Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer Serving Cleveland, OH
Is mounting debt keeping you awake at night? Are you afraid that you’ll never be free from the creditors’ calls and collection notices?
Don’t worry any longer. An experienced Cleveland bankruptcy attorney can help you understand your rights and help you find the right solution to be free of nagging debt.
When you’re facing significant debt that you are unable to repay, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy could be a vital tool to free yourself from financial stress and strain. It could even help you keep some of your most precious assets while eliminating the debts that are threatening your future. It can even protect you from creditors who are harassing you.
At Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we know that nearly everyone has struggled financially at some point in their life. We’re here to help. When you’re facing bankruptcy in Cleveland, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys can help you build a personalized debt relief plan and guide you through the entire bankruptcy process. Our Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys are conveniently located nearby in Independence, OH. From start to finish, our team will work quickly to find solutions and help you build the future you deserve.
For a free case evaluation, and to learn more about how we can help, call us or contact us online today.
What Is the Chapter 7, Title 11, United States Bankruptcy Code?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as a “liquidation bankruptcy.” It’s one of the most common types of bankruptcy people file for in Cleveland. It can help people protect certain assets while getting rid of the debt that’s hounding them.
While the court can’t discharge all debts, including debts like student loans and child support, it can discharge most other types of debt.
When a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case starts, a court will issue a “stay,” meaning that you’re protected from creditors while the case is ongoing. That means creditors can’t take actions such as foreclosure, garnishment, and other activities to get their money back. The court will then examine your property and assets, set aside any exempt or protected assets, and then liquidate the remainder to settle your debts.
When the case is complete, the court should discharge the debts, meaning you’ll no longer owe on those debts. That means you could get significant relief from the debts you face. Since a bankruptcy case may protect some of your property and assets, you could even come out the other side of bankruptcy in a stronger position than before.
How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Cleveland
If you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these tips can help you get the process started right:
- Speak with a personal bankruptcy lawyer in Cleveland about your situation. They can help you understand what Chapter 7 may involve and exactly what you’ll need for your case. A Cleveland Chapter 7 attorney can even help you explore options such as loan modification that may help you avoid bankruptcy. By speaking with an attorney, you’ll understand what steps you should take next.
- Collect information about your finances, such as:
- Pay stubs from the last several months
- Income statements from the past two years if you are self-employed or run your own business
- 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
- Check the means test for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to meet a means test. A means test looks at your income and debt levels to determine if you qualify. If you have more disposable income than the test allows, you may need to explore other types of bankruptcy.
- Complete 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.
- Fill out your bankruptcy petition forms and pay any filing fees. Each bankruptcy court may require certain forms that are unique to that court. A Cleveland Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can take care of this and answer any questions you may have.
Chapter 7 Exemptions in Cleveland
Exemptions are an important part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Exemptions allow you to retain important assets during and after your case.
Under Chapter 7 law used in Cleveland bankruptcy cases, certain assets are exempt from liquidation, including:
- Up to $145,425 in equity in your primary residence
- Up to 75 percent of your wages
- Up to $500 of cash in hand or on deposit
- Up to $4,000 of value in one 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 you get within a year of filing your case
- 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 our Cleveland Chapter 7 lawyers today to understand your exemptions.
The Chapter 7 Means Test in Ohio
Before you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to undergo a means test set up by the government. The means test lets the court know whether you get the rights and protections of Chapter 7 or whether you’ll need to investigate another type of bankruptcy.
To see if you qualify for Chapter 7:
- You’ll need to understand your income then compare it to other households’ median income in the state. If your household income is lower than the median, then you should qualify for Chapter 7. If your income is higher, you’ll need to do some more work to see if you qualify.
- If your income is higher than the median, you’ll need to figure out your monthly expenses, such as housing and health care, then subtract them from your income. This will tell you how much income you have to pay your debts. If your income is below a certain threshold set by the government, then you may qualify for Chapter 7. If it’s above that threshold, you may need to consider other bankruptcy alternatives.
If you have questions about the means test, what thresholds may apply, and whether you may qualify for Chapter 7, speak with our attorneys today. We can let you know whether you may qualify, and we can help guide you through the bankruptcy process. Even if you don’t qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may still have options in filing another form of personal bankruptcy or consolidating debts.
How a Cleveland Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
It’s important to have knowledgeable support throughout your bankruptcy case. While some people pursue bankruptcy cases independently, an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you navigate the complicated process.
From start to finish, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Cleveland can help you with your case by:
- Advising you on whether you need to file bankruptcy or whether alternatives such as loan modification may be available.
- Helping you understand what type of bankruptcy may work best for you.
- Walking you through the means test to see if you qualify for Chapter 7.
- Explaining how the process may affect your assets.
- Identifying assets and property that may be exempt.
- Letting you know what documentation you’ll need for your case.
- Preparing your bankruptcy petition and taking care of any forms or paperwork the court needs.
- Advocating for you and your rights in any hearings that your case needs.
These are only a few of the ways that an experienced Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer can help you from Amourgis & Associates. From helping you understand your options and preparing your bankruptcy petition to stand up for you in court, a lawyer can protect your rights and your assets in bankruptcy.
If you have questions about whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you, don’t wait to speak with one of our experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys from our legal team about your case.