Stop Garnishment | Get Out of Debt | Keep Your Home and Car
Chapter 7 the most common type of Bankruptcy. It is called a liquidation because if you have nonexempt assets, those assets may be sold to pay your creditors. Most of your property is protected from liquidation due to your bankruptcy exemptions, so in most of the cases we file, our clients do not have any property liquidated. Exemptions in Mississippi protect your home and $10,000 worth of personal property, including vehicles, household goods, and tools of the trade. For more information about your exemptions, please click here. The most common property that is liquidated includes business property, personal injury lawsuits, rental property, and inherited property. To learn more about Mississippi real estate law in regards to bankruptcy, contact Sheehan & Ramsey today.
The Chapter 7 Discharge of Debt
At the conclusion of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debts are discharged. This means that you will not legally owe the debt anymore and the account can no longer be reported as “past due” or “in collection”. Chapter 7 is commonly used for medical bills, personal loans, judgments, payday loans, and credit card debt. There are exceptions to discharge, however, for some taxes, most student loans, child support, alimony, and certain other debts including debts from drunk-driving accidents or intentional torts - such as assault. Taxes can typically be discharged if the taxes were due more than three years before the bankruptcy was filed, the taxes were filed more than two years before the bankruptcy was filed, and the taxes were assessed more than 240 days before filing. Due to how our courts interpret the law, student loans that are federally guaranteed are usually nondischargeable, but private student loans may be discharged. Reach out to our experienced Biloxi and Jackson County attorneys to learn more about what happens after filing for Chapter 7.
Contact us today to speak with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney near you about filing for bankruptcy in Mississippi.
There is an income requirement for Chapter 7, but if you are below median income, you are much more likely to qualify. If you are above median income, you may still be eligible for Chapter 7, but your eligibility will be determined by the Means Test. The test looks at your average income in the six months prior to when you filed bankruptcy and uses various figures from the IRS to determine if you have the “means” to repay your debt. Our attorneys will analyze your income and expenses to see if you are eligible to file in your free consultation. If more information is required, we can complete the means test at a later date at no cost to you.
How To File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Below is the general process for filing.
- Assess Your Eligibility via the Means Test: If you pass the means test, it means that your income and expenses meet the requirements in order to file Chapter 7.
- Complete Credit Counseling: Prior to filing, you must attend credit counseling from a court-approved agency within 180 days. The agency will provide you with a completion certificate, which is required for your bankruptcy filing.
- Gather Financial Documents: Gather any required financial papers, including income statements, tax returns, bank statements, and a list of assets, obligations, and expenses.
- Complete Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms: Complete all of the forms, including the petition, schedules, and statements, accurately and truthfully. These forms will provide the court with comprehensive information about your financial position.
- File the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition: Submit your completed bankruptcy paperwork, along with the filing fee, to the proper bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction. The court will assign a case number and implement an automatic stay, which prevents creditors from pursuing additional collection efforts.
- Attend the Meeting of Creditors: Within a few weeks of filing, you'll attend a Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. This is a chance for the bankruptcy trustee and any creditors present in attendance to ask you questions about your financial situation.
- Complete a Financial Management Course: After the meeting of creditors, you must complete a debtor education course from a court-approved agency. This course is intended to teach you proper money management skills.
- Discharge of Debts: If your case goes smoothly and no objections are presented, the court will issue you a discharge order, which frees you from personal obligation for the majority of your debts. Certain debts, such as student loans and taxes, may be ineligible for discharge.
Considering Bankruptcy Chapter 7?
It's important to consult with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney throughout the process to ensure your rights are protected and to navigate any complexities that may arise. At Sheehan & Ramsey, we offer a free consultation to discuss your case, provide personalized advice, and address any concerns you may have. With our 5-star client reviews, competitive costs, and many years of experience, we are committed to helping individuals like you achieve debt relief and a fresh financial start.
If you're seeking professional guidance, our attorneys at Sheehan & Ramsey can provide the legal support you need. As experienced Ocean Springs Chapter 7 lawyers, we understand the intricacies of bankruptcy law and can guide you through the process smoothly.
Contact us online or call (228) 231-0715 to schedule your free consultation with our Chapter 7 attorney in Ocean Springs at Sheehan & Ramsey and take the first step towards a brighter financial future.
Will I Lose My House and Car?
In most cases, you are able to keep some of your debt (like car loans and home mortgages) as long as you can afford to keep making payments and keeping the debt is in your best interests. This process is called “reaffirmation”. If you are behind on the debt or you owe more than the collateral is worth, you may not want to reaffirm the debt. In some cases, a Chapter 13 may be a better option for keeping these debts as you can catch up on these debts over time and in certain situations you may be able to reduce what you owe.
It may also be in your best interest to avoid reaffirmation on debts where you owe more than the value of the property. This is common with mortgages. As long as you are paying your mortgage payments on time, you are safe from foreclosure. The benefit of avoiding reaffirmation is that if you decide to walk away from the loan at a later date, you will not be liable for the balance of the loan after the property is foreclosed or repossessed. The downside of not reaffirming a debt is that in most cases, your payments are not reported on your credit report after the bankruptcy. This may have a negative effect on your credit and make it difficult to refinance down the road. Automobile loans work differently because the creditor may decide to repossess the collateral if there is no reaffirmation agreement filed. Usually if you want to keep a vehicle, you will have to reaffirm the debt.
Another option on secured debts is redemption. Section 722 of the bankruptcy code allows a debtor to pay the value of the collateral instead of what is owed on it. Redemption usually requires that you pay this amount in a lump sum, so this is often limited to property such as furniture. There are redemption lenders, however, that may help you finance a new car loan based on your car’s value instead of what is owed on it. This can be very useful and may be able to save you money. One of these companies is called 722 Redemption. To see if this option can help you save money, you can get an estimate here. Our attorneys can help advise you if this option is right for you. To see if you're eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, call Sheehan & Ramsey today.
Chapter 7 Vs Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Debtors who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy can discharge unsecured debts such as loans, credit card debt, and medical bills. Chapter 13 allows debtors to catch up on secured debts like a car or a house.
To learn more about Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11 bankruptcy, call an experienced bankruptcy lawyer near you. We can help you navigate your life after bankruptcy.
Contact us today to speak with an attorney about filing Chapter 7 in Mississippi.