What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often called “liquidation” bankruptcy. People usually choose this chapter when they do not have enough income to repay their debts. Most debts in Chapter 7 are eliminated and completely discharged. However, you may have to sell some property in order to repay creditors. You must qualify for Chapter 7 via a Means Test that will determine if your income meets guidelines to file Chapter 7. A bankruptcy attorney can walk you through the Chapter 7 process and help you take the means test.
What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, often called “reorganization” bankruptcy, may be used to manage debt over a three to five year payment period. If you have enough income to repay most of your debts but need structure in which to do that, Chapter 13 may be an option for you. Your debts may not exceed certain limits; however, most people who do not qualify for Chapter 7 can utilize the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process.
The Bankruptcy Process
The process of filing bankruptcy can be complex. You must submit specific forms and provide a plethora of information to the bankruptcy court. There are court hearings and legal procedures that you must follow. A skilled bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the process and help you understand your legal options.
Steps in the bankruptcy process include the following:
Step 1: Complete a credit counseling course.
Within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course. The U.S. Trustee’s office must approve the course, and it can cost between $25 and $35 for the course. If you cannot afford a credit counseling course, you may qualify for discounts or a free course.
Step 2: File your bankruptcy petition with the federal court.
You must file a petition for bankruptcy along with a filing fee with the federal bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction. You must also submit information about your income, debts, and any assets you own. The bankruptcy court will quickly issue an automatic stay order, which will pause all creditor collection efforts. If you are dealing with a foreclosure or repossession, these will stop. Calls, emails, and other contacts from creditors will also be routed to your bankruptcy attorney. An automatic stay will not be put into place or will be limited if you have already filed for bankruptcy once or more within the last 12 months.
Step 3: Attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors.
Within 60 days of when you file your bankruptcy petition, you will attend a hearing called the “meeting of the creditors.” This hearing will not take place in a court, but will likely be in a meeting room. Your bankruptcy trustee, attorney, and creditors may appear at the hearing. However, it is rare for creditors to actually attend the meeting of the creditors. Typically, you answer questions from the trustee and review information that you submitted with your bankruptcy petition.
Step 4: Take a second debt counseling course.
After your meeting of the creditors, you will have to take a second debt counseling course. This will help you understand your current budget and how to manage your debts going forward.
Step 5: The court will confirm your eligibility to file bankruptcy.
The insolvency court will examine your info together with any challenges provided at the meeting of financial institutions. If you are submitting Chapter 7, the bankruptcy court will ensure you pass the Means Test. If you are filing Chapter 13, the bankruptcy court will certainly assess the quantity of your protected and unsafe debts as well as identify if you certify.
Step 6: The court will manage your debts.
If you are qualified for bankruptcy, the court will manage your financial debts according to the phase of personal bankruptcy that you are asking for. If you are submitting Chapter 7, the court might require you to liquidate some of your building to pay your lenders.
What Types of Debt Can Be Discharged?
You can not release all financial debts through personal bankruptcy. There are certain kinds of financial obligation that are “dischargeable” as well as others that are “nondischargeable.” An educated bankruptcy attorney can review your financial debt and also aid you understand which kinds of financial debt you are managing.
You can totally wipe out financial debts that are dischargeable via bankruptcy. You do not have to repay them in all; additionally, the lenders can not bother you to gather them. Dischargeable financial obligations consist of medical expenses, debt card financial obligation, personal car loans, and also utility costs.
Nondischargeable financial debt can not be done away with through bankruptcy; however, you may have the ability to manage these financial obligations through your Chapter 13 settlement strategy. Examples of nondischargeable debt include some tax debt, alimony, youngster support, as well as student fundings.
Alternatives to Bankruptcy
If you are not sure of what to do about your debt, a personal bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of your choices. While bankruptcy may not be the appropriate option for you, a lawyer can lead you with your options, which may include financial debt loan consolidation, settlement to decrease debt amounts, restructuring of finances, and more.
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