WISCONSIN CHAPTER 128
......BEATS BANKRUPTCY....
AND DEBT CONSOLIDATION!


In Wisconsin, we have a very unique law that lets people in debt obtain virtually the same kind of legal protections against creditors and their collections agencies that filing for bankruptcy provides. At the same time, this law lets someone pay off all their trouble debts with one, easy monthly payment. This law is not new, but it is not well known, even by most attorneys in Wisconsin.

It's not bankruptcy and it's not debt consolidation, but it's similar to both.

If you are a Wisconsin resident, have any steady source of income (even disability benefits), and need fast, effective debt relief, Chap. 128 of the Wisconsin statutes can provide an easy court-ordered plan to force most creditors to accept repayment of most debts (even student loans*) in comfortable, monthly increments over a period of three or fewer years.

Like bankruptcy, this stops credit-card and most other kinds of interest, and it stops creditors from garnishing you. And like debt consolidation, you get to pick and choose which of your bills you want to pay in full at a rate you can handle (retaining more of your good credit history)!


Stop garnishments!No submitting any schedules of property, finances or tax returns! No going to court! Low cost!

Can be done any time, even after having just filed federal bankruptcy and receiving a discharge!

Easy for you to do, with affordable payment options available!


Typical debts that can be handled through a Ch. 128 include:

overdue utilities

accounts in collections

PayDay loans

credit cards

medical bills

personal loans

Wisconsin taxes*

child-support arrears*

vehicle-loan deficiencies

civil judgments

tickets/fines

practically anything other than car or home loans!


Please click here to read a simple .pdf outline with all the pertinent details about this law.

ATTENTION CREDITORS: Please click HERE for a helpful .pdf outline designed to help those of you in the collections industry better understand how this law effects (and benefits) you.


Ch. 128 debtors and creditors (anybody) may click HERE to go to the Wisconsin Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP) Internet docket system to check filing dates and case numbers.

In every one of these cases that I have filed for clients since I started doing these back in 1998, I've only had to bring one set of co-debtors to court with me - nobody else has ever been required to go to court. You don't even have to come to my office if you don't have the time - all of it can be done through e-mail and/or the regular mail.

No matter where you live in the state, I can get you the expansive debt relief that this law provides in less than one week (in as little time as two days, in many cases). So take advantage of being a Wisconsin resident if you're over your head with debt, but don't need or want to file bankruptcy - take advantage of my many years of experience and let me help you file for relief under Chapter 128 (and take a break from the pressure)!


Remember, experience counts and you really do get what you pay for! You can pay only a couple hundred bucks to some debt-relief, legal outfit with a slick-sounding name to file for you, but good luck getting them to ever respond to your communications after they take your money and get your case filed! I, on the other hand, am always just an instant away for you for the long term.


So, after you have time to review my helpful
outline,
email me, Attorney Jeff Murrell, for a free consultation to discuss any questions it and the "FAQs" below do not answer, and to go over all of your options (state-wide help provided).

Want to know how to get started? Just email me!
jeffmurrell @ lawyer . com

If you want to know what the total costs are and how to get started as soon as possible, just click on the above e-mail address and send me a message requesting my easy, initial instructions and fee schedule with affordable payment options. I normally respond the same day (even on weekends and most holidays), if not immediately.

CAUTION: Though I personally respond to all emails that I receive, please note that I will automatically respond to you at whatever e-mail address from which you email me. That means you should not email me from any address to which you do not want me to reply!


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I maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau!


*Ch. 128 does not alleviate interest & penalties on most student-loan defaults, taxes and child-support arrears.

I file Chapter-128 cases and represent clients of these services in any county in Wisconsin: Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Walworth, Ozaukee, Washington, Rock, Jefferson, Dane, Green, Sheboygan, Dodge, Lafayette, Grant, Iowa, Columbia, Sauk, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Richland, Crawford, Vernon, Calumet, Manitowoc, Marquette, Juneau, Monroe, La Crosse, Winnebago, Waushara, Adams, Trempealeau, Jackson, Wood, Portage, Waupaca, Outagamie, Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Oconto, Menominee, Shawano, Marathon, Clark, Eau Claire, Pepin, Buffalo, Pierce, Saint Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Taylor, Lincoln, Langlade, Marinette, Forest, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Barron, Polk, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Vilas, Florence, Iron, Ashland, Bayfield and Douglas.

Office Location: Downtown Milwaukee, WI (office consultations by appointment only).

Mailing/Business Address: P.O. Box 579, Milwaukee, WI 53201.


