bankruptcy expertise

Bankruptcy “Expertise” And The Layton Law Firm

We are happy to have been chosen by Expertise.com as one of the top 25 Bankruptcy Lawyers or Bankruptcy Law Firms in Charlotte for 2019. Their listing of bankruptcy attorneys in the top 25 can be found HERE. This is our second year on their list!

Yesterday, we also received a call from a bankruptcy attorney in Baton Rouge, LA wanting to know the details of our successful case regarding Bank of America bonuses for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy client. It’s always a compliment to be asked to discuss a case or a particular situation. We know, because often we are seeking advice from other attorneys for similar aspects of a case they handled. The bankruptcy community in Charlotte and throughout the country is very helpful to one another in that way. We are proud to be part of it.

Lastly, we are also proud of the Client Reviews our clients have chosen to leave for us. It’s a sign we’re not only doing good work. It’s also a sign we’re making clients feel good about their choice to use The Layton Law Firm, PLLC.

Considering Filing Bankruptcy?

If you’re considering filing bankruptcy, you deserve to find out more about your options. First, one conversation with a bankruptcy attorney will help you decide. Second, by finding out more about your options, you may discover there’s another way to address your debt concerns outside of filing bankruptcy. An example would be Debt Settlement.  Lastly, the peace of mind that comes with taking action is not to be overlooked.

Protecting Clients Is What We Do

Whether we are working on a personal injury settlement or a bankruptcy, our job is to protect our clients. As a result, we have very close relationships with our bankruptcy clients. Those relationships are necessary to make sure we are disclosing full and accurate information to the  court. Full disclosure is required, in exchange for the powerful relief of bankruptcy.

If a creditor challenges your bankruptcy filing, we will be there to defend you. If a trustee objects to any aspect of your filing, we will be there to defend you. Our negotiation skills and ongoing relationship with the bankruptcy court combine to help you get the best results possible.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, you should speak with someone. A phone call or in-person meeting is often the best avenue for gaining real clarity about your options. Consequently, we conduct phone consultations every day. If you’d like to request a consultation, simply click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. You can also call 704.749.7747 to speak with a Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer today. The consultation is always free and we’re here to help.

can creditors take your property

Can Creditors Take Your Property?

The short answer is yes, creditors can take your property. However, they have to go to great length to do so. Below, we ask a few questions, and then provide some answers. Call us if you have questions—we’re here to help! 704.749.7747.

Is There A Valid Debt?

The first question when deciding the answer to the question “Can creditors can take your property?” is whether there is a valid debt. In most cases, the answer is yes. As a result, the creditor is entitled to be re-paid, per the contract you signed with them.

Do They Need A Judgment?

Except for the repossession of motor vehicles, in most cases the creditor will need a judgment in place in order to take your property. A judgment is not that difficult to obtain. As a result, most creditors are successful in procuring a judgment. One thing to keep in mind is that a judgment requires a lawsuit. If you have not been served a lawsuit, this means there is no judgment. Once a creditor files a lawsuit, you have a chance to defend against it. However, if the debt is valid there is no reason to spend time and energy fighting the judgment. One thing you might consider is responding to the Complaint (lawsuit) with an Answer, and ask for a hearing. At the hearing, you can ask the judge for an extension of time to consider filing bankruptcy or pay the creditor. This will buy you 30-90 days before a judgment is entered.

The Creditor Has A Judgment—What’s Next?

After a creditor receives a judgment against you, their next step is to try to enforce that judgment. First, the creditor must send you a Notice of Right to Claim Exemptions. It’s very important you complete this form. As a result of completing this form, you will disclose your assets and also invoke the protection of your State Exemptions. These exemptions protect you in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and in a situation where a creditor is trying to take your property.

Second, the creditor will need to obtain a writ of execution. This is a court order from the Sheriff to take possession of property. Consequently, you may now be facing the loss of property. Communicating with the Sheriff’s office about your writ of execution is a very good idea. The Sheriff will understand if you tell them you are requesting some time to file bankruptcy—they may even tell you they will give you 30 days before executing on the writ of execution.

Lastly, the Sheriff will carry out the writ of execution to seize property to be turned over to the creditor in satisfaction of the debt. Or, the Sheriff will order the sale of property to liquidate it in order to pay the creditor.

Foreclosure Is Slightly Different

All of the above is true for foreclosure, except the process differs slightly. A mortgage creditor does not need a judgment against you to file foreclosure. They must simply show in court that you are behind on mortgage payments. You will receive notice of a preliminary foreclosure hearing. You should attend this hearing and ask for an extension to file bankruptcy or get caught up on your mortgage payments. Ultimately, if you don’t get caught up, the court will set a foreclosure date. You have until 10 days after the foreclosure sale date to file a Chapter 13 to save your house.

How Can You Stop A Creditor From Taking Your Property?

Bankruptcy is the most secure way to stop a creditor from taking your property. The filing of a bankruptcy invokes The Automatic Stay in bankruptcy. This prevents creditors from attempting to collect a debt in any manner. If necessary to save an asset, you can file an emergency bankruptcy petition with the court, and our firm can help with this.

What If The Creditor Is Threatening To Take My Car?

This video about Vehicle Repossession by attorney Ian Lyngklip gives great instruction on how to protect your car from a lender who is aggressively attempting to take it. Again, the filing of a bankruptcy will stop this process altogether and we’re here to help.

Speak With An Attorney Today

If you have questions about “Can creditors take your property?” please call us at 704.749.7747. Filing bankruptcy will dramatically change your life for the better—we’ve seen it over and over with our clients. You can also click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you today. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Does Bankruptcy Include Car Loans

Does Bankruptcy Include Car Loans?

If you’re wondering, does bankruptcy include car loans, the answer is yes it does. When filing bankruptcy, you actually get a choice when it comes to car loans. This article addresses a few scenarios regarding car loans in bankruptcy, and we hope it’s helpful. If you have further questions or would like to take next steps to file, call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out shortly.

Repossessed Vehicle Car Loans

If you have an old car debt still lingering on your credit report, a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will address the debt. You will not have to pay the face value on the debt and there’s nothing the creditor can do to keep you from discharging the debt. As long as the property (the car) has been returned to the lender, or totaled out by your insurance company due to an accident, the bankruptcy filing will address the old car debt.

Can I Keep The Car I’m Driving?

If you currently have a car with a loan, you can choose to keep the car and the loan, when you file bankruptcy. Nothing will change between you and your vehicle lender. The general rule is if you want to keep the car, you have to keep the debt. However, you can also surrender your car to the lender and force them to take the debt with it. Bankruptcy puts you in a powerful position in this regard.

What If I’m Behind On Car Payments?

If you’re behind on car payments you’ll need to file a Chapter 13 to allow you to catch up on the payments. This is a great solution which allows you to keep the car, and forces the lender to give you some time to catch up. You can file a Chapter 7 if you’re behind but by the time your 341 meeting comes, you’ll need to be current on payments. You can also choose to Redeem Your Vehicle in a Chapter 7.

What Happens When I Surrender A Vehicle In Bankruptcy?

If you choose to surrender the vehicle in bankruptcy, you simply need to make arrangement with the lender to deliver the car to them, or allow them to pick up the car at a location you designate. This can be your house, work, or some other location. You will most likely be able to drive the vehicle a few weeks after the bankruptcy filing, but arrangements will need to be made to physically deliver the car to the lender quickly.

What If I Need A New Car?

Most clients in need of a new car, purchase one right before filing bankruptcy. Then, when the bankruptcy is filed, the client indicates they want to keep the new car and the new car loan. They also indicate they want to surrender the old car and the old car loan. It’s tougher to get a loan right after filing bankruptcy, which is why this order of things tends to work. Again, the new car lender relationship is not complicated by the bankruptcy filing. You’ll continue to make payments on the new car through the bankruptcy and after.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

Does bankruptcy include car loans? YES. If you have questions about whether bankruptcy includes car loans, please feel free to call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Does bankruptcy clear federal tax debt

Does Bankruptcy Clear Federal Tax Debt?

Bankruptcy does clear federal tax debt in some instances. This article will discuss the conditions you need in order to have your federal tax debt discharged when you file bankruptcy. If you’d like to speak with someone about federal tax debt and whether bankruptcy can help, you can also just call 704.749.7747 and we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Or, you can click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you.

Not sure how much tax debt you have, or from which years? Click to order a Federal Tax Transcript.

Tax Debt In Chapter 7

If you have federal or state tax debt and are considering a Chapter 7, your bankruptcy filing will discharge the tax debt if the following conditions are true:

  • The federal tax debt is income tax debt
  • The federal tax debt is at least three years old
  • You filed a tax return related to the debt

As it relates to the filing of a return, the return related to the tax debt must be filed at least two years before the filing of the bankruptcy. Additionally, the income tax debt you seek to discharge, must be at least 240 days old. This means the IRS must have assessed the debt more than 240 days prior to filing bankruptcy.

