Skilled Bankruptcy Attorneys Providing Answers and Relief in Kingston, TN
The concept of going bankrupt can be a very scary idea for many of us; it can sound as though your life is over, that everything is lost, and that there is a risk that nothing will ever be the same again. While there is no denying that bankruptcy is a big step, it can also unlock a whole new life for you, allowing you a fresh start, and the freedom to begin your finances anew.
Making the decision to file for bankruptcy, not to mention taking the legal steps required to complete the process, can be complex, and so it is crucial that you have reliable, trustworthy legal advice on your side, to guide you at every step.
Do I Need To File For Bankruptcy?
Before making the decision, it is a good idea to step back and take an objective look at the facts. Filing for bankruptcy is a big decision, so make sure that you have a clear, defined, and accurate overview of your finances before you take the plunge. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are the most common for individuals, as they allow credit card debt, outstanding medical expenses and similar items to be totally wiped out. They can, however, only be used once every 7 years, so it is crucial that you make sure this really is the best solution for your personal situation.
How Is Bankruptcy Defined?
Bankruptcy is defined as a set of federal rules and laws, which can help individuals or businesses who are facing a higher amount of debt than they are able to pay. This is a topic covered primarily in the Bankruptcy Code; Title 11 of the United States Code.
Cases will be filed under one of three possible chapters: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13, and must be held in a federal court, as these are the only ones with jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases.
How Can Bankruptcy Help Me?
There are two primary goals behind the decision to allow a party to file for bankruptcy:
- Honest debtors are able to be relieved of most of their debts, offering a chance to start again with a clean slate
- Creditors who are owed money will be able to recover their outstanding costs; some plans will allow a debtor to establish a plan to repay their creditors, while in other cases, the property of the debtor will be totally liquidated, and used to meet outstanding payments.
What Is The Process For Filing For Bankruptcy?
Deciding to file for bankruptcy is never an overnight decision; there are certain steps and preparations which need to be made.
- Gather documentation: Before making a decision, you need a clear, honest overview of your financial situation. You should obtain a copy of your credit report to gather an accurate figure for the debt you owe – this should be from one of the major providers, such as Experian, Transunion or Equifax. This may not show all outstanding debts, such as medical bills or tax debts, so make sure you include a list of all omissions.
You will also need copies of the following:
– Tax returns going back 2 years
– Pay stubs or proof of income for the last 6 months
– Recent bank account statements
– Recent retirement account or brokerage account statements
– Valuations or appraisals of any real estate you own
– Copies of vehicle registration
– Any other documents relating to any assets, debts or income
- Take Credit Counselling: Before beginning the bankruptcy process, you are required to undergo credit counselling; this is a legal requirement, and individuals must undertake an approved course, as recommended by the Department of Justice. The purpose of this course is to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the best option, or whether you could opt for a repayment plan.
You will need to provide the agency with a list of your income and expenses, allowing you to review every option available to you. You will need to allow an hour for the course, and pay a fee of between $10 and $50 – this may be waived if your household income is under 50% of the poverty line. Completing the course awards you with a certificate of completion; this is needed for the court when you file your bankruptcy forms.
- Complete the Bankruptcy Forms: This can be a lengthy process; there are 23 separate forms, and a total of around 70 pages. You will need to disclose information on everything you spend, own and owe. It is best to go through this with an experienced attorney, as it can be very complex and confusing.
- Pay The Fee: Filing for bankruptcy incurs a fee; usually $335 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This must be paid in exact change, and can be paid in up to 4 installments within 120 days of the filing date if you are in financial hardship. In some cases, you may also be able to submit a second form, applying for a fee waiver; this is applicable if your household income falls below 150% of the federal poverty line. This can be denied at this stage.
- Take Your Forms To Court: You will need to print your bankruptcy forms and bring them to the court – remember that they must be single-sided. You will need to include your course certificate. This stage is known as ‘filing a petition’, and ensures that all debt collection against the debtors and their property is prevented, or ‘stayed.’ Creditors will be informed of the bankruptcy petition from the clerk of court, and in most cases, the debtor will be granted a ‘discharge’ of most debts, excusing them of liability to pay.
In some cases, there may be disputes which result in litigation; these are usually focused on questions over property ownership, value of property, outstanding debt balance, and fees.
How Can We Help?
Filing for bankruptcy can be a complicated and stressful experience, even if you know it is the best decision. Here at Davis Law Firm, we have helped clients across the region to manage and discharge their debts via bankruptcy, and our team have the skills and experience you need to make the process as smooth as possible.
Get in touch at (865) 354-3333. We are anxious to get started on your case.