Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Steps

1. Analyze your debt.

Some debts, such as child support obligations, are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And if you pledged collateral for a debt, the creditor can take the property if the debt isn’t paid.

2. Determine your property exemptions.

Every state has exemption laws, which dictate what types of property (or, in some cases, how much equity in particular types of property) you are entitled to keep if you file for bankruptcy.

To learn more, see the articles in Bankruptcy Exemptions.

3. Make sure you are eligible.

If your average income during the six months before you file is more than the median income for a family of your size in your state, you may not be allowed to use Chapter 7, depending on your income and debts.

To learn more, see the articles in Chapter 7 Eligibility & The Means Test.

4. Redeem or reaffirm secured debts.

If you pledged property as collateral for a loan, you’ll need to pay something to the creditor if you want the right to keep the property. When you file for bankruptcy, you’ll be asked to decide whether you want to “redeem” the property (pay the creditor the current replacement value of the property), “reaffirm” the debt (agree on new contract terms with the creditor), or “surrender” the property (let the creditor take it — if the property is worthless, the creditor may not bother). Depending on where you live, there may be other options as well.

To learn more, see Secured Debt & Property in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

5. Fill out the bankruptcy forms.

You complete a few dozen pages of forms, in which you tell the court about all of your property, debts, income, and expenses. You’ll list the names of all your creditors, note which debts are disputed, decide what property you are claiming as exempt, and decide what you want to do about each of your secured debts.

Next Week – Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Steps 6 through 10

 

Bankruptcy Lawyers Explain The Bankruptcy Process

The Bankruptcy Case Process

If you plan to file for bankruptcy, take the time to learn about the bankruptcy process from qualified Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers before you jump in. Start by reviewing the steps in a typical bankruptcy case for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Then learn about important bankruptcy procedures, protections, and requirements, like the credit counseling requirement, the powerful automatic stay, the creditors’ meeting, the Chapter 13 confirmation hearing, and the role of the bankruptcy trustee. You can also find information on converting from one chapter of bankruptcy to another, what happens if creditors challenge certain aspects of your bankruptcy, and more.

Bankruptcy Lawyers Provide An Overview of How Your Bankruptcy Case Will Proceed

Steps in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

Here’s what to expect in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Steps in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case

This chart outlines the steps in a typical Chapter 13 case.

Bankruptcy Procedures & Protections

The Automatic Stay

Click on this link to find articles on the automatic stay, exceptions to the stay, and when creditors can lift the stay.

The Meeting of Creditors (341 Hearing)

Articles and Q&As on the meeting of creditors in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The Chapter 13 Confirmation Hearing

Every Chapter 13 case has a confirmation hearing. Learn what it is.

The Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirement

You must get credit counseling before you file, and debtor education before you get a discharge. Click on the link for articles on this topic.

Adversary Proceedings

Articles on the most common types of adversary complaints, including those that challenge your discharge, the dischargeability of a particular debt, or pre-bankruptcy transfer of property.

Avoiding (Getting Rid of) Liens in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You may be able to get rid of certain types of liens through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Find out more.

What Is a Bankruptcy Audit?

The U.S. Trustee selects a number of bankruptcy cases to audit each year.

What Is a 2004 Examination in Bankruptcy?

Learn what a 2004 bankruptcy examination is, who can request one, and what type of information is typically sought in one.

The Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy

What is Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy?

Information about proofs of claims in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and whether you can object.

Objecting to a Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy

Learn how to challenge a proof of claim in chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Why File a Proof of Claim for a Creditor?

Find out if you should file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor in your bankruptcy.

Dismissing & Reopening Bankruptcy Cases

Reopening a Bankruptcy Case

Learn when you might need to reopen a bankruptcy case, and how to do it.

Reasons the Trustee or Court Might Dismiss Your Bankrutpcy Case

Here are the most common reasons that bankruptcy cases get dismissed.

Can You Dismiss Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy After You’ve Filed?

In some circumstances you are not permitted to dismiss your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

The Bankruptcy Trustee

The Bankruptcy Trustee

Find articles and Q&As on the role of the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee, what to expect from the trustee, and more.

Questions on Bankruptcy Procedure

Common questions about procedures in bankruptcy cases.

Can I ask that certain bankruptcy creditors be paid first?

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Tax Information

Bankruptcy proceedings begin with the filing of a petition with the bankruptcy court. The filing of the petitions creates a bankruptcy estate, which generally consists of all the assets of the person filing the bankruptcy petition.  A separate taxable entity is created if the bankruptcy petition is filed by an individual under Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Bankruptcy Code.

