Explaining the New Bankruptcy Discharge Process for Student Loan Borrowers

Person adding up student loan debt on calculator

Over 42.8 million Americans have student loans, making it one of the most common forms of debt in the United States. While the amount of student loan debt has increased in recent years, it remains one of the most challenging types of debt to discharge through bankruptcy. However, the Department of Education recently reformed its policies to make the discharge process easier and more accessible to student loan borrowers. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the new bankruptcy discharge process for student loans. 

Adversary Proceedings and “Undue Hardship”

In order to be considered for student loan discharge, individuals must initiate a separate lawsuit within their bankruptcy case called an “adversary proceeding”. During this process, the debtor is essentially suing the student loan lender. To do so, however, the debtor must demonstrate that he or she is experiencing “undue hardship” as a result of the loans.

Prior to these policy changes “undue hardship” was an undefined term in the bankruptcy code, which made it challenging for courts to judge each case by universal standards – leaving a lot of room for interpretation. 

In the past, most courts used something called the “Brunner Test” to determine who qualified for student loan discharge. This test was originally created in a 1987 court case during which a woman attempted to discharge her student loans less than a year after earning her degree. The goal of the test was to deter individuals from rushing into bankruptcy immediately after graduating, and it includes three questions:

  • Have you made a good-faith effort to repay the loans?
  • Are you unable to maintain a minimal standard of living while making the payments?
  • Is your financial situation likely to persist?

If the answer to each of these questions is “yes” and is supported by extensive evidence, then the loans can be discharged. 

On the surface, this may seem like a great system for discharging student debt. However, adversary proceedings are lengthy and costly, and they often weren’t successful because the requirements to pass the Brunner Test were still highly variable. Over time the test became increasingly difficult to pass, and many legal experts think it is now close to impossible to have loans discharged through this method.

How New Policy Changes Make Student Loan Discharge More Accessible

Debtors are still required to initiate an adversary proceeding within their bankruptcy case in order to be considered for student loan dischargeThe recent policy changes will ease the process by:

  • Setting clear standards for what is considered “undue hardship”: The current process uses arbitrary methods to review evidence and determine whether the debtor is experiencing undue hardship. According to the Department of Justice’s recent press release, the new process will include a thorough review of the debtor’s financial situation against concrete standards. These standards will be based on data provided by the Department of Education, along with other information that could contribute to undue hardship. This will ensure each debtor is judged fairly, without room for subjectivity.
  • Allowing for partial discharge if appropriate: Historically, student loans were either completely discharged or left entirely intact. The new policy changes allow for partial discharges depending on the debtor’s financial situation, which will make relief more accessible to those who are struggling with student loans. 

Considering Bankruptcy?

If you are overwhelmed with debt and need relief, don’t hesitate to contact the knowledgeable bankruptcy attorneys at OlsenDaines. Whether you’re dealing with significant student loans or other types of debt, we can assess your situation and help you determine the best course of action to regain financial stability. With over 40 years of experience serving individuals and businesses throughout the state of Oregon, we know how to help you with everything from foreclosures to creditor harassment. Whatever you’re facing, we can help. Just give us a call today to schedule your free legal consultation.

OlsenDaines’ 5th Annual Turkey Giveaway!

a roasted turkey on a plate with trimmings and gravy

As the holiday season kicks off, we at OlsenDaines want to keep up a tradition that aims to make things easier for families in need. Monday, November 21st is our 5th Annual Turkey Giveaway! In our Salem location we will be giving away 300 turkeys from 9am to 1pm – or until we run out of supplies. It’s first come, first served, with one turkey for every family present. Please come in a mask and practice social distancing to keep everyone safe.

This is happening at only our Salem location, so this Monday come visit us at 3995 Hagers Grove Road SE, Salem OR, 97317 and claim your turkey. We’ll see you there!

New Updates to Student Loan Forgiveness

White piggy bank with a graduation cap resting on top of a binder of paperwork

Student debt can be overwhelming. If you have a high balance or have been making payments for years, then it may feel like your loans will never come to an end. Recently, the US Department of Education made updates to its policies that will make it easier for individuals to overcome their student loan debt.

