Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

chapter-7-bankruptcy-arkansas

Why File Bankruptcy? – To Get a Fresh Start

Bad things happen to good people. If you are having problems paying your bills and it has you stressed, worried, or uncertain; then we can help you get a fresh start. At Wilson & Haubert, PLLC, we have helped clients deal with debt problems. We can help save homes from foreclosure and automobiles from repossession.

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Why are some reasons to file bankruptcy?

Avoid Foreclosure

Avoid Automobile Repossession

Wage Garnishments

IRS Tax Collection

Credit Card Debt

Medical Debt

Creditor Harassment

Common Questions in an Arkansas Bankruptcy:

What does the trustee do in a bankruptcy? 

What happens at a bankruptcy creditor meeting? 

What does an Arkansas bankruptcy cost?

The price of a bankruptcy can be broken into two parts: 1) the costs and filing fees and 2) the lawyer fees. The costs include credit reports and bankruptcy courses which are the same for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. We must run your credit to ensure we get all of your debts listed on your bankruptcy filing. The credit report isn’t absolute, so you still need to provide a list to your attorney. The credit report costs $35 for an individual and $55 for a couple.

The filing fees are different for Chapter 7 ($335) and Chapter 13 ($310). You must also take a credit counseling course before you file and a debtor education course after you file. These courses average about $20.00.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A chapter 7 bankruptcy case does not involve having to repay all of your debts. Instead, the bankruptcy trustee gathers and sells your nonexempt assets and uses the money from those assets to pay people you owe money to. In addition, the Bankruptcy Code and Arkansas Law will allow you to keep certain “exempt” property. However, the trustee will liquidate any nonexempt property you have.

Who is eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?If you make below the amounts below you are not subject to the means test and you can file for Chapter 7

(Arkansas Median Income for Family Size as of November 1, 2017)

1 Person Family     $41,164.00
2 Person Family     $50,594.00
3 Person Family     $57,426.00
4 Person Family     $69,807.00
5 Person Family     $78,207.00
6 Person Family     $86,607.00
7 Person Family     $95,007.00
8 Person Family     $103,407.00
9 Person Family     $111,807.00
10 Person Family   $120,207.00

If your household income is above the number above, you can still file Chapter 7, if you pass the means test.

An individual cannot file under chapter 7 or any other chapter, however, if during the preceding 180 days a prior bankruptcy petition was dismissed due to the debtor’s willful failure to appear before the court or comply with orders of the court, or if the debtor voluntarily dismissed the previous case after creditors sought relief from the bankruptcy court to recover property upon which they hold liens. 11 U.S.C. §§ 109(g), 362(d) and (e). In addition, no individual may  file for bankruptcy under chapter 7 or any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code unless he or she has, within 180 days before filing, received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency either in an individual or group briefing. 11 U.S.C. §§ 109, 111. There are exceptions in emergency situations or where the U.S. trustee (or bankruptcy administrator) has determined that there are insufficient approved agencies to provide the required counseling. If a debt management plan is developed during required credit counseling, it must be filed with the court.

One of the primary purposes of bankruptcy is to discharge certain debts to give an honest individual debtor a “fresh start.” The debtor has no liability for discharged debts. That simply means that once the bankruptcy court has granted a discharge of your debts, you are no longer responsible for paying them.  In a chapter 7 case, however, a discharge is only available to individual debtors, not to partnerships or corporations. 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(1). Although an individual chapter 7 case usually results in a discharge of debts, the right to a discharge is not absolute, and some types of debts are not discharged. Moreover, a bankruptcy discharge does not extinguish a lien on property.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner’s plan. It helps people with regular income to create a plan to repay all or part of their debts. If you are reaffirming debt in a Chapter 7, then your payment in a Chapter 13 may not be more than a Chapter 7, in fact it may be less.

Why should I file Chapter 13 (with a payment) if I qualify for Chapter 7 (without a payment)?

If you are behind on your payments and you want to keep that property, then you need to file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7. Chapter 13 lets you stop foreclosures and repossessions, and lets you catch up on your payments. If your car was recently repossessed, then you can get it back.

Chapter 13 may save you money. Sometimes you can lower the amount you owe on your car if you purchased the care more than 910 days before you file bankruptcy. Also, you can lower your interest rate on your loan.

What if you don’t have the money to pay a bankruptcy lawyer? A Chapter 13 is cheaper to file. When you file a Chapter 13, you make your payment to the bankruptcy trustee and they pay your lawyer fees.

What will my payment be under a Chapter 13 payment plan?

This depends on several issues:

  1. What secured property (property they can take away if you don’t pay for it – houses and cars) do you want to keep and pay for? In the case of secured property there are two major options:
    1. Surrender the property back to the creditor and not pay anything;
    2.  Keep and pay for the property, and if it was purchased recently you have to pay the balance due plus interest, but you can lower the interest rate, or if you purchased a while ago (910 days for cars and 1 year for household goods), you only have to pay what you owe or what it is worth, whichever is less.
    3. With a house payment, there are three options:
      1.  If the payments are current, continue to pay it yourself and don’t pay it through the Chapter 13 plan; or
      2. Make the regular monthly payment through the plan, and if you are behind on the payment, catch up the payments in the plan. This way when the bankruptcy is over, you will be current and pick up and pay the normal monthly payment; or
      3.  Pay the balance in full within the plan.
  2. What is your Plan Length? The length of your plan can be a minimum of 36 months (3 years) and a maximum of 60 months (5 years). If you do not pass the means test and you are not paying everyone back in full, then the plan has to be 5 years.
  3. The calculation of your disposable income. Under the bankruptcy code your disposable income (how much money is left after you pay all of your necessary monthly bills) will be calculated, and you will have to pay at least that amount towards bankruptcy most of the time. There are exceptions. Also, courts typically allow debtors to keep an amount of money every month for entertainment purposes. Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not mean you have to live like a pauper for the next five years.
  4. What priority debts do you have? Priority debts are things such as taxes, wages owed to others, alimony, and child support. All priority debts, except child support, must be paid in full within the life of the plan. All priority debts will be paid through the plan except child support. You will continue to pay child support however you are directed to do so by the court.
  5. What non-dischargeable debt do you have to repay?  Non-dischargeable debt can include student loans, punitive damages, judgements based on fraud, etc. Student loans are the most common.
    1. Remember, any unpaid amount plus interest and any collection fees will be due after you get out of Bankruptcy.  You have two options:
      1.  Ignore the student loan and pay nothing through the plan; or
      2.   Pay your normal monthly payment and catch up what you are behind.
  6. What leased property do you want to keep and pay for? More often than not, lease-purchases are not financially wise transactions.  If you have leased property, you have three (3) options:
    1. Reject the lease and let the creditor have the property back and pay them nothing;
    2. Accept the lease contract as written, and continue to pay them directly, not through the plan, if your payments are current; and
    3. Accept the lease contract as written, and pay it through the plan, and if you are behind on payments, catch those payments up through the plan.
  7. What debts do you owe jointly with other people who are not filing bankruptcy? You have two options:
    1.  Pay nothing towards the obligation and let the responsibility fall on the co-debtor or person who jointly owes the debt.
    2. Pay the debt in full inside the plan so your co-debtor does not have to pay.
  8. What non-exempt property must you pay the value of? If you own property that is not exempt, then you will pay the value of the property to the Trustee. If you file a Chapter 7, this property would be taken as well as sold by the trustee to pay your debts.

There are many other questions, we know. Feel free to Contact Us for a free consultation.