What To Expect After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Once your bankruptcy is done, you will not have to pay on your discharged debts any longer. If a creditor continues to contact you, you should tell them your debt has been discharged through bankruptcy and refer them to your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer.
If a creditor contacts you and the debt they are calling about was not included in your bankruptcy, you may still be responsible. Your attorney can help you manage that debt another way.
How To Find Bankruptcy Attorney Costs In Your Area
The fees above are just averages, and fees have likely increased since the survey was conducted. In Chapter 13 cases, judges will review attorneys fees unless they fall below a so-called no-look amount, which is a baseline considered reasonable in the jurisdiction where the case is filed. But in general, its a good idea to call or meet with several attorneys before choosing one to represent you. Bankruptcy-attorney fees are public record and can be accessed through the searchable federal PACER website. Though PACER charges a small fee for downloaded information, it can be money well spent.
The cost of living where you file will also impact what you pay. Lawyers in large metropolitan areas, like everyone else, have bigger expenses than those in more rural settings. The higher cost tends to raise all professional costs, and bankruptcy representation is no exception. Also, not all lawyers were created equal. Those with many successful years in the bankruptcy field will almost certainly demand larger fees than those with little experience.
It is a good idea to consider the complexity of your case when picking a lawyer. If you have few assets and not many debts, your simple case might not demand the sort of representation that someone with a diverse source of income, a fat folder of creditors and perhaps a suspicion of fraud, might need. In other words, not all bankruptcies are the same. Remember that mulling the sort of lawyer you might need.
Take A Credit Counseling Course
Itâs extremely important that you complete a within 180 days before your case is filed. You usually take the course online or by telephone. You have to take the course from a state-approved provider.
The fee to take the course is typically less than $50. You can apply for an income-based fee waiver when you sign up if you canât afford to pay it. Youâll get a certificate of completion after you complete the course. You need to submit that certificate to the court at the same time you submit your bankruptcy petition. The court will dismiss your case if you donât.
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The Means Test Has A Few Steps If You Meet The Requirements For Any Step You Can File For Chapter 7
- Income level. First, the test compares your households current annual or monthly income against the median income of a household of identical size in Ohio. If your households income is less than the median income, you meet the means test.
- Expenses. If your household income exceeds the median income, you can proceed to the next step, in which you add up your average monthly expenses. Those may include mortgage or rent, utilities, food, vehicle or transportation costs, and health insurance or out-of-pocket medical expenses. Once you know your monthly expenses, you subtract those expenses from your households monthly income. This formula determines your disposable monthly income.
- If your disposable income falls below a certain threshold , you qualify to file for Chapter 7.
- If your disposable income falls above another threshold, you are automatically disqualified from filing for Chapter 7.
Will I Lose My Property If I File For Bankruptcy In Ohio
This will be a function of the value of your property, but generally speaking, no you will not. As the above discussion of Ohio bankruptcy exemptions illustrates, state law will protect most, if not all, of your property. One of the biggest misconceptions about the bankruptcy process is that you will lose all of your property if you file. To the contrary, most consumers find that available exemptions are sufficient to allow them to retain their assets.
Lets use real estate as an example. Ohio, like the rest of the country, has been hard hit by the recession and has seen a steep decline in property values. For this reason, it is relatively rare to find homeowners with large amounts of home equity. With property values currently down, many Ohio debtors have the opportunity to seek bankruptcy protection while keeping their family homes. If you are the exception to the rule and own a home with considerable equity that exceeds the $136,925 exemption, you may want to reconsider filing for bankruptcy as your home would be placed into the nonexempt property pile upon filing.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Ohio Income Limits
The Ohio median income figures for the Means Test are adjusted periodically, based on IRS and Census Bureau data. Ohio median income for bankruptcy cases filed on or after April 1, 2022, is:
|# of People|
For Ohio households with more than 9 members, add $9,000 for each additional family member. You should always double-check the US Trustees website for the most current figures when calculating the Means Test.