The tax obligations of the person filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition (the debtor) vary depending on the bankruptcy chapter under which the petition was filed.

Generally, when a debt owed to another is canceled the amount canceled or forgiven is considered income that is taxed to the person owing the debt.  If a debt is canceled under a bankruptcy proceeding, the amount canceled is not income.  However, the canceled debt reduces the amount of other tax benefits the debtor would otherwise be entitled to.

This information is not intended to cover bankruptcy law in general, or to provide detailed discussions of the tax rules for the more complex corporate bankruptcy reorganizations or other highly technical transactions. For additional tax information on bankruptcy, refer to Publication 908, Bankruptcy Tax Guide.

For a FREE consultation regarding which type of bankruptcy is best for you (Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy) fill out the Free Evaluation form below or call (508) 655-6085 today.

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If you're struggling with debt, get help to today. Learn your options and your rights during a free consultation with a local bankruptcy lawyer. Just fill out the free case evaluation form below to get started right now.
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Thinking About Filing For Bankruptcy On Your Own?

“Think twice before you decide to go it alone,” said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com.

“It’s too complicated now, and too much of a minefield. Make a mistake and your case is dismissed,” she said. “A dismissed bankruptcy hurts your credit just as badly as one you complete. So you have all the downside without the fresh start.”

She also warns against low-cost document preparation services claiming to help consumers fill out necessary documents. It’s easy for consumers to think they’re getting sound legal advice even though the preparers aren’t lawyers, she said.

Don’t make a costly mistake. For a FREE bankruptcy consultation fill out the Free Evaluation form below, or call (508) 655-6085 today.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information

Our Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers have numerous years of experience handling Ch. 7 bankruptcies for Massachusetts residents, and we work with clients from anywhere in the State. Don’t get stuck with an inexperienced bankruptcy lawyer. You owe it to yourself to contact our offices for a totally free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you get your life back on track if you are dealing with bills that are piling up, being sued by creditors, faced with having your paycheck garnished, or the bank is threatening to foreclose on your house.  Our office will match or beat the fee quoted to you by any other experienced bankruptcy attorney.  []

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Information

We work everyday with Massachusetts residents and businesses who don’t qualify for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy is especially helpful to homeowners who owe past-due amounts on their mortgage(s), or for people who want to “cram down” their automobile loan(s).  Contact our office today for more information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and for a totally free consultation.  Our Match & Beat fee policy applies to Chapter 13 fees as well.   []

 

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Can’t Afford Bankruptcy?

Both CNN Money and YAHOO Finance are reporting that in 2012 hundreds of thousands of Americans were expected to be in such difficult financial situations that they wouldn’t even be able to file for bankruptcy.  Here at the Crossley Law Offices we are aware of this situation and we realize that there are many people who can’t afford to pay their bankruptcy lawyers’ fee all at one time.  For those clients who qualify the Crossley Law Offices has a payment plan that will allow you to pay your bankruptcy lawyers’ fee over time.

To determine if you qualify for the payment plan, please complete and submit the Free Evaluation form below.  Make sure to carefully list your current monthly income and monthly expenses, and in the text box in Step 3 of the form please indicate that you would like your case to be considered for the extended payment plan.

Free Evaluation Form

If you're struggling with debt, get help to today. Learn your options and your rights during a free consultation with a local bankruptcy lawyer. Just fill out the free case evaluation form below to get started right now.
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Both articles report that the average cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the most common form of consumer bankruptcy, is more than $1,500, according to recent research submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Among those fees is a charge of about $300 just for filing the paperwork with the federal court. And there are other expenses on top of that, including fees for mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and a pre-discharge debtor education course. These average about $85 altogether, according to a recent study sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

As a result, anywhere between 200,000 and one million consumers are estimated to be unable to afford that steep cost in 2012. They estimate that another 200,000 consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year.

That’s why here at the Crossley Law Offices we charge a fair and reasonable fee to prepare and file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy for you.  While many other Massachusetts law firms are charging between $1,900 and $2,200 (not including Court filing fees and other costs) for a consumer Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing we only charge $1250. Why is our fee so low compared to other law firms? Because we know that it’s a fair and reasonable fee to charge people who are struggling through increasingly difficult economic times.

Including the mandatory Bankruptcy Court filing fee and other expenses (see above) the total cost to you is about only $1,600. Other lawyers are charging between $1,900 and $2,200 for the very same service.

Don’t make a costly mistake.  For a FREE Bankruptcy Consultation from a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer just fill out the Free Evaluation form above, or call (508) 655-6085 today.

