blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Low Cost Bankruptcy

Low Cost Bankruptcy

Low Cost Bankruptcy

Finding low-cost bankruptcy options can be challenging, but there are some resources and strategies that individuals facing financial difficulties can consider. Here are some potential avenues for low-cost bankruptcy:

1. Legal Aid Organizations

  1. Legal Aid Societies: Many communities have legal aid societies or organizations that provide free or low-cost legal assistance to low-income individuals. These organizations may offer bankruptcy services or referrals to affordable legal representation.

2. Pro Bono Services

  1. Pro Bono Attorneys: Some attorneys offer pro bono (free) or reduced-fee services to clients who cannot afford traditional legal representation. Contacting local bar associations or legal aid organizations may help connect individuals with attorneys willing to take on bankruptcy cases pro bono or at reduced rates.

3. Bankruptcy Clinics and Workshops

  1. Bankruptcy Clinics: Some law schools and nonprofit organizations host bankruptcy clinics or workshops where individuals can receive basic legal advice and assistance with filing bankruptcy forms. These clinics are often staffed by law students, attorneys, or volunteers and may offer services at reduced rates or for free.

4. Self-Help Resources

  1. Bankruptcy Forms: The United States Courts website provides free access to bankruptcy forms and instructions, allowing individuals to file for bankruptcy pro se (without an attorney). While filing pro se can be challenging, it may be a cost-effective option for individuals with straightforward bankruptcy cases and limited financial resources.

5. Fee Waivers

  1. Court Filing Fees: Some individuals may qualify for a waiver of the court filing fees associated with bankruptcy if they meet certain income criteria. Contacting the bankruptcy court or consulting with a legal aid organization can help determine eligibility for fee waivers.

6. Payment Plans

  1. Attorney Payment Plans: Some attorneys may offer payment plans or flexible payment options to clients who cannot afford to pay their entire legal fee upfront. Individuals should inquire about payment arrangements when consulting with potential bankruptcy attorneys.

7. Consider Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

  1. Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13: Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically involves fewer legal fees and administrative costs compared to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as it does not require the debtor to create and adhere to a repayment plan. Depending on the individual’s financial situation, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a more affordable option.

Conclusion

While bankruptcy can be a complex legal process, individuals facing financial hardship may be able to find low-cost or free resources to help them navigate the bankruptcy process. Exploring options such as legal aid organizations, pro bono services, bankruptcy clinics, and self-help resources can provide individuals with the assistance they need to seek relief from overwhelming debt without incurring significant legal fees. It’s essential to research available resources and options carefully and to seek guidance from qualified professionals when considering bankruptcy.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Debts that Remain After a Chapter 13 Discharge

Debts that Remain After a Chapter 13 Discharge

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor creates a repayment plan to gradually pay off their debts over a period of three to five years. Once the repayment plan is successfully completed, any remaining qualifying debts are typically discharged, providing the debtor with a fresh financial start. However, certain types of debts may remain after a Chapter 13 discharge. Here are some common examples:

1. Non-Dischargeable Debts

  1. Priority Debts:
    • Certain debts are considered priority debts and are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. These may include:
      • Domestic support obligations (child support, alimony)
      • Certain tax debts
      • Government fines and penalties
  2. Secured Debts Not Paid Off:
    • If the debtor’s repayment plan did not fully pay off the outstanding balance on secured debts (debts secured by collateral, such as a mortgage or car loan), the remaining balance may survive the Chapter 13 discharge.
    • However, the debtor may have options to address these remaining secured debts, such as negotiating with the creditor or entering into a reaffirmation agreement.

2. Debts Excluded from Discharge

  1. Certain Tax Debts:
    • While some tax debts may be dischargeable in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, others, such as recent income tax debts or tax debts associated with fraud, may not be dischargeable.
    • Debts resulting from tax liens may also survive the discharge if not fully paid off during the bankruptcy process.
  2. Student Loans:
    • Student loan debts are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy unless the debtor can demonstrate undue hardship, which is a challenging standard to meet.
    • While the discharge does not eliminate student loan debt, the debtor may still benefit from the restructuring of other debts through the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
  3. Certain Debts Incurred Through Fraud or Willful Injury:
    • Debts resulting from fraud, embezzlement, or willful and malicious injury to another person or property are typically not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

3. Debts Not Included in the Bankruptcy Filing

  1. Post-Petition Debts:
    • Debts incurred after the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing are not included in the bankruptcy case and are not subject to the discharge.
    • Any new debts accrued during the repayment plan period or after the completion of the plan will remain the debtor’s responsibility.

While Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide relief from many types of debts, certain debts may survive the discharge. It’s essential for debtors to understand which debts are dischargeable and which are not before filing for bankruptcy. Consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney can provide personalized guidance based on the debtor’s specific financial situation and goals.

Filing for bankruptcy can affect certain types of tax debt, but it does not automatically make all tax obligations disappear. The treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy depends on the type of tax, the specific circumstances, and the chapter of bankruptcy you file.