Some of the largest changes to their policies will make loan forgiveness more accessible to individuals on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan, which could offer relief to thousands of students across the country. To take advantage of these new updates to student loan forgiveness, it’s important to understand how they work and who qualifies.

What Is an Income-Driven Repayment Plan?

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are designed to help individuals who have student loan payments that are disproportionately high compared to their income. These plans calculate your required payments based on how much you earn annually rather than how much you owe. As a result, your payments could be lower and much more affordable than standard repayment options. Consumers may qualify for one of these four types of IDR plans:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): Takes monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income without exceeding what you would normally pay with a Standard Repayment Plan.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Takes monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income.
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Takes monthly payments at 10-15% of your discretionary income based on what you borrow, without exceeding what you would normally pay on a 10-year standard repayment plan.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): Takes monthly payments at 20% of your discretionary income, or the amount you would pay over a 12-year fixed payment plan – whichever is less.

Problems with IDR and Student Loan Forgiveness

Most individuals on an IDR can qualify for student loan forgiveness after making consistent payments over 20-25 years. However, there are some challenges associated with IDR plans that could block consumers from having their loans forgiven, even if they qualify. The two main obstacles to having your loans forgiven on an IDR plan are:

  • Progress tracking: To have your student loans forgiven, you must make a certain amount of qualifying payments over the course of 20 to 25 years. One of the largest challenges associated with IDR and student loan forgiveness is progress tracking. Lack of documentation makes it difficult or impossible for consumers to tell when student loans are due to be forgiven.
  • Forbearance steering: IDR plans and student loan forgiveness can be hugely beneficial to consumers, but they are not ideal for loan providers. For this reason, many servicers broke the Education Department’s rules by pushing consumers toward forbearance – or payment pauses – rather than educating them about IDR options. These pauses are not a long-term solution and can allow your balance to grow even more. Not only that, but they also do not count toward student loan forgiveness requirements.

Updates to Student Loan Forgiveness Policies

The Education Department recognizes the issues associated with IDR plans and loan forgiveness. For this reason, it recently announced policy changes that will make student loan forgiveness more accessible to borrowers. These policy updates include:

  • Counting certain long-term forbearances toward IDR forgiveness: To account for previous instances of forbearance steering, the Education Department will make a one-time adjustment to retroactively count long-term forbearances toward forgiveness. This will include a 12-month limit for a single stretch of forbearance, and a 36-month limit for cumulative pauses.
  • Increasing oversight on service providers’ use of forbearance: In order to prevent future forbearance steering, the Education Department will work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor and regularly audit each loan provider’s use of forbearance.
  • Performing a one-time revision of IDR payments to remedy inaccuracies: Past documentation inaccuracies could prevent qualifying consumers from having their loans forgiven. To remedy these previous mistakes, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) will perform a one-time revision that will retroactively count any months in which borrowers made payments toward IDR.
  • Upheaving the IDR tracking system for better documentation: To permanently fix the IDR payment counting system and prevent future mistakes, the Federal Student Aid office (FSA) will begin displaying IDR payment counts on each consumer’s Student Aid account. This will simplify the counting and tracking process, while showing consumers exactly how close they are to loan forgiveness.

Do FFELP Loans Qualify?

Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) student loans are privately owned but federally backed. Most loans taken out prior to 2010 are FFELP loans, though your service provider can help you determine which type of loan you have if you aren’t certain.

Though FFELP loans can benefit from these updates to student loan forgiveness, consumers must apply to consolidate any commercially held loans into a Direct Loan to qualify. If you want to take advantage of the new IDR fixes, you need to apply for loan consolidation by January 1, 2023.

Get Help With Your Student Debt

If you’re struggling with student debt, now is the time to take action! While it may feel intimidating to navigate all of the Education Department’s student loan policies, you don’t have to manage it all on your own. At OlsenDaines, it’s our goal to help eliminate the stress of debt so you can regain control over your finances. With over 40 years of experience serving Oregon residents, our debt relief attorneys know the intricacies of local and federal laws. We know what it takes to help you get the best outcomes possible, so you can get one step closer to a life without debt. To get help with debt relief, schedule your free legal consultation today!

How Does Bankruptcy Impact My Credit Score?

