Bankruptcy and Credit Counseling

There are certain requirements that must be met before you can file for bankruptcy. The government wants to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into, so you have to complete a credit counseling course before you can go through with a bankruptcy filing. There are certain organizations that offer this course that are approved by the federal government. We have offices in Vancouver and Kennewick in the state of Washington, and we also have locations spread throughout the state of Oregon. There is a list of approved credit counseling course providers on the website of the United States Department of Justice, and you can click one of the following links if you would like to identify a credit counseling course provider: Washington credit counseling and Oregon credit counseling. Under federal guidelines, the course must be successfully completed less than 180 days before the bankruptcy filing.

Finishing the credit counseling course is just one of the requirements that must be met if you want to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is a liquidation bankruptcy, and it allows for the discharge of your unsecured debts. If you can rid yourself of debts like credit card balances and unpaid medical bills, you may be able to keep up with your other responsibilities more comfortably. To qualify for this type of bankruptcy, you must have limited disposable income. A means test is applied to determine whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7. If your income is less than the median income in your state, you qualify automatically. However, it may still be possible to qualify for Chapter 7 if the state determines that your disposable income is very limited.

In addition to the credit counseling course, there is another educational hurdle that you must cross when you file for bankruptcy. Debts cannot be discharged until you complete a debtor education program, and once again, you can obtain a list of approved course providers if you visit the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Act Now to Regain Control of Your Finances!

Our firm can help if you are struggling under a mountain of debt that you simply cannot manage. We offer free, no obligation case evaluations, and you can set up an appointment that conveniently fits into your schedule if you call us right now at 800-682-9568.

Which Type of Bankruptcy Should I Choose?

When bills pile up and creditors start calling, it’s natural to feel lost and unsure of what steps to take next. One option you might be considering is bankruptcy, which can help you regain financial stability by eliminating or restructuring your debt. But with several types of bankruptcy available, how do you know which one to pick? Here are the most common chapters of bankruptcy to help you determine which is best suited to your needs.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended to provide relief for individuals with limited assets and low income from their unsecured debts. In order to qualify for this chapter, you must be able to pass a means test, which generally means your income does not exceed the median income in your state of residence. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to eliminate debts such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Overdue utilities
  • Outstanding credit card debt
  • Lease agreement deficiencies
  • Collection agency accounts

Even though this chapter can wipe away many kinds of debt, it doesn’t cover everything. Some types of debt may stick around even after filing for bankruptcy. For example, most people still need to pay secured debts, taxes, child support or student loans.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy because the courts will assign a trustee to sell any of your non-exempt assets. The proceeds from those sales will go toward paying off your creditors. Non-exempt assets can include items such as:

  • Valuable artwork
  • Jewelry or expensive clothing
  • Investments outside of retirement accounts
  • Valuable collections or musical instruments
  • Properties outside of your primary residence
  • Newer-model vehicles in which you have equity

It’s important to note that it is possible to retain your house and your vehicle when filing for this type of bankruptcy. Though it may be difficult to face liquidation, doing so could allow you to eliminate debts while retaining the assets that are most important to you and your family.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is intended to provide debt relief for individuals with more assets or higher disposable income. This is a good option for anybody who has enough income to make reasonable payments toward debts even after basic living expenses are met. If you are unable to pass the means test required for Chapter 7, then this chapter may be right for you.

How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Work?

Chapter 13 is often called a reorganization bankruptcy because it restructures debts to make them more manageable, rather than completely eliminating them. If you file for this chapter, you will create a payment plan proposal to repay your creditors. Unsecured debts, such as credit card balances or unpaid medical bills, may be partially forgiven to provide some relief.
However, certain debts need to be paid in full. These can include:

  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Mortgage delinquencies
  • Motor vehicle payments
  • Taxes

With this type of bankruptcy, you can keep all of your property while paying down debts and reaching financial stability. Though the process can feel overwhelming, you don’t have to face it alone. The debt relief attorneys at OlsenDaines can help you each step of the way.

Chapter 11 and Chapter 12

While Chapter 7 and 13 are the most common types of bankruptcy, there are two other options that could be a better fit depending on your circumstances:

  • Chapter 11 is intended for businesses and individuals who do not qualify for another chapter. Similar to Chapter 13, this type of bankruptcy works by reorganizing your debts under a payment plan. However, the debtor will generally have a longer repayment period than those filing for Chapter 13.
  • Chapter 12 is specifically for farmers and family fishermen. It is a lot like Chapter 13, but is designed specifically for farm and fishing operations. Additionally, it gives debtors more opportunity to modify secured debts on property such as home mortgages and equipment loans.

Get Legal Assistance from a Bankruptcy Attorney

Considering bankruptcy, but still unsure of which chapter is right for you? That’s where we can help. At OlsenDaines, it’s our mission to educate, inform, and empower people about their legal options for dealing with debt. We have proudly served residents throughout Oregon for over 40 years with the goal of helping them reach financial stability and security. Whether you want to learn more about your bankruptcy options or you’re ready to start filing, we’re here to make every step easier. Give us a call today to schedule your free legal consultation!

What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?

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.

Set Up a Free Case Evaluation

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.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy?

Many people like to engage in do-it-yourself projects, and they have different motivations. Some individuals genuinely enjoy certain types of DIY challenges, and there are others who decide to go it alone because they want to save some money. There is nothing wrong with doing some things for yourself, and the information that can be easily obtained on the Internet makes it easier than it has ever been. However, you do have to know where the draw the line. You may feel confident replacing the alternator on your car, but do you think that you have the know-how to file for bankruptcy for yourself?

Technically speaking, you don’t have to have a license to practice law to file for bankruptcy. However, these are some rather complicated waters to try to navigate on your own as a layperson. First of all, do you know what type of bankruptcy to choose? You may hear about the fact that a Chapter 7 can make your credit card debts and medical bills disappear. This can be true, but are you sure you qualify for a Chapter 7? You have to pass a means test to qualify for this type of bankruptcy. If your income exceeds the median income in your state of residence, you won’t automatically qualify. A complex formula would be utilized to determine whether you are eligible to file a Chapter 7.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy could be the right choice for you if you do not qualify for a Chapter 7. It can also be a better option if certain circumstances exist. For example, you cannot stop a foreclosure if you are behind on your mortgage through a Chapter 7 filing, but a Chapter 13 could allow you to repay the arrearage over time. When a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, a complicated repayment plan is submitted to the court. This form of bankruptcy is so complex that there are some bankruptcy attorneys that do not handle them, so it is very unlikely that you could effectively file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy by yourself without any legal guidance.

We understand the fact that people who are experiencing financial difficulties are not particularly anxious to put out money to engage a bankruptcy lawyer. This is why we have established a very affordable fee structure, and our clients find that the value that we provide is extraordinary. Our firm offers free consultations to people in Portland, Eugene, Grants Pass, Bend, Tigard, and a few other Oregon cities, and we have locations in the state of Washington as well. If you would like to set up an appointment, send us a quick message through our contact page.