The Following Are The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Requirements In Ohio:
1. Document your finances. First, you must gather information about your finances. That is done by collecting these documents:
- Pay stubs from the last several months
- Income statements from the past two years if you are self-employed or run yourown business
- Life insurance policies you hold
- Statements or records for public benefits you receive
- Bills and invoices you have received for your debts
2. Bankruptcy Counseling. Ohio bankruptcy law requires you to attend a credit and bankruptcy counseling course before filing for bankruptcy. You must attach a certificate of completion to your bankruptcy petition.
3. Bankruptcy Petition Forms. Next, fill out the bankruptcy petition forms provided by your local bankruptcy court. Each court may require certain forms unique to that court. Make sure you file in the correct court. Note: bankruptcy petitions require a filing fee unless your income is under 150 percent of the federal poverty line.
4. Second Counseling Course. After you file your bankruptcy petition, you must attend a second bankruptcy and credit counseling course.
5. Trustee Oversight. The court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your bankruptcy. The trustee will hold at least one hearing, known as a meeting of creditors. The trustee will confirm the information in your bankruptcy petition. The trustee will also hear any objections from creditors about your bankruptcy.
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Other Ways Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Differs From Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
- You can only file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection once every eight years. On the other hand, you can file a new Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition as often as you need to do so.
- A Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition discharges credit card debt, medical bills, and unsecured personal loans. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a portion of those obligations to be paid back.
- If your mortgage is current, you will be able to keep your home in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. However, if the mortgage is behind, the court will only allow you to keep the home in a Chapter 13.
What Are The The Differences Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Challenging situations arise in peoples lives every day. Some of these circumstances mean that bills can no longer be paid. Individuals may have good intentions of paying their bills, but do not have the means to do so. When this happens, bankruptcy can be a source of relief. Bankruptcy is sometimes the most viable option. The question becomes whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is better to file. We will review your finances to help you determine whether a chapter 7 or chapter 13 is best for you.
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What About Your Vehicle
In any bankruptcy case, dealing with a major asset like a car is always a top concern. If you own your car outright, and the vehicle is valued under $4,000, you should have no problems, you will probably be allowed to keep the car. If you financed the vehicle, and you wish to keep it, you must be current on your payments at the time you are filing chapter 7. If you are behind on payments, and cannot catch up in a reasonable amount of time, you may need to surrender the vehicle. If you wish to continue making payments, you will have to re-affirm the debt so the vehicle is excluded from the bankruptcy estate. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to advise you on where you stand with your vehicle during your initial consulting meeting.
How A Columbus Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
We offer our clients extraordinary expertise, compassion, and proven success for over 30 years.
Being in debt in Columbus Ohio is not a good place to be. While Columbus is the Capitol of Ohio, its also the capital of bankruptcy filings, with more bankruptcy cases filed in the Columbus Bankruptcy Court than any of the other Bankruptcy Courts in Ohio.
While there are many attorneys in Columbus, there are only two board certified consumer bankruptcy specialists, recognized by the Ohio Supreme Court, and one of them is Richard West, who is certified by the American Board of Certification.
There are many factors to consider when evaluating your best option for debt relief. Richard West knows that bankruptcy is NOT the best option for everyone. Thats why he is also a certified debt specialist, and has helped many of his clients work out their debts in non- bankruptcy programs.
Whether you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Columbus Ohio, your best bet is to get the best counsel you can. One who specializes in your kind of problem and is certified and experienced in ALL forms of debt relief.
- Free Confidential Consultations
- Over 350 4.9 Google Reviews
- No Legal Fee Up Front
- Affordable Payment Plans
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Collateral
The most common examples of collateral are items such as houses and vehicles. If a debtor is behind on payments, the creditor can ask to have the automatic stay lifted in order to repossess or foreclose on the property. If the debtors payments are current, the debtor may often keep the property and continue to make payments as before, unless the property has enough equity to justify its sale by the trustee. If a creditor obtained a court judgment against the debtor and recorded a lien against the property because of unpaid debt, that debt is also secured. The debtor may be able to discharge the lien in bankruptcy. Upon completion of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process, a debtor is discharged of all debts, except:
- Non-dischargeable debts, such as child support, tax debts, student loans
- Debts the court has declared non-dischargeable due to creditor objection, including those incurred by means of fraud or malicious acts.