 

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Important Information For Our Massachusetts Bankruptcy Clients

Section 527(a)(2) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires certain important information to be disclosed to every potential consumer bankruptcy client.  We think it’s pretty useful, so we’ve chosen to put it here on our website for you to read.

All information that you are required to provide to your bankruptcy lawyer and with your petition and thereafter during a case under the Bankruptcy Code is required to be complete, accurate, and truthful.

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All assets and all liabilities are required to be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence the case. Some places in the Bankruptcy Code require that you list the replacement value of each asset. This must be the replacement value of the property at the date of filing the petition, without deducting for costs of sale or marketing, established after a reasonable inquiry. For property acquired for personal, family, or household use, replacement value means the price a retail merchant would charge for property of that kind, considering the age and condition of the property.

The following information, which appear on Official Form 22, Statement of Current Monthly Income, are required to be stated after reasonable inquiry: current monthly income, the amounts specified in section 707(b)(2), and, in a case under chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, disposable income (determined in accordance with section 707(b)(2)).

Information that you provide during your case may be audited pursuant to provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the case under this title or other sanction, including criminal sanctions.

A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath in connection with a case under the Bankruptcy Code shall be subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.

All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a case under the Bankruptcy Code is subject to examination by the Attorney General of the United States.

Confused?  Don’t worry – one of the reasons you need to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for your case is to be sure that you choose the right type of bankruptcy for your situation.  All you need to do is contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to talk with a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer about your debt problems and whether bankruptcy is right for you.

 

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Where Is The Bankruptcy Court In Massachusetts, And Will I Have To Go?

There are 3 Bankruptcy Court departments in Massachusetts, one in Boston, one in Worcester and one in Springfield.  You will have to visit one of these courts at least one time, but a bankruptcy lawyer from our office will be with you every step of the way.  After the court receives a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, it schedules a meeting of your creditors with the bankruptcy Trustee.  In the vast majority of cases no creditors attend the meeting and it is just you, your bankruptcy lawyer, and the bankruptcy Trustee for about a ten (10) minute meeting. This is called the section 341 meeting (341 meetings are also held in Brockton and Pittsfield).  The Crossley Law Offices handles bankruptcy cases for people who live throughout Massachusetts.

For a FREE bankruptcy consultation from one of our Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers just fill out the Free Evaluation form below, or call (508) 655-6085 today.

Free Evaluation Form

If you're struggling with debt, get help to today. Learn your options and your rights during a free consultation with a local bankruptcy lawyer. Just fill out the free case evaluation form below to get started right now.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information

Our Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers have numerous years of experience handling Ch. 7 bankruptcies for Massachusetts residents, and we work with clients from anywhere in the State. Don’t get stuck with an inexperienced bankruptcy lawyer. You owe it to yourself to contact our offices for a totally free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you get your life back on track if you are dealing with bills that are piling up, being sued by creditors, faced with having your paycheck garnished, or the bank is threatening to foreclose on your house.  Our office will match or beat the fee quoted to you by any other experienced bankruptcy attorney.  []

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Information

We work everyday with Massachusetts residents and businesses who don’t qualify for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy is especially helpful to homeowners who owe past-due amounts on their mortgage(s), or for people who want to “cram down” their automobile loan(s).  Contact our office today for more information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and for a totally free consultation.  Our Match & Beat fee policy applies to Chapter 13 fees as well.   []

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What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?

As part of a bankruptcy filing your bankruptcy lawyer will advise you to choose between (1) the federal bankruptcy exemptions and (2) the exemptions under Massachusetts and federal non-bankruptcy law. This is an important decision that depends on the type of (and value of) the personal property that you have. A Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer with our office will advise you so that you make the most informed and best decision for your situation.

Here’s a little bit of basic information. If your bankruptcy lawyer chooses the Massachusetts exemptions for you, it is usually because you own a house or have a mortgage and thus want to take advantage of the Massachusetts Homestead Exemption.  This is a very important exemption for homeowners with equity in their homes.  Filing a declaration of homestead in the proper manner and at the right registry of deeds will exempt up to $500,000 of your equity in your primary residence, even if the filing occurs just prior to your bankruptcy filing.

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There are some new rules that limit the amount of the homestead in bankruptcy to $146,450 if the property was acquired within 1215 days of a bankruptcy petition date.  This so-called “1215 day rule” does not apply if you bought a new home in the same state and rolled over your equity from your old home into your new home.

For cases filed after March 16, 2011 homeowners will get an automatic $125,000 of homestead protection in Massachusetts for their primary residence even without filing a homestead for the full $500,000.

