You Received A Discharge In Your First Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which typically discharges all debts that are able to be discharged, and you received a discharge, then you will not be permitted to file another Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition for a period of 8 years from the date of the initial filing of the first case before you are eligible to receive a Chapter 7 Discharge in a second Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case.
Where To File Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Court Locations
Pennsylvania is subdivided into judicial districts dedicated to serving specific portions of the state. The eastern portion of Pennsylvania is served by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which maintains two physical locations to serve a total of nine counties as follows:
- Philadelphia Division:
The Philadelphia Division is located at:
Robert N.C. Nix Sr. Federal Building 900 Market Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19107
The Reading Division is located at:
The Madison Building, Suite 300 400 Washington Street 320-5255
Chapter 13 Debtors Must Also File The Following Documents:
- The reorganization plan, which outlines how the debtor will make gradual repayments over a three- to five-year period of time. This plan is absent from Chapter 7 filings, which resolve rapidly in a matter of just months instead of years.
All documents must be filed with the bankruptcy court which serves your county. To speak to the court clerk about any questions you may have, refer to the contact information listed above for the Reading and Philadelphia Divisions. You should also work with a Quakertown bankruptcy lawyer, who will help you make sure that your forms contain accurate information and are filed with the correct individuals in a timely manner.
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What Happens If You File In The Wrong Place
If you file your papers in the wrong bankruptcy court, it may delay your case. The bankruptcy trustee will probably bring the matter to the attention of the bankruptcy court judge. If the judge then finds that the trustee could more easily handle your case in another location, the judge may transfer or even dismiss your case. Because of these potential hassles, if you have any questions about the best place to file, it would be wise to get legal help before you submit your papers to a court.
Complete The Bankruptcy Forms
Once youâve decided to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania and collected all of your documents, the next step is to complete your bankruptcy forms. If youâre working with a bankruptcy lawyer, theyâll get the necessary information from you, then fill out the forms on your behalf.
If youâre filing âpro se,â you can access the forms on the United States Courtsâ website. If youâre eligible to use Upsolveâs free tool, youâll provide the answers in an online questionnaire. The forms are then generated based on the information you provided.
The bulk of the forms are federal forms, but always make certain to check the bankruptcy courtâs website for any local forms you may need as well.
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Bankruptcies And Medical Debt
Approximately 1.61 people out of every 1,000 Pennsylvania residents, on average, file bankruptcy each year. In 2019 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, three were 3981 Chapter 7 bankruptcies and 4,232 Chapter 13 bankruptcies. In the Western District of Pennsylvania there were 4,580 Chapter 7 bankruptcies and 2,339 Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
The cost of medical care in the United States is astronomical, with total healthcare costs eclipsing $3 trillion. Each year, the average person spends nearly $10,000 on healthcare.
Updated By Cara ONeill, Attorney
Many people file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney. In fact, in some districts, a whopping 28% of bankruptcy filings were by pro se litigants .
Some people represent themselves because they cant afford the attorney fees. Others have simple cases and dont feel the need to hire an attorney. But while doing so is possible, its not wise in every case. In this article, youll learn about some of the most common problems the court sees in bankruptcy cases filed without an attorney.
When Is A Bankrupt Discharged
There will be an automatic bankruptcy discharge for a first-time bankrupt nine months after they became bankrupt unless the trustee recommends a discharge with conditions or it is opposed by either a creditor, the trustee or the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. In addition, if you have surplus income of more than $200 per month, your bankruptcy will be extended to 21 months in the case of a first bankruptcy.
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How Much Does It Cost To File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Pennsylvania
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy cost nationwide tends to be between $500 and $3000. That said, Chapter 7 bankruptcy cost in Pennsylvania is different.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy cost may even be different if you are filing in Allentown vs. Pittsburgh. For example, you may pay a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fee of $995 in Allentown, but pay a bankruptcy attorney fee of $1,000 in Philadelphia.
You should check the cost to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania for specific information about the cost in your city.
Also, there are instances where the cost to file bankruptcy can be reduced based on a filing fee waiver. You should consider seeing the information related to Pennsylvania filing fee waiver.
File Motions Objections Or Responses
You may never need to worry about this, but theres a chance that you will want to file additional paperwork after you submit your bankruptcy petition. For example, you may want to file a request to remove creditors claims against your property. Or, if a creditor says that you owe more than you think you do, you may want to file an objection with the court.
