Will I Need To Hire A Lawyer
When dealing with any type of complex legal matter, it is always advisable that you rely on the advice of an experienced legal professional. While filing for bankruptcy may seem fairly cut and dry, it is important to understand that your financial stability could be on the line. For this reason, the Michigan chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at Hensel Law Office, PLLC encourages you to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. My name is Thomas Hensel, and I have been practicing law since 1999,personally managing every single case for my clients. This means that you will never be passed off to a secretary, paralegal or associate attorney when you work with my firm. As a Madison Heights bankruptcy attorney, I will be by your side throughout every step of thebankruptcy process.
If you are interested inscheduling a free bankruptcy consultation with me, call today for fast support. I am even available to meet in the evening or on the weekend, in addition to regular business hours. I am focused on making this experience as convenient and painless as possible for you. That being said, there is no reason why you should wait any longer to retain the professional assistance that you will need!
Why File Bankruptcy Without An Attorney
First things first yes, youre able to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Michigan without needing a lawyer. But why are people googling how to do it without an attorney helping them? Money! People assume they wont be able to afford a lawyer, so they put off talking to one.
Our consultations are always free. Even if you plan on filing your own bankruptcy itd be a good idea to come in to talk to one of our Michigan bankruptcy experts. You never know what critical piece of information you could learn that saves your house, car, or credit!
How Often You Can File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Michigan
Receiving a discharge on your Chapter 7 bankruptcy starts an 8-year clock before you will be able to file for another one. If you continue to have financial difficulties after your debts were discharged you may file a petition for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan, but if you file within 4 years of filing a Chapter 7 petition, you wont be eligible for a discharge. Even then, many families who use Chapter 7 for their first bankruptcy dont qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan based on their assets or income.
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When Does It Make Sense To File For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
You may not need a lawyer to successfully declare bankruptcy in a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy case . The bankruptcy laws are relatively easy to apply to a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, so you can get your debts discharged if you are willing to put in a bit of research and work, as well outline below. Wed recommend only filing by yourself in Chapter 7 cases that meet the following conditions:
1. You pass the means test
You need to make under the average yearly income in your state to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You need to be making less money to file for Chapter 7 than you do for Chapter 13. To file for Chapter 7 in Detroit, your household income has to be equal to or lower than $51,411 per year for a household of one, equal to or lower than $62,000 for a household of two, equal to or lower than $75,951 for household of three, equal to or below $92,720 for a household of four, and equal to or below $101,742 for a household of five. You can access the means test forms on the U.S. Governments website.
2. You own few to no assets
3. You own few priority debts
Bankruptcy really helps give you a fresh-start by wiping out many kinds of debt. But it does not wipe out priority debt. Priority debt refers to debts that get paid first as soon as money is available to creditors. Priority debts do not get wiped out when you file for bankruptcy.
Below are the main forms of priority debt that bankruptcy does not wipe away:
Successfully Serving Individuals Families And Small Businesses Of Flint
The Flint Bankruptcy Law Office of George E. Jacobs & Associates is a debt-relief agency helping individuals, families and small businesses file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code in the city of Flint and the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Lapeer and Shiawassee.
We will analyze your unique circumstances and help you determine which of the two principal forms of bankruptcy filing is in your best interests:
- Chapter 7 This type of bankruptcy, known as a liquidation, helps debtors get a clean slate when it comes to many of their debts. But it also requires the sale of your assets to raise funds to pay back creditors. Some property is exempt from sale, such as a modest vehicle and a certain amount of equity in a home. Chapter 7 may be the best fit for debtors with moderate incomes and few assets who want a fresh start.
- Chapter 13 Also known as a wage earners plan, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to retain all of their valuable property while they partially pay down their debts according to a court-approved plan over the course of three to five years. No creditor approval of the plan is needed. This bankruptcy path can be a good choice for steady wage earners who just need time to catch up on their mortgage arrears or other overdue debt.
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Am I Eligible For Bankruptcy In Michigan
There are two means tests for determining whether you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Michigan. Under the first test, if your household income is less than the median income for households of equal size in Michigan, you immediately qualify. The U.S. Department of Justice collects data on median household incomes for use in bankruptcy cases and for a three-person Michigan family, the median household income was $79,484 in November 2020.