A woman sitting a desk looks into the distance deep in thought

No one sets out with the goal of one day declaring bankruptcy. Everyone wants to be financially stable and independent, but unexpected challenges can arise and result in large amounts of debt. If you find yourself in that situation and you’re considering bankruptcy, you probably have many questions about the possible effects. One of the most common is, “how does bankruptcy affect my credit score?” Keep reading to find out.

What is a Credit Score?

Let’s begin with the basics. A credit score, or FICO® score, is a number between 300 and 850 that attempts to reflect the significant financial decisions you’ve made. Your credit score drops, for example, when you default or make a late payment on a debt. Whereas an established pattern of making payments on time will increase it. Three companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – track and assign your credit score, and it can have a significant impact on your ability to do everything from borrowing money to getting a job.

What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?

Credit card payments, mortgage payments and rent payments are three types of debt that will have the largest impact on your credit score. The rules around another common type of debt – medical debt – are currently changing, thanks to pressure from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

There has long been debate about whether or not medical debt should affect credit scores. This is because few people actually choose to take on medical debt, and those that are forced to usually have no idea how much their treatments will end up costing. If this has previously caused issues on your credit report, read up on how the overhauled rules on medical debt might affect you.

Can Bankruptcy Permanently Ruin Your Credit?

Bankruptcy is one of the single largest events that can affect your credit score, and the immediate impact of bankruptcy is substantial. A person with previously solid credit (700+) will see their credit score drop by about 200 points. A below-average to average credit score won’t drop as much. That’s one important factor to keep in mind. If your credit score is good, you will be penalized more heavily than if your credit score is average or worse.

The good news is that the effect is not permanent. In fact, you can start rebuilding credit immediately after bankruptcy is filed. The process takes some time, but financial institutions offer products like secured credit cards and credit-builder loans that can help. Just be sure to make your payments regularly and on time and practice smart spending habits. Financial institutions will look favorably on your efforts to rebuild credit even if you have a bankruptcy on your record.

The effects of bankruptcy can be different, depending on the type of bankruptcy. These are the three most common types of bankruptcy for individuals in the US.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as “liquidation,” is the most common type of bankruptcy in the United States. A liquidation plan is created, the individual’s nonexempt property gets sold and the proceeds are used to service existing debts. A judge then orders all remaining debts to be discharged. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can affect your credit score for up to ten years.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is mostly filed by businesses because under federal law, this is the only bankruptcy option allowed for LLCs, corporations and partnerships. While individuals may file for Chatper 11 bankruptcy as well, it’s less common because Chapter 11 is typically more costly, complex and risky than filing for Chapter 7 or 13. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can also affect your credit score for up to ten years.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Also called “reorganization,” Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individuals to repay creditors over a period of three to five years. The benefit is additional time to pay off debts and the chance to renegotiate settlements which typically means the individual has to pay far less than the original debt. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can affect your credit score for up to seven years.

Is Bankruptcy Right For You?

Imagine Person A and Person B both have $30,000 in debt and are considering bankruptcy. 

The difference is that Person A has a credit score of 750 whereas Person B has a credit score of 550. Both will have $30,000 debt discharged if they declare Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, but the cost for Person A is significantly higher than for Person B. 

That’s because Person A will lose about 200 points to their credit score; Person B will only lose about 100 points. Person A’s new credit score will be ~550; Person B’s new score will be ~450.

Obviously, it’s more worth it for Person B to declare bankruptcy, but it might also be worth it for Person A too. It’s up to you to assess your circumstances and decide if bankruptcy is the tool that will best position you to move forward financially. 

But you don’t have to make the decision alone. In fact, you shouldn’t make this decision alone. Gather as much information as you can, then consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney so you can be sure you understand all of the ramifications of your decision.

There’s no shame in declaring bankruptcy, and it’s not the end of the world for your personal finances. It’s a powerful tool you have at your disposal in the event that your debt burden becomes unmanageable, and if you commit to rebuilding your credit afterward, it can be one of the best financial decisions you’ll ever make.

Debt Snowball vs Debt Avalanche

Wooden blocks spelling out the word "debt"

Eliminating debt can feel like an overwhelming task – especially without the right plan in place. Thankfully, there are many different repayment strategies that you can choose in order to begin rapidly paying off your balance. Two of the most popular and effective debt repayment plans are known as the “snowball” and “avalanche” methods. While these tactics are similar, they have some key differences that can help you decide which strategy is best for you.

What is the Snowball Method?

With the debt snowball method, you pay off debts in order of smallest to largest balances. By putting the majority of your money toward loans with smaller balances and making minimum payments to all other debts, you can swiftly cut through your debts. This method is popular because it is easy to implement and provides quick results, which is great for building momentum and motivation.

What is the Avalanche Method?

In the debt avalanche method, you pay off loans based on interest rates. By targeting loans with higher interest rates first while making minimum payments to any other debts, you can quickly pay off debt while cutting down on the amount of interest you pay over time.

Though this tactic is great for eliminating debt quickly and with the least amount of interest, it is a little more difficult to implement and keep up with. The debt avalanche method also produces slower short-term results, which may be challenging for individuals who struggle with motivation.

Which Debt Repayment Method is Best?

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan when it comes to debt payment plans. It all comes down to which plan you can feasibly implement and keep up with – after all, no plan is useful if you won’t be able to stick to it. To help you determine which tactic may be better for you, here are some pros and cons of both debt repayment strategies:

Debt Avalanche

  • Eliminates debt faster
  • Reduces total interest paid
  • More difficult to implement
  • Takes more time to see results

Debt Snowball

  • Produces results quickly
  • Builds motivation and momentum
  • Takes more time to eliminate debt
  • Requires you to pay more interest

When to File for Bankruptcy

If you have a mountain of debt that you are struggling to pay, these repayment strategies may still feel too overwhelming. In some cases, filing for bankruptcy is the best way to take control of your financial situation. Here are some signs that you should file for bankruptcy:

  • You’re at risk of foreclosure
  • Your liabilities exceed your income
  • You don’t have any savings
  • You’ve already tried negotiating

Get Legal Help Today

Don’t let your life become bogged down by unmanageable debt. If you’re struggling to make ends meet because of debt, it may be time to contact a legal expert who can help you assess your options. That’s where the trusted attorneys at OlsenDaines can help. Our team has over 40 years of experience serving Oregon and Washington, and we strive to make it easy for you to get back on your feet. To get started, schedule a free legal consultation today.

 

How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Charge?

Bankruptcy attorney discussing a case with clients in office

If debt has become an insurmountable problem for you, then filing for bankruptcy may be the best way to get back on your feet. However, the idea of spending money on an attorney may not sound very appealing if you’re already struggling financially. Knowing your options will help you make an informed decision so you can determine the best course of action for your situation. To help you get started, here’s a breakdown of how much bankruptcy lawyers charge and what you can expect when working with one.

How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Cost?

While all experienced attorneys are expensive, a bankruptcy lawyer will likely be the least expensive attorney you will ever hire. Chapter 7 attorney fees typically run between $1,000 and $2,000. Meanwhile, Chapter 13 fees generally range from $3,000 to $6,000.

If you aren’t sure which type of bankruptcy you should choose, our skilled attorneys are here to help! With 40 years of experience helping individuals and businesses throughout the state of Oregon, we know the ins and outs of bankruptcy laws and can seamlessly guide you through the process.

Can I File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?

Though bankruptcy lawyers are less expensive than other attorneys, the fees can still feel overwhelming. For that reason, many people wonder if they even need the help of an attorney.

While it is possible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer, doing so could become complicated and expensive. Filing for bankruptcy is an intensive process that can easily become overwhelming, and mistakes along the way could cost you. An experienced debt relief attorney will relieve stress by making the process simple, all while ensuring you get the best outcomes possible.

Will I Have to Pay a Bankruptcy Lawyer Up Front?

Depending on which chapter of bankruptcy you are filing for, you may not need to pay all of your attorney fees up front. While Chapter 7 typically requires you to pay your fees in full before filing, Chapter 13 often allows you to pay in installments as a part of your repayment plan.

Don’t let fees hold you back from getting the help you need. At OlsenDaines, we offer free legal consultations where we can examine your situation and discuss payment options before charging you anything. Our firm has also made a commitment to value-based pricing so we can remain as affordable as possible; in most cases, we can be retained for as little as just $200.

