Not all bankruptcies are the same! We can help you decide on the type of bankruptcy you file and even help you if bankruptcy isn’t the best option.
Bankruptcy laws are designed to help those who can no longer pay their bills, by giving them a fresh start with their finances. Bankruptcy should be considered when you have very large debts that continue piling up, when you face losing your home or business, or when you have reached the end of your ability to repay the debt.
Different types of bankruptcies are used under varying circumstances—some are set to liquidate assets to repay debts, while others create a reasonable repayment plan that you’ll be able to manage.
Each type of bankruptcy affords varying levels of protection, and it’s important to first consult with experienced bankruptcy attorneys, such as Lenderman & Salorio, before making the decision to declare bankruptcy.
If bankruptcy isn’t the best option for you, we may still be able to help you with alternatives, such as defending you in a collections lawsuit or filing a lawsuit against creditors who are harassing you in violation of federal and state law.
Chapter 7 Liquidation
Chapter 7 is designed for debtors in financial difficulty who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Debtors whose debts are primarily consumer debts are subject to a “means test” designed to determine whether the case should be permitted to proceed under chapter 7. If your income is greater than the median income for your state of residence and family size, in some cases, creditors have the right to file a motion requesting that the court dismiss your case under §707(b) of the Code. It is up to the court to decide whether the case should be dismissed.
Under chapter 7, you may claim certain of your property as exempt under governing law. A trustee may have the right to take possession of and sell the remaining property that is not exempt and use the sale proceeds to pay your creditors.
The purpose of filing a chapter 7 case is to obtain a discharge of your existing debts. If, however, you are found to have committed certain kinds of improper conduct described in the Bankruptcy Code, the court may deny your discharge and, if it does, the purpose for which you filed the bankruptcy petition will be defeated.
Even if you receive a general discharge, some particular debts are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may still be responsible for most taxes and student loans; debts incurred to pay nondischargeable taxes; domestic support and property settlement obligations; most fines, penalties, forfeitures, and criminal restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; and debts for death or personal injury caused by operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Also, if a creditor can prove that a debt arose from fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or theft, or from a willful and malicious injury, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is not discharged.
Chapter 13 Repayment
Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income who would like to pay all or part of their debts in installments over a period of time. You are only eligible for chapter 13 if your debts do not exceed certain dollar amounts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code.
Under chapter 13, you must file with the court a plan to repay your creditors all or part of the money that you owe them, using your future earnings. The period allowed by the court to repay your debts may be three years or five years, depending upon your income and other factors. The court must approve your plan before it can take effect.
After completing the payments under your plan, your debts are generally discharged except for domestic support obligations; most student loans; certain taxes; most criminal fines and restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; certain debts for acts that caused death or personal injury; and certain long term secured obligations.