For people who are considering filing for bankruptcy protection the advice of a competent attorney can help them decide which type of bankruptcy is right for them. There are significant differences between a Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcies and only the expert advice of an attorney trained in bankruptcy can help you decide which route to follow.
Generally, a Chapter 7 bankruptcyis known as a fresh start or straight bankruptcy. Chapter 7s allow for the discharge of unsecured debts like credit cards, utility bills, medical bills, personal loans or other debts that aren’t being guaranteed by secured collateral. In Georgia, most Chapter 7s last between four and six months and most debt will be eliminated. The only types of debt that can’t be discharged are student loans, some criminal penalties, child support arrearages, recent tax debts, Alimony, and other types of non-dischargeable debts that can be discussed with your attorney.
Chapter 13s are a debt reorganization plan which will last at a minimum 36 months to a maximum of 60 months. Each month, the debtor makes a payment to the Chapter 13 trustee that consists of all of your disposable income left over after paying reasonable living expenses each month. The Chapter 13 Trustee uses this money to pay your creditors and your attorney according to a plan which is filed with the bankruptcy court.
What can go wrong with a Chapter 7
The difference between a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy which provides near immediate relief, and Chapter 13 plan, which lasts 3 to 5 years is a significant difference. When you come in to speak to one of our attorneys, you are relying on their significant experience to help guide you towards the best outcome for yourself and your family. There are significant ramifications for filing the wrong type of bankruptcy. One of the first major problems is filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy when you’re not eligible.
There are income guidelines that vary from district to district and state to state which ultimately decide whether you can file a Chapter 7. In the bankruptcy reforms laid out by congress in 2005, they created a means test. The means test is a mathematical formula used to determine whether someone is able repay a portion of their debt over time. This complicated figure is based upon income, the size of your family, and certain IRS guidelines for everyday necessities such as housing, food, clothing, grooming, transportation and other odds and ends. There’s also the a second part in the test. This determines whether you have the available income per month to repay your creditors. If you fail either these tests, then you will be forced to convert to a Chapter 13 or your case will be dismissed.
What Can Go Wrong in a Chapter 13
There are also some issues that come up in filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If your income is too low to provide the necessary funding for a Chapter 13 plan your case will likely never be confirmed and you’ll be back to square one. Often people trying to save property such as a house or a car propose Chapter 13 plans that are completely beyond the scope of their ability to fund.
Knowledge is Key
A good attorney who is an experienced bankruptcy practitioner can advise you on when a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is unfeasible. There are some attorneys out there who will try to push you into one type of bankruptcy or another for reasons ranging from the ability to make more money off your case to just trying to make the client happy. The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove will ALWAYS advise you on the best course to take regardless of what our fees will be and we will do our best to explain to you why a case may or may not work out.
There are many variables that go into deciding whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is appropriate for you and your financial goals. This isn’t a simple issue that can be taken lightly. Attorneys must have the expertise and experience to know the intricacies of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. It is a massive disservice to clients to file under the inappropriate section of the bankruptcy code. Doing so is going to lead to a terrible result for the client that could end up causing the client significant financial loss. This is where the expertise of a competent attorney is invaluable. You should always be cautious about using an attorney who doesn’t have significant experience in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove have filed more than 6,000 successful bankruptcy cases and provide expert advice on how you can best secure your financial future. Contact us today for a free consultation with our caring and competent staff.