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Bankruptcy used to have a bad reputation as an indication of irresponsibility, but in this economic climate when everyone is hurting, its a fact of life. For many people just like you, bankruptcy can be the smartest way to;take control of rising debt. And;bankruptcy is not as complicated;as you might think. Simply put, United States bankruptcy law allows individuals and businesses to eliminate or reorganize debt.
If you got injured at work, were laid off, lost a loved one, had a major medical emergency or have been living above your means,;reorganizing your debt can be the ideal solution. Benjamin R. Matthews and Associates, LLC can help you with either;Chapter 7 bankruptcy;or;Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Keeping Property When Filing Bankruptcy In South Carolina
You won’t lose everything in bankruptcy. You’ll use your state bankruptcy exemption laws to protect your property. We list the significant exemptions below, but first, understanding the following will help you maximize what you’ll keep in your case.
- Exempt and nonexempt property. You can keep property protected by an exemption or “exempt” property. When a bankruptcy exemption doesn’t cover the property, you’ll either lose it in Chapter 7 or have to pay for it in the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
- Choosing state or federal exemptions. Unlike some other states, you can’t choose between the state exemption list and the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. You must use South Carolina’s exemptions. But you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
- Doubling exemptions. Spouses filing together can double the exemption amount unless noted otherwise.
- COVID-19 recovery rebate exemption. You might be able to protect stimulus payments, tax credits, and child credits in bankruptcy with the federal recovery rebate exemption.
- Retirement accounts all filers can protect. You can keep tax-exempt retirement accounts, including 401s, 403s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans and traditional and Roth IRAs to $1,362,800 per person . ; .) Learn more about retirement accounts in bankruptcy.
We Can Help You With The Bankruptcy Filing Process
There are a number of forms that will need to be filled out and then filed with the court. This includes a petition for bankruptcy and a series of schedules. You will need to list every creditor that is making a claim against you. You will also need to list your income and your assets. Failure to file these accurately may result in your petition being denied.
As soon as the bankruptcy is filed, you get an automatic stay from your creditors attempts to collect on your debts. From there, the process varies depending on whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
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Qualifying For Bankruptcy In South Carolina
If you’ve never filed for bankruptcy before, you’ll meet the initial requirement. Otherwise, check whether enough time has passed to allow you to file again. The waiting period varies depending on the chapter previously filed and the chapter you plan to file. Learn more about multiple bankruptcy filings.
You’ll also need to meet specific chapter qualifications.
You’ll qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your family’s gross income is lower than the median income for the same size family in your state. Add all gross income earned during the last six months and multiply it by two. Compare the figure to the income charts on the U.S. Trustee’s website .
Want an easy way to do this online? Use the Quick Median Income Test. If you find that you make too much, you still might qualify after taking the second part of the “means test.” If, after subtracting expenses, you don’t have enough remaining to pay into a Chapter 13 plan, you’ll qualify for Chapter 7.
Qualifying for Chapter 13 can be an expensive proposition because the extra benefits come at a hefty price, and many people can’t afford the monthly payment. To qualify, you’ll pay the larger of:
What Are The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions
Although most states require bankruptcy filers to use state-specific bankruptcy exemptions, South Carolina law allows you to use either state or federal exemptions. However, you must choose one or the other you cannot use parts of both. If you choose to use federal exemptions when you file for bankruptcy, then you may keep:
- $23,675 of equity in your primary home. This is the homestead exemption; you can use it to protect residential real estate as long as you live there. However, this does not extend to investments in rental properties.
- Your vehicle up to a value of $3,775.
- Jewelry valued up to $1,600.
- Household items worth up to a total of $12,625, as long as no single item is worth more than $600. This includes furniture, appliances, clothes, animals, books, etc.
- Tools for your work, including books, valued up to $2,375.
- A total of $12,625 in loan value, dividends or life insurance policy interest.
- All health aids.
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How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost In South Carolina
Filing fees and professional fees vary in different locations and by type of bankruptcy. The filing fees, which are usually about $350, are sometimes payable in installments. Judges also grant fee waivers in a few cases. As for a South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer’s professional fees, payment plans, both pre- and post-petition, are usually available. Sliding scales are also available.
Are There Alternatives To Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is often the best option for certain people in certain situations, but for others, debt consolidation may be a viable option. Debt consolidation means that you take all of your debts and combine them into one. You then pay a fixed rate on the one consolidated debt.