Depending on the complexity of the situation, this is another place that you might want the advice and assistance of a bankrupcy lawyer. If youre handling your own case and you want to learn more about the situations that may arise after you file, you can turn to a detailed guidebook like How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13: Keep Your Property and Repay Your Debts Over Time.
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Can I Keep My Personal Property If I File For Bankruptcy
In the vast majority of cases, you are able to keep all of your unsecured personal property, unless you have something that is unusually valuable . You can keep this property because the Bankruptcy Code allows you to âexemptâ the types of things most people own, such as household goods, clothes, jewelry, vehicles, retirement plans, etc.
For example, an individual can exempt up to $13,400 in household goods, such as furniture, appliances, TVâs, computers, stereos, etc. The value of your personal property is determined by how much you could reasonably get if you sold the property. Few people would be able to sell their used household goods for anywhere close to these exemption amounts. In addition, exemptions can often be stacked to increase the amount of exempted property. For that reason, most people do not lose any of their personal property in Chapter 7.
Quick Note: In Pennsylvania, you have the option of taking either Pennsylvania State or federal exemptions. However, in most instances, the federal exemptions allow you to keep much more.
Pennsylvania Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Credit Counseling And Debtor Education Courses
When you file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must complete two bankruptcy courses to receive a bankruptcy discharge. This includes a credit counseling course prior to filing a bankruptcy case, and a debtor education course after filing. See below the approved courses for Pennsylvania
The United States Trustees office has approved state-specific companies that offer bankruptcy courses. You can access a list of companies in Pennsylvania offering bankruptcy courses on the UST website. Both courses are available online for a small fee.
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Getting A Discharge In The Second Chapter 13
If you received a Chapter 13 discharge and want to file Chapter 13 again with the goal of receiving a discharge, then you need to wait for two years from the date that you filed the first Chapter 13 case. As a practical matter, most Chapter 13 cases that receive a discharge last between three and five years, so the two-year time delay is not really a barrier.
Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Exemptions And Law
Most families live from paycheck to paycheck. About two-thirds of Pennsylvanian households do not have the cash to pay a $400 emergency expense. So, they are incredibly vulnerable to the financial storms of life. These storms include things like business downturn, divorce or separation, sudden illness, and job loss.
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Find Out If You Qualify For Bankruptcy
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must show that you dont have enough income to repay your creditors a reasonable amount. You can do this by:
- proving that your income is below the Pennsylvania median income for your household size, or
- comparing your income to expenses under a complex formula called the bankruptcy means test to show that you cant pay.
If your income is above the median income for your state and family size and the means test shows you have enough disposable income to make reasonable payments to your creditors, you may still qualify to file under Chapter 13. To qualify for chapter 13, your debt must be under the limit set by the bankruptcy code and you must be current on your tax filings for the last four years.
To take the means test, you can use our free means test calculator.
How To File Bankruptcy In Pa Without A Lawyer
Remember, there are three things in bankruptcy that cost money the attorney fee, the court filing fee, and the fee to take the two required credit counseling courses. But here are ways to file Chapter 7 with little or no money spent on these things:
Avoiding Paying an Attorney fee: It is possible to file Chapter 7 with no money, but you will have to file yourself because an attorney must charge something for representation unless he or she is working pro se as part of some legal aid program.
When people file bankruptcy without an attorney, it is called filing pro se.
Having the court filing fee waived: If you prepare your Chapter 7 filing yourself, you can also file an application for waiver of the court filing fee. If the court approves your application, you do not have to pay the $335 court filing fee. In the alternative, the court may order that you pay the filing fee in installments.
Low-cost credit counseling courses: if you take the time to search, you can find the two online courses you need to take for $20 or $30 for both when you use the same provider.
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Managing Income And Timing When Filing For Bankruptcy
In some cases, when a debtor files a bankruptcy could impact their ability to file a Chapter 7 or make a Chapter 13 more expensive. Our Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers will often suggest timing your filing to best benefit your needs.
For instance, if you receive an end-of-the-bonus, you probably want to file your bankruptcy so the bonus is not included in your six months of household income. Some debtors have control over their overtime. Refraining from working overtime for a few months could qualify you for Chapter 7 or make your Chapter 13 more affordable. If you just lost your job, you might want to wait a few months so your old income will not be part of the calculation.
