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How To File For Bankruptcy In West Virginia

What Is A 341 Hearing

Bankruptcy Unclaimed Funds in Virginia & West Virginia

A 341 hearing is the so-called “creditors meeting” that every bankruptcy filer must attend shortly after you file your bankruptcy papers.

For many filers, this will be your only trip to the courthouse. This is when you meet with the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case, and are asked questions about the information you have entered on your forms.

Most court websites post schedules of 341 hearings, and when you file, you will be notified of your hearing date. When you show up for your hearing, you will find that many other people have hearings set for the same day. You sit wait for your name to be called.

This is also the time when creditors can ask questions about your papers, and objections to your filing may be raised by creditors.

See the Products & Services page for a podcast about what happens at a 341 meeting. Also, the book How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy has information about what to expect at your 341 hearing.

Understanding How A Chapter 7 Means Test Works

The Chapter 7 means test was designed to limit the use of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to individuals who can no longer pay off their debts. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy works by subtracting certain monthly expenses from the individuals present monthly income. The current income will be determined by the persons last six months income prior to filing for bankruptcy. This will determine the persons available income.

If a person has a high amount of available income, the more likely it is that he or she will not be able to use a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to pay off the accrued debt. Instead, the individual will be expected to use the available funds to repay creditors.

Another important factor is that you only need to take a means test if the bankruptcy filer has predominantly consumer debts in West Virginia, not business debts.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy West Virginia

Chapter 13 bankruptcy West Virginia is a payment plan bankruptcy where your debts are reorganized via the bankruptcy court, often in a 3 or 5-year payment plan. One of the most important questions is determining your monthly plan payment. Once you have a sense of your plan payment, you compare that payment to your current monthly obligations to see whether you may afford Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Debt settlement is often an alternative to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For a deep dive on Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may want to check out the article titled Chapter 13 West Virginia

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How Can A Bankruptcy Attorney Help

If you are contemplating filing bankruptcy in WV without the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney to save money, you may want to reconsider. Hiring a bankruptcy attorney can actually save you money and help you avoid making mistakes. A southern WV bankruptcy lawyer can help you find the proper forms you are required to complete in order to file bankruptcy and file your case in the proper court. If you make filing mistakes, your case could be dismissed.

Here are just some of the other ways a southern WV bankruptcy lawyer can help you:

  • Figure out the right type of bankruptcy
  • Make sure you comply with the filing requirements
  • Help you protect your property
  • Determine what to do with tax refunds and money due
  • Determine what to do about credit cards and loans
  • Help with repossession and
  • Handle payment of debts.

If you would like to know more about filing for bankruptcy in WV, Jason Harwood at Harwood Legal, PLLC helps WV residents figure out the complexities of bankruptcy in West Virginia. Born and raised in southern West Virginia, Jason can help put you on the road to solvency. Schedule an appointment with Jason by calling 304-752-5015 or by completing the firms contact form.

Looking for an experienced, compassionate, and skilled attorney close to home? Harwood Legal, PLLC is here to help.

West Virginia Bankruptcy Lawyer

How to File Bankruptcy in West Virginia

Many bankruptcies are caused by overwhelming medical expenses, due to illness or sudden personal tragedy, unemployment, or marital problems. Bankruptcy is most often the result of unforeseen circumstances and therefore should not been seen as shameful or embarrassing. Bankruptcy can provide a much-needed fresh start for people who have fallen on hard times.

If you feel that bankruptcy is the best option for you, you need an experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side. The laws surrounding bankruptcy are complicated and difficult to navigate. A good bankruptcy lawyer will help you decide which type of bankruptcy you qualify for, and which type works best for you.

Each state has different laws regarding bankruptcy and bankruptcy exemption. An exemption is a set amount of income or other collateral that is legally excluded from the assets that can be seized by creditors. For example, in West Virginia, for a homestead, real or personal property used as residence up to $25,000 can be exempt and any unused portion of the homestead may be applied to any property. Alimony and child support may also be exempt as well as up to $1000 worth of jewelery and $2500 regarding a motor vehicle.

There are six types of bankruptcy, with the most common being Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

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What Is The Difference Between A Chapter 7 And A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Under Chapter 7, you may not have to repay any of your debts before they are discharged . Under Chapter 13, you must repay a portion of your debts before they are discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most helpful in saving a home or a car, as you generally need to be caught up in your payments on secured assets you intend to keep before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows your spread your payment arrearage out over as much as 60 months, and can stop a foreclosure so long as it is filed prior to the foreclosure sale.

