What To Know About Bankruptcy Procedures
You are not alone in seeking debt relief through bankruptcy. At Law Office of Stephen J. Zayler, you have a trusted guide in the firm’s founder. Attorney Stephen Zayler is a highly experienced, extremely knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer who understands what you are going through. He will provide you with all the information you need and walk you through every step in the bankruptcy process.
All bankruptcies here in the Lufkin area are filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas located in Beaumont, Texas, or in some cases, Tyler, Texas. Approximately 30 to 45 days after the date of filing, the 341a first meeting of creditors will be held in Beaumont. Your attendance is required. Casual clothing is permitted. At that time, the trustee appointed by the court and any interested creditors have an opportunity to ask you a reasonable amount of questions concerning your financial history, condition, location of property and similar matters.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
In Chapter 7 cases, the trustee wants to know if you have any type of property above the amount you can exempt, that they can sell and pay the money to your creditors. In 95 out of 100 cases, there is no extra or nonexempt property for the trustee to sell. In the majority of cases, your bankruptcy is complete after the creditor’s meeting. In Chapter 7 cases, approximately 60 days after that meeting, unless an objection is filed by the trustee or a creditor, you will obtain an order from the court discharging or releasing you from all dischargeable debts. You will pay any debts you agree to continue to pay and any debts that, by law, cannot be discharged (like taxes or student loans). Special problems and complaints objecting to the debtor’s right to obtain a discharge require additional court appearances.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
If you have debts that will not be discharged in a Chapter 7 or secured debts, you need to catch up or refinance; you may need to consider a repayment plan under Chapter 13. In a Chapter 13, you pay your creditors back, some or all of their debt, through a repayment plan supervised by the court and the Chapter 13 trustee. The amount you pay depends upon your income, living expenses and the amount and type of creditors.
- Budget: From total family or household income, you subtract normal deductions for taxes, Social Security, etc., to get net or take-home pay. From net or take-home pay, you subtract necessary living expenses (housing, food, clothing, gas, child care, etc.) to get the surplus or trustee payment.
- Expenses: The amount of allowed living expenses is now set by law at the IRS standards, and neither I, you nor the judge can vary from those amounts. However, this is one of those areas that is still somewhat uncertain.
- Plan: The Chapter 13 plan is normally used to pay for debts that do not go away – such as taxes – and secured debts where you need to catch up past due payments or refinance payments.
Changes To The Bankruptcy Laws
The biggest recent changes in bankruptcy law affect Chapter 13:
- Based upon your income, you may be required to file for a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
- You must stay in Chapter 13 and pay creditors for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years.
- The ability to refinance cars, trucks and other personal property is more limited.
- The protection of the automatic stay may be limited.
- The plan is approved much faster than under the previous law even before all creditors have had time to file their claims. This means the plan will have to be amended or changed, perhaps several times, to meet and pay for these later claims.
- Annual financial statements must be filed throughout the length of the plan.
- All tax refund received while you are in a Chapter 13 repayment plan must be turned over to the trustee.
Future Credit Lines
Remember – good credit is paying what you owe when it is due. Anything else is less than good. The way you handle the repayment of your debts will be considered by a prospective lender in the future. You will have to work to reestablish your credit upon completion of your bankruptcy. There is no representation or guarantee that you will be able to secure credit after filing for any bankruptcy. It is totally up to a future lender to make this decision. Attorney Zayler can provide an additional handout that discusses this more.
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We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.