If you need to file for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, we’re ready to help. We’ve been successfully representing bankruptcy clients for decades.
Mounting financial obligations do not have to follow you the rest of your life. Bankruptcy laws offer protection for honest debtors who can no longer make ends meet, regardless of the reasons for your financial problems. Attorney Phil Shell is ready to help.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides an avenue of relief from most debts and is available to both consumers and businesses. You have the option of surrendering property held as collateral for your debts. But you can elect to keep the property so long as you can make the payments. This is known as reaffirming the debt. People commonly reaffirm debt on homes and cars so they can keep those items after bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 is sometimes called the liquidation chapter, which is somewhat misleading because the law does not require you to liquidate your property. Chapter 7 is also known as the walk-away chapter. If your financial circumstances are dire, you may be able to walk away from all but a few types of debt, such as back taxes, child and spousal support obligations, and student loan debt.
One of the most common bankruptcy questions we hear is how does one qualify to file under Chapter 7. The first test we perform is known as the liquidation test, which involves determining approximately how much money would be left if you sold everything you own, paid off secured creditors, and withheld a small amount of exempt property for yourself. In other words, how much cash could you generate by liquidating your property? If the answer is close to zero, then you pass the first test for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The second test, known as the means test, involves comparing your income to expenses. Most living expenses are predetermined according to Internal Revenue Service national standards, but exceptions can allow you to claim more expenses than usual. Debt payments you plan to reaffirm and family support obligations can be included in your expenses. If your expenses are reasonable but you have very little money left at the end of the month, then you probably can pass the second hurdle for filing under Chapter 7.
Our qualified bankruptcy attorneys can quickly determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy by asking you a few basic questions, including:
Chapter 13 is sometimes referred to as the consolidation chapter. Although it is similar to a debt consolidation, a properly structured Chapter 13 plan may require you to pay back only a percentage of your unsecured debt. Chapter 13 is an option if you are having trouble making all of your debt payments, but you own too much property or make too much money to file under Chapter 7. Like a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can elect to keep your assets so long as you can continue to make the payments on them.
If the court considers the plan fair, the judge confirms the plan, and you begin making regular payments to the Chapter 13 trustee. The Chapter 13 trustee distributes the money to your creditors in accordance with the plan. After you successfully complete your Chapter 13 repayment plan, the court issues a discharge order for your remaining dischargeable debts.
Chapter 13 offers many advantages that are not available under Chapter 7, including:
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