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.
Although there are a lot of rules, Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules are not as complicated to comprehend as you might think. To guarantee a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing and to gain a basic understanding of the rules, continue reading.
The local court regulations and the bankruptcy laws of the United States are combined to create Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules. The Bankruptcy Code and the Bankruptcy Rules are two distinct categories of US bankruptcy laws.
There are many of them since all bankruptcy cases are covered by these laws. But do not fret! Not all of them need to be learned. It’s a good idea to be somewhat familiar with Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules if you plan to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to ensure that a small mistake doesn’t ruin your fresh start.
Unofficial Guideline That All Filers Should Adhere To
Being sincere is the most crucial bankruptcy rule. The bankruptcy laws grant the “honest but unfortunate debtor” a fresh start. Even if they abide by all the other guidelines to the letter, anyone attempting to conceal anything risks punishment. Because of this, it’s crucial that you submit an amendment if you discover that something is missing from your forms.
Guidelines for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Adhere to Before Filing
When getting ready to file your case, there are a few easy guidelines to adhere to. To be eligible to file Chapter 7, you must complete an approved credit counseling course, use the official bankruptcy forms from the U.S. Courts, and pass the means test.
A Credit Counseling Appropriate Course Must Be Taken
Everyone is required to enroll in a credit counseling course offered by an authorized credit counseling agency at some point during the six months—180 days, to be exact—before declaring bankruptcy. You cannot file for any kind of bankruptcy without it. You must also have the United States Trustee’s approval for the credit counseling organization you select for this hour-long course.
The Official Bankruptcy Forms Must Be Used
The bankruptcy courts in the United States mandated that all individuals filing for bankruptcy, regardless of location, must utilize identical bankruptcy forms. The U.S. Courts website offers the forms at no cost. The only way to ensure that any bankruptcy forms you download are the official version is to ensure that you are downloading them from a.gov website.
Furthermore, your state’s bankruptcy court might have unique local forms. These local bankruptcy forms are not a substitute for the federal ones; they must be filed in addition to them, if necessary. Required local forms can be obtained by speaking with the clerk at your local bankruptcy court or by visiting the website of your bankruptcy district.
The Means Test Must Be Passed
Chapter 7 filing is subject to income restrictions. Using a means test, the court determines whether you are within those bounds. There are mixed feelings when one fails the means test. One the one hand, your high income precludes you from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Nonetheless, your monthly income is fairly stable, even though it might not be sufficient to meet all of your creditors’ demands for payments each month. Investigate if Chapter 13 bankruptcy would be a better choice for you in this situation.
How Is the Means Test Operational?
In essence, it establishes the income thresholds for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You pass the means test if your monthly income is currently less than the state median income. You might still pass the means test even if your income is higher than the median. In order to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must demonstrate that your disposable income (after your living expenses and income tax withholdings are subtracted) is insufficient to pay off at least 25% of your unsecured creditors.
Chapter 7: Bankruptcy Guidelines for Following Case Filing
The automatic stay, which is a feature of the bankruptcy laws, protects you from creditors as soon as your Chapter 7 case is filed. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed, the Bankruptcy Code prohibits any further collection efforts against the debtor or their assets. Wage garnishments must therefore end immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy case.
That isn’t the only thing that occurs, though. For the individual filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, their creditors, and the bankruptcy trustee managing the case, there are extra regulations.
Chapter 7: Guidelines for Bankruptcy Filers
Each individual filing for bankruptcy must fulfill the Bankruptcy Code’s requirements. Following the filing of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you have the following obligations:
Apply for a fee waiver or pay the court filing fee.
Your final federal income tax return should be turned in to their bankruptcy trustee.
Attend the creditors’ meeting.
Finish the second bankruptcy course, also known as financial management or debtor education.
That is, of course, the absolute minimum. Additionally, you must work with your bankruptcy trustee. This usually entails providing them with additional paperwork in advance of the creditors’ meeting, such as bank statements. At times, this entails informing the trustee if, within six months of your filing date, you are qualified to inherit something. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Additionally, in the event that your contact information changes, you must make sure to notify the trustee and the bankruptcy court.
What Part Does the Trustee Play in This Whole Thing?
Finding non-exempt assets that can be sold to pay off unsecured creditors is the trustee’s responsibility. This entails going over tax returns, bank account statements, and bankruptcy forms, among other documents. Asset cases remain open for as long as the trustee needs to complete them, and even after the bankruptcy discharge is approved, the filer must keep collaborating with them.
Since most Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers do not possess any nonexempt property, the trustee’s duties are restricted and frequently completed prior to the debts being discharged.
Guidelines for Handling Secured Debts
Secured debts are associated with a particular item of property. One common type of secured debt in Chapter 7 proceedings is auto loans. If you possess this kind of debt, you must file a Statement of Intentions to inform the secured creditor of your plans. That’s not all, though.
There isn’t much more to do if you are returning the car. But the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules demand that you actually follow through on any plans you may have to redeem the car or reaffirm the loan. That typically entails signing a reaffirmation agreement or submitting a motion to redeem. The automatic stay expires and the bank is free to come pick up the car whenever they choose if you don’t act within 45 days of the date of the creditors’ meeting.
Chapter 7: Rules for Creditors in Bankruptcy
The most significant of these is the previously mentioned automatic stay found in the Bankruptcy Code. In addition, if creditors wish to object to anything in your case, they must submit their objections by a specific date. Unsecured creditors frequently take no action at all in no-asset cases. Credit card debt, personal loans, the majority of tax debt, and student loans are examples of unsecured debt.
Having a trusted legal team on your side is critical during bankruptcy. Call Canterbury Law Group today to schedule your consultation. 480-744-7711.