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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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