A bankruptcy attorney can help you through this process as well. Basically, a debt consolidator purchases your debt from your creditors. They give you a fixed interest rate, and a repayment plan that you can manage. The bankruptcy does not go on your credit record, and it will get your creditors off your back.
If, however, the repayment plan is more than your budget can accommodate, you will have to file for bankruptcy.
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How The Automatic Stay Stops Debt Collectors
After you file your bankruptcy petition with the court, an order called the “automatic stay” immediately stops most collection actions and civil lawsuits against you. The bankruptcy clerk notifies your creditors and, while the stay is in effect, they generally can’t call you, garnish your wages, repossess your property, or sue you.
That said, the automatic stay won’t stop certain legal actions against you, including:
- collection of child support or alimony
- repayment of loans from most retirement funds
- any criminal proceedings against you
- certain tax proceedings, or
- other actions or collections described in the U.S. bankruptcy code ).
In addition, the protection of the automatic stay may be shortened or denied altogether if you’ve filed for bankruptcy multiple times.
Should I Pursue A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case In South Carolina
We understand that you may be worried about the consequences of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in South Carolina. Our mission is to help you explore your options for getting rid of debt. If your best option is filing Chapter 13, we can give you resources and information to help you through the Chapter 13 process.;
We can provide resources and tools to help you set up a repayment plan to get rid of debt while learning how to manage your finances effectively for a better financial future if you decide that bankruptcy is not right for you, If you have questions about eliminating debts you cannot afford to pay, please contact Ascend online or call/text us at 833-272-3631.;
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How Do I Protect Myself If My Spouse Files Or May File For Bankruptcy
The answer to this questions depends on your true financial situation and whether your spouse files before or after the divorce:
- Legitimate Claims for Bankruptcy During Divorce ;If you and your spouse are truly in financial hot-water, then it may be best to put your marital differences aside and consider filing jointly for bankruptcy. Although filing jointly may be a bitter pill to swallow, discharging debts before the divorce is final can simplify the division and distribution of the marital property and debts. It can also avoid possible future liability of having debts assigned to you;if your ex-spouse;declares;bankruptcy after your;divorce is final.
- Questionable;Claims for Bankruptcy During or After Divorce ;Sometimes, either before or after a divorce, a spouse files;bankruptcy just to poor mouth or to avoid financial obligations that he or she can otherwise afford. In that situation, it may be best to;let;bankruptcy court do its job to uncover whether your spouse is entitled to bankruptcy. Convincing a bankruptcy court that you are entitled to declare bankruptcy isnt an easy task, and the bankruptcy court routinely dismisses cases that dont qualify under federal law.
How Chapter 13 Payment Plans Work
Under Chapter 13, you propose a plan to repay your creditors all or part of what you owe, usually using your future income. If the court approves your plan, you will make payments on your debts for either three or five years. The time and amount of your repayment plan will depend on:
- your income
- the kinds of debt you have
- the value of the property you own, and
- your expenses.
If your current monthly income is less than your stateâs median income for your family size, your plan will usually be for three years. If your income is greater than the state median income, you must usually propose a five-year plan.
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What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is referred to as reorganization bankruptcy, a payment plan bankruptcy, or a wage earner bankruptcy.; It lasts from three to five years .; Each bankruptcy district has divisions and Chapter 13 trustees are appointed to administer cases and make payments to creditors according to the debtors Chapter 13 plan.
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If you choose to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you will probably need to hire an attorney. Be sure to find an attorney who has experience handling the type;
The provisions of the Bankruptcy Code are complicated. It is advisable for businesses and individuals to consult with an attorney before filing a bankruptcy;
Yes, you can file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer, but you should only file without a lawyer in a simple Chapter 7 case, as well explain. Rating: 5 · 44 votes
Many people in financial distress try to file bankruptcy without the assistance of experienced bankruptcy attorneys. Most will find roadblocks for the process;
Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer? Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer? How do I file a;
Honestly, yes you can file without an lawyer, and it doesnt matter what chapter you file. Chapter 7, 11, 12, 13 it makes no difference.
You may want to talk with a lawyer before filing a Chapter 13 case. Similarly, without permission from the trustee, you cannot enter into any credit;
Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you restructure overwhelming debt into a repayment Your attorney will help you fill out the various forms required to file.
Apr 16, 2020 Thats because many Chapter 13 bankruptcies can take up to five years to resolve, and the attorney will need to continue to manage your case.
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Who Files For Bankruptcy
The typical bankruptcy filer is a person already in fragile economic circumstances, often with large amounts of credit card debt, who then suddenly gets hit by hard luckâlike job loss, injury, divorce, or uninsured medical expensesâleading to unmanageable payments and insurmountable penalties.
