Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer Serving Youngstown, OH
If you, like millions of other Americans, are wondering how you’ll be able to meet your financial obligations or if you’re facing the possibility of foreclosure, it’s important to remember that you have options.
Chapter 13 is a powerful tool that can help you restructure or discharge your debt and prevent creditors from taking action against you. With help from a dedicated Youngstown Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer, you can put yourself back on the path to financial stability and make an immediate, positive impact on your life.
The Youngstown Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyers at Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, are ready to help you with your bankruptcy case to give you a fresh start. We can put our decades of combined legal experience to work on your behalf to build a personalized debt-relief plan. We’ll make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. Our Canfield, OH law offices are conveniently a short drive away from Youngstown. We’re available at all hours of the day to answer any questions you may have.
Don’t wait to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Call us today or visit our contact page to get a free initial case review.
About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Youngstown
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is sometimes known as a “reorganization” bankruptcy or a “wage earner’s plan.” By filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals or married couples with disposable income can create a plan to pay back their creditors over the course of three to five years. The length of the plan will depend on your available income.
Unlike filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires most or all of someone’s assets to be sold to pay back creditors, Chapter 13 lets the filer keep many assets while still discharging many debts. Furthermore, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will temporarily block your creditors from taking certain steps against you to collect on debts.
For example, they cannot contact you about your debts, and they cannot foreclose on your home or repossess other property. And as long as you keep making debt payments, you get to keep many of your existing assets, though some may be sold to give you some breathing room.
Once you’ve completed a debt repayment plan and met the terms of that plan, the bankruptcy court will discharge most or all of your remaining debts. Keep in mind that some debts cannot be discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, including unpaid taxes, outstanding child support payments, and student loan debt.
If you have questions about what kinds of debt can be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, our Youngstown bankruptcy lawyers can tell you more.
Advantages of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
There are several different ways that an individual can file for bankruptcy. Different types of bankruptcy are best for different situations. Here are a few advantages of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy compared to other kinds of bankruptcy:
- You get to avoid foreclosure. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will result in what’s called an automatic stay from the bankruptcy court. This court order prevents creditors from taking further action against you while the bankruptcy process plays out. This includes foreclosing on your home. As long as you make your payments under the term of the repayment plan, you will get to keep your home even after filing for bankruptcy.
- You can extend the terms of some of your debts. Payment plans made in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing last from three to five years. This effectively extends the due dates of any existing debts for the duration of the payment plan, even if those debts were initially due at an earlier time.
- You get less of an impact on your credit report with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that filing stays on your credit report for 10 years. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, on the other hand, only stays on your credit report for seven years after the filing date.
- You make it easier on yourself to file for bankruptcy again, if necessary. In most cases, you cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have filed for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in the past six years. However, when you file for Chapter 13, you are allowed to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy case should you find yourself in financial trouble again. Furthermore, if you paid at least 70 percent of your unsecured debts in your earlier Chapter 13 filing, the six-year bar on filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is removed.
Of course, the biggest benefit of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it allows you to discharge many of your debts once you’ve completed your payment plan, giving you a chance to start over without the weight of those debts hanging over you.
Steps in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Youngstown
Here are the steps involved in filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Youngstown:
- Credit counseling course – Before you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Ohio law requires that you complete a credit counseling course. This must be done within 180 days of the initial filing.
- Preparing the petition – The formal document that you submit to the bankruptcy court is known as a petition. Each local bankruptcy court has its own petition forms that you will be required to file, along with the standard petition documents. In this petition, you’ll have to provide records of your income, assets, and outstanding debts. To satisfy the court that you’re being truthful, you’ll need to include documents such as wage statements, the deed to your house and the titles to any vehicles you own, your mortgage statement, and other financial records.
- Creating a payment plan – Once you’ve submitted your petition, you have to create a payment plan to pay back your creditors. This must be done within 14 days of filing your petition. After your plan is submitted, the court will examine it and make sure it fulfills the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code. There will be at least one court hearing, and your creditors will have a chance to voice any objections they may have to your proposed plan.
- Trustee oversight – If your creditors’ objections are satisfied and the court approves the proposed payment plan, the court will then appoint a trustee to oversee your case. You will make payments to the trustee under the terms of the plan. The trustee will then distribute those funds to your creditors. Once a Northern Ohio trustee has been appointed, creditors must cease any action against you as long as you keep making the prescribed payments.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Repayment Plan
When you are creating a Chapter 13 repayment plan, your debts will fall into three different categories. These categories determine which debts can be discharged and which must eventually be repaid. The categories are:
- Priority debts – These debts must be paid off during the payment plan. Priority debts include things like unpaid taxes and unpaid child or spousal support.
- Secured debts – Secured debts are loans that are “secured” with some kind of collateral. For example, car loans are secured debts because if you don’t make payments, the car can be repossessed. Secured debts must usually be paid back in full in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Unsecured debts – Most unsecured debts do not necessarily need to be repaid under a repayment plan. Unsecured debts include things like personal loans, medical bills, and credit card debt. The balance of any remaining unsecured debts is usually discharged at the end of the payment plan.
Debt Consolidations vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy and traditional debt consolidation work in a similar manner, in that they’re both designed to reduce your debts and make it easier to pay back creditors. However, there are a few key differences, and it’s important to know what those differences are.
In traditional debt consolidation, you get a new loan to pay off the balance on multiple outstanding debts. This new loan usually has a lower interest rate than the prior loans you had, and it combines the debts into one payment. It can still take a lot of time and money to pay off a debt consolidation loan – in some cases even longer than the terms of your prior loans. If you cannot consolidate all your debts into one new loan, the remaining creditors can keep coming after you.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, on the other hand, your debts are reduced or wiped out. Filing for Chapter 13 also prevents creditors from taking further action against you. In many cases, this makes Chapter 13 the preferable option if you have the resources to pay back at least some of your debts, though you should always speak to a knowledgable bankruptcy lawyer before filing for bankruptcy protection.
How a Youngstown Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
If you are considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, here are a few ways that the Youngstown bankruptcy attorneys at Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, can help:
- Making sure that Chapter 13 is the right option for you
- Collecting your financial records for your initial petition and making sure all the paperwork is in proper order
- Helping you draft a repayment plan
- Representing you in court, especially to respond to any objections from creditors when you present your repayment plan
Our team is ready to answer any questions you have about Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection and to get started on your case. Call us today or check out our contact page to get a free initial consultation.