West Knoxville Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is no longer a dirty word. Historically, people have considered bankruptcy as ominous or a sign of weakness. The truth is that bankruptcy can be a path back to financial stability; the journey may not be easy, but it can provide much-needed relief.
Bankruptcy is a process that alleviates your debt and you have no legal obligation to pay. It provides a light at the end of the tunnel, especially if your current situation feels insurmountable. Bankruptcy can be a solution if you have two or more of the following problems:
- You can only make minimum payments on credit card statements
- Debt collectors continuously harass you
- You are reluctant to address or sort out your finances
- You use credit cards to pay for everything
- You have considered debt consolidation
- You do not know how much money you owe
Call Us at 865-213-3617
Types of Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy comes in several different varieties. Each version has individual purposes, which will be useful based on the merits of your case. The Pope Firm specializes in the following forms of bankruptcy:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often the last resort. This process is worth considering if you have already tried working with creditors or a credit counselor, and still have severe debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy lets you put a temporary halt on your debt, though it can mean losing some possessions and having lenders put liens on your property.
Generally speaking, the entire process takes about three months from start to finish. Also known as “straight bankruptcy,” it involves meeting with a bankruptcy counselor and seeking a means test. The means test indicates whether your income, assets, and net worth qualify you for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Standards vary from state to state.
After filing a petition to the courts, you will attend a creditor meeting where you will answer questions about your finances and debt. Next, you have to liquidate some of your assets to pay off as much of the debt as possible. The proceeds will go directly to your creditors and lenders. You will also have to take and pass a financial management course.
Remember, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not for everyone. It may be ideal if you have unpayable medical bills or are unemployed. However, if you own a business or home that you want to keep, those assets will likely end up in the hands of creditors.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is one of the lesser-known forms of bankruptcy. Typically, the only entities that use it are corporations or limited liability companies. Recent examples of Chapter 11 bankruptcy include General Motors, Enron, United Airlines, and Lehman Brothers.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is also one of the most complex forms because it involves restructuring the business to meet its debt obligations. In many cases, this process allows the company to continue operating as it downsizes or liquidates assets to pay creditors. While Chapter 11 bankruptcy is designed for large organizations, there are cases where individuals with a lot of debt, and who cannot qualify for Chapter 7 or 13, can use it.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
This option is for people who want to hold onto their property during the bankruptcy process. It is reserved for individuals who earn an income, which is why people sometimes call it the “wage earner’s plan.” The process itself typically takes six months to complete with repayment plans taking three to five years.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy can consolidate any debts related to student loans, child support, mortgages, or unsecured debts. While each type of debt comes with a distinct repayment period, the methodology is still the same. Instead of juggling bills from multiple different sources each month, you can make a single payment to lenders and creditors that they distribute appropriately.
While your credit will take a hit in the short run, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is ideal for your long-term financial health. Future creditors can see that you paid back a majority of your obligations. Additionally, Chapter 13 only remains on your credit reports for seven years as opposed to ten years for Chapter 7.
It is challenging to admit that you need to file bankruptcy. If you get to that point, make sure you don’t do it alone. The Pope Firm in West Knoxville will be here to walk you through your options and ensure you get the bright financial future you deserve. Sit down with one of our bankruptcy attorneys by calling (865) 324-0456 today.
How do I file for bankruptcy in West Knoxville
Does Bankruptcy Eliminate All of My Debts?
Declaring bankruptcy wipes out many debts, but not all.
What Debts are Usually Covered by Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can clear most unsecured debts, including:
- Credit card bills
- Medical bills
- Overdue utility payments
Bankruptcy can also clear many secured debts, but it depends on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For Chapter 7, you will have to give up any non-exempt items you put up for collateral. For Chapter 13, they will become part of your repayment plan.
What Debts Are Not Covered by Bankruptcy?
- Child support
- Alimony obligations
- Those related to personal injury or death in a drunk driving case
- Any debts not listed on your bankruptcy papers
No type of bankruptcy covers these debts. If you file for Chapter 7, they remain outstanding. Under Chapter 13, you pay these debts along with your other debts.
What Debts May Be Covered?
Bankruptcy rarely covers student loan debt. However, it may be in some cases with proof of undue hardship.
Tax debt is also rarely covered, but bankruptcy may cover certain old unpaid taxes.
How Do I File Bankruptcy in West Knoxville?
When you decide to begin the bankruptcy process, the first step is to find a lawyer who is an expert in filing bankruptcy in West Knoxville. Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer can indeed be expensive, but it is worth the cost. This professional can guide you through what type of bankruptcy is best for your situation and what to expect throughout the process.
- Collect your documents: It is important to have everything from your paystubs to your credit report available before starting.
- Take the means test. This test will determine if you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and help guide you in making a repayment plan for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Meet with a credit counselor. In the state of Tennessee, most individuals must meet with a credit counselor from an approved provider before filing for bankruptcy.
- Fill out bankruptcy forms. If working with a lawyer, you can expect they will use online programs to help you file your paperwork.
- Pay your filing fee. It costs $335 to file for bankruptcy in West Knoxville. Waiver of the fee is possible in some cases, but it is uncommon. However, it is possible to pay the fee in several installments instead of the entire balance upfront.
How Will Bankruptcy Affect My Business?
How bankruptcy affects business depends upon the type of bankruptcy filed.
Businesses classified as corporations, partnerships, or LLCs can file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 allows for debt restructuring, while the business stays open. As in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, an automatic stay activates as soon as your bankruptcy period begins. In an automatic stay, creditors cannot try to collect money or other assets from you.
During this period, you work with your lawyer to restructure your debts and develop a plan to get your business back on track. This plan must be approved by some of your creditors and a bankruptcy court to go forward. You will be able to repay your debts over several years.
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges all of your business’s debts by liquidating your assets. The entire process can be completed quickly, often in several months. Chapter 7 allows for the discharge of most debts, excluding government taxes and fines.
Only individuals can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Thus, although businesses cannot file, you can file Chapter 13 as the sole proprietor of your business.
Should I File Bankruptcy?
Various considerations get factored into who should file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy may be the right choice for you if you are overwhelmed by debt. Regardless of what type of bankruptcy you file, as soon as the process begins, you are granted an automatic stay. A stay is an injunction that prevents creditors from collecting any debts for an allotted time. An automatic stay halts the process of, for example, foreclosing on a home or repossessing a vehicle.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge most of your debts. Filing Chapter 7 is appropriate for those who make less than the median household income in Tennessee and whose assets would not be at risk. In this situation, your non-exempt property is sold to pay off creditors.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to create a plan to repay your debts. If you have non-exempt property used as collateral in secured loans, you can restructure your finances to pay off any relevant debts over the next three to five years. Chapter 11 functions in a similar way, but is exclusively for businesses.
Filing for bankruptcy can provide a fresh start for those bogged down with debt, either by restructuring finances or discharging debts entirely.
What are the Different Types of Bankruptcy?
There are several types of bankruptcy. Most individuals, married couples, and small businesses choose to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
What are the Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
The primary difference between these two types is that Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows an entity to fully discharge its debts in a short period. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves reorganizing debts and creating a plan to repay those debts over an allotted time. After that time, Chapter 13 eliminates most of the remaining debts.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically filed by those with very limited income and unsecured debts, the most common of which is medical bills. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most often filed by higher income bracket individuals and those with more assets, such as a car or a home. The motivation for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often preventing assets from being repossessed or home foreclosure due to outstanding debts.
What Other Types of Bankruptcy Are There?
Two other types of bankruptcy are Chapter 11 and Chapter 12.
Chapter 11 primarily applies to larger companies and corporations, but sometimes it is the right choice for small businesses as well. Chapter 12 applies to those who are considered family farmers.
What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy occurs when an individual, business, or other entity declares the inability to repay its debts. If you file for bankruptcy, that means that debt collectors must pause attempting to collect debts from you. Bankruptcy often allows you to erase most, if not all, of your debts.
There are two types of debts, unsecured and secured. Some examples of unsecured debts are credit card bills, medical bills, or taxes. Secured debts can include car loans or mortgages, which use the purchased item as collateral. In many cases, filing for bankruptcy can keep this collateral protected and prevent foreclosure of your home or repossession of other assets.
Bankruptcy is governed by federal legislation under the Bankruptcy Code, which falls under the greater United States Code. Both federal law and local law inform the bankruptcy procedure. Federal bankruptcy judges, appointed by the United States court of appeals, preside over court proceedings in these cases. In court, the judge and a court trustee, review your finances to determine whether or not to discharge the debts at hand.
Each state has one or more bankruptcy courts. Tennessee has six bankruptcy courts throughout the state.
