Get Your Debts Discharged
Whew. After completing the steps to this point and meeting all the requirements of your bankruptcy filingif you’ve filed under Chapter 13, this means making all the payments under your agreed upon planit’s finally time for the court to erase your dischargeable debts.
If you filed for Chapter 7 and your case has been dismissed, you may be allowed at this stage to convert to another form of bankruptcy, like Chapter 13.
More About Online Bankruptcy
If bankruptcy is in your future, there are tools online to help you find your way through the maze.
However, it is important to note that while the forms can be downloaded online and there is plenty of help online, the actual filing of the forms, in almost all cases, must be done in person at bankruptcy court.
There is one exception: If an individual is what is called ECF Certified.
ECF stands for Electronic Case Files, and is a way documents are filed online with courts. However, the average person must take classes and be ECF certified and approved by the court to file that way.
Attorneys are ECF certified the average consumer is not. For most of us, that means finding the location of your bankruptcy court and taking the documents there to file.
In the event that you the consumer need to turn to bankruptcy to solve debt issues and it should always be an option of last resort you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Yes, you can go through the paperwork and court process yourself, without an attorney.
But a strong word of warning: Its tricky. Another word of warning: Because its tricky, it behooves you to be careful and precise. A final word of warning: If youre nervous about being careful and precise, its wise to consult with an attorney.
But a great deal of the paperwork and educational requirements can be done online with help from a bankruptcy attorney or a non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparer.
Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
Folks filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona with the help of a bankruptcy attorney or a law firm typically pay a flat fee for the bankruptcy case. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer ranges from $750 to $1,500 for a standard Chapter 7 case, though depending on how complex your financial situation is, it may be more. The best way to find out how much your Arizona bankruptcy would cost is to take advantage of the free consultation offered by a lot of Arizona bankruptcy attorneys.
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Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Arizona: Will I Qualify
Thanks to the bankruptcy reforms of 2005, Arizona law will only apply to your bankruptcy case if you have lived in the state for the last two years. If you lived in Arizona for a shorter period of time, or recently moved, the state that you lived in for the 180-day period that preceded your move will likely apply to your Chapter 7 case.
Eligibility to file Chapter 7 is based on your income over the last six months. If you earn less than the median for a family of your size in Arizona, you have a green light to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
When your income is below the state median, you automatically qualify. In cases where your income exceeds the Arizona median, you will need to subject your income and expenses to the means test, a government-derived formula that analyzes your disposable income. For a single filer, the Arizona median income is currently $46,779. For the most up-to-date means test income information, click here.
The ostensible purpose of the means test is to force those with enough disposable income to repay something to their creditors into Chapter 13 bankruptcy rather than the faster Chapter 7 process. Unfortunately, only some of your actual expenses will be allowed as the adoptions under the means test. In some cases, national averages are supplied in place of your actual out-of-pocket expenses. For example, there are limits on the amount that can be deducted for private school tuition.
Experienced Phoenix Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer Answers Your Pressing Questions
Individuals and couples faced with crushing debt trust Bankruptcy and Estate Planning Pros to help them find the right solution. Filing for bankruptcy is a big step, so you want to make sure you get reliable legal advice throughout every stage of the process. To help get you started, weve answered some of the most frequently asked questions we encounter in our practice. However, there is no substitute for the personalized service you get when you visit us for a free consultation in our Phoenix office.
- What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
- Who can file for bankruptcy in Arizona and how?
- What does it cost to file for bankruptcy in Arizona?
- What happens to my property in bankruptcy?
- What is an avoidance action in bankruptcy?
- Can I own anything after bankruptcy?
- Will bankruptcy get rid of all my debt?
- How do I file bankruptcy if I havent lived in the same state or district?
- Can a student loan be discharged in bankruptcy in Arizona?
- Does bankruptcy affect my credit score?
- What is the purpose of the means test?
- How does bankruptcy affect joint accounts and cosigners?
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Things You Should Know If You Are Married But Want To File Bankruptcy Alone
| Oct 18, 2017 | Uncategorized
This post lists three things you should know if you want to file for bankruptcy without your spouse. Contact Phoenix Law for more information today.
Using bankruptcy to help you get out of debt is something you could consider if you are overwhelmed with bills you cannot pay. If you are married, but you are considering filing individually, without your spouse, here are some of the main factors you should know before you sign the bankruptcy documents.