General Rules:

  • Tax debt is treated differently than other debts in bankruptcy. In most cases, it’s considered a “priority debt,” meaning it gets higher priority for repayment compared to other unsecured debts.
  • Discharging (eliminating) your tax debt through bankruptcy is generally difficult. You’ll need to meet specific criteria and exceptions.

Here’s a General Overview:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
    • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets may be liquidated to pay off creditors, but certain debts, including some tax debts, may be discharged. However, not all tax debts are dischargeable. To be dischargeable in Chapter 7, the tax debt must meet specific criteria, including that it is income tax debt, the tax return was filed on time, and the tax assessment is at least three years old.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
    • Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan over three to five years. While you won’t necessarily eliminate tax debt in a Chapter 13 case, you may be able to include tax debt in your repayment plan, allowing you to pay it back over time. This can provide a structured way to address tax arrears.
  3. Priority Tax Debt:
    • Some tax debts are considered priority debts and may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Priority tax debts include recent income tax debts, certain payroll taxes, and taxes associated with fraud. Priority tax debts are generally not dischargeable, but a Chapter 13 plan can help you manage the repayment.
  4. Tax Liens:
    • Bankruptcy may not remove tax liens. While the personal obligation to pay the tax debt may be discharged, a tax lien secured by property may survive bankruptcy. The IRS or state taxing authority may still have a claim on your property, and you may need to address the lien separately.
  5. Professional Advice:
    • It’s crucial to consult with a tax attorney or bankruptcy attorney to assess your specific tax situation. They can provide guidance on the dischargeability of tax debt based on the applicable bankruptcy laws and help you navigate the complexities of the process.

In summary, while bankruptcy can address certain tax debts, not all tax obligations are dischargeable, and the treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy can be complex. Seeking professional advice is essential to understand how bankruptcy may impact your specific tax situation and to explore the available options for managing tax debt.

Important points to remember:

  • Consulting a bankruptcy attorney and a tax professional is crucial before making any decisions. They can assess your specific situation and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Bankruptcy shouldn’t be seen as a way to avoid paying your taxes. It should only be considered as a last resort after exploring other options like payment plans or negotiating with the IRS.
  • Filing for bankruptcy has long-term implications, including a negative impact on your credit score and potential difficulties obtaining credit in the future.

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Pros and Cons of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers individuals an opportunity to restructure their debts and create a manageable repayment plan, allowing them to retain their assets while gradually paying off creditors. Like any financial decision, Chapter 13 bankruptcy has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons:

Pros of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

  1. Debt Repayment Plan:
    • Structured Plan: Chapter 13 allows individuals to create a structured repayment plan to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years.
    • Retain Assets: Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 allows individuals to keep their assets while repaying creditors, including homes and vehicles.
  2. Protection from Creditors:
    • Automatic Stay: Filing for Chapter 13 triggers an automatic stay, halting all collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment, and creditor harassment.
    • Debt Discharge: Upon successful completion of the repayment plan, remaining qualifying debts may be discharged, providing a fresh start.
  3. Flexible Payment Terms:
    • Tailored Repayment Plan: The repayment plan is based on the individual’s income, expenses, and debt obligations, making it more manageable.
    • Potential Reduction of Debt: Some unsecured debts may be reduced or paid off for less than the full amount owed, depending on the individual’s income and assets.
  4. Credit Score Recovery:
    • Shorter Impact: While Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven years, its impact on credit scores is generally less severe and shorter-lived compared to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
    • Opportunity to Rebuild Credit: Making consistent, on-time payments towards the repayment plan can demonstrate responsible financial behavior and contribute to credit score improvement over time.
  5. Protection for Co-Signers:
    • Co-Signer Protection: Co-signers on loans are protected from collection actions while the debtor is under the protection of the bankruptcy court.

Cons of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

  1. Longer Repayment Period:
    • Extended Timeline: Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a commitment to a repayment plan for three to five years, which may feel burdensome for some individuals.
  2. Strict Eligibility Requirements:
    • Debt Limits: There are debt limits for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If your debt exceeds the specified limits, you may not qualify for Chapter 13 and may need to consider alternatives.
    • Stable Income Requirement: Individuals must have a stable income to support the repayment plan. Unstable income or inability to meet plan payments may result in dismissal of the case.
  3. Impact on Credit Score:
    • Remains on Credit Report: Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven years, which can affect your ability to obtain credit or loans during that time.
    • Credit Restrictions: Some creditors may be hesitant to extend credit to individuals with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy on their record, and if they do, it may come with higher interest rates.
  4. Potential Loss of Discharge:
    • Failure to Complete Plan: If you fail to adhere to the terms of the repayment plan, your case may be dismissed, and you may not receive a discharge of your debts.
  5. Limited Debt Discharge:
    • Non-Dischargeable Debts: Some debts, such as certain tax obligations, student loans, and child support payments, are typically not dischargeable in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  6. Court Oversight:
    • Ongoing Oversight: The bankruptcy court supervises the repayment plan, requiring regular payments and compliance with court orders, which may feel intrusive to some individuals.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a valuable tool for individuals struggling with debt, providing a structured framework for debt repayment while protecting assets from creditors. However, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider alternatives before proceeding with Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney can provide personalized guidance based on your financial situation and goals.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Virtual Visitation

