Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney in Howell, New Jersey
Helping Clients Maximize the Benefits
Living with debt is exhausting and terrifying. When you are unable to pay, you may begin to face threats of foreclosure, collections lawsuits, and wage garnishments. You may feel like you have nowhere to turn, but Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to provide the lifeline that you need.
A successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you discharge certain types of debt while protecting you and your family from imminent creditor actions.
The Howell Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at Fedoroff Firm LLC can guide you through each step of your filing. Attorney Fedoroff has over 20 years of legal experience and has helped hundreds of clients successfully navigate bankruptcy. The team is compassionate to the stress you are experiencing and are committed to helping you build a more sustainable financial future.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of a bankruptcy case. It is often called liquidation bankruptcy because nonexempt (not-protected) assets could be sold to pay creditors as part of the process. Yet, in the majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, no assets are actually sold. Smart planning, strategy, and the assistance of an experienced lawyer can reduce the impact of the liquidation process or eliminate its impact entirely.
Usually, the value of the average Chapter 7 bankruptcy filer’s assets does not exceed the allowed exemption amounts – the amounts protected in a bankruptcy filing. This means that most people that file Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases get to keep all of their stuff while getting rid of a substantial amount of debt.
Prior to filing for relief under Chapter 7, you must make sure that you qualify. As a consumer, you will generally only qualify for either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
Your bankruptcy attorney will review your financial situation and evaluate your eligibility by helping you undergo a certain required Means Test. Step one of the Means Test requires an analysis of your annual household income to determine if you are under or over the income requirement for your household size. If your income is under the Means Test guidelines, then you qualify for Chapter 7.
Can You Qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy if You Make Too Much Money?
If your income is over the guidelines, you may still be eligible to file for Chapter 7, but you will need to complete a second step. In step two, your household budget will be evaluated to determine if there is any excess money left after all essential household expenses. This includes food, shelter, utilities, insurance plan payments, and any other necessities.
What is being measured here is your “disposable income” and thereby your ability to partially repay creditors. If you have little to no disposable income on a month-to-month basis, you will likely qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Should you have a substantial amount of disposable income, you may be expected to instead file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process
Once it is determined that you qualify for Chapter 7, you will be required to provide your bankruptcy attorney with numerous documents evidencing your income and assets. Your attorney will review your documentation and prepare your petition.
After your petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, you will be scheduled to appear at a mandatory meeting. This is called the First Meeting of Creditors (which can also be referred to as a 341A Meeting).
At this point you will also begin to benefit from the automatic stay, a court order issued once you formally file. The automatic stay prevents any collections actions from proceeding against you, meaning it can stop foreclosures, repossessions, creditor lawsuits, and wage garnishments. The automatic stay remains in effect until your bankruptcy has concluded.
Although your initial meeting is called a First Meeting of Creditors, it is rare for a creditor to appear. You are required to attend this meeting, or your case will be dismissed. You will be questioned by the Chapter 7 Trustee that was assigned to administer your case. It is this Chapter 7 Trustee’s job to review your petition and to evaluate your case.
The Chapter 7 Trustee will gather and review documentation that is necessary to determine if your case was properly filed and if there are any assets that could be sold for the benefit of your creditors. You must cooperate with the efforts of the Chapter 7 Trustee and provide all requested documentation. Attorney Fedoroff is an Howell Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney will work directly with you to communicate with your Trustee and advocate on your behalf.
After the First Meeting of Creditors is conducted, there is a deadline set for creditors and any other interested parties to object to your bankruptcy discharge. This discharge is the order from the Bankruptcy Court that absolves you of any legal obligation to pay your qualifying debts – a key benefit of filing. That deadline is typically set for 60 days after the meeting.
If a creditor has reason to believe that you have engaged in any wrongdoing (such as fraud, misrepresentation, or another deceptive practice), it must file a complaint to deny you your discharge within the court-set deadline. Once that deadline passes, creditors lose their right to file these types of complaints against you or pursue repayment for discharged debts. This 60-day window is required by United States bankruptcy laws, though no creditors end up objecting in the majority of Chapter 7 cases.
After the deadline has passed for creditors to object to your case and once the Chapter 7 Trustee has determined that there are no assets that can be sold, the Bankruptcy Court will proceed to finish up your case. As soon as the Bankruptcy Court has received the required documentation from the Chapter 7 Trustee, it will issue your Discharge Order and officially close your case. The average Chapter 7 case lasts approximately 4-5 months.
The Discharge Order will absolve you of unsecured debts. This means you will no longer be responsible for paying any credit card debt, medical debt, unpaid utility bills, and personal loans. Secured debts cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and certain other types of debt, like tax debt and student loan debt, have heavy exclusions. Attorney Fedoroff can help you evaluate which of your debts you will be able to discharge before your filing.
Let Attorney Fedoroff Help You Leverage
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Many are intimidated by the liquidation process inherent to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They worry they might lose their home or sentimental and valuable pieces of property. The reality is that if you qualify, you do not likely need to worry about losing much or any of your assets. Generous federal and state exemption schedules allow you to safeguard many of your most treasured and essential assets, and the Howell Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at Fedoroff Firm LLC can work to reduce or eliminate the process’s negative impact while maximizing its benefits. She will serve as your legal partner and advocate throughout the entirety of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.