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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

You are at great risk when you have overwhelming debt. You may face lawsuits from your creditors, seizure of your car or loss of your home.   Debt consolidation services cannot defend you against litigation, repossession or foreclosure. Only a qualified debt relief attorney can help you confront these serious matters.

Getting served with a lawsuit can be a frightening experience – but, the courteous staff at Harold Shepley and Associates will be alongside you throughout your journey helping you understand what is going on and what you can do about it.   We can settle a lawsuit no different than any other debt.  In fact, sometimes we can get the case dismissed – meaning that you owe the creditor nothing. Getting sued with Harold Shepley & Associates behind you can actually be a good thing!

The easy answer is all of the financial information that you can have prepared. This includes specifics about your income, expenses, and debt. The more that information that we have from you, the better we can guide you.

Many people who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can keep their homes and cars. Call 877-827-9006 for a free consultation and we’ll work with you to figure out your options. Having a good attorney is always your best chance for keeping as much as you can.

Bankruptcy damages your credit for up to 10 years after receiving your discharge. It is easier to clean up your credit after completing debt negotiation than after completing a bankruptcy.  In addition, bankruptcy can also affect your ability to get a job, housing, and insurance.

Your credit score may be reduced when you fail to make payments on time or in full. Bankruptcy causes the greatest damage to your credit, but even debt negotiation can have a negative impact. Our firm can help you restore your credit score and provide you a more secure future.

In these rough economic times, many people are becoming delinquent on their mortgage payments.  This does not mean you need to lose your home.  Harold Shepley and Associates offer many different options to keep your home.  These include: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure defense, and possibly debt negotiation to reduce your unsecured debt so you can afford your mortgage payment.

 
Many people who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can keep their homes and cars. Call 877-533-3389 for a free consultation and we’ll work with you to figure out your options. Having a good attorney is always your best chance for keeping as much as you can.

The goal of debt consolidation is to make your debt payments manageable and save you money. It can be a sound approach to achieving financial health but should be approached carefully and with expert guidance.

Using a 0% interest balance transfer credit card may seem tempting, but what will happen to your debt and monthly payments if you can’t pay off your debt during the promotional period? Your new balance could sky rocket with an interest rate of 29% or more creating an unaffordable monthly payment.

Yes.

We Are A…

Full Service
We understand that people face a very wide variety of difficult financial situations. We don’t just send you through some premade program; we really listen to what you have to say and work with you to develop the debt relief solution that works for you.

Debt Relief
We know firsthand how heavily debt can affect every aspect of your life. Harold Shepley & Associates is by your side every step of the way to guide you through these troubling times and on to a brighter financial future.

Law Firm
As a licensed law firm, we have the knowledge and experience to effectively handle the most difficult debt situations. You need someone working with you, for you. You need someone who truly cares, someone who has been in your shoes. You need Harold Shepley & Associates.

This is not a loan. We use your money to pay your creditors.

This is not Consumer Credit Counseling. Consumer Credit Counseling only reduces the interest rate which typically doesn’t even reduce your monthly payment. Over 85% of the people who join Consumer Credit Counseling will fail.

Litigation occurs when a creditor attempts to bring legal action against you.  This is in the form of a lawsuit and is delivered in person by a police officer or constable.  Harold Shepley & Associates can defend this legal action; therefore, removing any headaches, frustration, or fear that you or your family may face.

  • Don’t ignore them – Often times the calls are so overwhelming that people are tempted to just let them ring. All experts say this only makes it worse. The quicker you begin to deal with them, the quicker you can be done dealing with them.
  • Get a lawyer – An experienced attorney like the ones at Harold Shepley & Associates will be well versed with federal guidelines preventing debt collectors from acting in certain unethical ways to obtain their money, like fear tactics or impersonating law enforcement. The collectors have attorneys working for them, you should get one working for you.
  • Keep your records – Debt collectors can lose or sometimes never receive proof that you have paid your debts. Always safeguard your important documents such as paid in full notices and receipts of final payment, as well as initial contracts. It’s much harder for collectors to get money you don’t owe them if you’ve got proof that you’re paid up.

Collectors will sometimes even resort to illegal means to attempt to get money from you. Don’t let yourself be intimidated; don’t let yourself be bullied – know your rights and don’t be afraid to use them.

Without question – yes.

If you still have a steady income but just aren’t making enough money to cover even the minimum payments on your credit obligations, then debt negotiation may be the best of your alternatives to bankruptcy.

Debt negotiation as a process, however, is complex and full of intricacies. Without a proper attorney to help them, most average folks wouldn’t even know where to begin.