Virtual visitation, also known as electronic visitation or virtual parenting time, refers to the use of technology to facilitate communication and interaction between a non-custodial parent and their child. This method is particularly useful when physical visitation is not possible or practical due to distance, work schedules, health issues, or other constraints. Here are key aspects of virtual visitation:

Key Components of Virtual Visitation

  1. Technology Used:
    • Video Calls: Platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet allow for face-to-face interaction via video.
    • Phone Calls: Regular phone calls are a basic form of virtual visitation.
    • Text Messaging: Regular text messaging can help maintain daily communication.
    • Email: For longer, more detailed communication, sharing photos, and staying updated on events.
    • Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks can be used to share updates and stay connected.
    • Apps: There are specific apps designed for virtual visitation that provide secure communication and interactive features (e.g., OurFamilyWizard).
  2. Legal Recognition:
    • Court Orders: Virtual visitation can be included in custody agreements and court orders. It ensures that both parents have agreed to its use and establishes guidelines for frequency and duration.
    • State Laws: Some states have laws specifically recognizing and supporting virtual visitation. These laws ensure that virtual visitation is considered a legitimate form of maintaining parent-child relationships.
  3. Benefits:
    • Flexibility: Allows parents and children to connect despite geographical or logistical barriers.
    • Frequency: Can facilitate more frequent contact than traditional visitation schedules.
    • Emotional Bond: Helps maintain and strengthen the emotional bond between the non-custodial parent and the child.
    • Safety: Useful in situations where physical visitation might pose safety concerns (e.g., during a pandemic or if a parent is deployed).
  4. Challenges:
    • Technology Access: Requires access to reliable technology and internet connections for both parents and the child.
    • Technical Issues: Potential for technical difficulties that can interrupt communication.
    • Quality of Interaction: May not fully replace the benefits of in-person interaction, especially for younger children.
    • Scheduling Conflicts: Coordinating schedules for virtual visits can still be challenging.
  5. Best Practices:
    • Regular Schedule: Establish a regular schedule for virtual visits to provide consistency for the child.
    • Preparation: Ensure that both the technology and the environment are set up in advance to minimize interruptions.
    • Engagement: Engage in interactive activities during the virtual visit, such as reading together, playing online games, or helping with homework.
    • Respect: Both parents should respect the scheduled virtual visitation times and facilitate a positive experience for the child.

Virtual visitation is an effective tool for maintaining parent-child relationships when traditional in-person visitation is not feasible. By leveraging technology, non-custodial parents can stay connected with their children and participate in their lives more actively. Legal recognition and clear guidelines in custody agreements can help ensure that virtual visitation is used effectively and benefits all parties involved.

Many fathers assume they won’t have a fair trial when trying to obtain legal custody of their child. This is not true, although it is crucial to have experienced and trusted child custody help in Phoenix. The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have years of experience recognizing and building formidable cases that will protect your interests and maximize your parenting time.

If you’re a father hoping for custody of your child, we have tips that may help you and your case:

1. Pay Child Support: A father who wants custody of a child should prioritize making regular child support payments. If he has an informal arrangement with the child’s mother, it is crucial to maintain records such as check receipts or a written letter from the child’s mother detailing the support arrangements. If a father is struggling with child support payments, he should request a modification rather than sacrificing a payment.

2. Maintain a Strong Relationship: Even if the child is not in the custody of the father, a relationship can still consistent. The dad should call the child frequently and check in on their day, schedule a time to stop by the child’s school and introduce himself to the administration and ensure the child knows that he’s there to offer any assistance necessary. A father who wants custody should also attend the child’s social, educational, religious and other important events as evidence of a continuing relationship with the child.

3. Keep Precise Records: A father should maintain an accurate visitation schedule record to help obtain child custody. A father can capture accurate visitation records by developing and maintaining a parenting plan.

4. Prepare a Space for Your Child At Home: A father should make a special place in his home for the child, regardless of the size of the home. A court will inquire about adequate living accommodations during all child custody hearings, so a father should be prepared to respond to the judge’s inquiry.

5. Consider Mediation: A father who wants custody of a child should consider mediation or arbitration, prior to undergoing an adversarial court hearing. In mediation or arbitration, cases are decided by a neutral third party. For a father, custody proceedings in a courtroom may be difficult to handle, so he may prefer the smaller, friendlier setting associated with mediation or arbitration.

Our legal team has extensive experience in child custody help in Scottsdale. We help fathers get fair and equitable treatment by the courts. Recent changes to Arizona law mandate that the court treat both mothers and fathers equally in the eyes of the law. If a man fears that his wife may leave and take the children, it is his obligation to ensure he takes steps needed to protect his role as the father. That may mean consulting an attorney before his wife has the opportunity to file for a divorce. The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have significant expertise in father’s rights issues and can capably guide you through. Your children are counting on you to make the right decisions both before and after the divorce case has been filed.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can You Clear Medical Debt in Bankruptcy?

