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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing and exemptions

Posted on: 08th Nov, 2005 10:12 pm
If you have no hope of repaying debts and are about to be sued by creditors/lenders, it's time you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. With this type of bankruptcy, the court sells your nonexempt property to repay as much of your debt as possible. To learn how Chapter 7 bankruptcy works and how it can help you, go through the information below:

When to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy

You can file Chapter 7 if you are in any of the situations given below:
  • You don't have any money to pay off the debts.
  • You don't have cosigners to repay debt.
  • Your creditors are about to sue you.
  • Some of your accounts are in collection.

How to qualify for chapter 7

You need to fulfill the following in order to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Credit counseling: You must have attended a credit counseling session 6 months prior to filing chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Means Test: You must qualify under the Chapter 7 bankruptcy Means Test. Under the Means Test, if your income is less than the median income of another family of the same size in your state, you qualify to file Chapter 7. Find out how Means Test determines if you qualify for chapter 7. Check out how Means Test determines if you qualify for chapter 7 or 13.
  • Prior bankruptcy: You have received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge within the past 8 years or a Chapter 13 discharge within the past 6 years.
  • Bankruptcy dismissal: You have not had your bankruptcy dismissed within the past 6 months for failure to appear or contempt of court.

Chapter 7 Non-exempt Assets

Most of the assets that are sold during Chapter 7 are personal property, such as your electronics or clothes. You will have to list all your assets as well as your liabilities when you file Chapter 7. The trustee will review the list of assets and divide your property according to what state law has said you may keep. The Federal government has enacted an exemption scheme that a few states allow you to use as an alternative to a state scheme, or if you are ineligible for the state exemptions due to residency requirements.

Bankruptcy Chapter 7 exemptions

Each state allows you to keep different types of property when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Every state allows you to keep a part of your interest in your home and car if you include them in the bankruptcy estate. Many states have exemptions that allow you to keep heirlooms and other personal property, as well as your retirement funds.

Every state has a residency requirement that you must meet when you file Chapter 7. You must have been living in the state for at least 2 years before filing bankruptcy in that state or if you have not lived in any other state within the previous 2 years, but have spent the majority of the 180 day period preceding the 2 year period in that state.

Exemptions on house and car:
Bankruptcy Chapter 7 exemptions apply only if you have equity (your current home value minus costs of sale less balance on mortgage or other liens) in the property. If your home equity exceeds the State or Federal exemption, you may lose the home. However, if you have no equity in the house, it cannot be used to pay off your debts. In this case, you can keep the home as long as you pay the mortgage.

The same is true for a car, if you have no equity, you can keep it. If your equity in the car exceeds the exemption, it can be sold off to repay your car loan. Learn more about bankruptcy Chapter 7 exemptions.

If you wish to reaffirm your car loan and/or mortgage, then the property will not be included in the bankruptcy estate and you will be able to keep them.

Other Exemptions:
Apart from your home and car, there are other assets which may qualify for exemptions under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Federal government and most states allow debtors to keep all or part of their pensions, IRAs, and social security during bankruptcy. You can also receive protection for certain business assets if you are involved in a partnership or are a sole business owner.

Pros and Cons of filing chapter 7 bankruptcy

Here are some of the pros and cons of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • No Personal liability: Chapter 7 releases your personal liability towards any debts that are included in your bankruptcy estate and not repaid during Chapter 7. You receive a discharge order within 4 months of filing the petition.
  • Exemptions: You can retain certain assets under chapter 7.
  • Prevents legal actions: Once you file Chapter 7, it stops all lawsuits and collection actions being pursued by your creditors. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, creditors cannot make harassing calls demanding payments from debtors until and unless the case has been dismissed.
  • Fresh financial start: Since Chapter 7 discharges your debts, you get the chance to organize and manage your finances better.
  • Lose assets: You lose assets if they are sold off to pay your creditors/lenders.
  • Retain property liens: Chapter 7 does not remove property liens due to secured debts (mortgage or car loan) unless you give up the house or car during Chapter 7. So, even if you get a discharge, you'll have to pay off the lien in order to save your property from foreclosure or repossession if you keep the house or car.
  • Effect on Credit Score: Your credit score decreases by 250 points or so when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 10 years.
  • New credit/mortgage: It's difficult to qualify for new credit or a mortgage after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the market isn't doing well, no lender would offer you a mortgage even at high interest rates. It'll take at least 2 years to qualify for an FHA loan and 4 years for a conventional mortgage at an affordable interest rate. Check out this forum discussion on getting mortgage after bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy helps you eliminate debts but there are negative aspects as well. You need to understand how bankruptcy can work in your favor. Only then you can use it to your benefit and lead a debt free life.

