It can take a long time to accumulate debt, or it can happen suddenly due to an unexpected medical crisis, economic downturn, or prolonged unemployment. When you choose bankruptcy protection, a lawyer from our firm can help you effectively navigate the state and federal bankruptcy system. This can include helping you:
- Explore your filing options and choose the appropriate bankruptcy chapter
- Submit all bankruptcy forms required by the court
- Ensure proper notification is made to your creditors
- Stop all intrusive debt collection actions
You do not have to struggle alone against debt with no apparent end in sight. A bankruptcy lawyer at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can help you experience the freedom and relief of a financial fresh start.
When Can I File Bankruptcy?
Anyone who has overwhelming debt might file for bankruptcy, though not everyone will be granted bankruptcy protection simply by submitting an application. According to the United States Courts guidelines on bankruptcy, the following persons and entities may seek bankruptcy protection:
- Married couples
- Family farmers
Your Filing Status Will Dictate which Chapter to File
A lawyer from our firm can explain which bankruptcy Chapter meets the needs of your current financial situation. Depending on your filing status, you may consider filing for bankruptcy under one of the following Chapters:
- Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcies are for individual filers
- Chapter 9 bankruptcy is for municipalities and schools
- Chapters 7 bankruptcy is for businesses that will liquidate
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy is for companies that will reorganize
- Chapter 12 bankruptcy is for family farmers and fishermen
- Chapter 15 bankruptcy is for international filers
If you are overwhelmed by debt and need a fresh financial start, the federal court system allows you to benefit from bankruptcy protection if you meet certain qualifications. A bankruptcy lawyer from our firm can explain bankruptcy requirements and eligibility.
The Benefits of Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer
You are allowed to file bankruptcy on your own—this is called filing pro se. When you file pro se, you will need to determine the right filing status for your situation. You may also need to obtain, complete, and submit a selection of federal court documentation. Depending on your state of residence, you may be required to submit additional bankruptcy forms in addition to federal forms.
Because a pro se filer is required to meet the same legal requirements as a filer who is represented by a lawyer, the court system highly recommends hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to help you navigate this complicated process. The services our firm can provide you include:
- Validating your need to file for bankruptcy protection
- Clarifying which assets are retainable and which are not
- Explaining any possible bankruptcy-related tax consequences
- Clarifying which debts are dischargeable and which may not be
- Helping you determine your filing status and bankruptcy Chapter
- Providing direction on the result of bankruptcy on your creditors
- Explaining bankruptcy law and guiding you through the required forms
A bankruptcy lawyer at our firm can help you comply with local and federal laws. Your lawyer may also help ensure you fully explore your options and understand the benefits and potential drawbacks involved in filing for bankruptcy in your state.
How Can a Bankruptcy Lawyer Help Me?
Filing for bankruptcy may involve both state and federal courts. While both may permit you to file for the protection of bankruptcy court without legal protection, the United States Court guidelines recommend that you do hire a bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy lawyer from our firm may help you apply for bankruptcy protection and file an effective case by:
- Carefully examining your current financial situation, including all outstanding debts, and advising you on whether or not filing for bankruptcy is your best option for debt relief
- Ensuring you understand the various bankruptcy Chapters
- Choosing the right Chapter to file under to maximize your dischargeable debt and retain as many assets as possible
- Helping you understand which debts and financial obligations might be discharged and which you may still have to deal with
- Advising you on the realistic possibility of retaining your residence, vehicle, and any other real or personal property
- Explaining the tax consequences as a result of filing bankruptcy
- Determining which creditors you might be obligated to continue paying even after filing for bankruptcy
- Defining the relevant laws and how each law and procedure impacts your specific case
- Helping you obtain, complete, and file forms, documents, and evidence
Our Firm’s Goal Is to Protect Your Rights
When you file for bankruptcy, you have certain rights that a bankruptcy lawyer from our firm will work to protect. Your rights might ensure you get much-needed relief from your creditors throughout the bankruptcy process. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), your rights include relief from debt collection activities.
After a debt is discharged in bankruptcy court, all collection activity must stop. These activities should also be suspended while your case is pending. If you are still receiving phone calls, letters, emails, or other communication in violation of your rights, we can help you stop receiving them.