Bankruptcy is designed to help people like this, who need help making a clean breakâto get a fresh start on life, rather than struggling under the crushing burden of unpayable debt.
Will I Lose My Car If I File Bankruptcy In South Carolina
Usually not. You are allowed to exempt equity in your vehicle.; You are also allowed a wildcard exemption under both South Carolina law and the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Generally speaking, if you make your payments, you wont lose your car.; This can be done directly to the lender in Chapter 7 or by making your Chapter 13 plan payments.
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What Is The Statement Of Current Monthly Income For In A South Carolina Bankruptcy Case
This form determines whether youâre eligible to file for Chapter 7. And it has the most confusing name of any of the free bankruptcy forms for South Carolina. Despite its name, the Statement of Current Monthly Income is not asking for your current monthly income. Rather itâs asking for your average income and your spouseâsaverage income over the last 6 monthsbefore your filing date.
The Court wants to know about your income from all sources over the past 6 months, including employment, side-businesses, family contributions, and government benefits like SNAP or unemployment. If your average household income for the past 6 months is below themedian household income for families of your size, then great! – youâre eligible to file for Chapter 7. If youâve earned above the median income, you may be ineligible for Chapter 7. If youâre a disabled veteran or someone who owes primarily business debt, you can fill out theStatement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuseexplaining that you are still eligible for Chapter 7. But otherwise, if youâre over the median income, you must complete theChapter 7 Means Test Calculation. To be honest, that form is a beast. You should definitelyhire a lawyer if you need to complete that particular free bankruptcy form for South Carolina.
How Do South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions Impact My Chapter 13 Plan
Net equity in the property is calculated by subtracting the allowed bankruptcy exemption and any valid lien from the fair market value of the property. If the result is positive, that amount is considered non-exempt equity.;
Non-exempt equity can increase your Chapter 13 plan payment. However, most debtors who file Chapter 13 in South Carolina have very little equity in the property that is not exempt under the South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions.;
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Find Out If You Qualify For Bankruptcy
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must show that you donât have enough income to repay your creditors a reasonable amount. You can do this by:
- proving that your income is below the South Carolina 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 canât 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.
Can I Lower My Mortgage Payments In Bankruptcy
Not in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.; However, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy the rules are different. You cant lower your payment, but you may be able to eliminate your second mortgage altogether. We call this stripping the second mortgage or valuing it at zero. You can do this if you can; prove the second mortgage is wholly unsecured. For example, if your home is worth $200,000, and you owe $210,000 on your first mortgage and $40,000 on your second mortgage, the second mortgage is wholly unsecured. There is no equity to which the second mortgage can attach. In that situation, you can strip off the second mortgage. Note, if the home were worth $201,000 you would NOT be able to modify the second mortgage. The second mortgage must be wholly unsecured. For more information on this, see Mortgage Stripping in Bankruptcy.
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Us Trustee Program Extends Telephonic Or Video Section 341 Meetings
The U.S. Trustee Program has extended the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted by telephone or video appearance to all cases filed during the period of the Presidentâs âProclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreakâ issued March 13, 2020, and ending on the date that is 60 days after such declaration terminates. However, the U.S. Trustee may approve a request by a trustee in a particular case to continue the section 341 meeting to an in-person meeting in a manner that complies with local public health guidance, if the U.S. Trustee determines that an in-person examination of the debtor is required to ensure the completeness of the meeting or the protection of estate property. This policy may be revised at the discretion of the Director of the United States Trustee Program.
Where Do I File For Bankruptcy In Newberry County South Carolina
Where to file your bankruptcy case depends on where you live and on whether you have a business close to home. Usually, you’ll file in the federal district court closest to where you’ve lived for the past 180 days . But if you run a business in a different district and most of your property is located there, you may have to file in the federal court serving that location.
The reason behind these filing rules is that the bankruptcy court wants the person overseeing your casecalled the bankruptcy trusteeto be able to easily find, evaluate, and, if necessary, sell your property.
If you’ve moved recently, you may have to file at the bankruptcy court serving the county where you used to live. That will depend on where the greater portion of your property has been for most of the past 180 days. For example, if you lived in Oregon for most of your life, but moved to California a month ago, you’ll file in Oregon because you lived there for 150 of the past 180 days.
You can handle most interactions with the court, including filing your bankruptcy forms, by mail. However, you will need to visit the courthouse in person at least once, for a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee.