Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Many Times Can I File for Bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 before, can you do the same again? Can a debtor in Arizona file for bankruptcy multiple times? It’s not uncommon for Arizonians to fall into hard times and become severely indebted once or twice. Technically, it is possible to file for bankruptcy more than once under Arizona law and the applicable federal laws. However, the law specifies certain circumstances under which a debtor can actually do that.

BAPCPA and Multiple Bankruptcy Filings

In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into to effect. The law made it less easy for debtors to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The idea is to prevent unwarranted practices by higher income individuals who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to take advantage of its debt discharge clauses. BAPCPA aimed to force rich debtors to file for Chapter 13 instead and to pay back what they owe under a court-mandated payment plan.

As a result of BAPCPA, there are now several significant limitations for multiple Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings in Arizona.

What are the Limits on Multiple Bankruptcy Filings?

Here is a list of the most significant limitations to multiple bankruptcies that debtors should be aware of:

  • Debtors must wait for at least 8 years before filing for another Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The days are counted from the day the debtor filed the first Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. From then on, the debtor must wait exactly 8 years before filing for bankruptcy under the same chapter once again.
  • Debt discharges during the second bankruptcy could be more impaired based on discharges offered during the earlier bankruptcy filings. For example, if you are filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot obtain a debt discharge if you were granted an earlier Chapter 13 debt discharge in the previous two years. If you have obtained a debt discharge under Chapter 7 in the previous 4 years, then you can’t get a Chapter 13 discharge for a new case. However, this doesn’t prevent you from being able to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • You can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy regardless of how many bankruptcies you have filed before. There are certain circumstances, such as owning too much mortgage debt, that allow debtors to do this. Chapter 13 filings are accepted even for issues like needing a payment plan to pay off taxes owed.
  • Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, regardless of precious bankruptcy history, enables automatic stay on a current debt between three to five years. However, the court must be specifically requested to enforce the automatic stay if you have had a bankruptcy dismissed by the court during the previous 12 months.

The above limitations are not too restrictive when it comes to filing for another bankruptcy. If your case is complicated, you must consult with an experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney. Keep in mind that you may not be able to keep filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in rapid succession as per the recently amended rules and regulations.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions in Arizona

The Bankruptcy Code is governed by federal law, which means that many aspects of bankruptcy such as the “automatic stay” apply similarly regardless of the state the petitioner lives and files in. However, it’s important to know that Arizona has legally opted out of many federal bankruptcy exemptions under the code. So people who file for bankruptcy in the state can obtain exemptions only according to state laws. This particularly pertains to property exemptions. State bankruptcy exemptions work similarly for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the state. If you are filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, read below to find out which exemptions you may qualify for in the state:

Residential Property and Homestead Assets

Arizona’s homestead exemption allows debtors to exempt up to $150,000 equity value from any real property considered a home. Other real property may also qualify if it falls within Arizona’s homestead laws. The exemption is the same for single as well as married couples. You will have to contact a lawyer regarding which of your real properties can be exempted under the homestead exemption clause in the state.

Certain Types of Personal Property

The courts allow debtors to get exemptions for various items that can be considered “personal property.” Your personal property includes items you own like clothes, computers, guns, furniture, books, pet animals, musical instruments, health aids, and wrongful death awards among others. The state allocates a specific amount of each personal property as exemptions. For example, Chapter 7 petitioners can exempt up to $2,000 for a wedding ring. You should refer to Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 33–1123, 33–1125 and 33–1127 for more information, or ask an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

Deposits

A debtor filing for bankruptcy can exempt up to $300 from deposits in one bank account. If you have multiple bank accounts, contact a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale to find out how you can obtain exemptions.

Motor Vehicles

Arizona has very specific exemptions for motor vehicles for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The courts allow debtors to exempt up to $6,000 equity for each vehicle owned. Elderly petitioners or their elderly or disabled spouses can exempt up to $12,000.  Again, consultation with your legal counsel is essential.

