Use Caution When Shopping For Debt Relief Services
Avoid any debt relief organization whether its credit counseling, debt settlement, or any other service that:
- charges any fees before it settles your debts or enters you into a DMP plan
- pressures you to make “voluntary contributions,” which is really another name for fees
- touts a “new government program” to bail out personal credit card debt
- guarantees it can make your unsecured debt go away
- tells you to stop communicating with your creditors, but doesnt explain the serious consequences
- tells you it can stop all debt collection calls and lawsuits
- guarantees that your unsecured debts can be paid off for pennies on the dollar
- wont send you free information about the services it provides without requiring you to provide personal financial information, like your credit card account numbers, and balances
- tries to enroll you in a debt relief program without reviewing your financial situation with you
- offers to enroll you in a DMP without teaching you budgeting and money management skills
- demands that you make payments into a DMP before your creditors have accepted you into the program
Gifts Transfers Of Property Or Special Treatment
Any gifts or transfers of property youve made in the year prior to filing for bankruptcy will need to be reviewed by your LITand could be reversed by the court. You will also need to advise your LIT of any payments or preferential treatment to your creditors in the three months prior to declaring bankruptcy .
For more information about bankruptcy exemptions, you can click the button below to book a free initial consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.
Wages Benefits And Retirement Accounts
Wages that you earned before your filing date but don’t receive until after filing your case are usually only partially protected. Any post-bankruptcy earnings are completely exempt in a Chapter 7 filing.
Welfare benefits and retirement accounts are almost always protected– but only if you list them on your paperwork. Social Security, unemployment benefits, 401, disability benefits, veteran benefits, etc., are all protected by federal law.
However, if you have a lot of money saved in any of these accounts, it might be wise to talk to an attorney.
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Your Responsibilities When A Bankruptcy Order Is Made
- give the official receiver information on your finances
- give the official receiver a full list of your assets
- tell your trustee about any rise in income during your bankruptcy
- tell anyone who offers to loan you over £500 that youre bankrupt
- go to court to explain why you owe money if asked to do so
There are also things you cant do while bankrupt. These are called restrictions.
Farming Fishing And Aquaculture Exemptions
- If your primary occupation is farming, personal property used by you to earn income are exempt up to $10,000
- If your primary occupation is fishing, personal property used by you to earn income are exempt up to $10,000
- If your primary occupation is aquaculture, personal property used by you to earn income are exempt up to $10,000
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Mortgages And Debts Secured On Your Home
Youll need to keep paying your mortgage and any other debts secured on your home – for example, debts secured with a charging order. If you fall behind with the payments, bankruptcy won’t stop your mortgage lender from taking steps to repossess your home.
If you have an income payment agreement or income payment order , tell the official receiver you need to keep paying a secured debt. Ask them if you can pay less under the IPA or IPO so you can keep paying the secured debt as well.
If your home is repossessed and sold, but doesn’t raise enough money to pay off your outstanding mortgage or any other debt secured on it, the remaining debt known as ‘mortgage shortfall’ will no longer be secured. This means you’ll be released from it at the end of your bankruptcy. You’ll also be released from a mortgage shortfall if your home is sold at any time, even after your bankruptcy has ended.
You Will Be Discharged From Bankruptcy
A discharge releases you from the legal obligation to repay the debts you had as of the date you filed for bankruptcy, except for specific types of debts that are excluded by law. These include alimony and child support payments, student loans , court-ordered fines or penalties, and debts arising from fraud.
The timing of your discharge depends on a number of factors, including whether this is your first bankruptcy, and whether you are required to make surplus income payments.
Timing of your discharge from bankruptcy
If this is your first bankruptcy and you are not required to make surplus income payments , you will be eligible for an automatic discharge from bankruptcy in nine months. If your surplus income is higher, your bankruptcy will be extended to 21 months and you will be required to make payments from your surplus income.
Your discharge from bankruptcy will happen automatically if
- the discharge is not opposed by the LIT, a creditor or the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy;
- you have attended the mandatory financial counselling sessions; and
- this is your first or second bankruptcy.
