Bankruptcy is the legal provision for individuals and businesses to have a financial fresh-start. Good, hard-working people sometimes have bad circumstances happen that they can’t control.  I help people in central Oklahoma start anew and regain their financial control.

The most common examples that cause people to need to file for bankruptcy relief include loss of a job, death of a spouse, divorce, and substantial unexpected medical bills. Typically, in these situations, people get deep into debt just trying to pay their monthly expenses. Fees, interest, and fines snowball leaving them without sufficient income to repay their debts for decades, or ever. They need a fresh financial start. Fortunately the law provides these good people protection from most creditors and allows them to get back on their feet.

When you consider filing for bankruptcy, you will have some options as far as different bankruptcy chapters that may meet your need.

Chapter 7

This is a straight debt liquidation where a person’s unsecured debts are discharged by a federal Bankruptcy Court, with the exception of most student loans, taxes, child support, alimony, court fines, criminal restitution, and personal injury caused by drunk driving or while driving under the influence of drugs. The person filing for debt relief is referred to as the “debtor.” The debtor is normally represented by a qualified bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy estate is created at the time the bankruptcy petition is filed with the Court. A bankruptcy trustee is assigned to the case. The debtor will be allowed to keep all assets that are exempt from creditors, according to applicable law. The Trustee may have unexempt assets gathered or sold, if any, and the proceeds distributed to creditors. The debtor may by able to keep certain secured assets (e.g. a home or car) for which they can afford to pay and for which they are not behind on payments. This is done through a reaffirmation agreement with the creditor. The debtor may surrender secured assets for which they no longer want to be responsible. Married debtors can file jointly or one married person may file individually.

The Chapter 7 Process at the Ross-Jones Law Office

The bankruptcy attorney determines which bankruptcy chapter the debtor qualifies for by entering the debtor’s pay statements and other income for the six months prior to filing, into a bankruptcy means test.  If the debtor qualifies for the Chapter 7, the debtor gathers the remaining documents required to complete the petition and related documents, provides those documents to the attorney, and completes a pre-filing credit counseling class online or by phone. The debtor ensures the bankruptcy attorney receives information regarding all of his or her assets and all of his or her debts and creditors. The bankruptcy attorney fills out all the paperwork and reviews it with the debtor to ensure it is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge and belief.  When the petition and related documents are complete, the debtor and the attorney sign the paperwork and the attorney files the petition with the Court. The debtor completes a post-filing financial education course online or by phone. The bankruptcy attorney files the completed course certificate and provides all required information to the bankruptcy trustee. Approximately 30 days after filing, the debtor and the bankruptcy attorney meet briefly with the assigned bankruptcy trustee at the “Meeting of Creditors.” Creditors may attend the meeting to ask questions. Normally, only secured creditors with which a debtor has a reaffirmation agreement will attend. Approximately 60 days later, in most cases where the debtor has no assets to distribute, the Court issues a “discharge” of the applicable debts, which means that the debtor is no longer responsible for paying those debts. Only those debts incurred prior to filing and listed in the bankruptcy documentation are discharged. The debtor is responsible for any debts incurred after the date of filing or that were not previously listed. A debtor can only receive a Chapter 7 discharge once every 8 years.

Chapter 13

This involves a Payment Plan for Debtors with Regular Income.  In some cases, a debtor may earn too much money or have too much monthly disposable income to qualify for a Chapter 7.  Furthermore, a debtor may want to catch up on house or car payments in order to keep those assets. In these events, a Chapter 13 may be needed. The debtor and the attorney determine a monthly budget for the debtor. The budget and a payment plan using disposable income is filed with the bankruptcy petition and related documentation. A payment plan generally ranges from three to five years. Five years is more common. The Court must approve the debtor’s repayment plan and budget.  Liability to creditors ends when the plan is successfully completed.  A bankruptcy trustee is appointed, collects approved monthly payments, pays the creditors their share, and assures the terms of the plan are being followed. The debtor has protection by the Court from his or her creditors during the term of the plan as long as the plan is being followed. Many other aspects and restrictions of bankruptcy are similar to a Chapter 7, as described above.

Chapter 12

This is like a Chapter 13 for family farmers and fishermen.

Chapter 11

Big businesses mainly use this.  The business owners may continue to operate the business but the business’ payment plan must be approved by the Court and the creditors. There is no bankruptcy trustee unless the Judge decides one is required. If a trustee is appointed for the case, the trustee takes control of the business and its property during the term of the bankruptcy.

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Impact of Bankruptcy on Credit

A bankruptcy is normally on a person’s credit report for ten years and may affect a person’s credit score.  Often, however, by the time a person decides file for bankruptcy, he or she has very little of a credit score that is left to protect. It is advisable to speak with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney on ways to boost your credit score after bankruptcy.

When you come to the Ross-Jones Law Office, you enter a guilt-free zone.  Our only goal is to help you get your financial fresh start, to get back on your feet again, and for you to breath that big sigh of relief.

 

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Debt Relief (outside of Bankruptcy)

Under some situations, an attorney can negotiate a settlement with creditors, outside of bankruptcy, that is acceptable to all parties.  Please feel free to contact Elizabeth if you would like to determine if debt negotiation, rather than bankruptcy, is an option for you.

How to Get Started

Elizabeth invites you to schedule an appointment to meet with her and discuss what options are available to you.  At the consultation, Elizabeth will share with you the costs for her services.  You may request an appointment with Elizabeth by contacting her directly.  All information you provide is strictly confidential.  The initial consultation is free.

Notice: We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Disclaimer: Information provided is a service of Elizabeth Ross-Jones, Attorney at Law.  It does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, please contact Elizabeth Ross-Jones or another a qualified attorney in your area.