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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Does The Chapter 7 And 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

Learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees, including what they do, how they are compensated, and how they manage your repayment plan.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee to manage your case. You’ll learn about the Chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities, how the trustee is compensated, and the role the trustee will play in your case in this article.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee’s Responsibilities

The trustee’s job in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to:

  • Make sure your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan complies with all legal requirements.
  • Before you file, make sure you’ve filed your tax returns for the previous four years.
  • take advantage of the plan’s payments
  • Distribute plan payments to your creditors according to the law.
  • keep track of the required monthly income and expense reports in a Chapter 13 case, and
  • If you owe back child support, you must provide certain information to the payee and your state’s child support enforcement agency.

How are Chapter 13 Trustees compensated?

Trustees in Chapter 13 keep about 7%–10% of the payments they make to creditors. When deciding whether Chapter 13 is right for you, keep this fee in mind.

The Function of the Chapter 13 Trustee in Your Case

Many Chapter 13 trustees are involved in the cases they oversee. This is particularly true in small suburban or rural judicial districts, as well as in districts with a high number of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. A trustee might, for example:

  • provide you with financial advice, such as assisting you in the creation of a realistic budget (the trustee cannot, however, give you legal advice)
  • assist you in making any necessary changes to your plan
  • if you miss a payment or two, give you a temporary reprieve or take other steps to help you get back on track, or
  • Participate in any hearing about the value of a piece of property, and consider hiring an appraiser if necessary.
  • Your financial relationship with the trustee has its limits, despite the trustee’s interest in your finances.
  • You will have control over any money or property you obtain after filing, as long as you follow your repayment plan’s instructions and make all regular payments on your secured debts.

However, if your income or property rises during the course of your plan (for example, if you get a big promotion or win the lottery), the trustee can seek to amend your plan to pay your creditors a higher percentage of what you owe them rather than the lower percentage originally specified. If your income drops and you have to convert from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, the trustee may become involved.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court appoints a bankruptcy trustee to oversee the administration of your case. You’ll learn about the specific responsibilities of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in this article, so you’ll know what to expect before, during, and after the 341 meeting of creditors—the mandatory hearing for almost all filers.

What Does a Chapter 7 Trustee Do?

The Chapter 7 trustee examines the debtor’s bankruptcy paperwork and verifies his or her identification. However, these are minor responsibilities. The Chapter 7 trustee’s primary responsibility is to sell any property that the debtor is not entitled to keep and to distribute the proceeds to the debtor’s creditors. Thus, in any Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the trustee’s primary interest will be in your personal property and any property you claim as exempt (that you have the right to keep).

Certain individuals believe that the trustee’s role is to assist the debtor throughout the process. The trustee’s role is to protect creditors, not debtors—although the trustee will be courteous and assist the case in moving forward. The best way to grasp this dynamic is to understand how the trustee is compensated. Continue reading.

Payment to the Chapter 7 Trustee

A Chapter 7 trustee is compensated a pittance of $65 per case for performing a cursory review of a debtor’s bankruptcy petition (as of August 2020). A Chapter 7 trustee, on the other hand, stands to earn significantly more. The trustee is compensated by the court a percentage of the funds distributed to the debtor’s creditors.

The funds could come from a variety of nonexempt sources (property that the filer cannot protect with a bankruptcy exemption), including money in the debtor’s bank account, nonexempt property that the trustee liquidates (sells), or funds that the debtor agrees to pay in exchange for the right to keep nonexempt property (more below). The trustee receives 25% of the first $5,000, 10% of the next $50,000, and 5% of any additional funds up to $1,000,000.

The Chapter 7 Trustee conducts an examination of the Bankruptcy Petition.

If all of your property is exempt (you get to keep exempt property), your case is considered a “no-asset” case—creditors will receive nothing. The bankruptcy notice sent to creditors will inform them that they are not required to file proof of claim forms because there will be no money available to pay them. However, they will be informed that this may change.