To ensure that a greater percentage of debts is repaid to creditors, the following standards set out when an automatic discharge will occur.Timing of your discharge from bankruptcy , First Bankruptcy
|Surplus income is greater than $200 per month
|36 months after filing
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What Documents Do You Need To File For Bankruptcy
Theres a heck of a lot of paperwork and forms and documents involved in bankruptcy, but lets talk about what you need to gather up at the start:
- Tax returns for the past two years or four years
- Income documents
- Mortgage information
- Vehicle information
- Retirement information
- Other documentation showing any other debts or expenses, like alimony or child support
Yes, thats a lot. Bankruptcy is not an easy out! Also, your particular state or court system may require more. Get ready to do a lot of hunting and have a lot of patience here.
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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Debts Never Discharged In Bankruptcy
While the goal of both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to put your debts behind you so that you can move on with your life, not all debts are eligible for discharge.
The U.S.Â;BankruptcyÂ;Code lists 19 different categories of debts that cannot be discharged in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 12 . While the specifics vary somewhat among the different chapters, the most common examples of non-dischargeable debts are:
- Alimony and child support.
- Certain unpaid taxes, such as tax liens. However, some federal, state, and local taxes may be eligible for discharge if they date back several years.
- Debts for willful and malicious injury to another person or property. âWillful and maliciousâ here means deliberate and without just cause. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this applies only to injury to people; debts for property damage may be discharged.
- Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtorâs operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated from alcohol or impaired by other substances.
- Debts that you failed to list in your bankruptcy filing.
Bankruptcy Exemptions In Manitoba
- Furniture and household appliances up to $4,500
- No limit on clothing for you and your family
- Food and fuel necessary for you and your family for six months, or the cash equivalent
- Tools of your trade up to $7,500
- One motor vehicle up to $3,000 when used for business or transportation to work
- Articles and furniture necessary to perform religious services
- No limit on health aids for you or your family
- If you are the sole owner of your home, up to $2,500 in equity is protected; if you co-own your home, the limit is $1,500
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Can You Keep Up With The Payments
If you have expensive car payments each month, and if those payments are the cause of your financial problems, it may be wise to surrender the car to the lender before you go bankrupt, even if your payments are up to date. Bankruptcy should be a fresh start, and keeping high car payments may not be a fresh start for you.
Your;Ontario bankruptcy trustee;can help you analyze your situation and help you decide whether or not to keep your car if you file for bankruptcy in Ontario.
What Happens To Your Motor Vehicle
Your motor vehicle will be sold to pay for your bankruptcy debts, unless you need it:
- for your work or vocation
- to meet basic domestic needs where alternative transport is not practical
If the official receiver agrees you need the vehicle, it will be classed as exempt and not included in your bankruptcy. This does not apply if you own your vehicle through an ongoing hire purchase agreement .
If you are allowed to keep the vehicle you remain responsible for road tax, MOT and insurance.
If your vehicle is exempt but valuable it can be replaced with a cheaper alternative. The official receiver will use the money from the sale to either pay for the new vehicle directly or give you the money to buy one. You must provide proof of purchase for your new vehicle within 1 month. The guide price for a replacement is £1,000.
Stop the sale of your vehicle
If your vehicle is not exempt you may be able to keep it if a third party can pay to transfer it to them for you and you provide a:
- current insurance certificate
- vehicle registration document
- a valid MOT
The price paid will be the market value of the vehicle but must at least cover the agents costs for the sale of the vehicle.
If you dont want to keep the vehicle the official receiver will dispose of it.
Vehicles under finance agreements
A finance agreement can be a:
- hire purchase
- conditional sale
- leasing agreement
If the trustee decides they wont be claiming the vehicle they will give notice to you and the finance company.
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Can I Keep My Home
We understand that your house is likely your most valued possession. There are exemptions that allow you to keep some of the equity in your home when you file for bankruptcy. Generally speaking, however, if youve already paid off a large portion of your mortgage , filing for bankruptcy might not be the best solution for youthe law requires you to use that equity to pay off some of the money you owe to your creditors.
