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?

Our law firm offers bankruptcy assistance for clients in a number of cities in Oregon and Washington, including Salem, Portland, Grants Pass, Bend, Vancouver, and TriCities. When you decide to file for bankruptcy in one of these states, you have multiple options, and the circumstances will dictate the ideal course of action. For most individuals, it will be a choice between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is a “liquidation” bankruptcy, and you receive an automatic stay when you file. This temporarily prohibits creditors from trying to collect on debts that are outstanding. When you successfully file this type of bankruptcy, your unsecured debts like credit card balances and medical bills are completely eliminated. If you are a homeowner and you are current on your mortgage payments, as long as you do not have a great deal of equity, you can file for Chapter 7 and retain ownership of your property. You can also keep your car if you are not behind on the payments and you have limited equity in the vehicle.

In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to be able to pass a means test. Though there are exceptions, if your income exceeds the median income in the state of your residence, you cannot qualify for a Chapter 7 liquidation. Under these circumstances, if your debt is unmanageable, you may want to opt for a Chapter 13 reorganization.

When you file for chapter 13, you are allowed to keep all of your property, and you use your disposable income to make monthly payments that you can afford. Also, if you are not current on your home or car payments, you can make up these payments over time through the chapter 13 and retain ownership of your home or car. A chapter 7 will only temporarily delay a creditor from foreclosing or repossession if you are not current.

In addition to these two forms of bankruptcy, there is Chapter 11, which is a reorganization plan for businesses and individuals who have very high levels of debt. Chapter 12 is a reorganization bankruptcy that is available to certain family farmers and fishermen.

If you are a resident of Portland, Grants Pass, Salem, Vancouver or TriCities, we will be more than glad to provide you with a free bankruptcy case evaluation. These sessions are very relaxed, and we make every effort to make our clients completely comfortable every step of the way. You can simply click this link to take the first step, and the professionals here at OlsenDaines will take care of the rest.

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.