That’s where we come in. The experienced attorneys at Harold Shepley & Associates are well-versed in debt negotiation, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy law, and more.

In addition to giving you the confidence of an experienced professional beside you, the debt negotiation attorneys at Harold Shepley & Associates can:

  • Reduce your overall debt – We work with creditors to reduce the actual amount of money you owe and lengthen payment periods. We are frequently successful at minimizing your debt to as little as 60 cents per dollar owed.
  • Guard you against litigation – Some forms of settlement can still leave you open to be sued by your creditors. When you work with the experienced attorneys at Harold Shepley & Associates, we ensure that terms are included in your agreements that prevent this from happening.

If you’re dealing with a large quantity of debt, you’re probably feeling totally overwhelmed. Though the road out of financial struggle can be long and painful, there are some steps you can take to ease the journey. We’ve compiled a list of just a few measures that you can use to help get your finances back on track:

  • Research your options – The first step in choosing a path is figuring out which paths are open to you. Many people don’t even know that there are other means of debt relief beyond bankruptcy. Foreclosure defense, debt negotiation, or debt consolidation may be your best bet in certain situations.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help – The whole reason that firms like Harold Shepley & Associates exist is that most people cannot handle significant debt on their own. Even our founder, Harold Shepley, had to reach out for help when his debt was too much to bear – and he was already an established attorney! There is no shame in asking for help when you need it.
  • Centralize your debt – One reasonable monthly payment is easier to make than several smaller payments. Managing your money can be much easier after a debt consolidation. Consolidation is not necessarily for everyone, but in the right situation it can speed your debt recovery and help you breathe easy quicker than any other method.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

Though we make every effort to help you avoid bankruptcy, sometimes it is the best option. When you file Chapter 7, all of your unsecured debt is usually discharged and you may be able to keep most of your assets.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 gives you a much greater chance of keeping your assets. Generally there is no liquidation, and you have the opportunity to pay back some of your debt.

Debt Negotiation:
Our attorneys favor negotiation over any other form of debt relief. It is the fastest and most effective way to get out of debt without filing for bankruptcy. Your debts can often be settled for less than you owe, and your credit can be restored to an acceptable score.

Mortgage Foreclosure Defense:
When you are unable to keep up with your mortgage payments, you are at risk of losing your home in foreclosure. However, your lender may be willing to accept lower monthly payments and extend the term of your loan.

Litigation Defense:
Our Litigation team complements our Debt Negotiation team.  We can defend lawsuits, eliminate debt, or reduce debt providing you with a payment you can afford.

Most people that file bankruptcy are able to keep their possessions.

At Harold Shepley & Associates, our costs are all-inclusive.

  • No hidden fees
  • Lowest payment plans in the state
  • Filing fees included
  • Free consultation
  • No travel required

The moment a bankruptcy case is filed it triggers the “automatic stay.” This STOPS creditors DEAD in their tracks!

  • Harassing calls must stop
  • Lawsuits cannot be filed or pursued
  • Repossession activity must stop
  • A foreclosure sale cannot proceed
  • Utility shut offs cannot occur

It is a powerful tool for individuals facing difficult financial times.

Most individuals will attend one meeting with one of our attorneys and a Trustee assigned to their bankruptcy case. Currently, meetings are being conducted from the privacy of your own home via telephone or computer.

Whether you need to file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is determined by your income, assets, and goals. In some cases, one or more of those factors may consistently change as life remains unpredictable. Here are some key differences:

Chapter 7

  • The shorter, quicker method to address your debt.
  • Most of your unsecured debt is eliminated including, credit cards, lines of credit, deficiencies from automobile repossessions, personal loans, unpaid rent from former agreements, and medical bills, for example.
  • Pennsylvania allows the choice between federal and state exemptions to protect property and most individuals keep their possessions, homes, and automobiles.

Chapter 13

  • Requires a commitment to develop a payment plan to address past due debts for important property, such as a home or automobile.
  • Consistent income that disqualifies a filer under Chapter 7 still provides protection under the bankruptcy law from creditor collection activity and provides a way to pay some of the outstanding debt and discharge any remaining balance.
  • Provides an opportunity to keep some assets that would be surrendered if the filer was forced to file a Chapter 7 case.

Our clients typically attend only one meeting, called the Meeting of Creditors, during the course of a bankruptcy case.  This meeting is a critical part of the bankruptcy case and it provides an opportunity for the Trustee to ask questions and review the assets, debts, and financial circumstances to determine whether the case should be permitted to proceed routinely. The meeting is scheduled by the Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office after the case is filed.  It will be scheduled approximately 20-30 days after the case is filed.

