Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyers in Ohio
Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you’re facing insurmountable debts that you can no longer afford to repay, filing for Chapter 7 in Ohio may be your best option. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can get you out from under your debt and give you a fresh start.
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a radical step. It may have serious obligations and consequences. The good news is that you do not have to take that step alone. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests during the bankruptcy process. Legal help and advice can give you the best chance of living a debt-free life.
Contact an Ohio Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney from Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, today. You will learn how our firm can help you resolve your debts by filing a Chapter 7 in Ohio.
What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as liquidation bankruptcy. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process involves the selling of all the debtor’s non-exempt assets. The sale of assets generates funds to pay off as much of the debtor’s debts as possible.
During the bankruptcy process, Ohio courts impose a “stay” that prohibits creditors from trying to collect on their debts. That means those creditors can’t contact the debtor about a debt. Nor can they file for foreclosure on the debtor’s home or seek to collect on a debt, repossess assets or garnish wages and bank accounts.
Once the debtor’s estate is liquidated and used to pay off debts, the bankruptcy court will discharge any remaining debts. When that is done, the creditors can no longer collect on those debts. However, some types of debts, such as student loan debt and child support obligations, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
How to File Chapter 7 in Ohio
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio involves several steps. All of these steps will be easier with a lawyer’s help. Following are the Chapter 7 bankruptcy requirements in Ohio:
1. Document your finances. First, you must gather information about your finances. That is done by collecting these documents:
- Pay stubs from the last several months
- Income statements from the past two years if you are self-employed or run your
- State and federal tax returns from the past two years
- Deeds and mortgages to real estate you own
- Titles and notes for vehicles you own Bank statements
- Brokerage account statements
- Retirement account statements
- Life insurance policies you hold
- Statements or records for public benefits you receive
- Bills and invoices you have received for your debts
2. Bankruptcy Counseling. Ohio bankruptcy law requires you to attend a credit and bankruptcy counseling course before filing for bankruptcy. You must attach a certificate of completion to your bankruptcy petition.
3. Bankruptcy Petition Forms. Next, fill out the bankruptcy petition forms provided by your local bankruptcy court. Each court may require certain forms unique to that court. Make sure you file in the correct court. Note: bankruptcy petitions require a filing fee unless your income is under 150 percent of the federal poverty line.
4. Second Counseling Course. After you file your bankruptcy petition, you must attend a second bankruptcy and credit counseling course.
5. Trustee Oversight. The court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your bankruptcy. The trustee will hold at least one hearing, known as a meeting of creditors. The trustee will confirm the information in your bankruptcy petition. The trustee will also hear any objections from creditors about your bankruptcy.
6. Liquidation. Assuming you can move forward with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee will gather and liquidate all non-exempt property you own. After the trustee resolves creditors’ objections, proceeds from the liquidation will be used to pay off your debts. Once the liquidation process is complete, the court will issue an order that discharges any remaining dischargeable debts.
Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions
Under bankruptcy laws in Ohio, Chapter 7 allows you to exempt from liquidation certain assets or a certain amount of value from particular assets. In Ohio, Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions include:
- Up to $145,425 in equity in your primary residence
- Up to $500 of cash on hand or on deposit
- Up to $4,000 of value in one motor vehicle
- Household goods worth $625 or less per item, with an aggregate value of all goods up to $13,400
- Up to $1,700 in jewelry
- Up to $25,175 of personal injury compensation received within 12 months of the bankruptcy filing
- Up to 75 percent of your wages
- Up to $2,550 of value in property that you use in your job or business
- Up to $1,325 of value in any property that you may add to another exemption or use to protect any property that is not otherwise exempt
- The interest in a burial plot
- The full value of retirement accounts, including pensions, tax-exempt accounts and IRAs
- The full value of public benefits, such as disability assistance, earned income tax credits, workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits
- The full value of spousal or child support
Married couples who jointly file for bankruptcy may double these exemptions for any property owned by both of them. Check with an Ohio Chapter 7 lawyer to understand your exemptions.
Ohio Chapter 7 Means Test
Chapter 7 in Ohio uses a “means test” to determine eligibility for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test has a few steps. If you meet the requirements for any step, you can file for Chapter 7.
- Income level. First, the test compares your household’s current annual or monthly income against the median income of a household of identical size in Ohio. If your household’s income is less than the median income, you meet the means test.
- Expenses. If your household income exceeds the median income, you can proceed to the next step, in which you add up your average monthly expenses. Those may include mortgage or rent, utilities, food, vehicle or transportation costs, and health insurance or out-of-pocket medical expenses. Once you know your monthly expenses, you subtract those expenses from your household’s monthly income. This formula determines your disposable monthly income.
- If your disposable income falls below a certain threshold (updated annually), you qualify to file for Chapter 7.
- If your disposable income falls above another threshold, you are automatically disqualified from filing for Chapter 7.
- Additional calculations. Falling in between these thresholds will lead to the third step, where you must perform additional calculations on your finances. The purpose is to determine whether you can afford to pay a certain amount of your debts, usually at least 25 percent. If you can show you cannot afford to pay at least a certain portion of your debts, you will be permitted to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
How Our Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help You
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often the best option for dealing with unmanageable debt and getting a fresh financial start. An Ohio Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can help you by:
- Examining alternatives to bankruptcy. A lawyer may decide another path is more suitable for your financial situation. The alternative solution might include credit and financial counseling, debt consolidation or loan modification.
- Evaluating your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A lawyer can conduct a means test based on your financial information.
- Gathering and organizing your financial records.
- Drafting your bankruptcy petition and filings
- Representing you during a bankruptcy hearing. A lawyer can advocate for your rights and interests when creditors object to your bankruptcy.
Are you considering a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio? Schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation initial consultation with an Ohio Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer from Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law.
We can help you understand your rights and options for dealing with substantial debt. We’ll advise whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the right choice for you. Our team of Chapter 7 bankruptcy Ohio lawyers stand ready to serve you and your family. Visit one of our six convenient office locations across the state in Akron, Cincinnati, Independence (Cleveland), Columbus, Beavercreek and Canfield.