You do not have to go through the filing process alone or represent yourself in bankruptcy court. When your case goes to court, our team can help you navigate the variety of steps and factors involved in presenting your case.
What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is intended to provide relief from insurmountable debt and a new financial start for filers. When you are ready to seek bankruptcy protection, the first thing you may need to do is determine which filing option fits your financial situation and has the best possibility of providing you with the desired outcome.
When you file bankruptcy, you choose a “Chapter” to file under. According to The United States Department of Justice guidelines, bankruptcy Chapters include the following:
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 15
For Individuals and Small Businesses
Chapter 7 is the most commonly selected bankruptcy option. Although certain types of debt are exempt from being discharged, when filing under this Chapter, most individuals and small businesses are able to retain all assets and fully discharge all qualifying debts.
Filing under Chapter 9 lets municipalities seek bankruptcy protection by developing an agreed-upon plan with their outstanding creditors to repay or restructure their debt load.
For Businesses and Corporations Looking to Reorganize
Chapter 11 bankruptcy might be used by businesses and corporations to reorganize and restructure their debt load and business holdings. This Chapter is complicated, costly, and can benefit from the guidance and direction of your bankruptcy lawyer from our team. A business may continue to conduct business during the filing and resolution of its bankruptcy case.
For Family Farmers and Fishermen
Chapter 12 bankruptcy is designed specifically for family farmers and fishermen. It allows these two groups to reorganize their acquired debt load and create an approved repayment plan. These farmers and fishermen might continue to run their businesses while navigating the bankruptcy process.
For those with a Steady Income
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for individual filers with a steady source of earned income. Under this Chapter, an individual’s debt load is restructured, then some or all of the debt is repaid on a three-year or five-year debt payment plan. This Chapter also requires debtors to meet certain debt guidelines.
For those with International Debt
Chapter 15 bankruptcy is a specialized bankruptcy option reserved for debtors whose debt load involves parties in other countries.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy and need guidance and direction when choosing the right Chapter, our team can help you make the right filing determination.
Who is Eligible to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
According to the United States Courts guidelines, the following individuals and businesses might be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Married couples
Chapter 7 Filing Requirements
Non-business filers who seek Chapter 7 bankruptcy must submit to a means test. The means test is used to ensure the person filing for bankruptcy is not attempting to abuse the system. An individual’s net income and debt load must meet specific guidelines to qualify to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In addition to failure to pass the means test, the following conditions might mean you cannot seek debt relief through Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- You were the recipient of a prior bankruptcy petition that was dismissed under certain circumstances.
- You have not received any form of debt counseling from a pre-approved individual or agency.
Does Chapter 7 Filing Require a Repayment Plan?
If you are eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you do not have to develop a repayment plan or live with the continued stress of regular repayments. Since part of filing for bankruptcy is to relieve your financial stress, this can be a welcome part of Chapter 7 filing. In addition, you might be able to:
- Maintain possession of your home and vehicle
- Discharge all qualifying debts
- Get relief from persistent debt collectors
Steps for Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
While filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy has a plethora of financial benefits and advantages, it is an involved process. You will be required to obtain, complete, and submit numerous bankruptcy forms. You may also need to submit a detailed list of:
- Your creditors, including the types and amounts of debt owed to each
- Every income stream you have and the frequency of each income source
- Your real and personal property
- Your monthly expenses, including your:
- Rent or mortgage
- Car payments
- Food and apparel
- Tax obligations
- Required medications
- Household utilities
- Student loan debt
The bankruptcy process can be daunting without legal assistance from a bankruptcy lawyer familiar with local and federal law. When you are ready to seek the protection of bankruptcy and get your financial life back on track, the team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help.
Who is Eligible to File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Not everyone who files for bankruptcy will do so under the same bankruptcy Chapter. In accordance with the United States Courts guidelines, Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection is available for individual filers who meet certain income-to-debt ratio guidelines. To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must:
- Earn regular income through traditional or freelance employment
- Have $419,275 or less in unsecured debt (as of 2021)
- Have $1,257,850 or less in secured debt (as of 2021)
However, even if you meet these guidelines, you might not be eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you had a bankruptcy petition dismissed previously in a certain time frame. You might also be barred if you did not seek credit counseling in the six months prior to filing.