Future Chapter 128 Seminars I'm Presenting:

March 19, 2008 - Sterling Education Services (in Milwaukee)

(CANCELED due to registration mailing glitch - to be rescheduled)



Past Chapter 128 Seminars I've Presented:

April 14, 2011- Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Madison

December 3, 2010 - Milwaukee Bar Association

April 9, 2009 - Waukesha Co. Bar Association Family Law Section

January 29, 2008 - Milwaukee Bar Association

October 5, 2007 - Wisconsin Clinic Credit Managers Assoc.



Published Articles:

Click the image above to read my May, 2008 feature article about Ch. 128 debtor actions in the official publication of the Wisconsin State Bar. I am only the third lawyer in history to publish an article about this law!


~ Chapter-128 FAQs ~
(Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The court filing fee is $31.50 ($35 for residents of Milwaukee County). Please email me to request my attorney-fee schedule and the initial instructions.


Q:
What will my monthly payments be?

A: The rule of thumb is that there is about a $300 monthly payment for every $10,000 of debt you want to include in your Ch-128 plan (which includes all attorney fees and trustee administration expenses which you also pay through your plan). For an exact estimate of what your monthly payments would be with the debts you wish to include, see "DOING THE MATH" in the outline.


Q:
I get paid bi-weekly (every two weeks). Will each of my monthly Ch-128 payments get split evenly between both my monthly paychecks?

A: Yes.


Q:
Do the payments have to come out of my payroll checks from my job and does my employer have to know that I'm doing this?

A: Normally, yes - but I offer clients an option for sending in their payments directly to the trustee's office themselves as a "self-pay," keeping their employers and nosy co-workers out of it entirely.


Q:
If I am a self-pay, can my monthly Ch-128 payments be automatically withdrawn from my bank account and sent to the trustee instead of me having to send a check to the trustee myself each month?

A: No (sorry).


Q:
How long does the process take?

A: I can usually get your paperwork all ready within two days (often times the same day - I work really fast) after you submit the required personal and creditor information that I need. After the initial pleadings are signed and notarized, it normally takes about a week to file the case. It then takes the trustee several weeks after that to get your monthly payments going. You do not have to pay your listed creditors or the trustee's office before then. (If you do not hear anything from the trustee in a month after filing, get a hold of one of us to find out what's going on with your case - court clerks sometimes misplace or even lose the court files, and those long delays in getting essential paperwork back to us results in higher monthly-payment amounts for the client than originally determined!)


Q:
How will this appear on my credit report?

A: See next FAQ below and "IMPACT ON CREDIT" in the outline.


Q:
What's the difference between Ch. 128, bankruptcy, debt consolidation and "debt settlement"?

A: Bankruptcy is federal law and allows for the discharge (forgiveness) of debt. It can wreck your credit score for at least ten years. Chapter 128 is a Wisconsin state law that does not discharge debt; it functions almost exactly the same for you as debt consolidation does, with intermediate credit-report scores of "I -7" or "R-7" indicating "debt consolidation" lasting up to only seven years. Chapter 128 is a legal action through your county court system in which you tell the court how much debt you need to pay off, then send in monthly payments to a trustee who distributes your money to your creditors until they're paid off. With debt consolidation, you must go to a private lender and ask them to pay off your trouble debts with what amounts to a brand-new loan to you which you pay back to them with a new interest rate, "service" and other miscellaneous fees which can be considerably high and even fluctuate with market trends and rates over time. Obviously, getting into more debt to pay off existing debts is never the best idea. And click HERE to read a JSOnline article from October of 2008 and learn how it can be an even worse choice for you to decide to try to work with a "debt settlement" company to reduce your debt!

With Ch. 128, you only pay one, low court filing fee, you pay me (and most other attorneys) a "flat" retainer fee and you pay a set amount in trustee fees over the life of the repayment plan. It does not change or fluctuate over time, unless you want to add or remove creditors from your plan (see next FAQ below). It's supervised by a county-court judge, an appointed trustee and your attorney. That means it's a safe, reliable way to reduce the debt you want to down to nothing in three or fewer years with no unexpected fees or other costs cropping up to take you by surprise at any time!


Q:
Can I add more debts or take some out after my case is filed?

A: Yes, debts incurred before filing your case, but which were not originally included, may be added into your plan after filing for an additional fee (you may not add new debts that you incur after we get your case filed). Just email me if you would like to add (or even remove) one or more debts.


Q:
May I prepay all or some of my plan debt without penalty?

A: Yes. See the section entitled "PAYING A CHAPTER 128 OFF EARLY" under "DOING THE MATH" in the outline.


Q:
May I pay back-taxes through a Ch. 128?