Whether a case is a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the basic steps in the process are the same.  Generally, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case will take approximately 4 to 6 months from the date when the case is filed until the case is closed.  A Chapter 13 case will typically last 36 to 60 months from the date of filing.

Yes and no.  A bankruptcy case will eliminate debts such as credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and past due utility bills.  However, it will not eliminate your mortgage and car payments.  If you want to keep the property, you will need to maintain the payments.

If you’re dealing with overwhelming debt and facing foreclosure, loss mitigation is an effective tool to stall or prevent foreclosure proceedings. When enacting loss mitigation as a foreclosure defense, Harold Shepley & Associates works directly with you and your lenders to work out a new agreement for you. Part of the qualification for loss mitigation is that you are actually able to pay a new workout and payment and that the residence is your primary home. If you don’t make enough money to meet even a workout payment, the lender will reject your offer – and even worse, if you set yourself up with yet another unattainable payment plan your home can still be foreclosed upon. Mortgage foreclosure defense is a complex process, and one that requires an adept attorney like those at Harold Shepley & Associates. There are ways to avoid foreclosure, and we are here to help guide you through them. Call us today at 877-827-9006 or contact us online any time for a free consultation and start your journey to debt freedom today.

Loss mitigation vs refinancing
Refinancing, while it can be a good way to get a better rate on your mortgage, it can be difficult to gain approval if you are already behind on your mortgage. You are also less likely to qualify for refinancing if you have existing credit issues. Most of our clients are in a position requiring loss mitigation over refinancing. A few other things to consider are:
  • Refinance is permanent; loss mitigation can be temporary.
  • Lenders will almost always charge fees for a refinance while a loss mitigation is frequently free.
  • A refinance is only valid if you are current on your mortgage; late fees and more can be bundled into your modification package if you choose to go that route.

Pennsylvania law allows foreclosure defense and loss mitigation under certain circumstances. Many people think that when they fall behind on bills for any reason that bankruptcy is their only option.

We’re here to tell you there is hope. The percentage of loss mitigation requests which are approved annually are actually on the rise. One of the reasons for that statistic is Harold Shepley & Associates. 

When you have a full service debt relief law firm in your corner, you have the power and leverage to protect your home in ways you never thought possible.

Special circumstances which allow loss mitigation or litigation

State law has set forth a number of provisions regarding the way in which creditors must act to protect you from being foreclosed upon unfairly. These include:

  • Predatory or unethical lending practices – If there is something seriously wrong with your mortgage, like unfair interest rates or an uncharacteristically high principle, you may be able to fight foreclosure on the grounds of unconscionable lending practices.
  • Military protection – Lenders are not allowed to foreclose on your home while you are on active duty as a member of the US military. If you are on active duty and facing foreclosure, contact us today for help requesting a postponement of proceedings.
  • Creditors not following procedure – Just like the complex guidelines for filing bankruptcy or attempting to get a loss mitigation, creditors must follow a series of rules and procedures to foreclose on your home. If creditors act outside of the guidelines, their foreclosure actions may not actually be valid.

You should always have legal representation when considering taking on a lender. Harold Shepley & Associates knows your rights and has the experience and know-how to handle your creditors and help you back on the path to financial Freedom.

Financial hardship is not something to be ashamed of. In 2019, 752,160 Americans filed for bankruptcy. Our founder, Harold Shepley, even went through the struggle of bankruptcy himself – so you can trust us when we say, “We know how you feel.”

You can also trust that there is hope for keeping your home and help waiting for you at Harold Shepley & Associates. We employ multiple methods for ceasing or stalling foreclosure proceedings and we help keep you in your home.

The first step to getting help is asking for it. Call us today, one of our friendly and helpful foreclosure representatives will be happy to listen to your concerns and help you start building a case. Our phone number is 877-827-9006 and we can be reached through our contact form any time.

Multiple ways to stop foreclosure

Depending on your situation, we use an array of different foreclosure defense techniques to help you avoid foreclosure.

  • Loss Mitigation – Good for people who may be able to make their

payments if they were just a little bit lower. Maybe you have hit a rough patch or unexpectedly lost your job and just need a break. We can help lower your monthly payments, reduce your interest rate, or even decrease the principal owed on your loan.

  • Bankruptcy – Nobody wants to declare bankruptcy, and we consider it to

be a last resort. It can be useful to file, however. When you file bankruptcy, you are granted something called automatic stay. This means that debt collections, foreclosure proceedings, repossessions, and more all must stop immediately. This can grant you valuable time to reorganize and get your finances on track.