Any tax debt that does not meet the criteria above, or fails to qualify because you were guilty of tax evasion, will survive the bankruptcy filing. The taxes won’t keep you from an otherwise successful bankruptcy filing, but when your bankruptcy case finally closes, you will still have the tax debt which does not meet the above requirements.

Tax Debt In Chapter 13

The same rules apply for taxes in Chapter 13. However, any tax debt which survives in Chapter 13 must be paid in full during the duration of your Chapter 13 plan. For example, if you have tax debt which is only one year old at the time of the bankruptcy filing, that debt will be paid in full throughout the Chapter 13. This is not necessarily bad news—your Chapter 13 filing forces the federal and state government to allow you to schedule your payback of taxes on a 3 or 5 year plan in Chapter 13. Additionally, penalties and interest are limited during your Chapter 13.

Federal Tax Liens In Bankruptcy

If you have a tax debt which has been recorded as a lien, that lien will not be addressed by the bankruptcy. While your bankruptcy may eliminate the personal obligation under the tax debt, if the lien attached to real property (real estate, your home, etc.), that lien would survive the bankruptcy. This means that when the real property is eventually sold, the tax debt will need to be paid at that time.

Further Reading

Need help with an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing? Call us to take steps today to get filed quickly– end foreclosure or judgment collection immediately.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Attorney Today

We know that financial stress is overwhelming. One phone call can change your life. Call us today to find out answers to questions, and decide if filing a bankruptcy is the right step for you. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 and we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Or, you can click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

filing bankruptcy while married

Filing Bankruptcy While Married

If you’re considering filing bankruptcy while married, you’re not alone. Thousands of married couples are in your situation, and the bankruptcy filing statistics are easily found online, showing you that you’re not alone. The good news is one spouse can file bankruptcy without affecting the credit of the non-filing spouse. This article contains an examination of a few scenarios where you may want to file bankruptcy while married—even if your spouse isn’t filing with you.

One Spouse’s Debt Can Cause Anxiety In A Relationship

If one spouse brings debt to a marriage, despite best intentions, the other spouse may feel resentful of the pre-marriage debt. At the very least, as a couple, you deserve a ‘fresh start’ together and that includes being free of debt you did not decide to incur together.

Computing The Means Test In Bankruptcy

If you’re filing bankruptcy while married, you will need to disclose the income of both spouses. This is done for the purpose of passing The Means Test in bankruptcy. The reason is that the federal bankruptcy code uses household income as the starting point for determining whether you qualify for bankruptcy. If you live with your spouse, you’ll need to count their income. The good news is most couples still qualify even when counting the income of their spouse.

Lastly, there is an option to take a Marital Deduction on The Means Test. This option allows you to more accurately show the court the amount of the household income which is being used by the non-filing spouse. Ultimately, this deduction reduces your income for The Means Test. The deduction is easy to calculate and your bankruptcy attorney will walk you through it.

Protecting Your Spouse’s Credit In Bankruptcy

Your spouse’s credit will not suffer due to your bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy will not show on their credit report, nor will it come up when applying for credit of any kind. When one spouse files for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy only affects the debts of the spouse who is filing. In other words, the marriage does not change the effect of the bankruptcy from a credit standpoint.

Protecting Your Spouse’s Assets In Bankruptcy

None of your spouse’s own assets will be affected by your bankruptcy. If you have joint assets such as a house or a jointly owned vehicle, those assets can typically be protected in bankruptcy. The good news is only half of their value is counted for your bankruptcy filing when married. Lastly, if your spouse has a 401k or savings account in their name only, those assets are not part of the bankruptcy filing.

Joint Debt In Bankruptcy

If you have joint debt with your spouse, you may want to consider filing together. However, it is still perfectly fine to file without your spouse. One thing to consider is the obligation on joint debt. Most marital debt obligations are “joint and several” liability. This means that both spouses are obligated for the full balance of the debt. If one spouse file bankruptcy, that spouse will no longer be responsible for the debt; however, the non-filing spouse will still be responsible for the entire balance of the joint debt. If the non-filing spouse decides to file at a later date, that would of course eliminate their obligation on the debt.