Filing for bankruptcy can be a daunting process, and working with a firm with expertise in the field can provide you with necessary guidance.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy process allows individuals or small businesses to discharge or eliminate all unsecured debts. For this reason, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often called “straight bankruptcy.” The most common unsecured debts for which people file bankruptcy in Tennessee are medical bills and credit card bills.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires liquidating the assets of the person or small business filing bankruptcy. This liquidation means that if a debtor exceeds the allowed bankruptcy exemption, they must use your property to pay your creditors. Thus, straight bankruptcy is often not the right choice for those who wish to keep their property while also discharging debts.
Who is Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Those who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Tennessee have a household income below the state median and no disposable income after evaluating specific pre-approved payments.
What are Unsecured Debts?
Unsecured debt is a loan made to an individual without putting any assets up as collateral. If a person cannot pay their unsecured loan debt, there are no assets to seize.
However, lenders usually charge much higher interest rates for unsecured debts versus secured debts since they have a less stable future. The interest cost is added to the initial loan balance by the lender and repaid along with the initial debt.
What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?
Businesses in significant debt that want to stay open often choose to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Both large companies and very small businesses can file Chapter 11 bankruptcies.
A business must be classified as a corporation, partnership, or LLC to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A small business can only file under Chapter 11 if they are unable to file under any other type of bankruptcy.
As soon as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is declared, an automatic stay begins that prevents any creditors from collecting debts. The stay allows you to create a plan to restructure any debts while also keeping your business open. You will get to propose this restructuring plan to creditors for their approval. Before moving forward, a bankruptcy court and at least some of your creditors must approve the plan.
There are various approaches to restructuring your business after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. One common option is creating a plan to reduce spending. In other situations, the business can dissolve some of its assets to pay creditors. One benefit of filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a possible extension of the timeline for repaying debts.
What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reorganize your debts and make a plan for repayment over the next three to five years. Unlike in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 does not discharge your debts.
If you have collateral-secured debts, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the right choice for you. Filing bankruptcy activates an automatic stay that temporarily prevents creditors from collecting money from you.
One of the most important aspects of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it allows you to save your home from foreclosure. During the automatic stay, you will work with a lawyer and perhaps a credit counselor to create a plan to pay existing debts. (It is important to note that while Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you repay existing mortgage payments, during the bankruptcy period itself, you must pay your mortgage payments on time.)
In many Chapter 13 cases, you will work with a lawyer to develop documentation of your current financial status as well as a plan for repayment. This documentation can include a statement of your finances, a statement of your monthly net income, any recent pay stub, proof of meeting with an approved credit counselor, and schedules of current assets and liabilities, among other relevant information.
What is the Bankruptcy Means Test?
To file for bankruptcy in the state of Tennessee, you must first pass the bankruptcy means test.
The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 created this test. Its purpose is to ensure that people who are filing for bankruptcy require that level of assistance. The bankruptcy means test focuses on those eligible for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually discharges all unsecured debts.
The Chapter 7 means test takes into account your household income and your disposable income to determine your filing eligibility. Your household income must be below the Tennessee median to file for Chapter 7. You also must have no disposable income available after taking into account specific pre-approved payments.
As of May 2020, the median annual income for a Tennessee household of two residents is $60,913.00, or $5,076.08 per month. However, the median household income varies over time, so it is essential to confirm the qualifying income at the time of filing.
If your household income is lower than this amount, you are eligible for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy regardless of your other finances. If your household income is higher than the Tennessee median income, then your net income is also considered.
Will Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosures or Repossessions?
In many cases, bankruptcy will stop foreclosures or repossessions, but not always. However, declaring bankruptcy can almost always delay foreclosures or repossessions, thanks to an injunction called an automatic stay.
As soon as you declare bankruptcy, your home will have an automatic stay. This stay is what stops creditors, collection agencies, and others from harassing you for payment. An automatic stay also prevents foreclosing on your property or repossessing collateral assets.
Foreclosures and Repossessions in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Filing with Chapter 13 ensures more success in keeping your home. Even if you are severely behind on mortgage payments, an automatic stay will temporarily prevent mortgage lenders from asking for payment.
This stay provides you with the time to work with lawyers on creating a repayment plan for your debts. In these plans, debts secured with property, like mortgage payments, and other significant assets, like cars, are prioritized to be paid back first.
Foreclosures and Repossessions in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy also creates an immediate automatic stay, which can stall any foreclosure or repossession that may be happening. However, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy means the complete liquidation of your assets. If your debt exceeds the limits of exempt assets, creditors can seize property or other assets for repayment.
West Knoxville Location to Serve You
Free Case Consultation
Fill out the form for a no obligation consultation