Related Forum Discussions
im going to file ch 7 next week in florida but im also about to recieve a bonus from my job could i bump up my 401k so i dont even see that money or is this fraud.
Posted on: 07th Mar, 2012 07:30 pm
Hi dddddddddd!

Welcome to forums!

I don't think it will be a good option to deposit the money in your 401k account. Before doing so, it will be better if you could contact your bankruptcy attorney regarding the same.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 09th Mar, 2012 01:15 am
we were dismissed from chapter 7 in Feb 2005. we are residents of Ga. for 4 yrs. we have no assets and still owe on our c ar. our only income is soc. sec, wheb can we file again and would it be 7 or 13?
Posted on: 16th Apr, 2012 06:07 am
Hi skippy,

You will have to wait for 8 years after a Chapter 7 discharge, to file another Chapter 7. If you want to file Chapter 13 after a Chapter 7 discharge, then you will have to wait for 4 years.

Posted on: 17th Apr, 2012 08:02 pm
my business in about to go in fourcloger i have for bankruptcy a year ago CAN I FILE FOR CHAPTER 7
Posted on: 09th May, 2012 01:54 pm
Hi scarlet!

Welcome to forums!

If you have filed bankruptcy just about an year ago, then I don't think you will be able to file bankruptcy immediately. Nevertheless, it will be better if you could contact a bankruptcy attorney and take his opinion in this matter.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 09th May, 2012 11:57 pm
We filed and cleared bankruptcy chapter 7 in Feb of 2009. We were never late or missed a house payment. Although our home was part of the bankruptcy, we have not been threatened with foreclosure, although the bank reserves the right to do so. We wish to sell our home, but need to know what happens to the profits? We have equity but the house is worth more than the outstanding balance on the mortgage and our equity put together. So, who gets the profit and why?
Posted on: 14th Jun, 2012 03:29 pm
Hi anonymous,

If there are any profits after the lender has recovered his dues, then you will get back the extra amount. If there are no profits, then the lender won't come after you to recover the debts if you haven't signed the reaffirmation agreement.

Posted on: 15th Jun, 2012 01:16 am
how can i avoid to lose my home when i file chapter 7 bankruptcy?.
i owe 127k on it now and it is worth 160k.
Posted on: 26th Jun, 2012 02:18 pm
Hi kelly,

You can reaffirm your mortgage while you're in Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. This will make you personally liable for the mortgage. Thus, you can make regular payments which will help you in saving the property from foreclosure.
Posted on: 27th Jun, 2012 12:20 am
Well, there is no filing of a plan of repayment in chapter 7 bankruptcy case as in chapter 13. You should avoid filing chapter 7 if you have enough money to pay off your debts. It should be considered your last option. I would advice that if you are engaged in business then avoids liquidation; go for filing a petition under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Posted on: 09th Aug, 2012 11:07 pm
Hi, My husband filed a chapter 7. He included 3 trucks and 1 credit card debt (business debts). The bankrupcy was discharged 3 months ago. We are thinking about selling our home which was not part of the bankrupcy. We have never been late on a mortgage payment. How soon can we sell our home?
Posted on: 10th Aug, 2012 09:43 am
You can list the property in the market. You can contact a real estate agent and he will help you list the property in the market.
Posted on: 14th Aug, 2012 03:46 am
hello i have heard i don not have to pu my diability on the means test as of the 5 usc 8130 code if it is so what do i put when it ask for pension or moneies
Posted on: 24th Aug, 2012 12:21 pm
hello i have heard i don not have to pu my diability on the means test as of the 5 usc 8130 code if it is so what do i put when it ask for pension or moneies
Posted on: 24th Aug, 2012 12:21 pm
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