How Can I Pay for a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Many people wonder how they are supposed to afford a bankruptcy lawyer if they are already struggling to pay creditors. If you’re struggling to come up with the money for attorney fees, don’t panic – there may be some options available.

Since everybody’s situation is different, we strongly recommend starting with a free legal consultation. At OlsenDaines, one of our experienced attorneys will examine your case and discuss how we can help you afford our services.

Affordable Bankruptcy Attorneys in Oregon

The attorneys here at OlsenDaines decided to become bankruptcy lawyers for a very particular reason; we sincerely want to help our neighbors get back on track financially. It is gratifying to help our community thrive, which is why we strive to keep our services as affordable as possible by offering free consultations and value-based pricing. If you are looking for experienced and affordable bankruptcy attorneys, we have you covered. Just contact us today to schedule your free initial case evaluation.

Can I Sue for False Advertising and Hidden Fees?

Young woman looking in box frustrated by false adverrtising

Consumers rely on advertising to make purchasing decisions, which is why it’s important that a corporation’s products and services are marketed accurately. However, some corporations choose to distort their advertisements to manipulate consumers into buying their products or services. Not only does this waste the buyer’s money, but it can also lead to injuries and other serious problems.

Consumers also rely on corporations to advertise the true cost for goods and services. Unfortunately, some corporations use hidden fees to increase their profits by charging buyers more than the advertised price.

Thankfully, there are laws in place that can help protect consumers from false advertising and hidden fees. If you are the victim of deceptive marketing, you may be able to file a lawsuit and recover damages. However, in order to do so, you’ll need to know what these laws cover and how they work.

What Qualifies as False Advertising?

Today, it’s very common for corporations to carefully curate their marketing campaigns with the goal of maximizing sales, which is why it can be so tricky to determine whether something qualifies as false advertising. To help you out, here are a few examples of what false advertising can look like:

  • Inaccurate visual representation
  • Dishonest key terms or wording
  • Deceptive warranties or guarantees
  • Inaccurate pricing information

What Are the Legal Consequences of False Advertising?

Corporations who engage in false advertising could face a variety of legal consequences. Consumers can sue or build a class-action lawsuit to recover lost money and any damages incurred as a direct result of the deception. Additionally, the company could face civil penalties with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which may result in large fees. And, if the false advertising constitutes fraud, the corporation could also face serious criminal penalties.

Since false advertising laws can differ from state to state, it’s best to work with an experienced consumer litigation attorney if you suspect you are the victim of deceptive marketing. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate these laws to build a case and recover any compensation to which you are entitled.

How Do False Advertising Lawsuits Work?

False advertising lawsuits can help victims recover any money they’ve lost or damages they’ve incurred as a direct result of the deceptive marketing. In order to build a case, however, you may need to prove various things:

  • The product was misrepresented.
  • The consumer relied on the misleading information when making the purchase.
  • The consumer lost money or property due to a hidden fee or false advertisement.

Your Local Consumer Law Attorneys

If you believe you have fallen victim to false advertising or hidden fees, you can count on the experienced consumer law attorneys at OlsenDaines to help you build a claim. We have proudly served Oregon and Washington since 1978, so we are very familiar with the ins and outs of local consumer laws. Our team is also committed to providing you with candid, transparent, and affordable legal assistance. Just give us a call to schedule your free legal consultation.

What to Do if a Car Hits You While Walking

Person injured in pedestrian accident - OlsenDaines personal injury attorneys in Oregon

Getting hit by a car while you’re walking is a scary experience, especially if you sustain injuries. However, pedestrian accidents are common – it’s even estimated that a car hits a pedestrian once every 7 minutes in the United States alone. Knowing what steps to take after an accident can help you recover quickly while preparing to make a claim. Here’s what to do if a car hits you while walking:

Remain Calm and Evaluate Injuries

Your safety is the first priority after an accident. Try to maintain a calm composure while assessing injuries. If you or anyone else has been seriously hurt, call 911 immediately for medical assistance.