Bankruptcy Vs Debt Consolidation
As mentioned above, bankruptcy is a legal way to get your debts forgiven and help you recover financially. Debt consolidation is a planned approach that combines multiple debts into one loan or credit card with the goals of reducing both the number of payments you must keep track of each month and the amount of interest you pay.
If youre having trouble handling several credit card bills and perhaps a medical bill or a personal loan, debt consolidation lets you unite, or consolidate, them by taking out a personal loan, line of credit or a new credit card with enough spending limit to pay off all the loans. This bailout plan can be a life saver.
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What Is The Statement About Your Social Security Numbers For In A Ohio Bankruptcy Case
This document is one of the simplest of the free bankruptcy forms for Ohio. You list your Social Security Number or yourIndividual Taxpayer Identification Number. Only the last 4 digits of your SSN or ITIN will be publicly accessible in the courtâs records. But is important that you list your entire SSN or ITIN accurately because otherwise the court will be unable to verify your identity.
Secured Vs Unsecured Debt
With unsecured debt, your creditors have no right to seize your property if you fail to repay them. Some common examples of unsecured debt are credit card debt, medical bills, and court judgments. Some types of unsecured debt, like child support payments, must be paid in full.
Secured debt covers situations where your creditor can seize your property if you fail to pay. The two most common secured debt situations are when you have either a mortgage or a car loan.
If you choose Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your unsecured debt will be eliminated. But you will have three options for secured debt:
- Return it to the lender. In this case, you lose your property but are no longer responsible for the debt.
- Keep the property and continue your payments. If you can protect your equity in the property using an exemption and are current with your payments, you can often keep the property and continue paying down the debt.
- Purchase the property. In the unlikely situation where you can afford to purchase the property, you will be allowed to do so. However, the property must fall within one of the exemptions, and other requirements must be met.
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Once You File You Cant Back Out
Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy commits your assets to the bankruptcy system irreversibly. This is important, because it means that if you, or your attorney, makes a mistake, you cant dismiss the case. Youre stuck.
Regularly, I see assets lost because of a failure to properly detect a problem in a case. For example, not checking a lien date on a car purchased before filing could cause you to lose the car.
Failing to investigate and properly analyze seemingly small details can result in huge losses for Chapter 7 filers. Thats why its so dangerous to try to file without an experienced specialist. Bankruptcy is a specialty practice, not appropriate for general practice lawyers or novices. The U.S. Courts website advises against trying to file without an attorney.
B Debt Settlement In Ohio
Debt settlement can be less expensive than both Debt Management and Debt Payoff Planning because the debt management company is negotiating a lower amount on your total debt. We covered the pricing estimate differences in our article covering debt management vs debt settlement.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
In Ohio, you will be required to attend one court hearing when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Meeting of Creditors or 341 meeting . You will be meeting with the bankruptcy trustee, not a judge. The meeting is usually brief, but you will need to bring both your government issued identification and social security card. The trustee reviews your case, and may ask you questions about your income, your assets, and your debts. If you provided complete information in your bankruptcy forms, this will usually go quickly and smoothly. Sometimes, the trustee asks for additional documentation or to file an amended form. Again, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can advise you. The key is to respond to the trustee quickly and provide any additional documentation.
Disposable Income And Unsecured Debt
Take your monthly disposable income from the first step and multiply it by 60. This figure represents the total amount you could pay to creditors through a Chapter 13 plan. Then, add up all of your unsecured, non-priority debt . Divide the total by four this is the courts standard for significant repayment of your creditors. If the first number is less than the second, meaning that you will not have enough disposable income to repay 25% of your unsecured debt over 5 years, you qualify for Chapter 7. If you will have enough to pay the 25%, youll have to file under Chapter 13.
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The Ohio Bankruptcy Income Limit
Ever since the 2005 bankruptcy law has changed, people who are looking to file chapter 7 bankruptcy need to pass a test called the means test. This test draws a comparison between your current income with the median Ohio income level to ensure that you are below it. If your current income is below the median Ohio income level, you are then eligible to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. But if your current income is above the median Ohio income level, then you are only eligible to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13.