Retirement Benefits and Pension Funds

Under federal rules, qualified retirement plans such as 401ks and IRAs, which have tax-exempt status, are also exempt in bankruptcy proceedings. Arizona upholds this rule. In addition, debtors who benefit from any type of state employee pension plan can obtain exemptions. Amounts will vary depending on the type of plan you have.  So let’s say you have $200,000 in retirement assets, you can still file and procure a bankruptcy discharge and still own your $200,000 in retirement accounts post-discharge.

Life Insurance Benefits

Up to $20,000 in life insurance that could be paid to a child or a living spouse can be exempted when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Cash surrender value will be considered for exemptions. Similar exemptions can be obtained for insurance plans that cover ill health, accidents or disability. Insurance claims for damages or destruction to property that is exempt will also be exempted from proceedings. There are many insurance exemptions, but there are also exceptions. It’s important to ask a highly qualified lawyer whether your insurance benefits can be exempted under Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.

Child Support

Arizona exempts all child support or alimony payments from discharge when filing for bankruptcy. So filing for bankruptcy is not a valid reason to not pay court ordered alimony or child support.  You are your estate (after you die) will owe child support and alimony for life—and even then, your estate will be compelled to pay.

Fraternal Benefit Society Benefits

If you claim benefits from the Fraternal Benefit Society, they will all be exempted under Arizona law. To find out more about exemptions you can get when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer or call Canterbury Law Group at 480-240-0040.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Advantages and Disadvantages of Filing for Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona

If you have decided to file for bankruptcy, you may be wondering whether you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not suitable for all situations. Also, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually the more common option for petitioners who are behind on mortgage payments but still want to keep their property. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the borrower to agree to pay back overdue charges and settle back on the original mortgage contract. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most commonly used option for those who are severely indebted and simply wish to start over.  

You can always consult with a local bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale or your area to decide which option is best for you. Otherwise, take a look at advantages and disadvantages of both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 forms of bankruptcy to decide which option is the best for you:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Arizona

Most Arizonans who are in heavy debt choose this option to solve their financial situation. Under Chapter 7 filings, a court will most likely discharge unsecured debts like credit card debt or personal loans. The petitioners will only have to pay back debts secured with assets once the parties have agreed on a “Reaffirmed Agreement.”

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is particularly attractive to many because it offers protection against debt collection efforts like constant calls and holding back wages. If you earn any wages on a property you have bought, the money will belong to you, not the creditor, following the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing date.

There is also no minimum debt amount needed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can expect the proceedings to end within 3 to 6 months from the filing date.

As attractive as it may be, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not without its setbacks. Mainly, the law does not cover assets given up as collateral for a loan, such as a property or a vehicle. The petitioners could lose non-exempt property, which would later be sold by a court-appointed Trustee. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not typically suitable if your home is undergoing foreclosure. Filing for bankruptcy will only temporarily halt the proceedings. Co-signers will also be contractually bound unless they separately file for bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona

This option allows petitioners to keep all property, whether exempt or nonexempt, under a court-approved payment plan. If you have many secured loans, then Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option for you. Some debts will not be canceled under Chapter 7, but a judge can reduce them. Like with Chapter 7, Chapter 13 filings afford protections against collection calls and similar efforts by the creditor.   When pursuing Chapter 13, you’re most likely going to need experienced legal counsel by your side.  

If you agree on a full payment, co-signers will be protected from creditor’s collection efforts. You can also obtain protection against foreclosure of your home if you completely follow the new payment agreement. You can also get more time to pay off debts under this proceeding, especially ones that are not discharged, like child support or taxes. You can also repeatedly file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The disadvantage is that the payment plan you agree to will be based on your income earned after the filing date. You will have to be frugal until the debts are paid back as per the agreement. These plans can last from 3 to 5 years. As a result, the proceedings can last up to 5 years. Attorney fees for Chapter 13 bankruptcy also tend to be higher.  Some professions, like stockbrokers, cannot file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona.

Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages given above before discussing your bankruptcy with an attorney.  For more email the firm at [email protected] or call 480-240-0040.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you are bound by state as well as federal laws. Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to know whether you actually need to. Most people who are deep in debt opt to file for Chapter 7, which provides a certain degree of debt relief, asset protection and management of existing debt. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every seven years. So, you really need to know whether you want to file for bankruptcy now or seek alternative solutions.

