Bankruptcy Lawyer Serving Cleveland, OH
Are you struggling with overwhelming debt in Cleveland, OH? Are you afraid that you’ll never be able to break free and feel financially stable? You’re not alone, and legal help is available to you.
For many people, filing for bankruptcy can help turn things around. It could help you discharge numerous debts, protect you from creditors, and help you get the fresh start you deserve.
At Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we help people in Cleveland find a path out of debt. Our experienced team knows how important your finances are. We can help you put together a personalized debt-relief plan. From bankruptcy options such as Chapters 7, 11, and 13, to alternatives such as loan modification and debt consolidation, we can answer your questions and help you plan for your future.
If you’re considering bankruptcy, don’t wait to get the help you need. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or call us today.
Types of Bankruptcies
When you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s useful to know about each type of bankruptcy and how they’re different. While the law allows for many different types of bankruptcies, the three most used types are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. The term “chapter” refers to chapters in the Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7, Title 11, United States Code
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a widely used type of bankruptcy that helps people eliminate their debts quickly. People who use Chapter 7 usually face large debts and don’t have the resources to pay them.
Also known as a “liquidation bankruptcy”, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you get rid of debt without having to pay it back. While Chapter 7 bankruptcies sometimes involve the liquidation of some assets, it often allows you to keep what is most important to you. For example, you may be able to hold onto certain assets such as your home, your car, and other personal property.
Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is different from Chapter 7. Businesses often use Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize and get some time to rebuild their finances. However, some individuals could use Chapter 11 too. Chapter 11 requires the debtor to develop a plan to repay their debts. They then must get their creditors’ approval for the plan.
Chapter 13, Title 11, United States Code
Chapter 13 is similar to Chapter 11 because they’re both used to reorganize debts rather than get rid of them like Chapter 7. Only individuals or sole proprietors of businesses can use Chapter 13.
Usually, people who have more disposable income or who need some limited relief from their debts use Chapter 13. Any repayment plans are limited to five years, and they require you to make regular payments.
Once the five years are up, any remaining debt is discharged by the court. Chapter 13 can be a good option when people have income but are struggling to pay their bills.
How to File Bankruptcy in Cleveland, OH
If it’s time to file bankruptcy in Cleveland, there are several steps to the process.
For example, if you’re filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would need to:
- Speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Cleveland about your options. An attorney can help you understand which type of bankruptcy may be best for you, and they can advise you on what you’ll need.
- Document any income that you have. This includes income from a job, statements from a business you may own, and any other source of income. Important documents include pay stubs covering recent months, tax returns, and any business-related documents that show your earnings and income.
- Get records for any money or assets that you own. This includes bank account information, house deeds, vehicle titles, and any other item you own that has value.
- Understand who you owe money to and pull together documents about your debts. Gather your bills, mortgage information, credit card statements, and any other documents that show what you owe and to whom.
- Complete a credit counseling course as required by law.
- Complete your petition forms, pay court fees, and attend a financial management course. A bankruptcy lawyer in Cleveland can help you understand what forms you need and guide you through the entire process.
- Provide any additional information or documents that the bankruptcy trustee needs. If the trustee has questions or needs further documentation, you’ll have to provide it before your case can move forward.
- Have a hearing with the trustee. At this hearing, the trustee will review your petition and let you know if they need anything else.
- Discharge your debts. If the trustee is satisfied with the petition, they can liquidate your assets, use them to pay creditors, then discharge the rest of the debt.
Debt That Can Be Eliminated in a Cleveland Bankruptcy
When you go through bankruptcy, most types of debts can be discharged, including:
- Most lawsuits and garnishments
- Credit card debts
- Medical bills
- Utility bills
- Loans (including “payday” loans)
- Driver’s license suspensions and reinstatement fees
- Mortgages and mortgage loan deficiencies
- Tax debts
- Judgments and liens
However, some types of debt, such as student loans and child support cannot be discharged. If you have questions about your debts and how bankruptcy could work in your case, speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Cleveland today.
What Is the Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test?
The means test is a way the courts use to determine whether you can file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under the means test you must add up all your income and benefits. Generally, if your income is below the median income, you’ll qualify for Chapter 7.
If you make more than the median income, you’ll need to calculate the disposable income that you have left after paying certain bills and expenses such as utilities, housing, medical costs, and others. If you have too much disposable income, then you may have to apply for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7.
Bankruptcy Myths and Facts
Myth: A bankruptcy filing will ruin my credit for good.
Fact: After filing bankruptcy, you will wipe out most if not all of your debts. That may make you a better candidate to obtain credit from future lenders and creditors. They will know you can make the payments on your new debts.
Myth: Bankruptcy law changed a few years ago, and I am no longer eligible for that protection.
Fact: Almost all of the provisions that were available through bankruptcy before 2005 survive in today’s Bankruptcy Code.
Myth: You can’t file bankruptcy if you have a job.
Fact: Bankruptcy relief is available to the employed AND unemployed. In fact, if you’re employed, bankruptcy can often stop wage garnishments.
Myth: You’ll never be able to purchase a car if you file for bankruptcy.
Fact: Many clients are able to finance and purchase vehicles immediately after filing. Many dealerships now look for people who filed for bankruptcy since they know those people can afford to pay them.
Myth: I’ll lose all my property in bankruptcy.
Fact: Most of your possessions are protected from bankruptcy liquidation. That includes your home, your car, and your household goods. Many bankruptcy cases are “no asset” cases. That means the debtor keeps everything.
Myth: Credit cards can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.
Fact: Almost all unsecured debts such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills can be discharged in bankruptcy.
Myth: My credit won’t improve for 8-10 years.
Fact: People who file bankruptcy often see a dramatic increase in their credit score in a shorter amount of time than this myth suggests. The reason: they no longer have any debt. It is more troubling to creditors when they see lawsuits or debts in collections on your report. Those creditors know you must repay those debts before you can pay a new creditor.
How a Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, an attorney can help you:
- Understand your options before filing, such as loan modification and debt consolidation.
- Answer any questions you have about bankruptcy and how it may impact you.
- Work with you to determine which type of bankruptcy may work best for you.
- Help arrange for any credit counseling and financial management courses you need as part of bankruptcy.
- Advise you on the documents you’ll need for your case.
- Handle your bankruptcy petition and other court filings.
- Advocate for you and your rights in any proceedings with the trustee or creditors.
If you’re considering bankruptcy, let Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, fight for you. We understand how difficult it can be to live with debt. We want to help you find your path out.
Our experienced legal team can guide you through the bankruptcy process, help build a personalized debt relief plan, and stand up for you and your future at every step. Our team is always available to talk. With offices throughout the area, we’ll give you the personalized and convenient service you deserve.
To learn more about how we can help and get your free case evaluation, call us or contact us online today.