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Passing the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means TestBefore you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should first determine whether you will qualify by using the means test. People often think of passing a test as a huge obstacle to achieving their goals. However, a bankruptcy means test is unlikely to prevent you from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you need the advantages that come with this form of bankruptcy. You may be at greater risk of not qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because you were not thorough enough in documenting your income and expenses. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will conduct the means test for you and tell you whether the results suggest that you will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Meaning of the Test

The means test was created to prevent people from using Chapter 7 bankruptcy when they have sufficient disposable income, based on certain allowable expenses, to make a meaningful payment on their unsecured debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is advantageous in some situations because:

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Second Bankruptcy and Five Steps to Prevent the Need for ItFederal bankruptcy law includes waiting periods that determine how soon a person can file for bankruptcy again after the initial filing. The length of the waiting period depends on the type of bankruptcy that was previously filed and what type of bankruptcy is being sought:

  • After filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are required to wait eight years before filing for Chapter 7 again, if you want a discharge in bankruptcy;
  • You can immediately file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy again after your first Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is completed, but you must wait two years before being able to discharge your debt again;
  • You must wait four years after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy; and
  • You must wait six years after discharging your debt under Chapter 13 bankruptcy to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless you repaid at least 70 percent of the claims.

While some situations allow you to immediately file for a second bankruptcy, you may need to ask the court to extend the automatic stay protections. You may want to take steps to mitigate your chances of needing a second bankruptcy. There are several ways you can increase your financial security after bankruptcy:

  1. Adhering to a Budget: Closely examine your monthly income compared to your necessary expenses. You should live within the means of your budget and keep any borrowing to a minimum.
  2. Cautious with Credit: If you need to pay for something with a credit card, keep the expense to a level that you can repay that month. That way, you can rebuild your credit score with less risk.
  3. Creating Additional Income: A new job, second job or promotion within your current job can all increase your monthly income, which in turn will increase your financial flexibility.
  4. Selling Assets: We all have stuff. You should explore how valuable your stuff would be if sold. The additional money could be used for a savings account or to pay off debts.
  5. Building an Emergency Fund: Unexpected expenses can cause financial hardship. Find a portion of your monthly income than you can contribute towards an emergency fund. By having savings, you may not need to borrow money when unexpected expenses occur.

Second Bankruptcy

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Your Rights Against Creditor HarassmentFacing overdue debts is stressful enough without harassing behavior by creditors and the debt collection agencies they employ. Both Texas and federal law protect consumers from debt collection harassment. Unfortunately, debt collectors still use aggressive practices that cross legal boundaries. Taking financial action, such as filing for bankruptcy, can stop contact from debt collectors. However, you can also hold creditors accountable for their harassment.

Illegal Behavior

Creditors and debt collection agencies use harassing and abusive methods because they know people are too intimidated to stand up for themselves. Debt collectors do not have the right to harass or defraud you. The Texas Debt Collection Act defines illegal practices by debt collectors as including:

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Clearing IRS Debts Through BankruptcyThe coming new year means another year of federal income taxes that are due. If you are unable to pay your taxes, the IRS can be a troublesome debt collector. The IRS can send you a levy notice when it believes you are neglecting or refusing to pay your taxes. You have 30 days to respond and contest the levy, otherwise the IRS can start seizing your property and garnishing your wages. Filing for bankruptcy can put a hold on the levy and give you additional means to repay your debt. In some instances, you may be able to discharge part of your tax debt. However, the IRS has guidelines for clearing debts by using chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling off non-exempt assets and using the money to repay creditors. The advantage when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the possibility of discharging your income tax debt. Your debt may be eligible for discharge if:

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Roadblocks to Discharging Debt After BankruptcyOne of the most powerful tools in filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the ability to discharge your debt. After you have completed the conditions of your bankruptcy, the court may clear you of your remaining debt obligations and prohibit your creditors from continuing collection efforts. Because this represents a loss to them, your creditors may search for reasons why you should still be liable for the remainder of your debt. Discharge is not guaranteed as part of bankruptcy. You must follow the correct procedures and make a good-faith effort to repay your debt.

Requirements

There are several steps needed to qualify for debt discharge, and missing any one of them may cause a court to deny your request. The requirements include:

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National Association of Consumer Bancruptcy Attorneys State Bar of Texas
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