1. You Can File Individually If You Are Married
Married couples have the freedom to file for together or individually. Couples typically file together when they have joint debts, but spouses can file by themselves if they choose to.
There are several reasons a spouse might want to file individually, and you might have your own reasons. For example, if you want to buy a house in the near future, you could prevent damage to your spouses credit if you file individually, and put the house in only your spouses name.
If both spouses want to file for bankruptcy, it is always better to file jointly. By filing jointly, you can pay just one filing fee and one fee for the legal assistance from a lawyer.
However, it is important to understand how filing individually could affect your spouse, and you can find out more about this by meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer.
2. Joint Debts Do Not Get Fully Discharged
3. Your Spouses Income Counts
Talk To A Bankruptcy Lawyer
Need professional help? Start here.
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Filing Bankruptcy On Your Own
Debtors considering filing bankruptcy on their own may think it can help them save money. While you may be able to file on your own, there are certain situations where it is best to have legal representation. Most debtors choose to work with a bankruptcy attorney when they realize how complex their situation is.
A simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy case could be filed by the debtor on their own if they understand the rules and regulations under the bankruptcy code. This is crucial in obtaining a discharge from debts successfully. A simple case may be a situation in which you have little or no assets, no priority debts or allegations of fraud against you by creditors. There are exemption laws, local rules and procedures you need to do extensive research on if you are considering filing on your own.
On the other hand, there are situations in which it would be considered a bad idea to file bankruptcy on your own. If you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection its best to work with a legal expert. Chapter 13 cases can be complex, especially if you are using it to reestablish secured debt such as a mortgage or vehicle loan. The same is true if you are looking to have a second or third mortgage stripped or removed.
Complex Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases should be filed with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. In this situation a debtor may have income higher than the median amount required by the state. Or the debtor may have a significant amount of debt or business related debt.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Arizona: 3 Things You Need To Know
You may have experienced a financial hardship and are considering filing bankruptcy in Arizona, specifically Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
There are 3 important things to consider when pursuing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona:
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common bankruptcy in the United States. For example, I would not be surprised if the majority of the 11,646 bankruptcies filed in Arizona in the year ending June 30th, 2021 were Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Lets get started to understand why Chapter 7 is a popular choice in Arizona.
Arizona Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy in Arizona and throughout the U.S. It wipes out most forms of debt, such as credit cards, medical bills, and most tax debt over three years old. It also eliminates debt stemming from vehicle repossessions and real estate foreclosures. Not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
In order to be eligible to file this type of bankruptcy, your income must be less than Arizonas median income for your family size or you must pass the Means Test, which is a complicated test based on your income and expenses. Alternatively, a person may qualify for Chapter 7 based on the types of debt they have. If more than half of ones debt is investment or business related, they may still be able to file Chapter 7 irrespective of their income.
You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you previously completed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy within the last eight years.
Jump to a topic:
- Some signature loans
- Parking tickets
Debts that are protected by collateral or lien are secured debts. If you default on a secured debt, then the bank is allowed to take back the asset that was used as collateral. A mortgage is an example of a secured debt. A secured debt is typically eliminated in a bankruptcy, but if you want to keep the asset that was collateral for the debt, you must continue to make the payments after bankruptcy.
- Most student loans
Real Estate That Is Not Your Home
Any real estate that you own, butin which you do not reside, is not exempt in bankruptcy. This would include rentals, summer homes, orparcels of land. You have to determineif you have equityif the value of the real estate is more than the mortgageson it. If the answer is yes, thebankruptcy trustee can take the real estate, sell it, and pay the money to yourcreditors. If you do not have equity,i.e. the mortgages are about the same or more than the value of the property,then you should not lose the property in bankruptcy.
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When You Might Not Need A Bankruptcy Attorney
If you have a simple Chapter 7, you will have a better chance of completing your case without a bankruptcy lawyer. The hallmarks of a simple Chapter 7 would include a:
- household income below your state’s median income level
- little or no property
- no recent property transfers or payments to preferred creditors , and
- your creditors aren’t likely to dispute a debt.