Can You Clear Medical Debt in Bankruptcy?

Yes, medical debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. Here’s a detailed overview of how this works:

Types of Bankruptcy

There are primarily two types of bankruptcy filings that individuals use to discharge debt: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
    • Liquidation Bankruptcy: This type of bankruptcy involves the liquidation of a debtor’s non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. However, many personal assets are often exempt, allowing individuals to keep essential property.
    • Discharge of Debts: Most unsecured debts, including medical debt, are discharged under Chapter 7. This means that once the bankruptcy process is complete, the debtor is no longer legally obligated to pay these debts.
    • Eligibility: To qualify for Chapter 7, debtors must pass a means test, which assesses their income and expenses to determine if they have the means to repay a portion of their debts.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
    • Reorganization Bankruptcy: This type involves creating a repayment plan to pay off a portion of the debts over a period (typically three to five years). The remaining unpaid debt is discharged at the end of the repayment period.
    • Repayment Plan: Under Chapter 13, the debtor proposes a repayment plan to the court, detailing how they will pay off their debts. Medical debts are included in this plan and are treated as unsecured debts.
    • Eligibility: Chapter 13 is available to individuals with a regular income who can commit to a repayment plan.

Impact on Medical Debt

  • Dischargeable Debt: Medical debt is considered unsecured debt, similar to credit card debt, and is generally dischargeable in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Collection Efforts: Filing for bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay, which halts all collection efforts, including those related to medical debt. Creditors cannot pursue collection activities while the bankruptcy case is active.

Process of Filing for Bankruptcy

  1. Credit Counseling: Individuals must complete a credit counseling course from an approved provider before filing for bankruptcy.
  2. Filing the Petition: The debtor files a bankruptcy petition with the court, including detailed information about their debts, assets, income, and expenses.
  3. Automatic Stay: Upon filing, the automatic stay goes into effect, providing immediate relief from debt collection efforts.
  4. Meeting of Creditors: A meeting (called a 341 meeting) is held where creditors can ask questions about the debtor’s financial situation.
  5. Discharge: If the court approves the bankruptcy filing, the medical debts, along with other qualifying debts, are discharged.

Considerations and Consequences

  • Credit Impact: Filing for bankruptcy significantly impacts the debtor’s credit score and remains on their credit report for seven to ten years, depending on the type of bankruptcy.
  • Legal and Filing Fees: There are costs associated with filing for bankruptcy, including attorney fees and court filing fees.
  • Long-Term Financial Health: While bankruptcy can provide relief from overwhelming debt, it also requires careful financial planning and discipline to rebuild credit and financial health.

Medical debt can be cleared through bankruptcy, providing a viable solution for individuals struggling with overwhelming healthcare-related expenses. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy offer different approaches to discharging medical debt, each with its own eligibility requirements and processes. Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney can help individuals understand their options and navigate the legal complexities of the bankruptcy process.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishment?

Yes, filing for bankruptcy can often stop wage garnishment. When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which immediately stops most creditors from continuing collection efforts, including wage garnishment. The automatic stay prohibits creditors from pursuing or continuing with collection actions, including wage garnishment, lawsuits, foreclosure, repossession, and harassing phone calls.

Here’s how bankruptcy affects wage garnishment under each chapter:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the automatic stay stops wage garnishment as soon as the bankruptcy case is filed. However, if the wage garnishment is for certain types of debts, such as child support, alimony, or certain taxes, it may continue even after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the automatic stay also stops wage garnishment immediately upon filing. Additionally, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to propose a repayment plan to catch up on past due debts, including those subject to wage garnishment, over a three to five-year period. As long as the debtor makes timely payments under the Chapter 13 plan, wage garnishment will be halted.

It’s important to note that while bankruptcy can stop wage garnishment, it may not eliminate the underlying debt. Certain types of debts, such as child support, alimony, student loans, and some taxes, are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy and may continue to be collected even after filing.

Additionally, filing for bankruptcy has long-term financial consequences and should be carefully considered. It’s advisable to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your specific financial situation, understand your options, and determine whether bankruptcy is the right solution for you.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Sample Cease Communications Letter To Creditor

Sample Cease Communications Letter To Creditor

Here’s a sample cease communications letter to a creditor:

[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, Zip Code] [Your Email Address] [Your Phone Number] [Date]

[Creditor’s Name] [Creditors’ Address] [City, State, Zip Code]

Subject: Cease Communication Request

Dear [Creditor’s Name],

I am writing to request that you cease all communications with me regarding the debt associated with account [Account Number]. Pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 USC § 1692c(c), I am exercising my right to request that you cease all communications with me, my family members, and any third parties regarding this debt.

Please be advised that I am aware of my rights under the FDCPA and will take appropriate action to enforce them if necessary. I expect your compliance with this request immediately.

Please confirm in writing that you have received this letter and will cease all communications with me regarding this debt. Any further communication from your company after receipt of this letter will be considered a violation of the FDCPA.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

It’s important to send this letter via certified mail with return receipt requested to have documentation of the creditor’s receipt. Additionally, keep a copy of the letter and the mailing receipt for your records. If the creditor continues to contact you after receiving the letter, you may want to consult with a consumer rights attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

What Happens to My Car During Bankruptcy?
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can You Keep Your Car After Filing Bankruptcy?

Whether you can keep your car after filing bankruptcy depends on several factors, particularly the type of bankruptcy you file, the value of your car, and the exemptions available in your state. Here’s a breakdown:

Types of Bankruptcy:

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: This type aims to liquidate non-exempt assets to pay creditors. Whether you keep your car depends on:
    • Car Value vs. Exemption: If your car’s value falls below the motor vehicle exemption allowed in your state, you can likely keep it. This exemption protects a certain value of your car from being sold by the bankruptcy trustee to pay creditors.
    • Car Loan: If you have a car loan, keeping the car requires either:
      • Reaffirmation: You agree to continue making payments under the original loan terms. This can be risky as you lose the protection of bankruptcy if you default on payments later.
      • Redemption: You pay the car’s current value to the lender to keep the car and own it free and clear.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: This type involves creating a repayment plan to repay creditors over 3-5 years. You generally keep your car as long as you stay current on your car loan payments and other plan payments.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Equity: The difference between your car’s value and your loan balance is your equity. If your equity exceeds the exemption, the trustee may sell the car and use the proceeds to pay creditors in a Chapter 7 case.
  • State Exemptions: Each state has different bankruptcy exemptions, so it’s crucial to research the specific exemption amount for your state’s motor vehicles. You can find this information online, through legal resources, or by consulting with a bankruptcy attorney.

What Happens to Your Car in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the fate of your car depends on various factors, including the equity you have in the vehicle, whether you’re behind on payments, and the exemptions available to protect assets in your state. Here’s what typically happens to your car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  1. Equity and Exemptions: If your car has significant equity (the value of the car exceeds any outstanding loans or liens), it may be at risk of being sold by the bankruptcy trustee to repay your creditors. However, many states offer exemptions that allow you to protect a certain amount of equity in your car. If the equity in your car is within the exemption limit, you may be able to keep your car.
  2. Secured Debt: If you have a car loan, it’s considered a secured debt, meaning the loan is secured by the vehicle itself. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have the option to reaffirm the debt, redeem the car by paying its current value in a lump sum, or surrender the car to the lender. Reaffirming the debt means you agree to continue making payments on the car loan and retain ownership of the vehicle.
  3. Vehicle Exemption: In many states, there’s a specific exemption called the motor vehicle exemption, which allows you to exempt a certain amount of equity in your car from being used to repay creditors in bankruptcy. If the equity in your car falls within the exemption limit, you can typically keep your car.
  4. Loan Arrears: If you’re behind on car payments and want to keep the car, you may have the option to catch up on missed payments through a reaffirmation agreement or a repayment plan approved by the court.
  5. Nonexempt Equity: If the equity in your car exceeds the exemption limit and you’re unable to protect it, the bankruptcy trustee may sell the car, use the proceeds to pay off your creditors, and distribute any remaining funds to you.
  6. Leased Cars: If you’re leasing a car and want to keep it, you may have the option to assume the lease and continue making payments. However, you’ll need to continue making payments on time to retain possession of the leased vehicle.

What Happens to Your Car in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the fate of your car can be different compared to Chapter 7 bankruptcy due to the structure of the repayment plan. Here’s what typically happens to your car in Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

  1. Automatic Stay: Like Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay, which temporarily halts creditor collection actions, including repossession of your car.
  2. Repayment Plan: In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you propose a repayment plan to the court to repay all or a portion of your debts over three to five years. Your car loan is included in this plan.
  3. Cure Arrears: If you’re behind on car payments, your Chapter 13 repayment plan allows you to catch up on missed payments (arrears) over the plan’s duration. This allows you to keep your car while repaying what you owe.
  4. Valuation and Treatment: The value of your car is determined based on its fair market value, not the amount owed on the loan. If the value of your car is less than the amount owed (negative equity), you may have the option to cram down the loan to the car’s fair market value, potentially reducing the principal balance and interest rate.
  5. Interest Rate: In some cases, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reduce the interest rate on your car loan, making monthly payments more affordable.
  6. Reaffirmation: You may have the option to reaffirm your car loan during Chapter 13 bankruptcy, meaning you agree to continue making payments on the loan and retain ownership of the vehicle. However, reaffirmation is subject to court approval and may not always be necessary or advisable.
  7. Surrender or Redeem: If you’re unable to afford the car payments or no longer want to keep the car, you may have the option to surrender the vehicle to the lender or redeem it by paying its current value in a lump sum.
  8. Completion of Plan: Once you successfully complete your Chapter 13 repayment plan, any remaining balances on your car loan and other unsecured debts may be discharged, allowing you to retain ownership of your car free and clear of debt.

How is Debt Managed in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debt is managed differently compared to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, often referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy,” involves the sale of nonexempt assets to repay creditors and the discharge of qualifying debts. Here’s how debt is managed in Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  1. Automatic Stay: Upon filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which temporarily halts creditor collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment, and debt collection lawsuits.
  2. Liquidation of Assets: In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee is appointed to oversee the liquidation of nonexempt assets. Nonexempt assets are those not protected by exemptions under federal or state law. The trustee sells these assets and distributes the proceeds to creditors. However, many states have exemptions that allow debtors to protect certain assets from liquidation, such as a primary residence, personal belongings, and retirement accounts.
  3. Debt Discharge: Certain types of debts may be discharged (eliminated) in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning you’re no longer legally obligated to repay them. Qualifying debts typically include unsecured debts such as credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and certain types of loans. However, certain debts, such as child support, alimony, most student loans, and certain tax debts, are generally not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  4. Exempt Property: In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors are allowed to keep (“exempt”) certain property up to a certain value, as determined by federal or state exemption laws. Exempt property typically includes necessities such as clothing, household furnishings, tools of the trade, and a primary residence up to a specified equity limit.
  5. Means Test: To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors must pass a means test, which evaluates their income and expenses to determine if they have enough disposable income to repay their debts through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. If a debtor’s income exceeds the median income for their state or if they fail the means test, they may be required to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
  6. Debt Counseling: Before receiving a discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors are required to complete credit counseling from a court-approved agency. Additionally, debtors must complete a financial management course after filing for bankruptcy.
  7. Discharge of Debts: Once the bankruptcy process is complete and any required courses are finished, qualifying debts are discharged, providing debtors with a fresh financial start. However, it’s important to note that not all debts may be discharged, and certain obligations, such as child support, alimony, and certain tax debts, may survive bankruptcy.

How is Debt Managed in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt is managed through a court-approved repayment plan. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where certain assets may be sold to pay off creditors, Chapter 13 allows individuals with regular income to reorganize their debts and create a plan to repay all or a portion of their debts over a period of three to five years. Here’s how debt is managed in Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

  1. Filing and Plan Proposal: To initiate Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must file a petition with the bankruptcy court and propose a repayment plan outlining how you will repay your debts over the plan’s duration. The plan typically prioritizes certain types of debts, such as priority debts (e.g., taxes, domestic support obligations), secured debts (e.g., mortgages, car loans), and unsecured debts (e.g., credit card debt, medical bills).
  2. Automatic Stay: Upon filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which temporarily halts creditor collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment, and debt collection lawsuits.
  3. Plan Confirmation: After filing the repayment plan, the bankruptcy trustee and creditors have an opportunity to review and object to the plan. If no objections are raised, or if objections are resolved, the bankruptcy court holds a confirmation hearing to approve the plan. Once the court confirms the plan, it becomes binding on both the debtor and creditors.
  4. Payment to Trustee: Under the Chapter 13 repayment plan, you make regular payments to the bankruptcy trustee, who then distributes the funds to creditors according to the terms of the plan. The trustee’s role is to oversee the administration of the bankruptcy estate, ensure compliance with the plan, and facilitate payments to creditors.
  5. Debt Repayment: During the plan’s duration, you make monthly payments to the trustee based on your disposable income and ability to repay debts. The trustee allocates these payments to creditors according to the plan’s terms. Secured debts, such as mortgages and car loans, are typically paid in full or brought current through the plan, while unsecured debts may receive partial repayment based on available funds.
  6. Completion of Plan: Once you successfully complete the Chapter 13 repayment plan, any remaining balances on eligible debts may be discharged, meaning you’re no longer legally obligated to repay them. However, certain debts, such as student loans, domestic support obligations, and certain tax debts, may not be dischargeable in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Overall, Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides individuals with a structured framework to repay their debts over time while retaining their assets and avoiding liquidation. It’s essential to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to navigate the Chapter 13 process, develop a feasible repayment plan, and achieve your financial goals.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Credit?

Bankruptcy can have a significant impact on an individual’s credit score and creditworthiness. Here are some ways in which bankruptcy can affect credit:

  1. Credit Score: Filing for bankruptcy typically results in a significant drop in credit score. The extent of the drop depends on various factors, including the individual’s credit history, the type of bankruptcy filed (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13), and the amount of debt discharged.
  2. Credit Report: Bankruptcy remains on a credit report for a certain period, depending on the type of bankruptcy filed. Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on a credit report for ten years from the filing date, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains for seven years from the filing date.
  3. Credit Availability: After filing for bankruptcy, individuals may find it challenging to obtain new lines of credit or loans. Lenders may view them as high-risk borrowers and may offer credit with higher interest rates and less favorable terms.
  4. Credit Card Accounts: Credit card accounts included in a bankruptcy filing are typically closed by the creditor. This can reduce the individual’s available credit and further impact their credit utilization ratio.
  5. Rebuilding Credit: While bankruptcy can have a negative impact on credit, it is not permanent. With responsible financial management and timely payments, individuals can begin rebuilding their credit over time. This may involve obtaining secured credit cards, making on-time payments, keeping credit utilization low, and avoiding new debt.
  6. Credit Counseling Requirement: Before receiving a bankruptcy discharge, individuals are required to complete credit counseling from a court-approved agency. This counseling may provide valuable financial education and help individuals develop strategies for managing credit responsibly in the future.
  7. Employment and Housing: While not directly related to credit, it’s worth noting that some employers and landlords may check credit reports as part of the application process. A bankruptcy filing could potentially impact employment opportunities or housing options, although this varies depending on the employer or landlord’s policies.
blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