Your non-filing spouse may choose to attempt Debt Settlement instead of filing bankruptcy. This is a common way to successfully address a small amount of joint debt or debt that belongs only to the non-filing spouse.

Vehicles In Bankruptcy When My Spouse Isn’t Filing

The only vehicles which must be disclosed as assets are those vehicles which are titled in the name of the individual who is filing. If you transferred title to a vehicle from one spouse to another within four years of filing bankruptcy, that transfer should be disclosed in your bankruptcy filing. The transfer most likely will not negatively affect your bankruptcy filing, but disclosing it is in alignment with the court’s requirements for full disclosure of all transfers to family members and “insiders” (family and friends) within a four year period preceding your bankruptcy filing.

Further Reading

You can read hundreds of articles like this one on our Bankruptcy Blog.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you’d like to set up a free consultation about filing bankruptcy while married, you can call us at 704.749.7747 or click to request a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you. We know you have choices, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.

benefits of chapter 7

Benefits Of Chapter 7 — Bankruptcy Can Change Your Life

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can change your life. We have seen over and over the benefits of Chapter 7, and how much relief it provides for clients. While we understand the desire to pay back creditors, we encourage clients to put their emotional and financial life ahead of creditors. This includes making smart choices for yourself and your family. The benefits of Chapter 7 can be part of that overall plan. We’ve written articles about Whether You Qualify For Chapter 7, which you can read as well.

Get Rid Of Credit Card Debt

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates credit card debt, provided the debt is more than 90 days old. Credit card lenders have no defense against the benefits of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so long as you abide by the rules of bankruptcy. Primarily this means disclosing all pertinent information to your bankruptcy attorney before filing, and being honest with the court.

Eliminate Medical Bills

If your medical bills are more than 90 days old at the time of filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will be discharged by the bankruptcy filing. Whether you can continue to treat with a doctor or medical facility after you’ve filed Chapter 7 depends on the provider. Emergency rooms and hospitals can’t refuse you treatment, whether you have unpaid bills or even if you’ve filed bankruptcy. As to smaller doctor offices, they can choose to no longer treat you for routine healthcare visits. The easiest way to protect a relationship with a doctor you like is to file bankruptcy, and then reach out to the doctor to tell them you have filed Chapter 7 but you will continue to pay on their bill. This will keep your relationship intact.

Clean Up Repossession Debt

If you have remainder debt from a repossession, a bankruptcy will remove your personal liability from that debt. In a vehicle possession, the lender will typically repossess the car and sell it. If you owe more than they recover at the sale, you are responsible for the remainder. By filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you eliminate your liability on the remainder debt.

Eliminate Upside Down Debt

When you file Chapter 7, you have a choice as to whether to keep your property (and the debt that goes with it), or surrender your property (and the debt that goes with it). For example, if you own a vehicle worth $2,500.00 that has a loan balance of $7,000.00, you essentially own a car worth negative $4,500.00. If you went to trade in that vehicle on another vehicle, you would be carrying that extra debt with you into the new purchase. By filing Chapter 7, you can choose to surrender the vehicle to the lender, with all of the extra debt. It’s easier to get into a new vehicle than you might think—we help clients with this situation every day in our office, and it makes all the difference for them.

The same is true of home ownership. If you own a home with negative equity, you can choose to surrender that home and the debt, in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This prevents the lender from forcing a foreclosure where you may be responsible for any mortgage payoff shortage after the foreclosure.

Discharge Old Tax Debt

While the general rule is that taxes survive Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are plenty of exceptions. If your tax debt is more than 3 years old, and you filed the tax returns a significant time prior to filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a good chance you can eliminate the tax debt with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The rules surrounding this are somewhat complicated and deserve a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney in order to accurately determine if your tax debt will qualify for discharge in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can also consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to manage tax debt which is less than 3 years old.

Eliminate Judgments

The benefits of Chapter 7 can also include eliminating judgments you may have against you. In conjunction with your Chapter 7 filing, your attorney can file a motion which will address these judgments, provided you either do not own real estate, or you qualify under the equity rules regarding real estate in Chapter 7.

Speak With A Chapter 7 Attorney Today

Consultations are free, and it feels good to take steps to protect yourself and your family. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 or you can request a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you shortly. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

how does bankruptcy affect you

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You?

