounts, and assets upon your death or incapacity.

You may also wish to organize your estate and assets into a trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement which allows a trusted third party to hold certain assets on behalf of a beneficiary.

Our firm can also assist with other financial arrangements such as wills, deeds, and estate planning. If you'd like to ensure that your various properties, possessions, accounts, and assets are transferred to your loved ones according to your wishes upon your death, you'll want to set up a will. This is a fairly straight-forward process wherein we will do a complete and thorough accounting of all assets, and determine how they shall be distributed upon your passing. Wills are typically subject to probate, which is a process through which the assets in question are verified and the wishes of the deceased are proven in court.

Trusts can also be valuable estate planning vehicles in some cases, and are typically exempt from probate which saves your loved ones time and money. This also protects your privacy, as probate is a matter of public record and therefore you may wish to conceal certain transferred assets from the public record. 

A trust is typically an entity created to protect assets and is overseen by a trustee (usually the person who owns it, but sometimes a trusted third party), wherein the trust becomes the owner of those assets. A revocable trust allows funds and assets to be accessed by the living trustee, and the remaining assets transferred to a successor trust (thereby transferred to heirs) upon the death or incapacity of the trustee. Assets in an irrevocable trust are not accessible by the living trustee, but this arrangement carries certain tax advantages upon transfer to a successor trust.