The Consequences Of Filing For Bankruptcy

Can Filing For Bankruptcy Make Your Tax Debt Go Away?

Filing for bankruptcy can offer a fresh start for those burdened by overwhelming debt, but it does come with consequences that can impact your financial and personal life. Here’s an overview of the potential downsides:

Financial Impact:

  • Credit Score Damage: Bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7 years (Chapter 13) or 10 years (Chapter 7), significantly impacting your credit score during that period. Obtaining loans, credit cards, and other forms of credit might be difficult or come with high interest rates.
  • Asset Liquidation: Chapter 7 bankruptcy may involve selling non-exempt assets to repay creditors, potentially leading to property loss. Chapter 13 allows you to keep your assets but requires a repayment plan, potentially straining your finances.
  • Employment Considerations: While federal law prohibits discrimination based on bankruptcy, some employers might conduct credit checks during hiring, and seeing a bankruptcy filing could create challenges in specific industries.

Personal Impact:

  • Emotional Stress: Navigating the legal process, dealing with financial hardship, and facing social stigma associated with bankruptcy can be emotionally overwhelming.
  • Limited Opportunities: Lower credit scores can restrict access to certain opportunities like renting apartments, obtaining professional licenses, or qualifying for insurance with favorable rates.
  • Relationship Strain: Financial stress and the complexities of bankruptcy can strain relationships with family and friends. Open communication and understanding can help mitigate this impact.

However, it’s important to consider the potential benefits alongside the consequences:

  • Debt Relief: Bankruptcy can provide lasting relief from overwhelming debt, offering a clean slate and peace of mind.
  • Improved Financial Management: The process can incentivize healthy financial habits and budgeting practices to avoid future debt pitfalls.
  • Rebuild Opportunities: While credit repair takes time, responsible financial management after bankruptcy can gradually improve your credit score and access to financial products.

Financial Consequences:

  1. Credit Score Impact:
    • Filing for bankruptcy will likely have a severe negative impact on your credit score. A bankruptcy record can remain on your credit report for several years, making it challenging to obtain credit or loans.
  2. Difficulty Obtaining Credit:
    • After bankruptcy, obtaining new credit, such as credit cards or loans, may be more difficult, and if approved, interest rates may be higher.
  3. Limited Access to Financial Products:
    • Bankruptcy can limit access to certain financial products and services. For example, you may find it challenging to qualify for a mortgage or an auto loan with favorable terms.
  4. Asset Liquidation:
    • In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, some of your assets may be sold to pay off creditors. Certain assets, however, may be exempt from liquidation.
  5. Repayment Plans (Chapter 13):
    • In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be required to follow a court-approved repayment plan to pay off your debts over a specified period, usually three to five years.
  6. Impact on Co-Signers:
    • If someone co-signed a loan with you, they may become responsible for the debt if you file for bankruptcy.

Non-Financial Consequences:

  1. Public Record:
    • Bankruptcy is a public record, and your filing will be accessible to creditors, employers, and the general public.
  2. Employment Impact:
    • While federal law prohibits discrimination based solely on bankruptcy status, some employers may consider it during the hiring process. Positions involving financial responsibilities may be particularly affected.
  3. Housing and Utilities:
    • Some landlords and utility companies may inquire about your bankruptcy history, potentially affecting your ability to secure housing or utility services.
  4. Impact on Personal Relationships:
    • The stress and strain of financial difficulties and bankruptcy can impact personal relationships, including those with family and friends.
  5. Loss of Non-Exempt Property:
    • In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, non-exempt property may be sold to pay off creditors. Exemptions vary by state and protect certain types and amounts of property.

It’s important to note that the specific consequences can vary based on the type of bankruptcy filed (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13), individual circumstances, and applicable state laws. Additionally, while bankruptcy has significant consequences, it also provides individuals and businesses with an opportunity for a fresh financial start.

Remember:

  • The specific consequences of bankruptcy vary depending on your individual circumstances, type of bankruptcy filed, and state laws.
  • Consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney is crucial to understand the process, potential ramifications, and explore alternatives best suited to your situation.
  • Bankruptcy should not be considered lightly, but it can be a valuable tool for overcoming financial struggles and achieving long-term financial stability.

 

Filing for bankruptcy can affect certain types of tax debt, but it does not automatically make all tax obligations disappear. The treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy depends on the type of tax, the specific circumstances, and the chapter of bankruptcy you file.

