Nearly everyone who’s filed or is filing bankruptcy has likely come to the conclusion that bankruptcy is the last option they have available for their situation. For whatever the cause, the inability to climb out of a mountain of debt is overwhelming and can prompt you to search for the nearest way out. However, be careful to not lose a clear head during the stress and forget to ask your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer these important questions.
Do I Have Any Non-Exempt Assets? If So, What Are My Options?
The definition of an “exempt” asset varies from state to state, each of which have created a unique list of assets considered protected against seizure from a bankruptcy trustee. Ask your attorney what your specific state considers a protected asset and which are free for the taking. When filing Chapter 7, some of your property will be used to offset some of your debt.
Assets that are nonexempt can be sold by the court in an effort to pay off some or all of your creditors, depending on the sum. When considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, understand that there is a risk of losing some of your property to repay your debts.
Why Shouldn’t I File Chapter 13?
If you’ve heard of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, odds are you’ve heard about Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If not, be sure to ask your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer which is the right option for your specific case. In a Chapter 7 filing, you must permit the bankruptcy trustee to collect any of your owned property that isn’t exempt under state and federal law. While Chapter 13 filers aren’t required to relinquish nonexempt assets, they’ll still have to repay their creditors the value of the nonexempt assets.
Chapter 13 on the other hand, allows you to keep all of your property, as long as you enter into a three- to five-year repayment program to pay back the majority – if not all – of your debts. There are different requirements for each, such as income restrictions, and if you’re considered a “high-income filer,” you could be subject to the means test to determine your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
What is the ‘Means’ Test?
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy means you’ll be subject to the means test to determine whether you qualify for debt forgiveness. Your income, family size and expenses are take into consideration to decide if you have enough disposable (extra) income to pay off your debts.
Originally created to limit the number of debtors who qualify for debt forgiveness, the means test is easily passable. Those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 or what to keep particular assets can opt to restructure their debt with a repayment plan through Chapter 13.
What Are Preferential Payments?
A preferential debt payment is either a transfer of property or other payment made to your creditors shortly prior to your bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy trustee will have the right to avoid the preferential payment and “claw back” money to benefit all of your creditors.
This claw back provision in the Bankruptcy Code protects other creditors who may not be paid as much as they’re entitled to in your bankruptcy. This provision allows the bankruptcy trustee to recover preferential payments and disperse the funds among your creditors. If you have made a preferential payment, the best thing you can do to avoid those funds being recovered and dispersed is to wait to file bankruptcy until you’re out of the preference period (usually 90 days).
Be Honest and Open with Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer
All things considered, filing for bankruptcy can be a stressful time in anyone’s life. With assets to protect and funds to gather, the mind can be sent racing with worry for all there is to do. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and ensure you’re taking the right steps amid possible bankruptcy is to speak with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer. Voice your concerns and ask the important questions, your lawyer is there for you.
If you’re facing financial hardship and possibly considering filing for bankruptcy, call CMC Law today at 404-585-0040 or go online to schedule a visit with Atlanta’s best Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers.
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