There are allowable exceptions to the requirement for credit counseling, but credit counseling might be a beneficial option to help you manage debt in the future. Our team can help you understand its inherent value. Still, if you meet these exceptions, we might be able to help you proceed without obtaining credit counseling.
Steps for Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must file a petition in bankruptcy court and submit:
- A schedule of assets and liabilities
- A list of your current income
- A list of your current expenses
- A statement of your financial affairs
You might also be required to submit your current salary and income history, tax statements, and proof of credit counseling. Gathering all required paperwork can be time-consuming and frustrating. A bankruptcy lawyer at our firm might be able to help you compile and organize all required records, evidence, and documentation.
Fees for Chapter 13 Filing
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves paying certain court fees, including the following:
- Case filing fee – $313
Because your financial situation is already stressful, it may help to pay the required fees in installments. The court could allow you to do so as long as you make the final payment of fees no later than 120 days after you file for bankruptcy.
Our team is familiar with state and federal bankruptcy laws and procedures, so we can explain the full purpose of each fee and the importance of prompt payment. Failure to pay the required fees might result in a dismissal of your case before it can be heard.
Do I Have to Be of a Certain Age to File Bankruptcy?
There are no age restrictions on filing for bankruptcy in federal court, though your state court may have a minimum age requirement. Our team is familiar with bankruptcy law at the state and federal levels—we may be able to help you find other ways to address your debt if you do not meet the minimum age in your state.
One of the first things a lawyer from our firm can help you do is choose the right Chapter for your financial situation. Your choices are as follows:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals to discharge debt and maintain possession of their assets.
- Chapter 9 bankruptcy allows municipalities to reorganize and restructure their debt with an approved repayment plan.
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows businesses and corporations to reorganize and restructure debt while continuing to operate.
- Chapter 12 bankruptcy allows family farmers and fishermen to reorganize debt and explore repayment options.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows wage earners to create a multi-year debt repayment plan.
- Chapter 15 bankruptcy allows international debtors to structure debt repayment or relief options.
Debt Can Affect You at Almost Any Age
Overwhelming debt can accumulate at any age and for a variety of reasons. Some reasons young people accumulate insurmountable debt may include student loans, poor economic climates, and joblessness. If you are overwhelmed by debt at a young age, a bankruptcy lawyer at our firm might be able to help you determine whether credit counseling or filing for bankruptcy is your best debt relief option.
Overwhelming debt might also present a problem for senior citizens. Some reasons elderly citizens might file for bankruptcy protection include age-related medical debt, lack of retirement income, and attempting to survive financially on a fixed income. While you might attempt to file for bankruptcy on your own to avoid incurring legal debt, a bankruptcy lawyer at our firm might provide you with the following benefits and advantages:
- Guiding you through the process of filing a bankruptcy petition
- Determining which bankruptcy Chapter to file under
- Determining which of your debts might qualify for discharge
- Helping you include student loan debt among your dischargeable assets
- Helping you retain your residence, vehicle, and other possessions
- Helping you navigate any resulting tax consequences
Your lawyer may also help clarify any questions or concerns you have about bankruptcy laws, procedures, forms, and additional mandatory documents.
Does Bankruptcy Eliminate All of My Debts?
If you are facing an overwhelming amount of debt that you cannot cover with your current income, you could seek protection by filing for bankruptcy. Depending on the bankruptcy chapter you file under, you might be able to eliminate or discharge most debts.
Understanding Dischargeable Debt
First, you need to understand what discharging debt means. According to the United States Court guidelines, discharging debt means you are relieved of any personal responsibility to repay it. Creditors can no longer request the repayment of those debts which may provide you with welcome relief from debt collection activities.
Like many people, you may believe it is impossible to eliminate student loan debt through bankruptcy. However, you might be able to do so by filing an adversary proceeding as part of Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. You must be able to demonstrate that repayment of your student loan would create an unreasonable hardship.
Meanwhile, some bankruptcy Chapters reorganize or restructure debt. Dischargeable debt may be part of the financial relief you receive when filing under the following bankruptcy Chapters:
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
Choosing the Right Chapter to Eliminate Debt
The goal of a bankruptcy filing is to relieve yourself of your current debt load and get a fresh financial start. To that end, a bankruptcy lawyer at our firm may be able to help you go through your accumulated debts and choose the filing option that allows you to eliminate most of them.