  • Short sale / deed in lieu of foreclosure – If there is no feasible way to continue paying your mortgage, we can help you with a short sale of your house or properly surrendering your deed to avoid credit-damaging foreclosure.

Many people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure think that their only option is bankruptcy. They’re scared, they don’t want to lose their family home, and they don’t know what to do about it.

The experienced debt relief attorneys at Harold Shepley & Associates do, however.

Mortgage foreclosure defense can help.

Qualifying for loss mitigation

There are certain criteria you must meet to qualify for loss mitigation assistance. Largely, these criteria are based on income and necessity.

Contact our experienced mortgage foreclosure defense representatives to discuss your financial situation in detail.

The vast majority of those who receive a lawsuit has received the lawsuit on his/her credit card.  Others receive lawsuits on an unsecured loan or for a deficiency balance stemming from a repossession. Different legal strategies are used for different types of accounts.

There are many original creditors who file lawsuits.  There are also many debt buyers who buy “bad debt” from original creditors for pennies on the dollar and then in turn sue for the full balance. The debt buyer cases are easier to win. Many consumer attorneys out there will only defend these debt buyer cases. No matter who sues you whether it be an original creditor or a debt buyer we are here to help. Odds of winning a case vary depending on who the creditor is and believe it or not where you reside. Our litigation team has years of experience handling these types of lawsuits all over the Commonwealth. We will advise you from the very beginning of our strategy for your individual case. 

 

As stated earlier, virtually every Complaint filed is legally deficient. We will review all your paperwork and file a response based on what is appropriate given your individual circumstances. Many firms out there will defend your credit card case. However, if they are met with any opposition or are not successful then they will try to leave you on your own. No matter what happens with your case we will be there every step of the way to handle your situation and relieve you of your burden. Most of the time no Court Appearance is required by our clients.  

 

If we cannot get your case dismissed, we are extremely successful in buying you enough time to have the funds saved up to settle the lawsuit for the best possible deal we can negotiate on your behalf.  It is not uncommon for a lawsuit to take several years to resolve. It is important to hire an attorney to help you through this process. Those who do not file formal responses with the Court automatically lose when the creditor takes a default judgment against you for not filing a response. Judgments are very serious matters. There is a lien against the real estate you own. Judgments also allow creditors to attempt to garnish your bank account for years after obtaining the judgment. Choosing to do nothing now will end up being more costly in the long run.

Many of our clients end up on the wrong end of creditors and/or their attorneys doing something that violates the numerous consumer protection laws enacted by our legislature. From the onset of an individual becoming a client, we send out notice to every single creditor that we are representing the individual and all further communication needs to be through our office. Inevitably a client will still end up years later receiving communication from their creditors. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and/or the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA). There are many situations that arise that end up being a violation of the FDCPA and/or the FCEUA. Our staff is trained to look for and identify any and all potential violations.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct requires that we have a written fee agreement in place before a suit against your creditor can occur. Our attorney will discuss all scenarios with clients before taking any further action. All upfront fees for filing the suit are covered by the law firm and the only fee incurred by our clients for filing a lawsuit on their behalf occurs only if a settlement or judgment occurs. All fees will be explained at the time of settlement or judgment. Typically, almost every case filed by our firm ends up with a prompt settlement that is agreed on by all involved. If you have faced an issue that caused concern to you please contact our office. All questions will be gone over in detail by the attorney. If you have a claim under the FDCPA, you are entitled to statutory damages (between $1 and $1000) plus reasonable attorneys’ fees. If you can prove actual damages as a result of a debt collector’s actions, you can receive those too. The way the FDCPA calls for attorneys’ fees really makes debt collectors settle these claims quickly to avoid racking up attorneys’ fees that they will be responsible for.

There are two other statutes that sometimes are violated. The first is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If you are having issues with items that you believe don’t belong on your Credit Report, we can investigate those matters for you. We will make sure all information is being accurately reported. The second is the Telephone Communications Protection Act (TCPA). If you are receiving unwanted calls either on your landline or cell phone, texts or faxes then the TCPA may have been violated.  Both of these statutes call for certain and unique damages which we will properly investigate.

