Do I Need A Lawyer To Represent Me If I File A Bankruptcy Case
You can represent yourself in a bankruptcy proceeding if you choose, but you do so at your own risk. It is crucial that bankruptcy cases be filed and handled correctly, and you must comply with all of the rules, which are highly technical. Bankruptcy courts in Illinois generally require that all bankruptcy materials be filed electronically and not through written papers, but if you are representing yourself, the courts will typically allow you to file your documents in paper form with the clerk’s office. In every bankruptcy case, each individual is required to prepare and submit to the court detailed forms concerning his or her property, debts, and financial affairs, which are difficult to complete without the help of an attorney. Additionally, options available to each individual, such as property claiming exemptions, filing jointly with a spouse, and what type of bankruptcy to file, probably cannot be properly assessed without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
This pamphlet is prepared and published by the Illinois State Bar Association as a public service. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication.
For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, call Illinois Lawyer Finder at 922-8757 or online www.IllinoisLawyerFinder.com
Complete The Bankruptcy Forms
Some of the information required for the bankruptcy forms to be ready for filing Chapter 7 in Texas is general in nature. Where you live now and where you’ve lived in the last 3 years, who your employer is and how much youâve earned in the last couple of years, your monthly expenses, a list of your debts and a list of your assets. When listing your unsecured debts, make sure to include your student loans. Even though they’re not dischargeable, they still have to be listed.
Other information, like what Texas exemptions youâre claiming, is a little more technical. The benefit of working with a law firm or using Upsolveâs free online tool is that youâre able to fill out a more user-friendly questionnaire instead. Itâs important to carefully read and review each bankruptcy form to make sure you donât accidentally miss anything. Remember, youâre signing the forms under oath and penalty of perjury, and thatâs nothing to be messed with either!
Why People File For Bankruptcy
Historically, these are the most common reasons for filing for bankruptcy:
job loss, followed by an inability to find work that pays nearly as well
medical expenses that arent reimbursed by insurance or government programs
divorce or legal separation, and
small business failures.
Once a financial catastrophe strikes, many of us wind up taking on significant debt just to weather the storm. If we saved enough, maybe wed be ready for these unexpected twists and turns. But, for a variety of reasons, many of us arent prepared. Lets take a closer look at how we become so financially overextended.
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How To File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A Step
Richie Bernardo, Senior WriterMar 24, 2015
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a daunting process for those who are going through it for the first and hopefully last time. But with adequate preparation and the proper guidance of a bankruptcy attorney, you can rest assured that the process will go without unexpected surprises.
Generally, the entire Chapter 7 process from filing to discharge will last between three and six months. It is a much swifter affair compared to the three- to five-year timeline of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in which debtors reorganize their debts. In a typical Chapter 7 case, you will make only one trip to the bankruptcy court, during which youll attest to the truthfulness and accuracy of your bankruptcy petition. The case will end shortly after you receive your discharge, and all your qualifying debts will be wiped out.
Below, we provide an instructive guide on the filing process as well as tips to help you achieve discharge.
Starting The Bankruptcy Filing Process
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Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing your bankruptcy forms, you will need to complete a Debtor Education Course from an approved credit counseling agency. It can be completed online or by phone and typically takes at least 2 hours and costs between $10 – $50, unless youâre eligible for a waiver.
The purpose of the course is to educate you on making smart financial decisions going forward but does not provide legal advice about the bankruptcy process. Youâll learn how to prepare a budget and avoid incurring debt with high interest rates.
Youâre not eligible to receive your bankruptcy discharge and obtain a fresh start if you donât complete the course and file your certificate of completion from the credit counseling agency with the court.
Consider Hiring A Bankruptcy Preparer
Even if you have a simple Chapter 7 case, bankruptcy can be an intimidating and time-consuming process. You will need to accurately fill out many forms, research the law, and attend hearings. If you understand bankruptcy law but would like help completing the formsthe average bankruptcy petition is approximately 50 pages in lengthyou might consider hiring a bankruptcy petition preparer.
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Will I Lose My Car
Like the exemption described above for your home, there is a similar exemption in place for car owners. The most important fact here is that if you do not own your car, or you are not currently making payments, you cannot keep your car even if it does fit in an exemption. Therefore, it is important that you stay up to date on your car payment if you plan to keep it.
You first must determine how much equity is in your car. If you own your car with no loan, the equity in your car is its total fair market value. If you do have a loan, equity is the totally fair market value minus the amount left on your loan.
Finally, if you have leased a vehicle or for some other reason have no other ownership rights, you have no equity to defend. If you have no equity, your car cannot be sold, but the lender may repossess your car. In Colorado, an individual can exempt $7,500 in equity .
Just as if you have equity in your car over the allowed exemption, you can use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to protect the car and pay back the equity through the bankruptcy.
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Summary Of Bankruptcy Steps
Overall, the process to file bankruptcy in Orlando includes the following steps:
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Bankruptcy In America: The Big Picture
Although you might not care much about the larger bankruptcy picture, understanding it will help you keep your situation in perspective. For many, its reassuring to know that youre not alone in your financial struggles.
Why People File for Bankruptcy
Studies show that the most common reasons for filing for bankruptcy are:
- job loss, followed by an inability to find work that pays nearly as well
- medical expenses that arent reimbursed by insurance or government programs
- divorce or legal separation, and
- small business failures.
