If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you may be concerned about the possibility of surrendering all your property so that it can be liquidated to pay back your debts. In fact, you may be able to keep some or all of your property when you file for bankruptcy. It will depend on the circumstances and the type of bankruptcy that you file. First, let’s look at the way that property is handled when a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed.
This type of bankruptcy is called a liquidation bankruptcy. Property that is not exempt would become part of the bankruptcy estate, and it would technically be liquidated by the trustee to pay back some of the outstanding debt. However, in many cases, there is no nonexempt property to speak of, so there are no losses. You could keep exempt property when you file for Chapter 7, including your home and your motor vehicle, assuming you have limited equity and you are up to date on your payments. Limited personal property and the tools of your trade are exempt, there are a number of other exemptions.
To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a means test, because you have to make an effort to pay back your debts if you have the means to do so. If your income is less than half the median in your state of residence, you would pass this test. You could possibly pass the test even if your income exceeds the median if your financial responsibilities severely limit your disposable income. A formula is utilized to make this determination.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy would be an option for you if you cannot pass the means test. This is a reorganization bankruptcy. Your debt is restructured to become manageable, and you use your disposable income to make payments over a three-year or five-year period. It can also be the right choice if you are behind on your mortgage and you want to prevent a foreclosure. You can’t pay back the arrearage to stop a foreclosure if you file a Chapter 7 when you are behind on your mortgage payments. However, you can fold it into a repayment plan if you file for Chapter 13. With a Chapter 13, you can keep all your property if you honor your repayment plan and keep your ongoing obligations current.
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We have shared some of the basics with regard to property retention in this brief blog post, but you probably have more questions if you are thinking about a bankruptcy filing. If you would like us to provide you with answers, we would be more than glad to do so. Our firm offers free consultations to people in Portland, Eugene, Bend, and a number of other cities in the state of Oregon. To set up an appointment, call us right now at 1-800-682-9568.