Is Filing for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Right for Me?
If your wages are being garnished, you are falling behind and under a mountain of credit card debt, and/or you realize that you may need a fresh start, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may be right for you. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can give you the ability to wipe out all secured and unsecured debt. When filing a Chapter 7, we are showing the Court that you are not in a financial position to pay your debts AND that based on your income, household size, and other factors that you meet the necessary qualifications for a financial clean slate.
What Debts Can Be Eliminated Under Chapter 7?
- Credit cards
- Medical bills
- Unsecured personal loans
- A deficiency balance due to the sale of a repossessed car or foreclosed mortgage
- Rental Arrears
- Personal liability arising from being a guarantor
- Specific tax obligations
What Debts Cannot Be Eliminated Under Chapter 7?
- Student loans
- Domestic Support Obligations (Child Support/Alimony Arrears)
- Certain tax obligations
- Criminal restitution (ex. Fine for contempt of court)
- Debt incurred through fraud
- Debt incurred by misappropriating funds while acting as a fiduciary
- Debts incurred by willful and malicious injury
What Steps Must Be Taken to File Under Chapter 7?
1. Complete the FREE Initial Consultation: Schedule and come in for your FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss whether bankruptcy is right for you, and if so, whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could best address your financial difficulties.
2. Complete credit counseling with one of the approved Counseling Agencies. (GANB Website)
(MAKE SURE TO SELECT THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA)
3. File a petition with the Federal Bankruptcy Court: Once filed, the court will mail notice to each creditor listed in the petition, which will stop most creditors from contacting you. It usually takes 5-10 business days for creditors to receive notice.
4. Provide any additional documentation: You will need to provide a copy of your tax return for the most recent year.
What Should I do Prior to My "Filing Appointment" With the Shakhan and Wilkerson Law Firm?
After your consultation and decision to work with us, we will schedule an appointment to file your case. However, prior to filing, we will need for you to take the following steps:
1. Bring physical copies of your paystubs from the last 6 months + your most recent paystubs, from each job to your appointment
2. Complete Credit Counseling
3. Any other necessary documents discussed during the initial consultation
What Can I Expect Once I Have Filed?
1. Your case will be assigned to a Judge and the Court will appoint a Trustee who will administer your estate and oversee the case. If there are any nonexempt or unprotected assets, the trustee will liquidate them and pay unsecured creditors with the proceeds. We will work diligently to protect all of your assets.
2. The trustee will hold a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting.
3. Reaffirmation agreements are filed. If you are reaffirming (retaining debt and not discharging it) the reaffirmation agreements need to be filed with the court no later than 45 days from the date of your 341 hearing.
4. You will need to complete the financial management course/second credit counseling course. (GANB Link-Financial Management Course) (MAKE SURE TO SELECT THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA)
5. In most cases, the Bankruptcy Court will issue a discharge order. Most Chapter 7's are complete within 4-5 months.
What Reasons Might a Chapter 7 Discharge be Denied?
- Your total household income is over-median at the time of filing.
- You are unable to provide adequate financial records.
- You cannot adequately explain loss of assets.
- You perpetrate a bankruptcy crime (perjury, etc.)
- You fraudulently transferred, hid, or destroyed property that should have been liquidated in the bankruptcy.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a good to know some of the common reasons why a debtor/filing party may be unable to secure a discharge.
Is Filing for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Right for Me?
Are you facing a foreclosure? Has your vehicle been repossessed in the past 10 days? Do you need a way to repay a significant tax debt? Then a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be for right for you. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proposes to the court a plan for repaying a portion or all of your debts. The payments can last three, but no more than five years (36-60 months). You will need a steady stream of income either from a job or some form of assistance in order to qualify. We can help.
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can Address the following issues:
- Foreclosure & repay mortgage arrears (filing must be prior to the foreclosure date)
- Car Repossession (10 days from the date of repossession)
- Repay Child Support/Alimony arrears
- Liens (avoid or repay tax, judicial, etc.)
- Payment of unassessed taxes
- Delay Eviction/Dispossessory Proceeding (prior to being served with the notice for dispossessory)
What Do I Need in Order to File?
- You Have Fulfilled the Pre-filing Credit Counseling Course Requirement
- You Have Filed Your Income Tax Returns for the Past 4 Tax Years
How Can I Ensure that My Chapter 13 is Successful?
1. Your Proposed Plan Repays All Required Debts.
You may not have to repay all of your unsecured debt, but we must weigh several factors such as the types of debts that you have, how much debt you have, your disposable monthly income, etc. In short, we make determinations on a case by case basis, what is best for our clients, and your Bankruptcy goals. We will sit with you and fully discuss your all of your options prior to filing so that we can make the best decisions for your benefit.
2. You Can Afford to Make the Monthly Trustee Payment
After determining your income, household size, types and estimated amount of debt/arrears, as well as your essentials (mortgage/rent, utilities, prescriptions, etc.) we will calculate your estimated monthly Trustee Payment and determine whether you can afford a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy after all essentials are paid.
Also, whether you decide to do an electronic deduction order (EDO) which allows the Trustee to take the payments out of your check, OR pay online through the Trustee's website, you MUST be able to make the payments on-time. The first trustee payment is due 30-days from the date of filing your case.
What is Considered Income?
Wages and Salary
Voluntary Contributions (a family member or friend who regularly sends you money)
Social Security benefits, Disability, and unemployment benefits – although these benefits are not considered taxable income we will disclose to the court that these are monies that are coming into your household in order to show the court that a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is feasible.
Do I Have Too Much Debt to File for Bankruptcy?
You must have less than $394,725 in unsecured debt (i.e. credit card debt, medical bills, etc.) and less than $1,184,200 in secured debt (debts secured by property, i.e. mortgage, cars, etc.).
Do I Qualify for a $0 Money Down Bankruptcy Filing?
To qualify you must have access to a checking account that is not overdrawn. This account will be used for automatic draft payments. Secondly, you must earn a sufficient income so that you can afford to make monthly payments until the attorney's fee is paid off.
What Attorney Fees Can I Expect to Pay?
$1300.00 for Chapter 7*
$3500.000 for Chapter 13*
If your case is particularly complex, Shakhan & Wilkerson Law reserves the right to adjust the fee accordingly. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will be no more than $1,900.00, and a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will be no more than $4,500.00. We will discuss this possibility with you in advance should the need arise.
Still Unsure How to Proceed?
We will work with you to come up with a plan that best fits and benefits your specific situation. Our firm is not a filing machine where clients are put through a revolving door. We are knowledgeable, compassionate, dedicated attorneys committed to providing competent legal counsel at a very difficult time in your life. Not sure whether to file? Call and schedule a free consultation to discuss your options, or we can discuss via phone/video chat for a $50.00 fee in order to secure a time and date.