Under the supervision of the United States Trustee, the trustee is required to review your bankruptcy papers for accuracy and indications of possible fraud or abuse of the bankruptcy system. The trustee will review the documentation and look for indications that you are concealing or mischaracterizing assets. The petition and schedules, as well as the 521 documents you submitted prior to the hearing, will be reviewed (bank statements, paycheck stubs, profit and loss statements, tax returns, and the like).

After discovering nothing, the trustee will lose interest in the case. When the trustee has no property to seize and sell in order to pay your unsecured creditors, there is no commission to motivate the trustee.

The 341 Creditors Meeting Is Conducted by the Chapter 7 Trustee

You’ll meet the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee at your creditors’ meeting, which you must attend in order to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed. The trustee will verify your identification, ask the mandatory 341 questions (along with any other issues raised by your paperwork), and allow any creditors who appear to ask questions (they rarely show up).

Generally, if all of your assets are exempt, the trustee will call the meeting to a close and you will not hear from the trustee again. You’ll complete your debtor education course and await the discharge of your debt.

If, however, you are unable to fully respond to the trustee’s questions, the trustee will postpone the creditors’ meeting and request that you submit appropriate documentation in the interim. Occasionally, the trustee may retain an attorney to pursue nonexempt assets you appear to own, or may refer your case to the United States Trustee’s office for further action if it appears as though you engaged in fraudulent activity.

Nonexempt Assets Are Seized by the Chapter 7 Trustee

If the trustee needs to seize and sell nonexempt assets, you must cooperate in delivering them to the trustee for disposition. Additionally, you can “repurchase” nonexempt assets from the trustee at a negotiated price or substitute exempt assets for nonexempt assets. Numerous trustees discount the property’s value by 20% and occasionally grant the debtor a few months to pay.

Search by the Trustee for Non-Exempt Assets

Many people are unsure whether a trustee has the authority to search their homes to ascertain whether they are concealing property. While such searches are unusual, as part of your obligation to cooperate with the trustee, you may be required to give the trustee a guided tour of your home or storage space. And if you refuse to cooperate, the trustee can obtain a court order compelling you to comply.

Abandonment of Non-Exempt Assets by the Trustee

If you own nonexempt property that is not worth much or would be difficult for the trustee to sell, the trustee can — and frequently will — abandon it, allowing you to keep it. For instance, regardless of how much your used furniture is theoretically worth, many trustees will avoid selling it. Arranging for the sale of used furniture is time consuming and rarely results in a significant profit for the creditors.

The Chapter 7 Trustee Issues Notices of Support Arrears

If you owe back child support, the trustee must notify the support claimant and the state child support agency in order to assist them in locating you following your bankruptcy discharge. Specifically, the trustee will inform the payee of his or her bankruptcy-related rights. The trustee will notify the state child support enforcement agency of the back support, the discharge, the debtor’s address and employer information, and the identity of any creditor holding a nondischargeable, reaffirmed, or a claim.

Both the payee and the child support enforcement agency have the right to request your last known address from these creditors. These creditors are permitted by law to release such information without incurring any penalties.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

Learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees, including what they do, how they are compensated, and how they manage your repayment plan.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee to manage your case. You’ll learn about the Chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities, how the trustee is compensated, and the role the trustee will play in your case in this article.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee’s Responsibilities

The trustee’s job in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to:

  • Make sure your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan complies with all legal requirements.
  • Before you file, make sure you’ve filed your tax returns for the previous four years.
  • take advantage of the plan’s payments
  • Distribute plan payments to your creditors according to the law.
  • keep track of the required monthly income and expense reports in a Chapter 13 case, and
  • If you owe back child support, you must provide certain information to the payee and your state’s child support enforcement agency.

How are Chapter 13 Trustees compensated?

Trustees in Chapter 13 keep about 7%–10% of the payments they make to creditors. When deciding whether Chapter 13 is right for you, keep this fee in mind.