To keep your home after filing a bankruptcy, you would need to pay a Licensed Insolvency Trustee the amount of home equity you haveminus any provincial exemptions. Home equity is calculated by subtracting the remaining amount of your mortgage, along with any outstanding taxes you owe, from what your house is currently worth on the market. For example:
For example: Current market value of Bobs home: $150 000
|Bobs estimated home equity
Depending on which province he lives in, Bob would have to pay up to $19,400 during the bankruptcy process in order to keep his home. This is one of the reasons why bankruptcy is only considered after other debt relief solutions have been explored. If Bob can afford to repay a portion of his debt, but not the full amount of equity in his home, he may wish to consider an alternative to bankruptcy, such as a consumer proposal. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee will be able to explain every option to help Bob choose the best solution that is right for him.
Not All Debts Can Be Included In Bankruptcy Student Loans Secured And Non Secured Debts
Another reason why you may not be able to file for bankruptcy as a way to eliminate your debt is if you have debts that cant be included in bankruptcy. Student loans, secured debts, and even some non secured debts may fall into this category. By not including certain debts, this means that the amount of debt youre declaring bankruptcy on is less than what you may have thought. If that is the case, you need to decide if filing for bankruptcy is really the best option for your situation.
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Wipe Out Secured Debt
If you can’t afford a payment that you secured with collateralsuch as a mortgage or car loanyou can wipe out the debt in bankruptcy. But you won’t be able to keep the house, car, computer, or other item securing payment of the loan. When you voluntarily agree to secure debt with property, you must pay what you owe or give the property back .
Getting A Lawyer To Help You With Your Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a specialized area of law that is very complex. And the issues are not always apparent or simple. The bankruptcy laws changed in October 2005 to discourage many people from filing for bankruptcy. So the law became more complicated. And there are more situations where a mistake can result in your case getting dismissed. If your case is dismissed, the bankruptcy court often imposes a penalty of 180 days before you can refile, and in this time period a lot can happen. This is why it is so important to have a lawyer advise you and help you with your bankruptcy.
Find a lawyer who can help you work through the issues, alternatives you may have, and consequences of your choices.
- Pick a lawyer with whom you are comfortable, one who will allow you to ask questions and give you responses that you can understand.
- Pick a lawyer who either specializes in bankruptcy or does a large part of his or her practice in the field.
- Ask questions until you understand what your choices are.
- Don’t be afraid to interview a lawyer and leave without hiring him or her.
If you decide to represent yourself in bankruptcy court, read a guide for Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney.
To find a good bankruptcy lawyer:
- Check state bar groups and specialization/certification programs for bankruptcy lawyers in your community.
- Ask other lawyers or tax preparers you know for recommendations.
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Florida Homestead Exemption In Bankruptcy
The Florida Constitution exempts a Florida homestead of unlimited value from liens and execution. A debtor may protect unlimited amounts of money invested in a homestead property. A debtor may invest money into an exempt homestead even after being sued. These homestead rules apply in state court collection proceedings. Bankruptcy law has no effect upon Floridas unlimited homestead exemption in state court proceedings.
But bankruptcy law is a federal law, and federal law may supersede state law in certain cases. The Florida;homestead exemption;is applied differently in a;Chapter 7;bankruptcy;than in Florida state court.
There are some value ceilings and purchase deadlines applicable to Floridas homestead exemption in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under federal bankruptcy law, the debtors Florida homestead is exempt up to a value of approximately $160,000 unless the debtor occupied his current Florida homestead property and previous Florida homestead properties for a continuous 40-month period prior to filing bankruptcy. Joint bankruptcy debtors can protect approximately $320,000 of a jointly owned homestead. These numbers increase from time to time so debtors should get the current limits from their bankruptcy attorney. Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtors are entitled to an unlimited homestead exemption if they have occupied their Florida homestead for more than 40 months prior to filing.
Chapter 11: Business Reorganization
Chapter 11 may be a better choice for businesses that may have a realistic chance to turn things around. Chapter 11 business bankruptcy is usually used for partnerships and corporations. It is also used by sole proprietorships whose income levels are too high to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 is a plan where a company reorganizes and continues in business under a court-appointed trustee. The company files a detailed plan of reorganization outlining how it will deal with its creditors. The company can terminate contracts and leases, recover assets, and repay a portion of its debts while discharging others to return to profitability. It presents the plan to its creditors will vote on the plan. If the court finds the plan is fair and equitable, it will approve the plan.
Reorganization plans provide for payments to creditors over some time. Chapter 11 bankruptcies are exceedingly complex and not all succeed. It usually takes over a year to confirm a plan.;
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