When it comes down to it, it will be up to you to decide whether you should file for any form of bankruptcy. A credit counselor may be able to help you. Before you make up your mind, here are several tips on filing for bankruptcy in Arizona:

Take Advantage of Arizona’s Exemption Laws

Arizona’s Exemption Laws allow a certain degree of protection against repossession of assets by creditors who have provided unsecured debt. For example, if you are neck deep in credit card debt, you don’t need to fear that the credit card company might show up and demand your house or car. Credit card debt is mostly dischargeable under Arizona law. Likewise, if you want unwanted collection calls to stop, you can simply do so by informing the creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. Consult an attorney in your local area, for example, a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, to know whether you can benefit from exemption laws and avoid filing for bankruptcy, or hastily seek to file.

Income may Only Qualify You for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income must be below the state median income for households of your size. If you fail this “means test,” you may have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Moreover, a bankruptcy judge can later examine whether your income is sufficient to repay debt under Chapter 13, rather than file under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to repay your existing debt in part under a strict household budget. Your finances will be closely watched by a court-appointed Trustee. If you fail to meet any of the court-mandated obligations, then the Chapter 13 filing could later result in sanctions or “conversion” to another type of bankruptcy under the code. Having competent legal counsel at your side at all times is critical.

Moving on with the Proceedings

If you have made up your mind to file for bankruptcy, you will have to go to a court at the zip code you have lived in for at least 91 of the past 180 days. If you haven’t lived at your current address for this amount of time, you should use the court relevant to your old zip code address. Expect most of the proceedings’ paperwork to be distributed through via snail mail. With or without counsel, you will have to go to the bankruptcy court in person at least once. Go online to find information about your court and to download important documentation.  Appearing in a federal court house is often easier to digest with a competent licensed attorney by your side.

Cost

There are a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy in Arizona. In addition to paying for a lawyer, you will have to pay fees for things like mandatory pre-filing credit counseling, filing forms, making copies, and other similar tasks. Fees for different things will vary. For example, getting counseling can cost between $25 and $100.  Costs can be as little as $400 for preparing documentation. However, hiring a lawyer may cost as much as $5,000.  Every case is different.  Be careful agreeing to the “lowest cost” bankruptcy attorney who later calls you demanding thousands more in fees to continue with your case.  Like anything in life, lowest price does not mean highest value.   

If your income is too low, some of these costs may be waived off or you might only have to pay a portion of the fees. Filing for bankruptcy is not free, so do expect to pay as you go through the federal proceedings.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Simple Tips to Help Avoid Post – Holiday Bankruptcy

The annual gift-giving season is swiftly approaching and the Phoenix and Scottsdale bankruptcy attorneys at Canterbury Law Group know that this can sometimes lead to serious repercussions after the holiday cheer wears off.

To combat any decisions that may lead you to bankruptcy, the law team at Canterbury suggests treating your holiday spending like a business. Below are suggestions to help you stay on track during the most expensive season of the year.

1. Strategize. Begin by creating a holiday spending plan. Decide how much you can afford to spend this season, including gifts, travel, parties, decorations, and any other holiday expenses. Make a shopping list for whom you want to purchase gifts for. Determine how much you’ll earn between now and the holidays and decide how much you’ll need to set aside each paycheck to save the amount you will need. Also, consider your charitable gift intentions and budget.

2. Track your spending. If you realize you do not need to spend as much as you planned in some categories, move the extra funds to other categories. Or, save the money for your debt stockpile when the bills start to arrive in the New Year.

3. Shop without your credit cards. Yes, leave them at home unless you know you need them for a specific purchase and you already have a specific plan to repay the debt. Use cash.

4. Shop smart. Shop online first so you can price compare multiple retail locations. It’s also wise to ignore most of those “big” sales. In reality, deals such as “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” often leave you spending more and acquiring items that aren’t needed. Stores will often mark up items before “cutting” the price and you end up paying the same-or more.

5. Avoid purchasing on impulse. Instead, make a note of the product, where you saw it and how much it was. Consult your spending plan, and, if there’s room, return for the purchase. If you are married, consult your spouse. Do not hide your spending; you are a family and a team.