A: Some, yes. Overdue Wisconsin income taxes may be paid back through a Ch. 128, but not federal taxes that are overdue (federal taxes, judgments, etc. are all protected against Ch-128 filings via the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution). Some Wisconsin municipalities will accept payment of overdue property taxes through a Ch. 128, but not all of them - property taxes are technically secured debt, so they cannot be included as a matter of right because Ch. 128 does not permit the repayment of secured debts, unless the creditor agrees to accept repayment through a Ch. 128.


Q:
Do you work with my creditors the same way that a debt-settlement or credit-counseling company does?

A: No, I do not "work" with your creditors. I invoke the legal authority and contempt powers of Wisconsin State Circuit Courts to tell your creditors that they're going to accept repayment of your debts owed to them without accruing interest or penalties over the course of three or fewer years, that they're not going to garnish your wages, etc.


Q:
Will I be able to get a car loan, or refinance my car or home after filing Ch. 128?

A: Since I started handling these back in 1998, I have not had any clients be unable to get a car or home loan because they filed under this law. However, one downside does appear to be that you end up paying a higher interest rate.


Q:
Is there a monthly/quarterly statement that shows that the payments went to my creditors?

A: Yes, the trustee provides that.


Q:
Do you, the attorney, also act as the trustee?

A: No, that is unethical and the statute expressly prohibits an interested party, like the debtor's attorney, from also serving as trustee in the case. There is a very good reason for this: The debtor needs an attorney who is independent from the trustee to act as an advocate for him or her and to defend him or her not only from his or her creditors violating his or her rights, but from the trustee potentially also doing so at times.


Q:
Can car, truck or house payments be included?

A: No, not normally. Those are "secured" debts, but they may be included if the creditor agrees to accept payment through your plan. Vehicle debts may also be included if the creditor has already repo'd the vehicle, and a house mortgage may be included if it has already been foreclosed on and is not too big a debt that it cannot be feasibly included in your Ch-128 repayment plan.


Q:
Will my house or other property be taken away or affected in any other way by my filing for Ch-128 debt relief?

A: No, all of your property and income are exempt from attachment under this law.


Q:
Is there any minimum or maximum amount of debt required to file?

A: No. You can include as little debt or as much as you want, so long as you can handle the monthly payments (see "DOING THE MATH" in the outline to figure out what your monthly payments will be with the debts you wish to include).


Q:
I make a lot of money. Can that disqualify me from filing under this law?

A: No. Again, this is not federal bankruptcy where such restrictions apply. There is no cap on earnings that disqualifies you from being able to make this law work for you.


Q:
I think there is a mistake on what is being paid out to one or more of my creditors - what can I do about it?

A: Contact the trustee's office - the trustee is responsible for all matters and issues associated with the collection and distribution of your monthly payments. If the trustee does not give you a satisfactory answer, or simply does not respond to your inquiries, then you'll need to let me know so I can deal with the trustee for you.


Q:
I included a creditor in my Ch. 128 who is now suing me! Can they do that and do I have to go to court on the date indicated?

A: Commencing a law suit to obtain a judgment on the amount owed them is the only thing they can do which the law allows for debt in a Ch-128 plan. Depending on each client's particular circumstances, I advise clients that they should go to the court date armed with their Ch-128 case number, especially if a client feels that the creditor has not listed the correct amount owed. (Because the debt was included in the client's Ch. 128, the client will not have to make any financial disclosure or answer any questions.) Once a judgment is obtained against the client, we advise the trustee of the judgment amount. By law, the trustee then inserts the judgment amount into the Ch-128 payment plan in place of the original amount that the client listed in his or her affidavit of debts, and the judgment then gets paid in full through the Ch. 128.


Q:
What do I do if I lose my job or change jobs?

A: Unless you're a "self-pay," you must contact the trustee right away and let him or her know. If you lose your job and do not know when you'll be employed again, you may continue to fund your plan on your own as a "self-pay" for as long as you can afford to. If you cannot afford to continue to fund your plan, see the next FAQ below . . .


Q:
What if I miss a payment?

A: The trustee will move the Court to dismiss your case if you are more than 30 days late with a payment. But we are always free to contact the trustee's office to see if we can negotiate something to keep your plan alive in that situation.


Q:
What if I move away from Wisconsin after I file?

A: You may continue to fund your plan until completion, with all attendant protections and creditor prohibitions remaining intact.


Q:
If it just doesn't work out for me after I file Ch. 128, can I go ahead and file bankruptcy?

A: Yes, as long as you meet the federal eligibility criteria required for filing bankruptcy. I can advise you about your options under Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 bankruptcy, and also help you file bankruptcy (depending on where you live), in the event you start thinking that filing bankruptcy might be better for you in the long run. Let me know if you want a free bankruptcy consultation.