But keep in mind that even filing a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires a fair amount of time and research on your part. If you want to complete your case, obtain a discharge, and not put any of your property at risk, you have to:
- accurately fill out several bankruptcy forms and schedules
- learn how bankruptcy laws work
- research your state’s exemptions, and
- follow all the rules and procedures necessary to complete the bankruptcy process.
How Can I Protect My Property In Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy doesnt mean that you will lose everything that you have. In Arizona, there are bankruptcy exemption laws that can protect your assets and properties. Here are the significant bankruptcy exemptions that can be useful to your bankruptcy case:
- Exempt Property. Bankruptcy law allows debtors to keep a certain amount of property after going through bankruptcy proceedings. This is called the exempt property. This generally includes your assets that are necessary for living and working.
- Non-Exempt Property. A property that cannot be exempted is called a non-exempt property. It generally covers items that fall outside of the necessities for living and working.
- Doubling bankruptcy exemptions. Spouses who decide to file for joint bankruptcy can be eligible for a double exemption if they both own the property.
- Homestead Exemption. You can protect up to $150,000 worth of your home, condo, or other property covered by the homestead exemption.
- Motor Vehicle Exemption. You will be allowed to protect up to $6,000 in one motor vehicle. If youre an elderly or disabled debtor, youll be allowed protection of up to $12,000.
- Personal property
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Filing Bankruptcy Without Your Spouse In Arizona
Spouses typically apply for loans and credit cards jointly, in both of their names. This makes each of them contractually liable for the debt. But occasionally debt is taken out in only one spouses name during marriage. In these situations, the spouse named on the debt is contractually liable for the debt, and the other spouse is not. People often mistakenly assume this means the un-named spouse has no liability for the debt, and therefore need not consider filing bankruptcy if the debt isnt paid. Unfortunately, that is not a correct assumption here in Arizona.
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Pitfalls Of Bankruptcy In Arizona
Bankruptcy is a powerful tool that can once and for all eliminate your debt problems. And while bankruptcy is a lot less painful than most imagine, there are certain pitfalls that can make the process a whole lot more complicated. In this post I am going to discuss 13 pitfalls of bankruptcy most of which can be avoided with a little planning.
Here we go
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Protecting Marital Assets In An Az Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a married individual in Arizona, you will need to apply exemptions to your assets. If you fail to do so, the trustee may seize these assets, sell them at auction, and use the proceeds to pay off your creditors. The asset must be worth less than the relevant exemption if owned outright, and have less equity than the exemption if financed. Assets your spouse has acquired in their own name during the marriage are still community property, and must be protected by bankruptcy exemptions. Your spouses separate property doesnt need to be protected by bankruptcy exemptions.
In Arizona, the exemption for motor vehicles is $6,000 for one vehicle. For a married couple, this increases to $12,000 for one vehicle or $6,000 each for two vehicles. The Arizona homestead exemption is $150,000, which doesnt increase for a married couple. The exemption for household goods and furnishings is $6,000, which also doesnt increase for a married couple. One of the trickier exemptions in Arizona is the bank account exemption. On the date of filing, your account must be at or below $300, which increases to $600 for a married couple. You will need to make sure your case isnt filed on either your pay day or your spouses pay day.
Can I Discharge My Student Loans In A Bankruptcy Proceeding
Generally not, under any chapter. The borrower’s bankruptcy options on student loans have shrunk to very few. Recent changes to the US Bankruptcy Code made student loans non-dischargeable, regardless of the age of the loan, unless the borrower can establish what is nearly impossible to prove: “substantial hardship”.
Student loans are no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy just because they have been in pay status for the requisite time. The only way the loan can be modified or discharged is by proving that repayment of the loan will create a substantial hardship on the debtor/borrower and his family.
This standard is generally interpreted to mean that the debtor cannot maintain a minimally adequate standard of living and repay the loan. It usually requires a showing that the conditions that make repayment a hardship are unlikely to improve substantially.
Absent a showing of substantial hardship, the best that bankruptcy can do with respect to student loans may be to eliminate other debts that compete for the borrower’s dollars, or to provide a measure of peace during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.
Another problem in student loans is the state of the lender’s records: the loan has been transferred several times and it is not clear just what is owed and whether all of the additional charges are in accordance with law.
To thoroughly discuss your options, contact the Phoenix, Arizona bankruptcy attorneys with Arentz Law Group, PLLC.
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