The Function of the Chapter 13 Trustee in Your Case

Many Chapter 13 trustees are involved in the cases they oversee. This is particularly true in small suburban or rural judicial districts, as well as in districts with a high number of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. A trustee might, for example:

  • provide you with financial advice, such as assisting you in the creation of a realistic budget (the trustee cannot, however, give you legal advice)
  • assist you in making any necessary changes to your plan
  • if you miss a payment or two, give you a temporary reprieve or take other steps to help you get back on track, or
  • Participate in any hearing about the value of a piece of property, and consider hiring an appraiser if necessary.
  • Your financial relationship with the trustee has its limits, despite the trustee’s interest in your finances.
  • You will have control over any money or property you obtain after filing, as long as you follow your repayment plan’s instructions and make all regular payments on your secured debts.

However, if your income or property rises during the course of your plan (for example, if you get a big promotion or win the lottery), the trustee can seek to amend your plan to pay your creditors a higher percentage of what you owe them rather than the lower percentage originally specified. If your income drops and you have to convert from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, the trustee may become involved.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cost 2021

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cost 2021

If you’re attempting to get out from under a mountain of debt, you’re undoubtedly thinking if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help. Your next queries are likely to be how much Chapter 13 will cost and whether it will work for you once you’ve decided it’s the best option for your financial position. We polled readers throughout the country about their recent bankruptcy experiences in order to acquire some real-life answers to these issues. What we gathered from people who filed for Chapter 13 is as follows.

What Are the Fees for Chapter 13 Lawyers?

The law of bankruptcy is complicated and perplexing. Cases involving Chapter 13 can be very complicated, and mistakes might lead to major financial troubles down the road. So it’s no surprise that almost all of our readers (97%) hired a lawyer to assist them with the Chapter 13 bankruptcy procedure. Their legal fees often ranged between $2,500 and $5,000. However, the majority of readers (63 percent) paid $3,000 or less. Nonetheless, the average cost of $3,000 was more than double what other readers spent their lawyers to handle Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Because Chapter 13 cases take longer and need more labor, attorneys charge more for them. However, Chapter 13 has a benefit in terms of how attorneys’ fees are normally calculated: While the great majority of bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee for their basic services, they usually only require a down payment before filing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. (You’ll also have to pay the filing cost, which is $313 as of December 2020.) The remainder of the attorney’s fee is then included in your Chapter 13 monthly payments, which means it comes out of the money that would otherwise go to your creditors.

When a Chapter 13 Lawyer Might Cost You More or Less

The fees charged by bankruptcy lawyers are determined by numerous factors, including their level of experience and location of practice. Attorneys’ fees, like other expenses, tend to be higher in large urban centers on the coasts. However, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy situations, there is another crucial issue to consider: The amount you pay your attorney must be approved by the court. Many courts set fee standards that they will automatically consider reasonable in order to make the approval process easier (known as “presumptive” or “no look” fees). The rules may also include a list of fundamental services that should be covered, as well as additional costs for business cases and additional services that may be required (such as filing plan modifications or motions). These assumed costs differ from one state to the next, as well as between districts within bigger ones. In a few populated states, examples of the range of presumed costs for essential services include:

  • $3,300 to $5,000 in California
  • $3,000 to $3,825 in Texas
  • $3,500 to $4,500 in Florida
  • $2,600 to $3,650 in Michigan
  • $4,000 to $5,100 in Virginia

Our findings backed up the conventional assumption that most lawyers will charge that amount or less for basic services in regions where the courts have set guidelines. However, if your case necessitates additional labor, such as when:

  • You own a firm as a solo owner.
  • Your home is worth less than what you owe, and you want to get rid of your mortgage obligation (or “discharge” it).
  • you wish to get rid of your college loans, or
  • When you declare for bankruptcy, you become a defendant in a lawsuit.

Source: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chapter-13-bankruptcy-what-will-it-cost-and-will-it-work.html

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

If you’re one among the millions of people who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, bankruptcy can help you clear your debts while keeping your retirement assets intact. You won’t lose your stimulus cash, though, because the new bankruptcy “recovery rebate” law preserves stimulus checks, tax credits, and child credits.

Exemptions from bankruptcy play an important role in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions are used in Chapter 7 bankruptcy to determine how much of your property you get to keep. Exemptions in Chapter 13 bankruptcy help you keep your plan payments modest. Learn more about bankruptcy exemptions and how they work by reading on.