We can also explain the complexities of bankruptcy law and help you navigate each step of the filing process, starting with compiling and organizing the required forms. These will include:
- Court-required forms
- Income statements
- Lists of creditors
- Lists of debts
- Lists of properties
Be sure to provide a complete and comprehensive list of your accumulated debts. Our team will work hard to include most or all of your debt in your bankruptcy filing to help maximize your dischargeable debt. We can also help you gauge the benefits of bankruptcy versus credit counseling and understand any resulting tax liabilities. Do not hesitate to seek legal support from our law firm and give yourself a clean financial slate.
Will Filing Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosures and Repossessions?
According to the United States Court guidelines, when you file for bankruptcy and receive an automatic stay, all debt collection actions against you must stop immediately. This relief from inundating phone calls, emails, USPS mail, and even text message requests from your creditors can be a major benefit of filing for bankruptcy.
If you continue to receive these intrusive requests after filing, a lawyer at our firm can help. We are familiar with state and federal bankruptcy laws regarding your consumer rights and responsibilities. Hiring our team can also help you in the following areas:
- Understanding your current financial picture
- Calculating your accumulated debt load
- Recommending required credit counseling
- Explaining your bankruptcy filing options
- Helping you file under the appropriate Chapter
- Calculating your maximum dischargeable debt
- Ensuring you retain your home and vehicle
- Understanding bankruptcy’s impact on your taxes
- Explaining the complexities of bankruptcy law
- Completing and submitting bankruptcy forms
- Understanding and submitting required fee payments
- Represent you in local or federal bankruptcy court
Fees and Documents Involved in Filing Bankruptcy
The court fees you may be required to submit include a case filing fee. We can help you understand these and other costs of the bankruptcy process. The necessary items might come from a variety of sources and take time to receive, but overall you will need:
- A list of your credit obligations
- A list of your accumulated debt
- Details on all income streams
- A list of the properties you own
- A list of your monthly obligations
Gathering and organizing the required financial documents, in addition to the massive amount of mandatory bankruptcy forms, can be challenging on your own. With our bankruptcy lawyer by your side, you do not have to compile these documents yourself or navigate the filing process without legal guidance and direction.
Filing for bankruptcy can be a legal way to discharge or eliminate unsustainable debt. When accompanied by credit counseling, it can also help you get a fresh financial start. A bankruptcy lawyer at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help you get your financial life back on track.
Can I Eliminate Medical Bills By Filing for Bankruptcy?
Medical bills might be part of the debt that is dischargeable when you file for bankruptcy. When a debt is discharged, according to the United States Courts data, you are absolved of the obligation to repay it. While this is not part of every Chapter, you may include fully dischargeable debt when filing:
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
Looking forward to debt relief is the primary reason most people and businesses file for bankruptcy protection. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, it may take varying amounts of time to have medical and other debts eliminated. If you are represented by a bankruptcy lawyer at our firm they will explain the relevant timeline.
How Soon Is Debt Discharged?
The timing of the bankruptcy discharge depends on what chapter of bankruptcy is filed. Once the discharge is granted, each of the creditors you listed in your submitted paperwork will receive notification of your bankruptcy filing from the court. This notice is important and valuable because it protects you from persistent and disruptive debt collection efforts. This relief from the dogged pursuit of debt might give you invaluable peace of mind.
If debt collection efforts do not cease immediately after your case is filed with the courts, inform our legal team. A creditor who does not abide by the bankruptcy laws might subject themselves to sanctions and other court actions and fines.
Proving Your Dischargeable Debts
Because no two people or businesses who file for bankruptcy protection will have the same financial challenges, proving your dischargeable debts will involve creating a compilation of supporting documentation. A bankruptcy lawyer from our firm could help you compile the documents to support your list of dischargeable debts. We may also assist you in submitting the following documents to the court on time:
- Wage and income statements
- A complete list of creditors
- A detailed list of debts and amounts
- A list of your real and personal property
- A list of your ordinary monthly expenses
In addition, the bankruptcy court system has a long list of forms that you will need to complete and submit. Our team can help with these documents, as well as clarify the fees you are expected to pay and their timeline. While you might be able to set up a payment arrangement for these fees, they are mandatory. Your case will not move forward if you do not pay within the allotted time.
How Will Filing for Bankruptcy Affect My Business?