The type of bankruptcy you can file depends on whether your household is above or below the state median income. The median income for a family of four in West Virginia is $66,401 for bankruptcy cases filed on or after May 1, 2014. Your income is determined by the six-month period before you file bankruptcy.

People in households with incomes above the state median usually cannot file a Chapter 7. They must file a Chapter 13. People in households with incomes below the state median may file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.

Bankruptcy In Wv: What Is The Process For Filing

Most bankruptcy is governed by federal law, but there is some information specific to West Virginia that you need to know. Before you file for bankruptcy in West Virginia, you have to show proof that you received within six months before you file. You also have to take debtor education courses after you file and before you are granted discharge from bankruptcy.

In order to file bankruptcy in WV, you have to complete a bankruptcy petition, detailing what you own and to whom you owe money. There are various forms that need to be filled out with details of all your finances. In West Virginia, you have to compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in West Virginia.

When completed, you need to file the form with the bankruptcy court, but you dont need to go to court. The only required appearance is to attend a 341 meeting of creditors. This meeting is for you to meet with the trustee assigned to your case.

Consulting with a Southern WV bankruptcy lawyer well in advance of this hearing can help you protect as much of your assets as possible and will certainly make this stressful situation much easier.

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Successfully Passing The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test

Passing the means test is not the last step in the process, as it is not the only qualifying factor. In West Virginia, petitioners will be required to also submit two forms. These forms are known as Schedule I and Schedule J . If the individual has an income surplus, he or she will be court ordered to pay creditors monthly. This changes the case to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Finally, qualifying for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not mean that a petitioner must file one. The test will simply determine that the petitioner can file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is important to explore all the available alternatives prior to making a decision. A qualified bankruptcy attorney versed in the laws local to West Virginia is a invaluable resource for determining if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best decision.

Need Help with the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test?

Despite the wealth of information available to help us understand the Means Test and who qualifies, the particular circumstances of individual filers can greatly vary. A qualified Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney at your side can help fully allay your concerns, and help you understand how you can pass the means test and file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

West Virginia Bankruptcy Filing Process

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The bankruptcy filing process in West Virginia is similar to other states. Generally, the process is as follows for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • Understand bankruptcy qualification
  • Take the Credit Counseling Course
  • File Bankruptcy Petition and Other Forms
  • West Virginia trustee is assigned to the case
  • Attend 341 Meeting of Creditors
  • Take Second Mandatory Debt Education Course
  • Receive Bankruptcy Discharge
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    Cost Of Chapter 7 And Chapter 13 In West Virginia

    Any important question that you are probably asking yourself is what is the cost of attorney fees, filing fees and whatever other costs are associated with bankruptcy.

    • Attorney Fee: Often different cities and counties in West Virginia will have different attorney costs, including variability of cost based on experience. You may want to check out a West Virginia bankruptcy cost calculator to estimate the cost for your zip code.
    • Filing, Admin and/or trustee surcharge fee: The fee for Chapter 7 is $335 and the fee for Chapter 13 is $310 .

    Mail Documents To Your Trustee

    Once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia is filed, a number of things happen: Your case is assigned a case number, a judge and a trustee are chosen at random, a date is set for your , and the automatic stay goes into effect. Being a debtor in bankruptcy does include certain duties and responsibilities everyone has to abide by in exchange for protection from their creditors. One example of these duties is that everyone filing bankruptcy in West Virginia has to send a copy of their most recent federal income tax return to the trustee assigned to their case at least 7 days before their creditors’ meeting. The trustee uses the information contained in the tax returns, along with any other information or documentation they may have requested from you after your case was filed, to verify the information you disclosed in your bankruptcy forms. Even though the trustee does not represent you or your interests, you both share a common goal in that you want your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia to go smoothly and without unnecessary complications. So, keep an eye out for any correspondence from your trustee after your case has been filed and follow any instructions it may provide with respect to the best way to submit the documents the trustee wants.

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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 Presidents Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak 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.

    What Happens When An Individual Files For Bankruptcy

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    What happens when you file. When you file for bankruptcy, you get an automatic stay, which puts a block on your debt. Such stays prevent creditors and collections agencies from pursuing debtors for amounts owed. While the stay is in place, your wages can’t be garnished and creditors can’t go after any secured assets.

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    Info On Filing Without An Attorney

    Information specific to your district

    You’ll need information specifically about your particular court’s procedures.

