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Do Not Let Your Income Discourage You From Chapter 7 BankruptcyFiling for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be your preferred option, depending on your debts and assets. The Chapter 7 process is quicker than a multiyear repayment plan and still allows you to protect many of your important assets. Some bankruptcy filers are discouraged from attempting Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test. A test sounds like an obstacle that is meant to prevent people from using Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless they have a below average income. However, that is not how the test works. Here are four facts about the means test that you should understand:

  1. Many Filers Do Not Take the Test: The means test is required only if you have a median household income that is at or above your state’s median income. Anyone with an income below the state median does not have to take the test to qualify a for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 
  2. Many People Pass the Means Test: The Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test was created to determine whether someone has enough disposable income to afford a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. Bankruptcy law assumes that people below the state median income cannot afford it, but people at or above the median may be unable to afford it as well. Your disposable income is the money left over from your income after necessary expenditures. You will pass the test as long as your disposable income is too low for you to reasonably sustain a meaningful repayment plan.
  3. Identifying Expenses Helps: When calculating your disposable income, it is important to list all of your financial obligations that take away from your regular earnings. These could include taxes, healthcare, insurance, childcare, court-ordered payments, and secured debt payments. These expenses help reduce your disposable income and can help you qualify for Chapter 7.
  4. When You Take the Test Can Make a Difference: The means test calculates your median income based on your income for the past six months. 

You can fail the test and still qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  There is a process called rebutting the presumption.  This is why you need to consult with an experienced attorney.

Contact a Frisco, Texas, Bankruptcy Attorney

You should not dismiss Chapter 7 bankruptcy as an option without first consulting a knowledgeable attorney. A Denton County bankruptcy lawyer at The Page Law Firm can evaluate your financial situation and tell you which type of bankruptcy will work best for you. Schedule a free consultation by calling 214-618-2101.

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The Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of BankruptcyBankruptcy may have a negative stigma for people who do not understand what the process means. Bankruptcy is a solution to your debt problems, not a symptom of them. You file for bankruptcy to stave off creditors and ultimately clear yourself of eligible debts that are causing you stress and threatening your financial security. When filing for bankruptcy, you should understand that there are immediate and long-term benefits.

Immediate Benefits

You will immediately notice the effect of filing for bankruptcy because it will enforce an automatic stay on your creditors. This means an immediate stop to:

  • Persistent phone calls and letters about repayment;
  • Looming litigation by your creditors;
  • Garnishment of your wages by the IRS and student loan lenders; and
  • Imminent foreclosure or repossession of your properties.

The automatic stay gives you time to assess your financial situation and how you wish to proceed with the bankruptcy process. It is difficult to concentrate on making those decisions if you are worried that the bank is about to foreclose on your home.

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Five Ways to Recognize Debt Collection ScamsPeople who are in debt can be more susceptible to debt collection scams. When you are worried about debt collectors, a threatening phone call or letter seems believable. At the very least, you do not think you can ignore it. Some scams involve debt collection agencies using illegal practices, while others are from people who are merely posing as a collection agency. How do you know whether an alleged debt collector is trying to scam you? An attorney can tell you, but there are also several warning signs that you can look for:

  1. You Do Not Recognize the Debt: While you may not know every outstanding debt you owe off the top of your head, you probably have a good idea of the creditors that you have done business with. You should be skeptical if you do not recognize the name of the creditor or the amount of money that the collector claims you owe. Take time to check your credit report or other records to confirm whether the debt is real.
  2. The Collector Is Asking for Basic Information: The creditor or collection agency should already have your basic information on file, such as your address, date of birth, and the number of any account related to the debt. If the person you are talking to is asking for this information, they may be fishing for your personal information in order to commit identity theft.
  3. The Collector Threatens to Have You Arrested: Creditors do not have the authority to demand your arrest if you do not pay your debts. At most, they can take civil action by filing a lawsuit against you. It is illegal for creditors to lie by claiming that they can bring a criminal action against you. Someone who threatens you with arrest is likely a scam artist who is trying to make you panic.
  4. The Collector Is Pressuring You to Pay Immediately: A scam artist does not want to give you time to think about what they are asking for because you will likely realize that it is a scam. Instead, they will offer an easy way for you to send them money, such as a wire transfer or online portal. These payment methods may be untraceable, making it difficult for authorities to track down the person or entity that stole your money.
  5. You Cannot Find Information About the Collection Agency: You should be immediately suspicious if the person you are talking to refuses to give you the name of the debt collection agency or contact information. Even if they do give that information, you can search on the internet to see whether this agency is a legitimate company.

