What debts are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 and not in a Chapter 7? 

What debts are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 and not in a Chapter 7? 

There are several reasons that a potential client might consider a Chapter 13 verses a Chapter 7 even if they are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to restructure your debt such as paying back mortgage arrears.  For example, if you are $50,000 in arrears in your mortgage you can spread that payment over 60 months to repay in a Chapter 13 plan.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy might also potentially lower a car payment by lengthening the payment terms or lowering your interest rate.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy also allows certain debts to be discharged which are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy such a property settlement /division of asset award in a divorce case.  This is distinguishable from alimony and child support awards which are not dischargeable in either bankruptcy Chapter.  A divorce attorney fee award is also not dischargeable in either Chapter of bankruptcy if the attorney secured an alimony or child support award.

Another debt that is dischargeable in a Chapter 13 and not a Chapter 7 is “willful and malicious injury to property” such a criminal mischief. This is also distinguishable from damage caused by driving under the influence which is not dischargeable in either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  If you have any questions about whether a particular debt is dischargeable it is best to consult with a bankruptcy attorney for guidance.

Can the trustee take the proceeds from my personal injury case? 

Can the trustee take the proceeds from my personal injury case? 

You must list your personal injury case as a potential asset for the bankruptcy trustee.

In a Chapter 7, the trustee can collect 100% of what a debtor gets from their personal injury settlement.  This applies to any dates of accident that occurred prior to filing the bankruptcy petition where the statute of limitations has not expired.

If you have already hired a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case, you would want to ask them how much you might expect to receive from the personal injury case and how long will it take for it to settle or go to trial.  You might decide to either wait until your personal injury case settles and use it for reasonable expenses before filing your bankruptcy case so the trustee cannot take it.

Alternatively, you might decide to not wait and file your bankruptcy case and forgo your settlement proceeds.  It works a little differently in a Chapter 13. The trustee in a Chapter 13 case is entitled to at least 50% of your settlement proceeds whether your accident happened before you filed your case or while your case is pending.

Usually, the Chapter 13 trustees will agree to let the debtor keep 50% of the net proceeds of the case, where the Chapter 7 trustee’s will take 100% of the proceeds.  When you consult with your bankruptcy attorney definitely let them know about your personal injury case.  You wouldn’t want to file the case and then unexpectedly have the trustee take your money.  Also, communicating with your personal injury attorney is also critical.

Is there bare legal title for real property? 

Is there bare legal title for real property? 

Situations come up frequently where a potential client is on the deed to their parent’s or another relative’s house to make it easier when that person passes away for it to already be in the debtor’s name.

The client often is not living in the property, has not paid a dollar towards the property, the property may be paid off, or the property has equity.  The client has their own debt and now wants to file for bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, this presents a problem.  If you are not living on the property,  it is not protected by the homestead exemption.

If you are renting, certainly you can move back in with your parents once your lease expires to get the homestead exemption on the property when you file for bankruptcy.  You will have a problem if you already own a house.  You can only declare homestead and be living on property.  In that case if there is equity in the property (which is not exempt), you would need to pay that back to the trustee.

Let’s say there is 100K in equity in the property, you would need to pay the trustee 100K.  If you had 100K in liquid cash, you probably wouldn’t be considering bankruptcy.

That would make a Chapter 7 not feasible.  You other option is to file a Chapter 13 and pay your debts over 60 months and keep the property.  There are significant benefits of doing a Chapter 13.  You stop incurring interest on your debts.  You might be able to pay it off early.  You would need enough disposable income to pay the trustee each month.

Some potential clients cannot afford to do a Chapter 13, so they suggest removing their name off the deed or putting the property into someone else’s name.  That too will not work since all property transfers from two years from the date we file the petition would need to be disclosed.  Usually transferring property before considering filing for bankruptcy results in worse issues and is not recommended.

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to contact my office to discuss your options.

Should I file a Business Bankruptcy or Personal Bankruptcy?

Should I file a Business Bankruptcy or Personal Bankruptcy?

In today’s current market business owners are faced with numerous challenges from finding employees to drastically increased costs. They are faced with the question of whether they will be able to continue their business or whether it’s better to close it.

That is a very personal decision since so much goes into starting and sustaining a business. There are several factors we look at in making that determination.

Are there any business assets such a commercial building, inventory, or equipment that should be liquidated to pay your creditors? Your assets cannot be sold or transferred for your benefit at the expense of paying your creditors. Even transferring assets to a new business venture can disqualify you from filing bankruptcy so its very important to consult with an attorney before making any decisions on the proper steps to close your business. Another issue is whether the debt is exclusively in the business name, did you personally guarantee the business debt, or did you use your personal credit lines to fund your business?

In most cases, there is a personal guarantee on business debt and personal credit cards are used to keep the business afloat. If the majority of your debt, is non-consumer or business-related then you would qualify for a Chapter 7. Again, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney to determine which Chapter type you would qualify for under the bankruptcy code.

Many times, if the business has no assets and will be closed then it can just be administratively dissolved without the need to file for bankruptcy. Another issue also is whether there are any outstanding account receivables, do you reasonably expect payments in the future, or expect any reoccurring income? There is also a potential that that could be collectable by the trustee if you are filing a business bankruptcy.

All of these factors need to be considered whether determining whether to file a business bankruptcy or a personal Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy.

Married or Separated – How to file for Bankruptcy without your Spouse

Tampa Bankruptcy Attorney Gina Rosato Whether you are married or separated, you can still file for bankruptcy on your own. There is no requirement that your spouse file for bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

If you are married and maintaining the same household, then the trustee will consider your joint income to determine if you are over the median income qualifications for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or to determine what you are financially able to repay in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you are separated and maintaining separate households, you expenses should also be listed separately.

Contact Gina Rosato Law Firm, P.A. to discuss your Bankruptcy Options

Come speak with me regarding whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy maybe right for you and your spouse.

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