Q:
I successfully completed a Ch. 128, but I still have creditors trying to collect, reporting high balances, reporting charged off as bad debt, or reporting that it was bankruptcy, and I'm still disputing credit report after credit report! What can I do?

A: You can make some money off it in federal court! The first step is to dispute any inaccuracy with the credit reporting company who is reporting an inaccuracy on a trade line in your credit report, especially if it's showing "bkcy." The Credit Reporting Agency ("CRA") then communicates with the "data furnisher" (the offending creditor) who either fixes the trade line to not say "bkcy" or "verifies" the trade line as reported. When the latter happens, there is a 15 USC 1681i and 1681s-2(b) claim that can produce a damage claim for you, and attorneys fees and costs. Federal law requires that a consumer (you) notify the CRA about the inaccuracy and getting it "fixed." The law requires the CRA to contact the creditor who is reporting "bkcy" or any other inaccuracy, and see if the creditor will fix it. If the creditor will not fix it, the CRA responds to the consumer that the "bkcy" or whatever other inaccuracy is, in fact, true, and "verifies" the report. In these cases, the law describes the creditor as the "data furnisher" and, at this point for a former Ch-128 client, there is an immediate FCRA claim against both the CRA and the "data furnisher" (the creditor). I work with a nationally-recognized law firm in Minnesota which is quite ready, willing and able to take such offending creditors to the cleaners for you in federal court here in Wisconsin! There's no payment of attorney fees unless you win, so let me know if I can help you try to get some money out of offending creditors who will not follow the law and keep your credit reports messed up.


Q:
Do I need a lawyer to file Ch. 128?

A: I can't believe some people even ask me this. Without question, the answer is YES. You don't need an attorney's assistance only if you can draft all the necessary paperwork (there are no "forms" you can just copy and fill in for everything you'll need filed), then deal with any number of situations that can arise with the trustee not treating you fairly, and with creditors not heeding the automatic stay and continuing to harass you to collect on their debts, garnish your wages, etc. You also do not need an attorney if you have all the answers to any number of legal questions that will almost certainly crop up during the life of your plan about things such as an improper credit-score report, issues that arise if you lose your job, utility cut-off threats, creditors continuing to accrue interest when they're not supposed to be doing so and other numerous creditor and trustee problems that violate your rights under the law. You also do not need an attorney if your creditors or their attorneys don't ignore you and/or treat you like the scum of the earth when you try to contact them when they violate your rights (good luck with that part of doing this yourself - this aspect of my services alone is worth every dime of the modest attorney fee I charge to help people file these cases)! The bottom line is that you will need an advocate to defend you and to provide on-going legal advice throughout the life of your plan, and the trustee is not allowed to give you any legal advice. Think about it.

Capitol One: "What's in your wallet?"
Me: "A big, fat contempt motion for harassing my client!"

Because this Wisconsin law may not be able to provide good and adequate debt relief for some people who are in the severest of circumstances, I do, as a last resort, help people file for relief under Ch. 7 & Ch. 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Because I help some people file for bankruptcy (mostly those who have few possessions of any notable value and who are earning less than the median income of others in our state), the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act requires me to make the following statement:

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

~ PRIVACY POLICY ~

I do not collect any personal data on persons visiting this website. If you choose to contact me through e-mail or by submitting forms through U.S. Mail, the information you provide will only be used by me for assisting you with your legal needs. Unless you retain me to represent you in a legal matter, your information will then be destroyed/deleted and will not be given or sold to any other companies or individuals. If you retain me to represent you, then I will store your file for a period of three (3) years before destroying it, unless you notify me in writing that you want a copy of your file before the expiration of three years from the date you retain me.

Of course, any person who consults with me in any way about a legal matter with which he or she needs my help as an attorney enjoys the protection of the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality. Simply put, anything a client tells me about his or her case, regardless of whether the client has paid me any fee, is held in the strictest confidence. As a sworn and duly-licensed attorney, I am barred by State Supreme Court ethics rules from divulging the content of any client communication to any other person (except in a few, narrowly defined circumstances), unless I have that client's express permission and authority to release or share his or her information with others. This attorney-client privilege is protected and enforced by state law (under most circumstances, I cannot even be legally compelled or forced to disclose confidential client information or communications to others), and it continues in effect beyond death.

Joint/married clients understand that retaining singular counsel to represent them jointly in a matter effects client-lawyer confidentiality between the parties, but that the lawyer is still required both to keep each client adequately informed and to maintain confidentiality of information relating to the representation. Joint clients must understand that the prevailing rule concerning the attorney-client privilege is that the privilege does not exist between commonly represented clients and that it must be presumed that, if litigation eventuates between joint clients (such as in a divorce), the privilege will not protect any such communications.