The second means test is more thorough and uses your financial data from the previous six months to calculate your disposable income. If you are found to have little to no disposable income, you are eligible to file under Chapter 7.
If you have more than $419,275 in unsecured debt you cannot file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13. You are also not allowed to file for Chapter 13 if you have more than $1.26 million in secured debts. Those numbers are changed periodically to reflect inflation.
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.
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Michigan Credit Counseling And Debtor Education
According to US law, all individuals who file for bankruptcy must first obtain credit counseling. After they file for bankruptcy, they must then obtain debtor education. Beware of scam businesses that offer these services or who promise cheap, flat rate bankruptcy filing. The government has a list of all approved and licensed credit counseling agencies. For information about Michigan credit repair scams and reputable organizations, visit:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Fee: $338
As you may know, the filing fees are fixed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case at $338.00. Often, it is possible not to pay your filing fees upfront and make payments directly to the United States Bankruptcy Court in installment payments after filing. The $338 Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing fee is broke down as follows:
Chapter 7 Total Filing Fees: $338
$245 Initial filing fee
$78 Administrative fee
$15 Trustee fee.
If you are reopening a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your initial fees will be $260. There is no additional bankruptcy fees charge for filing to convert from Chapter 13.
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How To File Bankruptcy In Michigan Without A Lawyer
Again, I strongly encourage you to use an attorney whenever possible. Filing Michigan bankruptcy is complex. Please dont try to do it yourself just because you assume you wont be able to afford an attorney. You definitely arent the first person who needs to file bankruptcy but is short on cash. Were able to work with clients no matter their ability to pay. Youll be surprised by how many solutions we have. We can even file certain cases without the client paying anything out of pocket. We offer our clients payment options and can oftentimes recover garnishments that have already been taken!
The other route is to use a bankruptcy petition preparer. I think this scares me more than clients trying it themselves. Check out the Detroit News if you want to see some of the problems with bankruptcy petition preparers. This one in particular was sentenced last week to 4 years in prison.
The short answer was no. You dont need a lawyer to be filing Michigan bankruptcy cases. I think its an incredibly risky idea, however. If youre still thinking about trying it, please give me a call first so I can at least tell you what to look out for. I promise I wont try to sell you on using our firm if you tell me youre going to do it yourself. I just really would love the opportunity to warn you about the biggest mistakes most people make.
Why Would I File For Bankruptcy Without An Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer can help save you money. Lawyers generally charge between $500-3,750 for Chapter 7 and $2,500 and $6,000 to file Chapter 13. These numbers exclude the $335 filing fee for Chapter 7 or the $310 filing fee for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. So putting in some research and extra effort by filing the Chapter 7 yourself can go a long way in helping you get debt-free without taking on more debt in the process just to get some legal assistance. However, the U.S. Government strongly recommends you seek out an attorneys advice in every Chapter 7 and 13 case, since bankruptcy can have long-term financial and legal ramifications.
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Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The next step after providing all of your information to your Chapter 7 trustee when filing bankruptcy in Michigan is to go ahead and complete your second financial management course. Under Michigan bankruptcy laws, the certificate of completion for this course is due within 60 days from your 341 hearing date. We recommend doing this sooner rather than later so it does not get forgotten. This certification will come from the agency and will need to be directly filed with the court. Itâs best to bring the certificate with you to file on the day your 341 meeting is scheduled for. You will not need to provide the certificate to your Chapter 7 trustee. It will be with your court file.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Filing Fee: $313
To file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need a $310 filing fee. In many instances, it is possible to avoid paying all filing fees up-front and instead make payments directly to the Court monthly. The $310 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing fee is broken down as follows:
Chapter 13 Total Filing Fees: $313
$310 Initial filing fee
It costs $235 to reopen a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing in Michigan.