Bankruptcy protection is not only for individual consumers—its protection is also available to business owners and corporations. Depending on the Chapter under which you file for bankruptcy protection for your business, it may have the following effects:
- You may be allowed to continue running and operating your business.
- You may have to work with your creditors, your lawyer, and the bankruptcy court to create a repayment plan.
- You may also have to work with a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee.
- The trustee in your case might be permitted to take control of your business.
Our firm can guide you through the complex system of business bankruptcy and help you maintain some control over the business you worked so hard to build. They can also help you choose the right bankruptcy Chapter under which to file.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Is a Common Choice for Businesses
Most businesses choose Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) data. Chapter 11 bankruptcy, commonly referred to as reorganization bankruptcy, typically lets you reorganize your debt load into a more manageable structure.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy may require your business to pay several court-mandated fees, including:
- $1,167 – case filing fee
- $550 – administrative fee
- $325 to $30,000 – quarterly trustee fee
There may be additional fees as well. Failing to pay all required fees may lead to an immediate dismissal of your bankruptcy case. If you are represented by a bankruptcy lawyer at our firm, they can help you understand your fees, fee schedule, and any available payment plans.
Steps for Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
When you file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for your business or corporation, you start by filing a petition. In some instances, your creditors may file the certificate with the court.
In every bankruptcy case, there is an entire suite of forms that must be obtained, completed, and submitted to the bankruptcy court. When we take your case, our team will inform you of any specific documents and information any additional documents the court required. A lawyer from our team can also represent you during the court proceedings that lead to your desired financial relief.
Is Student Loan Debt Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?
Many people have the perception that student loan debt cannot be included when filing for bankruptcy. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education guidelines, you might be able to discharge, eliminate, reduce, or restructure your accumulated student loan debt via a specific bankruptcy procedure.
By filing an adversary proceeding, you are informing the bankruptcy court that repaying the student loan debt you have acquired would place you and your family under an unreasonable financial strain. This separate filing might be included as part of your bankruptcy procedure when filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Eligibility for an Adversary Proceeding
If one of your bankruptcy goals is to include student loan payments in your list of preferred dischargeable debts, be sure to share that information with your bankruptcy lawyer. To determine your eligibility to request and file an adversary proceeding, our team can work to help you prove that:
- Repayment of your student loan will prevent you from sustaining yourself and your family.
- The number of payments remaining due on your student loan is significantly lengthy.
- You tried to pay your student loans in spite of additional overwhelming debt versus simply ignoring them.
Outcomes of Seeking Student Loan Relief
Meeting these required elements on your own can be a challenge, especially when you are already coping with the stress and anxiety of financial insecurity. We could help you prove that these factors apply to your case and submit a completed application. You might receive one of the following three outcomes:
- If your application for relief from your student loan debt is successful, you may be fully absolved of your responsibility to repay it and cannot be pressured by the lender into repayment.
- If your application is partially successful, you may still be required to continue paying a portion of your outstanding student loan.
- You may be required to continue paying your student loan in full.
Even without bankruptcy protection, you do not have to struggle endlessly under the weight of student loan debt. It can be relentless, negatively impact your credit score, and take longer to repay than your education took to complete. If necessary, our team or your lender might be able to help you identify other ways to resolve your student loan debt over time.
Find Financial Relief with Bankruptcy
Are you ready to get rid of insurmountable debt? Debt can accumulate faster than you might imagine. If you find yourself struggling with credit card, student loan, medical, or other types of debt that outweigh your current and anticipated income, you may consider seeking financial relief by filing for bankruptcy.
Individuals may find themselves in need of financial relief due to an unexpected job loss, long-term inability to replace their income, sudden medical debt, and a host of additional reasons.
Similarly, businesses of all sizes and corporations may also find themselves in need of bankruptcy protection that allows them to reorganize and restructure their debt. Filing for bankruptcy might help business owners keep their doors open while mitigating the potential damage of insurmountable business debt.
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC is Here for You
Bankruptcy can be a complex process and navigating it on your own might add additional frustration to already existing financial strain. If you need assistance with debt relief, call our firm for a free evaluation of your potential bankruptcy case.
Contact the debt relief team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC by calling (828) 286-3866 to find out how hard our bankruptcy lawyers work to help you get a fresh financial start.