General Rules:

  • Tax debt is treated differently than other debts in bankruptcy. In most cases, it’s considered a “priority debt,” meaning it gets higher priority for repayment compared to other unsecured debts.
  • Discharging (eliminating) your tax debt through bankruptcy is generally difficult. You’ll need to meet specific criteria and exceptions.

Here’s a General Overview:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
    • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets may be liquidated to pay off creditors, but certain debts, including some tax debts, may be discharged. However, not all tax debts are dischargeable. To be dischargeable in Chapter 7, the tax debt must meet specific criteria, including that it is income tax debt, the tax return was filed on time, and the tax assessment is at least three years old.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
    • Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan over three to five years. While you won’t necessarily eliminate tax debt in a Chapter 13 case, you may be able to include tax debt in your repayment plan, allowing you to pay it back over time. This can provide a structured way to address tax arrears.
  3. Priority Tax Debt:
    • Some tax debts are considered priority debts and may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Priority tax debts include recent income tax debts, certain payroll taxes, and taxes associated with fraud. Priority tax debts are generally not dischargeable, but a Chapter 13 plan can help you manage the repayment.
  4. Tax Liens:
    • Bankruptcy may not remove tax liens. While the personal obligation to pay the tax debt may be discharged, a tax lien secured by property may survive bankruptcy. The IRS or state taxing authority may still have a claim on your property, and you may need to address the lien separately.
  5. Professional Advice:
    • It’s crucial to consult with a tax attorney or bankruptcy attorney to assess your specific tax situation. They can provide guidance on the dischargeability of tax debt based on the applicable bankruptcy laws and help you navigate the complexities of the process.

In summary, while bankruptcy can address certain tax debts, not all tax obligations are dischargeable, and the treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy can be complex. Seeking professional advice is essential to understand how bankruptcy may impact your specific tax situation and to explore the available options for managing tax debt.

Important points to remember:

  • Consulting a bankruptcy attorney and a tax professional is crucial before making any decisions. They can assess your specific situation and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Bankruptcy shouldn’t be seen as a way to avoid paying your taxes. It should only be considered as a last resort after exploring other options like payment plans or negotiating with the IRS.
  • Filing for bankruptcy has long-term implications, including a negative impact on your credit score and potential difficulties obtaining credit in the future.

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can Filing For Bankruptcy Make Your Tax Debt Go Away?

Can Filing For Bankruptcy Make Your Tax Debt Go Away?

Filing for bankruptcy can affect certain types of tax debt, but it does not automatically make all tax obligations disappear. The treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy depends on the type of tax, the specific circumstances, and the chapter of bankruptcy you file.

General Rules:

  • Tax debt is treated differently than other debts in bankruptcy. In most cases, it’s considered a “priority debt,” meaning it gets higher priority for repayment compared to other unsecured debts.
  • Discharging (eliminating) your tax debt through bankruptcy is generally difficult. You’ll need to meet specific criteria and exceptions.

Here’s a General Overview:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
    • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets may be liquidated to pay off creditors, but certain debts, including some tax debts, may be discharged. However, not all tax debts are dischargeable. To be dischargeable in Chapter 7, the tax debt must meet specific criteria, including that it is income tax debt, the tax return was filed on time, and the tax assessment is at least three years old.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
    • Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan over three to five years. While you won’t necessarily eliminate tax debt in a Chapter 13 case, you may be able to include tax debt in your repayment plan, allowing you to pay it back over time. This can provide a structured way to address tax arrears.
  3. Priority Tax Debt:
    • Some tax debts are considered priority debts and may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Priority tax debts include recent income tax debts, certain payroll taxes, and taxes associated with fraud. Priority tax debts are generally not dischargeable, but a Chapter 13 plan can help you manage the repayment.
  4. Tax Liens:
    • Bankruptcy may not remove tax liens. While the personal obligation to pay the tax debt may be discharged, a tax lien secured by property may survive bankruptcy. The IRS or state taxing authority may still have a claim on your property, and you may need to address the lien separately.
  5. Professional Advice:
    • It’s crucial to consult with a tax attorney or bankruptcy attorney to assess your specific tax situation. They can provide guidance on the dischargeability of tax debt based on the applicable bankruptcy laws and help you navigate the complexities of the process.

In summary, while bankruptcy can address certain tax debts, not all tax obligations are dischargeable, and the treatment of tax debt in bankruptcy can be complex. Seeking professional advice is essential to understand how bankruptcy may impact your specific tax situation and to explore the available options for managing tax debt.

Important points to remember:

  • Consulting a bankruptcy attorney and a tax professional is crucial before making any decisions. They can assess your specific situation and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Bankruptcy shouldn’t be seen as a way to avoid paying your taxes. It should only be considered as a last resort after exploring other options like payment plans or negotiating with the IRS.
  • Filing for bankruptcy has long-term implications, including a negative impact on your credit score and potential difficulties obtaining credit in the future.

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:

1 2 3 13