Once a financial catastrophe strikes, many of us wind up taking on significant debt just to weather the storm. If we saved enough, maybe wed be ready for these unexpected twists and turns. But, for a variety of reasons, many of us spend too much and save too little. Lets take a closer look at how we got so financially overextended.
Why You Shouldnt Feel Guilty About Filing for Bankruptcy
The American economy is consumer based. A highly paid army of persuaders surrounds us with thousands of seductive messages each day that all say, buy, buy, buy.
These sophisticated advertising techniques often cross the line into manipulation, and as a result, we buy. And for those of us who cant afford to pay as we go, credit card companies offer easy credit.
What About the Downside?
Changes in Bankruptcy Law
How To File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
This article was co-authored by Michael R. Lewis. Michael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 396,729 times.
For many people who are completely over their head in debt, filing for bankruptcy can provide relief and a fresh financial start. Most United States citizens are able to file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This article discusses Chapter 7, in which a court settles most of the debts involved, partially by selling off the debtor’s unprotected assets and distributing the proceeds to creditors. XResearch source Although the process may seem complicated, with proper legal advice or research it is reasonably simple to navigate.
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Filing Without An Attorney
Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, which is called filing pro se. However, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.
Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice.
The following is a list of ways your lawyer can help you with your case.
- Advise you on whether to file a bankruptcy petition.
- Advise you under which chapter to file.
- Advise you on whether your debts can be discharged.
- Advise you on whether or not you will be able to keep your home, car, or other property after you file.
- Advise you of the tax consequences of filing.
- Advise you on whether you should continue to pay creditors.
- Explain bankruptcy law and procedures to you.
- Help you complete and file forms.
- Assist you with most aspects of your bankruptcy case.
Bankruptcy Forms are available to the public free of charge.
- Use the forms that are numbered in the 100 series to file bankruptcy for individuals or married couples.
- Use the forms that are numbered in the 200 series if you are preparing a bankruptcy on behalf of a nonindividual, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company .
- Sole proprietors must use the forms that are numbered in the 100 series.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
The last step before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas is printing all the forms youâll submit to the bankruptcy court. You want things to go smoothly when youâre at the courthouse, so it makes sense to be methodical and take your time putting together your packet. This is especially true if youâre filing without an attorney, as youâll likely have each form saved as a separate file on your computer.
Print each document on standard sized paper in black and white and make sure you sign each signature page. Donât print multiple pages on one sheet and donât print on both sides of the paper. Itâll be helpful to have a hardcopy of the set of forms that you submit to the Texas Bankruptcy Court, so, take a moment at this stage to either print a complete second set, or make a copy of the one set you already printed.
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Dealing With Your Car
How to deal with your car or truck when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas is one of the most important questions folks usually have. After all, you need your car to get around, go to work, pick up kids from school and do all those things that make the Lone Star State great.
If your vehicle is paid for, itâs yours to keep as long as you are able to claim an exemption for its full value. If you still owe on a car loan, which is considered a secured debt, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to keep the car by entering into a reaffirmation agreement. Of course, if the car loan balance is much higher than the value of the vehicle, you can surrender the car. Unlike a repossession outside of bankruptcy, youâll not have to pay the unsecured portion of the loan – thatâs discharged. Finally, if youâre able to raise some funds to buy your vehicle for its current value, you can do that as well.
Meeting The Bankruptcy Trustee
The bankruptcy court will schedule a meeting with an appointed Chapter 7 trustee. This meeting is called the or the 341 meeting. The meeting is held in a conference room, not a courtroom. Typically, this meeting will last ten to fifteen minutes.
A representative of the U.S. Trustees office sometimes attends these meetings. The debtor and his bankruptcy attorney are required to attend the creditors meeting . As a practical matter, very few, if any, unsecured creditors attend. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee represents all creditors whether or not unsecured creditors attends the meeting of creditors.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee asks the debtor questions at the creditors meeting, but they will not interrogate, cross-examine, or threaten the debtor. The trustee may ask the debtor why they filed bankruptcy and ask questions about the debtors assets and sources of income. The trustee often asks about the debtors income and expenses to make sure the debtor qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that the bankruptcy is not an abusive filing.
are scheduled by the court based on the trustees schedule. Your bankruptcy attorney is not able to request a meeting date or time. If the debtor or their attorney is unable to attend the scheduled 341 meeting, the trustee usually schedules a make-up meeting approximately two weeks after the first date. If the debtor fails to attend the second meeting, the trustee may move to have the bankruptcy dismissed.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What It Is And How To File
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Chapter 7 bankruptcy can wipe out many forms of overwhelming debt under the protection of a federal court. You may have to give up some assets, like an expensive car or jewelry, but the vast majority of filers do not. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the fastest and most common form of bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy erases most unsecured debts, that is, debts without collateral, like medical bills, credit card debt and personal loans. However, some forms of debt, such as back taxes, court judgments, alimony and child support, and student loans generally arent eligible. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will leave a serious mark on your credit reports for 10 years. During this time youll likely find it harder to get credit. Even so, youll probably see your credit scores start to recover in the months after you file.
Read on to learn about how you can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, how to file, whether this debt relief option is right for you, and how to rebuild after bankruptcy.
Do You Qualify For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy you:
Must pass the means test, which looks at your income, assets and expenses.
Cannot have filed a bankruptcy petition in the previous 180 days that was dismissed because you failed to appear in court or comply with court orders, or you voluntarily dismissed your own filing because creditors sought court relief to recover property they had a lien on.
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