Hyattsville Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Eliminating Debt in Silver Spring, Washington D.C., and All of Maryland
If you have little to no means of paying your bills and are experiencing the worst consequences of debt, it may be time to consider filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is specifically designed for individuals who cannot reasonably afford to repay creditors. The process can help you avoid damaging collection actions and eliminate unsecured debts.
Our Hyattsville Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer has over 20 years of legal experience and can provide you with the personalized guidance you need to overcome overwhelming debt. Our team at The Law Offices of Brian C. Williams understands the intricacies of the bankruptcy process and has facilitated relief for hundreds of clients. We can determine whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you and assist you with navigating each stage of the process. Our firm is compassionate to the financial difficulties you are experiencing and is committed to helping you secure the fresh financial start you deserve.
About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Maryland
Should I File for Chapter 7?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the type of bankruptcy most people imagine when they think about the institution. However, not everyone will necessarily qualify to file for Chapter 7 relief. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended for people with little to no disposable income.
Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland
To determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to pass the Means Test. Compare your current average income from the preceding six months to the average median income for your household size in the state. If your income is less than the average median income, you pass the Means Test and are eligible for Chapter 7 relief.
If your income exceeds the average median income, you may still qualify but will need to complete an extra step. Calculate your current disposable income by subtracting qualifying expenses from your current income. The resulting figure is your current disposable income.
If you have too much disposable income, you will not be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but can instead most likely file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Evaluating whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be confusing, especially if you need to determine your current disposable income. Our Hyattsville Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can perform all of the necessary calculations and determine your eligibility.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is “liquidation bankruptcy," meaning your non-exempt property will be turned over to the Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to your case. The Trustee will sell, or "liquidate," your non-exempt property and use the proceeds to partially repay your creditors.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not intended to punish you or leave you with nothing. You will be able to "exempt" certain types of property from the Liquidation process, including equity in your home, your vehicle, clothing, furniture, personal possessions, retirement accounts, certain government benefits, and more. We can help you minimize the impact of liquidation and leverage exemption schedules to allow you to keep as much as possible.
A typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the following steps:
Filing of the Bankruptcy Petition. Your petition will need to be filed with the appropriate Bankruptcy Court. The filing of this petition initiates the bankruptcy process and triggers the automatic stay, the court order that provides immediate relief by halting all pending or ongoing collection actions. The automatic stay is what will stop the sale of your home in foreclosure proceedings, any garnishments, or any impending repossessions. Once you file your petition, a bankruptcy estate will be created and will include any property you have legal or equitable interest in. You will need to continue making scheduled payments to secured creditors if you intend to keep the property following the bankruptcy.
Filing of Schedules and Statements of Financial Affairs. This step is usually completed concurrently with the filing of the bankruptcy petition. You will need to file information detailing your financial affairs with the Bankruptcy Court. Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, you must list all assets that you have and all debts that you owe. You will also have to answer several questions that aim to help the Court better understand your financial situation.
Meeting of Creditors. Approximately one month after your bankruptcy petition and financial information are filed, you will attend what is called the "meeting of creditors" at the Office of the United States Trustee. At this meeting, the trustee assigned to your case will ask several general questions and seek to determine if there are any non-exempt assets that can be liquidated to pay debts. Your legal representation will attend this meeting with you and help you address any issues that may arise.
Liquidation. Non-exempt assets in the bankruptcy estate will be liquidated. Again, you can use state or federal exemptions to exempt many types of property from this process. Exempt assets are not liquidated, and you will be able to keep them once your bankruptcy case has concluded.
Discharge. After about four months from the date of your initial filing, you will receive a discharge that cancels your obligation to pay certain debts. Typically, you will be permitted to eliminate all unsecured debts. This includes credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code excludes certain debts from discharge. Most student loans, certain tax debts, debt obtained fraudulently, spousal support, and government fines cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.