File a Report With Law Enforcement

Once everybody involved in the accident is safe, it’s time to call law enforcement to file a report. Police reports play a big role in determining liability, so it’s important that you don’t skip this step and that you provide as much information as possible.

Collect Information on the Driver

To file a claim, you will need the driver’s information. Request their name, phone number, address, insurance company, and policy number. If they are not being cooperative with you, don’t worry; law enforcement will also be able to collect this information. Should the driver attempt to flee the scene, at least try to catch the license plate number. Without the license number, it will be very challenging to track the driver down later on.

Collect Witness Contact Information

Even if law enforcement has not arrived yet, request contact information from any third-party witnesses who saw the accident. Doing so will ensure you have their information even if they decide to leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive.

Always Seek Medical Attention

Even if you think you feel fine, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Adrenaline from the accident can make it impossible to accurately assess your own injuries. Visiting a doctor not only ensures you are receiving proper and thorough treatment, but it also creates a written medical record of any injuries. During your visit, describe the events in detail and try to get comprehensive diagnostic tests.

Do Not Give Any Insurance Company a Statement

Prior to giving a statement to any insurance company – even your own – it’s critical to seek help from an experienced attorney. Any questions you answer or statements you provide can be used against you later on, so it’s important to work with a knowledgeable lawyer who can provide guidance.

Seek Help From an Attorney

A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the claims process and recover any compensation to which you are entitled. Damages can cover expenses like medical bills, missed work, and more. If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in the state of Oregon, you can count on the experienced lawyers at OlsenDaines to make your claim as simple and effective as possible. Just give us a call to schedule your free legal consultation.

Track All Expenses

Throughout the claims process, you will want to keep track of any injuries, treatments, and medical bills. Consider creating a folder where you can store all of your medical receipts and records, such as:

  • Time missed from work for recovery or medical treatment
  • Specific dates and times of medical appointments
  • Any receipts for co-pays or prescriptions
  • Pain and symptoms related to the accident

Follow Through on All Medical Appointments and Treatments

It’s crucial that you attend all medical appointments and follow through on each treatment plan. Failing to do so will not only impede recovery; missing appointments could also prompt an insurance company to argue that you are not actually injured, or that you are needlessly extending your injuries by not complying with medical recommendations. To ensure your fast recovery and a speedy claims process, be sure to attend all appointments and complete all recommended treatments.

Do You Still Owe Taxes if You File for Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy petition in Oregon - OlsenDaines Debt Relief Lawyers

Filing for bankruptcy is one of the most effective ways to eliminate debt, save your home, and rebuild your financial security. It can also help you sleep easier at night knowing that you won’t have to worry about repossession or mounting bills. However, if you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s important to know what it does and does not cover – and that includes taxes.

How Do Taxes Work After Bankruptcy?

Many people overlook their tax situation when filing for bankruptcy, but it’s crucial to know what to expect before moving forward with your case. Your tax requirements will look different depending on which type of bankruptcy you are filing for. Here is a brief overview of how taxes work after filing for the two most common types of bankruptcy:

Chapter 7

This chapter of bankruptcy is meant to help those with lower income and fewer assets, and individuals must pass a “means test” in order to qualify. If granted chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals will be assigned a trustee that will be responsible for reviewing your petition and seizing any nonexempt assets that can be sold to benefit your creditors.

Taxes are still a requirement even if you are granted chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are unable to pay your taxes and accrue new debt, it can have a negative impact on your case and may even result in your case being dismissed. However, if you are expecting a tax refund but are granted chapter 7 bankruptcy, then you may need to turn the funds over to your trustee who will use them to pay your creditors.

Chapter 13

This chapter of bankruptcy is meant to help those with higher income and more assets, and it is often considered a “reorganization” of debt. Individuals who are granted chapter 13 bankruptcy will need to establish a monthly payment plan with their creditors to repay a portion of their debts.

Taxes are also still required if you are granted chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you owe more than you can pay, you may be able to set up a payment plan with the IRS lasting between three and five years. Meanwhile, if you receive tax refunds while in Chapter 13 you’ll usually be able to keep these refunds for your own benefit.

Can Bankruptcy Discharge Tax Debt?