What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Exemptions allow you to keep a specific amount of assets, such as a cheap car, professional tools, clothing, and a retirement account, safe in bankruptcy. You don’t have to worry about the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case taking an asset and selling it for the benefit of your creditors if you can exclude it.

Many exclusions cover specific property kinds up to a certain dollar value, such as a car or furnishings. An exemption can sometimes protect the asset’s total worth. Some exemptions, known as “wildcard exemptions,” can be used on any of your properties.

Is it okay if I keep my baseball cards? Jewelry? Pets?

The goal of bankruptcy is to give you a fresh start, not to take away all of your possessions. You’ll probably be able to protect other items as well, such as religious literature, a seat in a building of worship, or a burial plot, in addition to the fundamentals. Chickens and feed are even exempt in some states. However, you should not make the mistake of assuming that everything will be well.

  • Items of high value. There are no exemptions for boats, collections, pricey artwork, or holiday homes. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, owners with such valuable assets often sell the property and pay off their debts.
  • Jewelry. Many states provide protection for wedding rings up to a certain value. Don’t expect to preserve your Rolex, diamond necklace, or antique broach collection, though.
  • Pets. The dog or cat you rescued from the shelter is unlikely to fall into the trustee’s hands. Why? It’s not that you’ll have a specific exemption to protect it; rather, the trustee would have to pay more to sell it than it’s worth in most circumstances. However, if you own a valuable show dog or a racehorse with high breeding costs, you may be forced to sell it or pay for it in bankruptcy.

Exemptions: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Whether you’re filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions play a significant role.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 7

A liquidation bankruptcy is one in which the appointed trustee sells your nonexempt assets to satisfy your creditors. Because the bankruptcy trustee cannot sell exempt property, exemptions assist you protect your assets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your state offers a $5,000 motor vehicle exemption and you only own one automobile worth $4,000, for example, you can keep it. See Exemptions in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 13

You can keep all of your property and rearrange your debts with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which can mean paying less on some of them). The amount you must pay specific creditors, however, is still determined by how much property you can exclude. Unsecured creditors who are not priority (such as credit card companies) must be paid an amount equal to your nonexempt assets. Exemptions assist keep your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments modest by lowering the amount you must pay creditors. See Exemptions in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy Exemptions at the State and Federal Level

There are bankruptcy exemptions in each state. A series of exemptions is also provided by federal law. (See The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions for further information.) Some states force you to use their exemptions, while others allow you to choose between their exemptions and the federal system (you cannot mix and match the two).

The state exemption rules you’ll be able to use will be determined by where you lived in the previous two years (called the “domicile requirements.”). Read Which Exemptions Can You Use In Bankruptcy? for more information on the distinctions between state and federal exemptions and domicile requirements.

Nonbankruptcy Exemptions in the United States

In addition to state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, there are a number of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions. These exemptions work in a similar way to bankruptcy exemptions in terms of preserving your assets. Nonbankruptcy exemptions from the federal government are only available if you use your state’s exemptions (you cannot combine the federal bankruptcy and nonbankruptcy exemptions). You can use nonbankruptcy exemptions in addition to state exemptions if you are using state exemptions. See The Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions for further details.

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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.

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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 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Type of Bankruptcy Should You File in Arizona?

There are several different types of bankruptcy to consider if you are in serious debt you cannot pay back. First, you have to decide that bankruptcy is the best course of action to take. Once you have done that, you should decide under which “chapter” under which to file for bankruptcy.

The most common types of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. To decide between the two, you should seek legal advice from a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix or elsewhere. Let’s look at the types of bankruptcy available and which type may suit your needs the best:

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy.” It’s quite common because it allows the court to discharge many types of unsecured debts. For example, massive amounts of credit card debt or personal loan debt can be completely discharged by a judge under this law. If there are nonexempt properties or debts, the court would appoint a Trustee to oversee your finances until remaining creditors are paid off.

This type of bankruptcy is only available to debtors with medium to low-income. The process to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take up to 4 months, and sometimes involves significant paperwork.