If your credit card debt truly gets to the point of seeming to reach the point of no return, no matter how much you save or earn—you might consider bankruptcy to flush out all the debt and start fresh and new.

It is no surprise that filing bankruptcy can seem like an extreme option but it does offer a way out. At Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start. Call us today to schedule your consultation. [email protected] or 480-240-0040 or www.canterburylawgroup.com

Written by Canterbury Law Group

3 Steps When Filing Bankruptcy

At Canterbury Law Group, our Scottsdale bankruptcy attorneys are renowned industry experts. We represent clients through the entire bankruptcy process and, although all cases are unique, the end goal of bankruptcy is always a new beginning and fresh financial start.

Here are three tips for those considering bankruptcy:

1. Gather financial documents. Start collecting financial documents that your attorney can use. Obtain a record of debt including credit card bills, unpaid medical bills, loan statements, etc. Also locate any documentation on assets you currently hold as well as your monthly income statements.

2. Find a qualified law team. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process and a simple mistake can be harmful to your case. Make sure you have a legal team that is experienced, understands your goals and can get the job done. Many law firms offer a complimentary first-time consultation. Call the Scottsdale bankruptcy lawyers at Canterbury Law Group today to schedule your appointment.

3. Improve upon your financial habits. You must improve your financial life after your file bankruptcy. Obtain a secured credit card or personal loan to start building up your credit but remember that you may have to wait some time before you can be approved for a secured credit card. Further educate yourself by reading books, reviewing financial websites and seeking out professional guidance.

As authorities in the legal industry, the bankruptcy team at Canterbury Law Group was uniquely formed to provide no-nonsense legal counsel for personal and business bankruptcy cases. The law group at Canterbury consists of a unified team of litigators and paralegals with the experience necessary to deliver high results. The team’s attention, experience and sophistication allows for innovative resolutions that have a positive client impact.

Our legal team is ready to represent you in your Scottsdale business bankruptcy case. Call us today to schedule your consultation. Our track record speaks for itself!

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips When Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The most common form of bankruptcy in the United States is Chapter 7. At Canterbury Law Group, we constantly work with clients to file Chapter 7, which allows individuals to extinguish all debts which are “dischargeable” under the Bankruptcy Code. In a Chapter 7, all of the debtor’s non-exempt assets on the petition date are liquidated through the priorities set forth in the bankruptcy code. At the time of filing, the bankruptcy code establishes the creation of your “debtor’s estate” which includes all “non-exempt assets.” As a Debtor you have various duties and obligations, including significant duties of co-operation, which are owed to the Bankruptcy Trustee. These obligations are designed to assist the Trustee in the administration of your bankruptcy estate.

The Scottsdale bankruptcy lawyers at Canterbury Law Group will counsel you regarding these duties, which if followed, will make your case run smoothly. Unfortunately, many debtors who are not fully informed of these obligations run the risk of not receiving a full discharge of some or all or their debt. If you’re thinking of filing Chapter 7, here are some recommendations from our lawyers:

1. Complete the Mandatory Credit Counseling – Before you can file chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is essential to complete credit counseling. It is a mandatory step before you can file and often requires paying a fee. Otherwise, your filing will not be allowed to continue.

2. File All Chapter 7 Paperwork – Complete and file all necessary paperwork in court. Make sure all of your paperwork is accurate. Determine any fees associated with your filing.

3. Meet With Your Creditors – Approximately one month after filing the petition, you will need to meet with your creditors, an arrangement made by the court. During this important meeting, your creditors will question you regarding your finances and property. Typically this meeting involves only a few people connected with the credit card companies to whom you owe your debt. Your lawyer can certainly be present to aid you through this process.

4. Attend the Personal Financial Management Instruction Course – In addition to your credit counseling course, a personal financial management course generally costs about $30 and is necessary for completing your filing of chapter 7. If you skip the money management course, you risk dismissal of your case.

Having a trusted legal team on your side is critical during bankruptcy. Call Canterbury Law Group today to schedule your consultation. 480-240-0040.