In the past, if your bankruptcy lawyer chose the Federal exemptions for you it was usually because of the higher value of the personal property exemptions. But, in January 2011, the State of Massachusetts finally increased and modernized the value of the personal property exemptions.  These changes went into effect on April 7, 2011 and now make the Massachusetts exemptions better for consumers–while the federal exemptions stay as they are.

For a FREE bankruptcy consultation from one of our Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers just fill out the Free Evaluation form above, or call (508) 655-6085 today.

 

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What Is The Automatic Bankruptcy Stay?

The automatic stay is an important aspect of the bankruptcy process. Once you file a bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy laws’ provision of an automatic stay requires that all of your creditors and their agents stop all collection efforts, lawsuits and foreclosure proceedings against you. The automatic stay gives you the opportunity to deal with your financial affairs without interference from your creditors and harassing debt collectors.

Once you have paid our office a small retainer fee, a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer with the Crossley Law Offices will deal with your creditors and advise them of your intent to file a bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy lawyers do this to reduce or eliminate the number of debt collection calls that you receive. You can even provide your creditors and debt collectors with our law firm’s phone number and the name of your bankruptcy lawyer, and inform your creditors that they have to deal with our law office from now on. This is even before your bankruptcy case has been filed.

For a FREE bankruptcy consultation from a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer just fill out the Free Evaluation form below, or call (508) 655-6085 today.

Free Evaluation Form

If you're struggling with debt, get help to today. Learn your options and your rights during a free consultation with a local bankruptcy lawyer. Just fill out the free case evaluation form below to get started right now.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information

Our Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyers have numerous years of experience handling Ch. 7 bankruptcies for Massachusetts residents, and we work with clients from anywhere in the State. Don’t get stuck with an inexperienced bankruptcy lawyer. You owe it to yourself to contact our offices for a totally free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you get your life back on track if you are dealing with bills that are piling up, being sued by creditors, faced with having your paycheck garnished, or the bank is threatening to foreclose on your house.  Our office will match or beat the fee quoted to you by any other experienced bankruptcy attorney.  []

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Information

We work everyday with Massachusetts residents and businesses who don’t qualify for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy is especially helpful to homeowners who owe past-due amounts on their mortgage(s), or for people who want to “cram down” their automobile loan(s).  Contact our office today for more information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and for a totally free consultation.  Our Match & Beat fee policy applies to Chapter 13 fees as well.   []

 

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What Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Mean?

The primary difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy has to do with the amount of your Household Income. Generally speaking if your annual household income is less than the average median income in Massachusetts it means that you probably can’t afford to pay your debts and as a result that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and that your debts will be discharged (you don’t have to pay them).

But, what if your annual household income is greater than the average median income in Massachusetts? Well, this means that you probably can afford to pay some portion of your debts through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan. If you make more than the allowable median income based on household size, you will have to take the bankruptcy “means test.”  In Massachusetts, the allowable median income by family size (for cases filed after May 1, 2012) is:

  • Family of one: $55,185
  • Family of two: $66,200
  • Family of three: $82,873
  • Family of four: $102,194
  • Add $7,500 for each additional family member.

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Filing under Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to create a payment plan that you will pay into on a regular monthly basis. To some people a Chapter 13 bankruptcy less attractive than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, because the Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires you to pay money into a plan whereas a Chapter 7 bankruptcy just wipes out all your dischargeable debts. And, it is true that Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be better in many cases. However, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan has many significant benefits that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not have.  Some of those benefits are:

  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be used to defend against foreclosure, allowing you to satisfy unpaid mortgage bills (or tax bills) over time when your lender is demanding that you pay in one lump sum in order to stop foreclosure.
  • The cost of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy court filing fee is often lower than than the Chapter 7 bankruptcy court filing fee, especially under the new bankruptcy law.  People often want to file a bankruptcy case quickly; Chapter 13 bankruptcy can often be the way to do this.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for less time than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does (7 years instead of 10 years).
  • There is no reaffirmation in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  This avoids a sometimes problematic situation related to car loans in Chapter 7 bankruptcy in which you have to prove to the bankruptcy court that you do have enough money to continue paying your car loan even though you are simultaneously claiming that you don’t have enough money to pay your total debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy you don’t have to deal with the reaffirmation process to keep cars for which you have a loan.
  • No one ever loses property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  It is not a “liquidation” chapter, it is a “reorganization” chapter.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy monthly plan payments are often quite low, allowing you to pay pennies on the dollar to your unsecured creditors, and then getting a discharge of all the remaining unpaid unsecured debt after the completion of your plan payment period.

 

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