    Fortunately, the West Virginia Northern District Bankruptcy Court offers information specifically designed for people filing without an attorney. Virtually all courts link to the generic national information mentioned above. The West Virginia Northern District Bankruptcy Court offers specific guidance about local procedures.

    General information about how to file

    If you’re new to the bankruptcy process, the website of the US Courts Adminstrative Office now offers a basic orentation page for those filing bankruptcy without an attorney. The information inlcudes a Bankruptcy Basics video in EnglishSpanish and Creole. The half hour video is split into chapters so you can go back and review parts that went by too fast the first time.

    Filing Bankruptcy In West Virginia

    Youll notice from the table of the contents that we focus specifically on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Why? Because these two types of bankruptcy are the most common bankruptcy in America . There are other types such as the Chapter 11 and Chapter 11 subchapter 5 bankruptcies, but these are far less common for consumers .

    Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as the liquidation bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as wage earners plan. We will cover these in greater detail

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    What Does Pro Se Mean

    If you’re filing for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney, follow all links that use the term “pro se.” “Pro se” is the Latin term for people handling their own legal matters without a lawyer.

    Many courts provide information for such persons by using this Latin term, rather than plain-English. The more service-oriented courts labeled such information with links like “Filing without an attorney.” Courts that aren’t as helpful tend to hide such information behind a link called “pro se information” or “pro se filers.”

    What Is A Bankruptcy Means Test

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    The ultimate goal of the Bankruptcy Means Test is to determine who is eligible to apply for debt forgiveness through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It takes into account your:

    • income and expenses
    • household size and composition
    • debt-to-income ratio

    If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be able to file for Chapter 13, as above-described.

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    Am I Eligible For Bankruptcy In West Virginia

    To file under Chapter 7 in West Virginia you must show that your income is low enough to qualify. This is usually done using one of two means tests.

    The first means test is simple: If your household income is less than the median household income for a similarly sized household in your state, you qualify. For example, U.S. Census data shows that the median income for a three-person West Virginia household was $67,702 in November 2020. That means if you live in a three-person household with an income below $67,702, you would qualify to file under Chapter 7 in West Virginia.

    If your household income is above the West Virginia median, you can still qualify under Chapter 7 based on your disposable income. Essentially, if you have little or no money after paying for essentials such as your home, car, and food, you may qualify. Often people who file for Chapter 7 are losing money each month after paying essential bills.

    To file under Chapter 13 you will need to show that you have a steady income and unsecured debt of no more than $419,275. Your secured debt cannot total more than $1.26 million. Unlike Chapter 7, for a Chapter 13, it helps to have enough income to show that you can continue making payments.

    Are You Eligible For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In West Virginia Take The Bankruptcy Means Test To Find Out

    TheChapter 7 bankruptcy means test can determine if a West Virginia petitioners income level and expenses are eligible to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The formula is designed to prevent individuals from Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they make enough money to pay down unsecured debts. If an individual does not qualify for Chapter 7 as determined by the Means Test of West Virginia, he or she may be able to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to repay a fraction of the accrued debt.

    Taking the Chapter 7 means test does not necessarily entail that an individual has to be impoverished to be able to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. An individual who qualifies for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia may still have a high income if he or she has high car and/or mortgage payments, high taxes, and/or other expenses.

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    Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13

    Chapter 7 is the way to go if you feel you will be unable to pay back your debts, even over time. To file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, your attorney will submit paperwork to the U.S. bankruptcy court requesting a discharge of all debts. If you file for Chapter 7, you cannot have filed within the last eight years or have had a bankruptcy claim dismissed in the last six months. You are also required to attend credit counseling, meet West Virginia residency requirements, and meet income requirements.

    Chapter 13 is a good option if you just need more time to resolve outstanding debts. To file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a petition is also filed with the U.S. bankruptcy court. Instead of discharging your debts, this type allows you an extended repayment time period, within three to five years. This type also has residency, income, and credit counseling requirements, as well as the same filing/dismissal history mentioned above. Note: Claimants must meet debt requirements that limit the amount of secured and unsecured debt.

    How We Can Help

    Our goal is to get you a resolution in an accurate and efficient manner. We have guided thousands of West Virginians through the steps of bankruptcy, and we will do whatever we can to bring you peace of mind as well.

    If you are having serious financial troubles, bankruptcy could be an option for you. Please contact the experienced Fayetteville and Beckley at Hewitt & Salvatore, PLLC today to schedule a free evaluation in West Virginia. One call, thats all.


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