While this question is general, we understand the concern. Most clients want to understand what it will be like during their bankruptcy, right after their bankruptcy, and a few years down the road from bankruptcy. This article is meant to address the question “How does bankruptcy affect you?” and we hope it helps. You can also read more specifically about how quickly you can file bankruptcy, or about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

How Are Things Right Now?

It’s important to put things into perspective when wondering how bankruptcy will affect you. It’s worthwhile to take stock of some of the experiences you’re having currently. They may include:

Creditors Pursuing You

No Savings For Emergencies

Inability To Save For The Future

Feeling Like You’re Failing Financially

Stress And Anxiety

All of these are very real concerns. Filing bankruptcy helps every single one of these concerns, from the moment you decide to file.

What Happens When I File Bankruptcy?

Creditor Calls Stop—Creditors are no longer allowed to contact you or pursue debt, in accordance with The Automatic Stay in bankruptcy. You get this protection from the day your bankruptcy lawyer files your case. We have addressed Credit Cards In Bankruptcy in a prior article.

Savings Increases—You immediately stop paying creditors with your hard-earned income, and can use those funds to make sure rent or mortgage is paid. You can make your car payments on time. Or, if there is extra money leftover, you can put it aside for savings.

You Feel Financially Healthy—With all of your unsecured debt gone, the immediate effect of bankruptcy is to free you from the burden of having overwhelming debt that you can’t keep up with over time.

Stress Melts Away—It’s amazing how stressful financial situations are. Without aggressive creditors calling you and reminding you every day that you owe them money, you’re free to focus on what’s important to you. The household budget is suddenly ‘balanced’ and you can afford necessities.

Credit Score—Immediately after filing bankruptcy, your credit score will drop due to the filing. Unless your credit was perfect before filing, you’ll find this dip in your credit score is a small price to pay for all of the benefits you receive upon filing bankruptcy. You can read more about your Credit Score In Bankruptcy as well.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You One Year After Bankruptcy?

Credit Score—About a year after filing bankruptcy, your credit score will recover to where it was just before filing. From there, you can continue to re-build your credit quickly.

You’ll Receive Credit Card Offers—While most clients swear off credit cards upon filing bankruptcy, receiving offers for credit cards a year after filing bankruptcy is a sign of healthy credit. It means if you do decide to buy a car or need credit, it’s available for you. The reason for this is when you file bankruptcy you eliminate a lot of debt. From a creditor’s standpoint you become a great candidate for extending credit. Creditors also know you can’t file bankruptcy again for roughly eight years, so they count on you paying your monthly credit card bill if they offer you a credit card.

You’ll Have Opportunities To Save—With high monthly payments to creditors out of the way, you will find that each month you can set aside some money. This may be for savings, a future vacation, or some other necessity life brings your way. The peace of mind that comes with having some savings is priceless.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect You A Few Years After Bankruptcy?

Your Credit Score Fully Recovers—While bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for about 8 years, it doesn’t mean your credit score can’t recover much sooner than that. By making on time payments on mortgage, car, or other debt, you’ll accrue a good credit rating over time.

You Can Buy A House—Two years after filing bankruptcy, you’ll become eligible for some federal loan programs for purchasing a home. Four years after filing, you’ll become eligible for most private funding available on the marketplace from lenders like Quicken, Wells Fargo, or other mainstream mortgage providers.

You’ll Know You Made The Right Choice—With all of the financial options in front of you, and with all of your debt behind you, your decision to file bankruptcy will reveal itself as one of the best decisions you’ve made for yourself and your family.

Further Reading

How Does Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse?

Click to read over 100 Bankruptcy Blog Articles.

Speak With A Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you would like to get some questions answered, or take the next steps toward a painless bankruptcy filing, call us at 704.749.7747. You can also click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we’ll reach out to you. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

How Fast Can I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

How fast you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy depends a lot on how quickly you can provide information to your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney. In some instances, you can file an emergency Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which puts the Automatic Stay into effect while you and your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney continue to gather necessary information for the remainder of your filing. Click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we’ll call you today.

Reasons To File Chapter 7 Quickly

Wage Garnishment—If you’re facing a wage garnishment, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will put a halt to the wage garnishment. Whether this will be a permanent solution or not depends on the type of debt which gave rise to the garnishment. If the debt will be discharged in bankruptcy, you should not experience the garnishment again. If the debt will not be discharged in bankruptcy (Spousal support, some IRS debt, etc.) then the garnishment may start again after your Chapter 7 closes out, or after the creditor applies for and receives Relief From Stay.

