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Free in-office consultation with Attorney Ted L Tinsman. Call me today at 417 887-4949 or use our Contact Form. Associated with the Courtney Law Firm, Springfield MO, doing business in Southwest Missouri for over 30 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bankruptcy is a legal action usually based on where you have lived for the past six months. Chapters 7 and 13 are for individuals and small businesses, and are covered here. To determine which is better for you, please contact me and I will guide you, so you can be assured of the best result for your situation.
WHAT ARE DEBTS AND EXEMPTIONS?
When you file any kind of bankruptcy case, you must list or disclose all of your assets and all of your debts. This does not mean you cannot keep certain debts, like debt for your home or your car. You merely have to list or disclose everything about your finances to your attorney.
Exemptions allow you to protect property from your creditors. If you have moved from another state within the past two years, you must have an attorney review your situation to determine the correct exemption law you can use.
When I claim the correct exemptions for you, you will be able to keep most or all of your property, if the value of that property is within the dollar limits of the law.
WHAT IS CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a "wage earners" bankruptcy. Any individual with regular income can qualify for Chapter 13. That means anybody, regardless of the amount of debt, regardless of income, can qualify for debt relief under Chapter 13.
Regular income can include social security, self-employment, private disability or retirement, and wages from employment, to name just a few. You will not be able to file a Chapter 13 if you are unemployed, or on temporary workers’ compensation benefits. Most every other type of income or benefits will work.
HOW CAN THE BALANCE OF MY FEES BE PAID THROUGH MY PLAN?
One of the best things about Chapter 13 is that when your case is filed, the balance of any remaining attorney fees can be paid from your monthly plan payments, interest free. Additionally, as work is done on your case during the duration of your bankruptcy, any fees for new work that you need, such as Court permission to refinance a home or buy a newer car, can be financed through your plan payments. This allows you to receive the legal services you need in your case without coming up with more money, and without fear of losing your case and not getting your debts discharged.
HOW IS MY MONTHLY PLAN PAYMENT COMPUTED?
In a Chapter 13 case, you will have to make monthly payments toward what you can afford to pay to your creditors, not what you owe. Debt settlement companies compute your payment to them based on what you owe. I compute your Chapter 13 payment based on what you can afford.
For example, if you owe $20,000 in credit card debt, debt settlement may require $500 per month to settle or pay off the debt. If you can only afford $100 per month, that is all you will pay in Chapter 13. If you owe $50,000 in credit card and medical debt, debt settlement might require you to have to pay $1,000, based on what you owe. Again, in Chapter 13, if you can only afford to pay $100 per month, that is all you pay.
WHO DETERMINES HOW MUCH I CAN PAY?
You and I work together to show to the Court what you really can afford and still have enough money to live on. As an experienced bankruptcy attorney, I have helped thousands of people develop realistic budgets they can live on, and these budgets are accepted and approved by the Court.
Many inexperienced or less-experienced attorneys will have you paying too much for your monthly Chapter 13 plan payment. They do not know all of the factors that go into developing a successful budget. That is why the national completion rate for Chapter 13 cases is 60-70%. My success rate for completion of Chapter 13 cases is 90%. Some cases do not go through for reasons beyond everyone's control. But I have helped thousands of people erase or reduce millions in debt, and I can help you.
HOW LONG WILL MY CHAPTER 13 PLAN LAST?
Under the law, a Chapter 13 plan of repayment can last from three to five years. The time is based on many factors. A note of caution: If your paperwork is improperly done, you may be forced into a five-year plan. As an experienced bankruptcy attorney, I can help you determine whether you qualify to have your plan last only three years
WHAT IS CHAPTER 7 AND WHO CAN FILE?
A Chapter 7 case is commonly referred to as a "liquidation case" because if you have any assets that cannot be protected or exempted under the law, the property is sold by a Trustee acting on behalf of all of your creditors. This is one of the main reasons you need an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Fail to claim the right law and you lose your property.
A person must qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The main test is a budget test. This means your income, less regular living expenses, cannot leave you with more than $100. If you do not have more than $100 left over at the end of the month, you are not required to make a payment to your unsecured creditors. If you have more than $100 left over after all of your regular monthly expenses are paid, you have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
If you are not great with budgets, I can guide you through the process, which may help you manage your money better in the future. There is life after bankruptcy. I can help you see how.
CAN I KEEP DEBTS IN CHAPTER 7?
If you keep a debt in Chapter 7, you must reaffirm the debt. There will be a contract to sign between you and your creditor. Sometimes, these contracts can be negotiated to lower the monthly payment or the interest rate of the debt.
Chapter 7 will not discharge debts owed for student loans, any debt awarded in a divorce decree, criminal fines, and most taxes. Many times, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will discharge debts that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not. That is why you need an experienced attorney like me who does both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.