If you are being harassed in this manner, it’s probably a good time to consider bankruptcy. 

Contact a Frisco Bankruptcy Attorney

When you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should not pay any debt collectors without consulting your attorney. A Denton County bankruptcy lawyer at The Page Law Firm may be able to help you discharge that debt instead of paying it. Schedule a free consultation by calling 214-618-2101.

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How Self-Employment Affects Filing for BankruptcyWith the recent changes in the economy and business hiring practices, an increasing number of workers are self-employed, either by choice or out of necessity. Self-employment can be working as an independent contractor for a business or being the sole proprietor of your own business. When faced with overwhelming debt, self-employed workers have the right to file for bankruptcy like anyone else. However, steps such as verifying their income can be more complicated.

Income Verification

Calculating your monthly income is an important step when filing for bankruptcy because it can determine whether you file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test uses your current monthly income over the past six months prior to the filing of your case to decide whether you qualify for Chapter 7. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your income will determine how much you will repay your unsecured creditors (i.e. credit cards, medical bills, signature loans). Verifying your monthly income is more complicated if you are self-employed because your income may come from various sources and may be inconsistent depending on how regularly you receive work. Self-employed workers can verify their monthly income by presenting:

  • Check stubs;
  • Invoices;
  • Contracts;
  • Bank statements;
  • Tax returns; and
  • Signed statements from the party that paid them.

Many self-employed workers are able to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because they have less disposable income.

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What to Ask When Considering Whether to Reaffirm Your Mortgage After BankruptcyThere are many secured loans that you could decide to reaffirm after completing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but your home mortgage may be the most consequential one. Discharging your mortgage does not remove the mortgage company’s lien on your home. The mortgage company can foreclose on your home if you do not continue to make regular mortgage payments. While it is possible to continue making payments without reaffirming the mortgage, a reaffirmation agreement creates personal liability on the loan. It is important to note that reaffirming a mortgage is not the best option for every bankruptcy case. Because the Bankruptcy Code does not require a reaffirmation for real property (your home) unlike personal property (your car), there are several questions you should ask yourself before making that decision:

  1. Will I Be Able to Keep Up With the Payments?: Reaffirming your mortgage means you will again have personal liability for the loan. However, you may have some advantages that did not exist before your bankruptcy. Discharging debts after bankruptcy may allow you to put more of your income towards your mortgage. You should calculate your monthly budget before you reaffirm any debts.
  2. Was My Mortgage the Primary Reason I Filed for Bankruptcy?: The great thing about discharge is that it frees you from a debt obligation, even though in some instances that means you cannot keep the property. Reaffirming your mortgage may undo one of the primary benefits of bankruptcy. You should also consider the value of the property and the equity you have in it. You may be better off letting your mortgage company foreclose on your home if your mortgage is underwater--meaning that you owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth.
  3. What Are My Other Housing Options?: You obviously have to live somewhere else if you allow the mortgage company to foreclose on your home. Do you have another place in mind where you can move? Will it accommodate yourself and your family? How much will the new home cost? You need to answer all of these questions before surrendering your home.
  4. What Would Happen If I Defaulted on the Mortgage?: The mortgage company will most likely foreclose on your home if you start to miss payments again. If you have signed a reaffirmation agreement,  the mortgage company can hold you liable if you owed more on the mortgage than what the mortgage company received by selling the property.

Contact a Frisco, Texas, Bankruptcy Lawyer

You can plan ahead during your bankruptcy for whether you want to reaffirm your mortgage. A Denton County bankruptcy attorney at The Page Law Firm can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of reaffirmation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 214-618-2101. 

Source:

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National Association of Consumer Bancruptcy Attorneys State Bar of Texas
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