To Prevent Foreclosure—If you have a pending foreclosure, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will halt the foreclosure process. Keep in mind, this may only be a temporary delay in the foreclosure process. Unless you’re able to get current with the mortgage lender quickly after filing, the lender will probably appeal to the court for Relief From Stay, in order to once again pursue their foreclosure. Even if the foreclosure does move forward, you may be entitled to some proceeds from the foreclosure under the Homestead Exemption in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

To Prevent Repossession—If your vehicle is about to be repossessed, filing a Chapter 7 will freeze the vehicle lender in their pursuit to repossess. You’ll need to be ready to get current on your loan before your 341 meeting (40 days after filing), or expect the repossession efforts to continue at that time. You’ll also be given a chance to surrender the vehicle, if you want to get rid of the car and the heavy debt associated with it.

To Stop A Lawsuit—Filing a Chapter 7 will put the court on notice that you have filed and the Automatic Stay in bankruptcy is in effect. This serves to stop judicial proceedings against you. Depending upon the type of debt which gave rise to the lawsuit, there is a good chance our Chapter 7 will eliminate the debt and the lawsuit with it. In that case, the creditor will no longer have any rights against you.

Requirements To File Chapter 7 Quickly

Our firm can generally work as quickly as you would like, to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The answer to “How fast can I file Chapter 7” is often: how fast can you do or provide the following:

Take the required online Credit Counseling course

Provide six months history of income

Provide two years of tax returns

Provide a current monthly budget of income and expenses

Provide limited other necessary information required to file

Pay Your Attorney Fee

Further Reading

You can read more articles on our Bankruptcy Blog Articles page, or click one of the recent articles below:

How Long Will My Bankruptcy Take?

Can I File Bankruptcy And Keep My Car?

Speak With A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney Today

Find out how fast you can file a Chapter 7 by calling us today at 704.749.7747 or by clicking for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. We will reach out to you within 24 hours to discuss your reason for filing, and to put a plan together to fight your creditors by using the powerful resource of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. When it comes to choosing a law firm, we know you have options. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

File bankruptcy

Social Security Benefits And The Means Test In Chapter 7

If your income is low enough, you will automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, many clients have income slightly above the median income level, and must pass The Means Test in order to qualify for Chapter 7. This is not uncommon. The Means Test is simply a comparison of your income to your debts—some actual, and some allowances by the bankruptcy code.

Fortunately, The Means Test focuses on your most recent six months of income. This allows you to take advantage of some timing, if you have inconsistent income or unusual income which will not continue into the future. Your bankruptcy attorney will discuss this in more detail with you.

Types Of Income Included In The Means Test

The safe assumption is that every dollar hitting your accounts each month will be considered income for the purpose of The Means Test. This includes spousal support, support from family members, W-2 income, 1099 income, retirement income, and 401k early withdrawals.

Types Of Income NOT Included In The Means Test

While Veterans’ benefits DO count as income for The Means Test, Social Security benefits DO NOT. This means you may pass The Means Test if a large part of your income each month is Social Security benefits.

Current Monthly Income

Current Monthly Income is different from The Means Test calculation. Once you pass The Means Test, you still have to complete a budget reflective of your current income for the month. This is different from your income from the past six months. Additionally, you get to compare your actual expenses to your actual income for the month, where The Means Test does not always allow you to take your actual expenses. Even though your Social Security benefits will be counted in your Current Monthly Income, if you passed The Means Test, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to Current Monthly Income calculations.

Further Reading

Want to learn more? Read one of over 100 articles on our Bankruptcy Blog Articles.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

The easiest way to get a better idea of whether you qualify for Chapter 7 is to speak with a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney today. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. After a brief discussion with an attorney, we can usually give you a good idea as to whether you will qualify for Chapter 7. We can also help confirm if a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is the best choice for you.

File Bankruptcy Layton Law

How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?

There are two parts to your bankruptcy: pre-petition and post-petition. During the pre-petition phase of bankruptcy, the pace at which we move is generally determined by the client. In other words, if the goal is to file the bankruptcy, our firm is usually ready to do so before the client is ready. So the timing will be dependent upon how quickly you can get us the information we need, and payment. A good estimate is that it will typically take 2 weeks to a month minimum, to file. Most clients are filed within 2 months of beginning to work with us.