Many of our clients end up on the wrong end of creditors and/or their attorneys doing something that violates the numerous consumer protection laws enacted by our legislature. From the onset of an individual becoming a client, we send out notice to every single creditor that we are representing the individual and all further communication needs to be through our office. Inevitably a client will still end up years later receiving communication from their creditors. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and/or the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA). There are many situations that arise that end up being a violation of the FDCPA and/or the FCEUA. Our staff is trained to look for and identify any and all potential violations.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct requires that we have a written fee agreement in place before a suit against your creditor can occur. Our attorney will discuss all scenarios with clients before taking any further action. All upfront fees for filing the suit are covered by the law firm and the only fee incurred by our clients for filing a lawsuit on their behalf occurs only if a settlement or judgment occurs. All fees will be explained at the time of settlement or judgment. Typically, almost every case filed by our firm ends up with a prompt settlement that is agreed on by all involved. If you have faced an issue that caused concern to you please contact our office. All questions will be gone over in detail by the attorney. If you have a claim under the FDCPA, you are entitled to statutory damages (between $1 and $1000) plus reasonable attorneys’ fees. If you can prove actual damages as a result of a debt collector’s actions, you can receive those too. The way the FDCPA calls for attorneys’ fees really makes debt collectors settle these claims quickly to avoid racking up attorneys’ fees that they will be responsible for.

There are two other statutes that sometimes are violated. The first is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If you are having issues with items that you believe don’t belong on your Credit Report, we can investigate those matters for you. We will make sure all information is being accurately reported. The second is the Telephone Communications Protection Act (TCPA). If you are receiving unwanted calls either on your landline or cell phone, texts or faxes then the TCPA may have been violated.  Both of these statutes call for certain and unique damages which we will properly investigate.

A divorce is started with one party filing a Complaint in the court of the county that you live in. Your particular situation and needs will determine the contents of that Complaint. There will also be related responsibilities with a divorce filing, such as serving the other party, scheduling hearings and preparation of inventories. Our firm can provide detailed explanations of the process based on your individual situation and help your from beginning to end. Call us today.

While you can certainly represent yourself in a divorce, it is never in your best interest to do so. An online divorce may seem like a quick and easy solution, but there are many areas of concern that those divorces do not cover. When protecting your rights, it is best to have someone on your side with the experience and knowledge to ensure that your interests and rights are protected.

There is always a possibility that there could be an award of child support and/or spousal support awarded to you or collected from you. Whether, or not, you can collect, or be forced to pay, any type of support will be based on numerous factors, including the income of each party, the number of children involved and health insurance coverage.

There are many factors in determining how much a divorce will actually cost. Our firm provides affordable retainer fees, monthly payment plans and transparent pricing. The question that you should ask is how much will a divorce cost if I do not have an experienced attorney fighting for me?

There is no set answer, but it can be completed in as little as 100 days or take much longer depending on the complexity of the case, the attitude of the opposing party and the number of court appearances that your case may require. We always try to guide you to the quickest solution, but will be with your for the duration no matter how long it may take.

Everyone should have a Will, even if you do not think you need one. Your Will instructs your family as to what you want to happen to your property after you pass. It can prevent conflict among your survivors and allow you to create special gifts to children, grandchildren, siblings or friends.

We like to talk about holistic estate planning, including Wills, Powers of Attorney, Life Insurance policies and beneficiaries. With this approach, everyone’s needs are different and so are the costs. The cost of not having a proper estate plan can be extensive to your survivors both economically and emotionally. Call us today to talk about your needs and set up an appointment.

Inheritance tax is the tax that the Commonwealth charges on property passed from a deceased individual to his/her heirs. There is no tax on property passing between spouses, but in increases to as much as 15% for other heirs. Careful estate planning can avoid or minimize the inheritance tax charged on your property.

Trusts are entities created to manage, to distribute and to protect property. There are numerous types of trusts that accomplish different goals. For a majority of people, creating a trust as part of estate planning is unnecessary and costly. We can advise you as to whether or not a trust may be right for you.

A Power of Attorney, also known as a POA, is a legal document that grants an “agent” the power to act on your behalf. Your agent has the power to act in your place in almost all financial transactions, from writing checks to selling real estate. You can limit the power of your agent if you choose. Because you never can predict what tomorrow may hold, it is important to have a trusted person in place to manage your affairs should you become unable to do so yourself.

It is advisable to still have a Will in this scenario in case your spouse would pass before you.  It would also be necessary in order to transfer certain titled property, such as stock.

Bankrutpcy FAQs

Debt Negotiation FAQs

Divorce & Family Law FAQs

Estate Planning FAQs

Litigation Defense FAQs

Mortgage Foreclosure Defense FAQs

Have questions? We've got answers. Call us today!

And remember, there is always hope. With an experienced and compassionate team like Harold Shepley & Associates by your side, you can break the chains of debt and get on your path to financial freedom today.

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