It's the last resort, but sometimes bankruptcy may be the only way out of a financial crisis. A new Chicago firm can help, as they put it, "put you in the fast lane to financial freedom."
Bankruptcy is a last resort but a reality for thousands of people in Illinois each year. It's a process that usually takes weeks or months.
But one Chicago firm is vowing to put its clients in the fast lane to financial freedom at reduced rates, charging about 20 percent less, on average, for legal costs.
It’s called Swift Bankruptcy, and it sits literally across the way from the Chicago Transit Authority's Skokie Swift station.
"I thought if I called it Swift Bankruptcy it better be fast," said attorney David Leibowitz.
One client, retiree Margaret Sutton, is filing for bankruptcy at 71 years old. She’s been overwhelmed by medical bills and old credit card debt she can no longer pay. Fearful she was about to lose her home after a foreclosure notice, she wanted help fast.
"They call me constantly, all day and night," she said of her creditors.
Sutton is filing Chapter 13, hoping she'll be able to keep her house and make payments on her debts.
Sometimes swift action is mandatory, said Leibowitz.
"Suppose you are having your wages garnished. Suppose someone is trying to take your bank account. Suppose someone is trying to throw you out of your house. They are not waiting," he explained.
One day transactions do require work on the filer's part. You'll have to have all your financial papers in order when you come in and you must sit through mandatory credit counseling imposed by Congress.
But having some skin in the game will save you money and time, said Leibowitz, stressing that bankruptcy should only be used as a last resort.
"If there's other things that you can do to avoid bankruptcy then you should do that," he said.
Bankruptcy is considered a reflection of the economy. Last year, 1.5 Million cases were filed by individuals, a nine percent increase from the year before, according to U.S. District Court records. And with prolonged unemployment, that number is expected to rise.
Nearly three times as many file Chapter 7, in which assets are generally liquidated versus Chapter 13, like Sutton, who, with the help of family, will make payments on her debts.