Tax debt is considered “unsecured debt”, which means that it generally cannot be discharged even if you are granted bankruptcy. That said, if your tax debt meets a few specific criteria, you may be able to discharge it when filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your debt may be considered for discharge if it meets these requirements:

  • The tax return filing was due three or more years ago.
  • The tax return filing was two or more years ago.
  • The tax assessment is at least 240 days old.
  • The tax return was not fraudulent.
  • The taxpayer did not attempt tax evasion.

Your Local Bankruptcy Attorneys

Filing for bankruptcy can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate it all alone. The experienced bankruptcy attorneys at OlsenDaines are prepared to help get you through the process as quickly and easily as possible while answering all of your questions. We have proudly served Oregon and Washington residents for over 40 years, and we are ready to use our expertise to help you relieve your debt. To get started, schedule your free and no-obligation legal consultation with one of our attorneys today!

Bankruptcy and HOA: What You Need to Know

What you need to know about filing for bankruptcy with an HOA - OlsenDaines bankruptcy attorneys in Oregon

If you live on a property with a homeowner’s association and are overwhelmed with late dues or fees, then you may be wondering if bankruptcy is a viable way to eliminate these debts. While this may seem like a straightforward question, there are several factors that can impact whether or not your HOA debts can be discharged through bankruptcy. To help give you an idea of what your situation might look like, the experts at OlsenDaines have put together a guide on what you need to know about bankruptcy and HOA.

Can I Discharge My HOA Debt Through Bankruptcy?

Your specific circumstances will impact whether or not you can dismiss HOA debt by filing for bankruptcy. To determine if your HOA fees can be discharged, begin by asking yourself these questions:

Which chapter of bankruptcy are you filing for? The two most common chapters of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended for lower-income individuals with fewer assets, Chapter 13 is geared toward those with more assets and disposable income. Knowing which chapter you qualify for will give you a better understanding of what your debt relief options are.

Do you plan to keep the property? With both chapters of bankruptcy, you should be able to wipe out past HOA dues by forfeiting the property. However, if you plan to keep your condo or home, you will still be responsible for paying your HOA debts.

With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should treat the HOA like a bank holding a mortgage and plan to make payments both before and after you file. It’s important to know that the HOA could still foreclose on your home if they have a lien on your property, even if your debts are discharged.

Meanwhile, if you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and plan to keep the property, your repayment options may look a little different. Since this chapter allows you to reconfigure your debts into a payment plan, your past HOA fees should be included in your monthly installment.

Can an HOA Foreclose on My Property After Bankruptcy?

Even if you are granted bankruptcy, an HOA may be able to foreclose on your property depending on your specific situation. Here are some instances where an HOA can foreclose on your property after bankruptcy:

  • Your foreclosure has already taken place: Bankruptcy cannot undo a foreclosure that has already taken place. So, if the HOA has already foreclosed on your property and the home is no longer in your name, the outcome of your bankruptcy petition will not be able to reverse the process.
  • The HOA filed a lien against your property: Once an HOA files a lien against your property, they may begin the foreclosure process. Though you are granted an “automatic stay” while filing for bankruptcy – meaning that the HOA cannot move forward with the foreclosure process during your petition – they may be able to resume the process once you are granted bankruptcy. Bankruptcy cannot get rid of a lien filed against you even if your debts are discharged, so your property may still be foreclosed on.
  • You accrue more fees after bankruptcy: Bankruptcy will only discharge debts accrued prior to your petition, so you will be responsible for any fees due after you are granted bankruptcy. This is true even if you are forfeiting the property; you will have to pay any fees that accumulate between the time you are granted bankruptcy and the sale of your home. To avoid accruing more fees and debt, it is best to wait until the property is sold before filing for bankruptcy if you are planning to surrender the home.

Your Local Bankruptcy Experts

Here at OlsenDaines, we understand how stressful and complicated it can be to file for bankruptcy. That is why our experienced attorneys are always here to help. We strive to make the process as fast and easy as possible while ensuring that you are getting the most out of your petition. With over 40 years of experience serving people throughout Oregon, we are very familiar with local bankruptcy laws and are prepared to help you regain control over your finances so you can truly start fresh. If you are looking into bankruptcy and would like to speak with an expert, contact us today to set up a free legal consultation!