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I Filled Out The Form Now What
Congrats! Its all smooth sailing from here. Taking the first step is always the hardest. If you didnt fill out the form you can always click on the chat bubble in the bottom right corner of your screen. Thats actually us. Were not a robot or a call center in India so it might take a second while I put down my coffee before I respond. If it says offline its probably because I went home or got overwhelmed. You can still click on it, however, and Ill get an email instead of a chat.
If youre old fashioned, you can also always call ,, or stop by. Theres also a Bankruptcy Evaluation Form on this page. That form is helpful for giving us an idea about your situation. Any of the methods mentioned will get our attention. Hopefully youll find that were easier to get in touch with than most law firms. Whenever possible, Scott and I try to answer the incoming calls ourselves. We figure that nobody is calling to talk to a paralegal anyway, so we may as well let the office staff stay productive. If were busy with other clients or in court well get back to you within hours, not days. You also arent forced to make an appointment just to talk to your bankruptcy attorney. Filing Michigan Bankruptcy shouldnt be that hard.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees
The total cost for filing chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338. A request can be made to pay the fees in installments, though they all must be paid in full within 120 days of filing. Individuals can seek a waiver on the fee if he or she can show their income is below 150% of the poverty line in their state and for their household size.
The fees include:
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How Much Will It Cost & How Long Will It Take
UnlikeChapter 13 bankruptcy, which is executed over three to five years, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process can be completed in a matter of months.
More specifically, you could expect it to take 4-6 months. This includes:
- Participating in a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course
- Filling out all of the necessary paperwork
- Filing your petition with the court and attending the “creditors meeting”
After all is said and done, you can expect to pay about $300 in filing and administrative feesas well as a small fee for the course. Once your bankruptcy has been resolved, however, you will be legally absolved of the obligation to repay most, if not all, of your debt.
The Two Kinds Of Bankruptcy Most Consumers Use
This website focuses on the two most common types of bankruptcy filed by individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. But heres a quick summary of the six types of bankruptcy most commonly filed under the bankruptcy code they get their names from the chapters where they appear in the code.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Chapter 7 lets individuals wipe out most kinds of debt in just a few months.
- You get to keep certain kinds of propertyfor example, at least some of the equity in your home, your car, clothing, personal items, and property that is essential to your profession. This type of property is called exempt property, and many Chapter 7 filers find that exemptions cover most of what they own.
- If you have nonexempt property, the bankruptcy trustee will sell it to repay your creditors as much as possible.
- To qualify for Chapter 7, you must pass the means test, showing that your income is less than the state median income for your family size.
- Most bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are Chapter 7 bankruptcies.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
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Protecting Your Exempt Property
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case may sell your property to pay your debts unless the law specifically allows you to keep all or a part of it. The property youre allowed to keep is called your exempt property. For example, exemptions may allow you to keep at least some of the equity in your home, a car, and personal property such as your clothes and household goods.
Bankruptcy exemptions arent automatic. You must figure out what is exempt and list that property on your bankruptcy forms, along with the specific laws that allow you to claim the property as exempt. Exemptions are determined by state law some states have their own exemptions, while others allow you to use the exemptions provided by the federal bankruptcy code.
For more information on Michigan law, see the Exemptions section of this website.
How Will Your Lawyer Help You File For Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Before filing, your lawyer will:
- Help decide whether you should file for bankruptcy altogether. Many qualified attorneys will meet with you for an initial meeting which is often free. During this meeting, they will explain the bankruptcy process and laws to you in an easily understandable way. Theyll ask you specific questions about your financial situation, your debts, and other factors to determine whether and for what kind of bankruptcy you should file.
- Help decide if you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy
- Inform you whether you can discharge your debt. A good lawyer will discuss this information in the meeting before you hire them as well. This will help you decide whether filing for bankruptcy makes sense for you and your family.
- Answer any of your questions before you actually filefrom where to take the debtor and creditor course, how filing for bankruptcy will affect your spouse or children, to what property you can and cant keep after bankruptcy based on your specific situation. An attorney will also discuss the legal and tax consequences of filing in the initial meeting.
When you file, your lawyer will:
After you file, your lawyer will:
- Check-in with you after the process to ensure youre doing well and you are on the road to a debt-free future.
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