Post-petition, your bankruptcy filing will move along a more or less ‘set’ schedule, as determined by the court and outlined below. While there are some exceptions, you can generally rely on the timelines below.

Five Phases To Get Your Bankruptcy Filed

Entering Information – After a brief phone consultation, we will provide you with a login and password where you can begin entering information online. You do NOT need to manually enter information about your creditors. We will take care of that by ordering a credit report through our bankruptcy software. You will need to provide us with information about your last 6 months of income, you monthly expenses, and whatever property you own.

Review and Follow-Up – We will review your information and follow-up with you about specific items. For instance, if you tell us you sold property in the last 2 years, we will probably ask you for some specifics about that sale. We will also be able to confirm for you whether you will pass The Means Test for Chapter 7, and begin to estimate a payment if you’re filing Chapter 13.

Submitting Documents – There’s a list of documents we MUST have before we can provide you with a rough draft of your bankruptcy petition. This phase of gathering information is extremely important, as our bankruptcy filing with the court must match your actual account activity and filed tax returns, etc.

Online Credit Counseling – Prior to filing, you must complete an online credit counseling course. The course is paid for by our firm, and is purely educational. It’s not pass/fail. However, you will need to get the certification by completing the course. That certification is filed with your bankruptcy filing. Don’t worry, it’s all highly automated and the certificate comes directly to our email when you complete the online course.

Review and Sign Your Petition – Once we have gone over a draft of your bankruptcy petition and made any necessary changes, you will come into the office to physically sign your petition. The petition will then be filed electronically and a bankruptcy case number will be provided at that time. We will let you know immediately what your bankruptcy case number is and you can provide it to creditors if you receive any phone calls after filing.

Post-Petition Timeline

The Post-Petition timeline below is for Chapter 7 filings. While Chapter 13 filing have many of the same deadlines, you will not receive your Discharge until you make your final Chapter 13 plan payment. Chapter 13 plans are typically proposed at 60 months (5 years). While you can propose a shorter term, the total amount you pay will typically remain the same or increase. As a result, a shorter term results in a higher payment. We are happy to discuss this with you, as each Chapter 13 plan is unique.

Financial Management Course – (After filing, but before your 341 meeting date) Before you attend your 341 meeting, you should complete the 2nd and final online counseling course, known as the Financial Management course. It is purely educational and our firm pays for it. It is a requirement to receiving your Discharge in bankruptcy, so it’s important that you get it done. Don’t worry, we will remind you.

341 Meeting – (40 days after filing) About 5 days after filing, your case will be assigned a 341 meeting date. This date is typically about 40 days after filing, and in Charlotte it’s on a Wednesday. The meeting takes place near the Federal Courthouse, in a more informal setting with the bankruptcy trustee. There are typically no surprises at the 341 meeting. The trustee usually has reviewed your bankruptcy filing and asks a few follow up questions, and sometimes requests documents or bank statements which we have 14 days to supply to him or her.

Objections to Exemptions – (30 days after the 341 meeting) Your creditors and the trustee have 30 days after the 341 meeting to object to your Exemptions. Exemptions are statutory, and they are allowances which help you to protect your assets. For instance, there is a vehicle exemption of $3,500, a homestead exemption of $35,000, etc. We will go over all of your exemptions with you and use them to protect your property. Prior to filing your bankruptcy, you will know that your property is protected.

Objections To Discharge – (60 days after 341 meeting) The deadline for objections to Discharge is 60 days after the 341 meeting date. There’s nothing for you to do, but in our office we will be waiting to see if any creditors object to your Discharge. Typically, they do not. If they do, we will contact you and address the objection by filing a response with the court.

Entry of Discharge – Roughly 120 days after you file your bankruptcy, and all the deadlines for objections has passed, your Discharge will be entered, and your case will be closed.

Paying For Your Bankruptcy

We understand paying for bankruptcy is difficult when money is already tight. We try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to payment. We will gladly review your information before asking for any money from you. Once we confirm you will qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, we ask for a deposit. With the deposit made, we will continue to work on your case and you can tell your creditors you have legal representation. We can file your bankruptcy when you make your final payment.

Further Reading

If you’d like to read about additional bankruptcy topics, visit the Bankruptcy Articles page, where we have over 100 articles covering everything from credit scores to back taxes.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today

If you would like to discuss filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you today. Bankruptcy is powerful relief from debt. It truly is a fresh start. We’d be happy to help you on your way to recover, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.