These considerations do not exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately, there are times when you do not have control of when you need to file. For instance, if your house has a listed sheriffs sale date, delaying your filing might not be possible. Also, you might want to file before a creditor obtains a judgment or repossesses your vehicle. It is important to be honest and open with our Bethlehem bankruptcy attorneys so we can assist you.
Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
The average cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Pennsylvania is about $1,250, but it can range from just under $1,000 up to $1,500 depending on the complexity of the case and where youâre physically located. If youâre hoping to file with the help of a bankruptcy attorney, schedule a free consultation with them to find out how much theyâd charge for your Pennsylvania bankruptcy case.
What Happens After I File Bankruptcy
Your stay of proceedings begins immediately after your bankruptcy is filed with the government. That means collection calls stop and your trustee can notify your employer to stop a wage garnishment if needed.
After filing, you stop making payments to your unsecured creditors and make your bankruptcy payments instead.
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Completion of Duties
Once you are legally bankrupt, you are required to perform the bankruptcy duties as outlined in Appendix I of the Act. The trustee will inform you of these duties but generally, they include making your bankruptcy payments, providing information about your monthly budget, attending two credit counselling sessions, and keeping the trustee notified of any material changes to your situation.
Meeting of Creditors
Generally, a meeting of creditors is not necessary but there may be instances where such a meeting will be held. . Creditors or the Official Receiver may request one after filing bankruptcy. If a meeting of creditors is called, you must attend this meeting. You may also be required to go to the Official Receivers office to answer several questions under oath about your financial affairs.
Examination with the Official Receiver
Motion To Avoid Liens
In Pennsylvania, when a creditor takes you to court and gets a judgment, they are given a judgment lien on your real property. A judgment lien means that your once unsecured credit card debt is now secured by your home. However, there is a way in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 to remove those types of liens. Our Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney could file a motion to avoid the lien. Unfortunately, this is not possible in every case. Our office will review your liens and the facts in your case to determine if it is possible. In some situations, you could be required to have a formal home appraisal because your ability to avoid a lien is linked to your propertys value.
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Trust The Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorneys With Over 20 Years Of Experience
You only get one chance to make a first impression with the bankruptcy court and Trustee let an experienced PA bankruptcy attorney make sure your filing makes you look like the honest but unfortunate debtor that you are, and ensure that your personal property is protected from seizure by the Trustee.
Why put your fresh start at risk? You dont need to go it alone. If you need to file bankruptcy but have no money, call us today to schedule your free consultation we will discuss all of your options with you, including attorney fee payment plans and court fee waiver options as well as alternatives to filing bankruptcy, such as debt settlement.
We are looking forward to working with you to help you get a fresh start!
What Can Go Wrong
An improperly filed bankruptcy can cause a person to lose everything that he or she owns whereas a bankruptcy filed with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer will in many cases just cause you to lose all of your debts.
When you file for bankruptcy without a lawyer in pennsylvania you face a lot of risks you might not have expected. When you have an Attorney representing you, the attorney fills out all of the forms based on the information you supply to your lawyer and your meeting of creditors tends to be quicker and better prepared for.
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Contact A Bankruptcy Lawyer For Answers To Your Questions
Whether you are just beginning to think of bankruptcy or you are confident it is the right move for you, we recommend talking with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer about your situation. You should be fully aware of your rights, options, and responsibilities before diving in. Our Perry County attorney at Czekaj Law, LLC will take care of the legal and administrative tasks for you. We will ensure you properly file for the right type of bankruptcy for your situation. We will represent your interests against creditors and with the bankruptcy trustee. We will guide you through this process so that months or a few years from now, you have greater financial freedom.
Contact us at , or use our online form to schedule an initial bankruptcy consultation.
Czekaj Law, LLC is a highly driven and client focused general practice law firm. From our office in New Bloomfield, our skilled attorney serves the residents of Central Pennsylvania with various legal issues. If you need legal assistance, we encourage you to complete our online form and someone from our office will contact you about scheduling a FREE* and confidential consultation to discuss your situation.
This office is a debt relief agency helping people to file bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code.
*There is a $100 fee for consultations regarding landlord/tenant or child protective services matters. If you decide to use our firm after the consult, we will credit this charge back to you.