Chapter 11

This type of bankruptcy is similar to Chapter 13 in that it is also a type of “reorganization” bankruptcy. It is typically used by large corporations or companies but individuals can use it too. Personal bankruptcy is rarely filed under Chapter 11 however.

Chapter 12

Chapter 12 bankruptcy is exclusively for fishermen and farmers. It involved submitting a repayment plan to court like in Chapter 13. However, unlike Chapter 13, these plans are allowed to be more flexible. Chapter 12 offers more flexibility with cramdowns and lien shipping for unsecured aspects of secured loans. Chapter 12 requires higher debt limits to get a favorable ruling.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is called the “wage earners” bankruptcy. It’s usually the last resort for those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This route allows debtors to pay back their creditor in full or part via a court-approved payment plan. Paying the debts off can take up to 5 years depending on the petitioner’s income. Once the payment plan is approved, the court may discharge some unsecured debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can prevent a home foreclosure and allow debtors to keep much their property.  Discussing these issues with experienced bankruptcy legal counsel is critical.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy law in Arizona, only unsecured debt below a certain fixed debt amount (e.g. $394k) will be discharged by a court. Submitting a payment plan for this type of bankruptcy can be complicated so a bankruptcy attorney is almost always needed to successfully procure court approval of your 3 or 5 years Chapter 13 discharge plan.

To decide which type of bankruptcy is best for you, look at two things: assets and income. Income matters because filing under Chapter 7 is only possible for people in a certainly limited income bracket. You must also choose the right type of bankruptcy to protect assets that could be considered nonexempt. Speaking in general terms, if you are unemployed or earn a low income with few available assets, Chapter 7 may be the best option. If you earn a significantly high income and have many assets, Chapter 13 could be the best option.  Under either Chapter, counsel with experienced and seasoned bankruptcy legal counsel is the critical first step in the process.

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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 480-744-7711.

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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.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips on Filing for Bankruptcy

Many people opt to file for bankruptcy when their income isn’t sufficient to repay creditors. Certain types of bankruptcy filings can lead to elimination of at least some or all debt and a halt for collection calls. While bankruptcy can be devastating emotionally, it does have many benefits. If you are planning on applying for bankruptcy, here are several useful tips to know about:

Learn About the Different Types of Bankruptcy

There are several different types of bankruptcy. The two main types many people know about are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 eliminates virtually all debt, especially from unsecured loans. Chapter 13 is used to come up with a court-approved plan to partially repay all debt in 3 to 5 years. You will have to learn about what each type entails and which type of bankruptcy is best suited for you. Before you file your case, you will have to learn about the law a bit first.

Hire a Lawyer

It’s virtually impossible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. The body of law in this area is muddled and complicated so you will really need an experienced attorney. Hire a lawyer from the county you live in, for example a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale. It’s best to consult with an attorney before you decide to proceed with a court filing. Your attorney will tell you how to fill out the legal documents and what evidence to present in court. Attorneys are necessary because, in some cases, creditors have the right to sue you back. A lawyer may be able to intervene and reduce the risk of this.

Understand Your State Laws

Bankruptcy law differs from state to state. How many of your assets you can keep, or how much debt will be discharged will depend on the law in your state. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand the rules and guidelines set forth in the state of your residence. You can get expert help too. For example, you can ask a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale for state laws in Arizona.

Bankruptcy Does Not Get Everyone off the Hook for Debt

Filing for bankruptcy often removes the obligation of a single debtor to a creditor. This does not apply to others responsible for the same debt, such as the other joint account holder or a co-signer. If there’s credit card debt, then all the people formally responsible for that account will have to pay. When you file for bankruptcy, the other person could end up being solely responsible for the debt. You may want to think in advance to avoid this scenario. Ask your lawyer for the best course of action.

Inform All the Creditors

You will have to inform all your creditors that you are filing for bankruptcy, not just the creditors responsible for the overwhelming debts. In some states, it’s required by law. When you are in the process for filing for bankruptcy, you must inform all debt collection callers of the situation and provide the name of the attorney handling the case so the calls can stop.

Bankruptcy need not be expensive and emotionally draining. Follow the above tips to make it less so.

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