Bankruptcy Attorney in Wheeling, West Virginia
When a person or a company struggles to repay debts to creditors, filing for bankruptcy can be the last resort to solve financial problems. Bankruptcy is a legal process that can help you eliminate a part or all of the total amount that you owe to a creditor. Declaring bankruptcy will allow you to reorganize your finances, pay off a creditor, and pursue debt settlement. This is a great opportunity for a bankrupt person to have a fresh start and obtain financial freedom.
Bankruptcy laws may vary from state to state. In West Virginia, there are certain guidelines that you need to follow when filing for bankruptcy. A credible Wheeling bankruptcy lawyer can help you file bankruptcy in compliance with the state laws.
At Thomas E. McIntire & Associates, L.C., we have extensive experience in handling bankruptcy cases. Our bankruptcy attorneys will also provide valuable information on how best to protect yourself from financial hardship. We provide free consultations with attorneys specializing in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies in West Virginia. We can assist you through every step of the process, answering any questions or concerns that may arise along the way.
Call us now at 304-313-4095 and schedule an initial consultation.
What are the Types of Bankruptcy?
There are different types of bankruptcy that you can choose from depending on your financial status. The most common types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A top-ranking Wheeling bankruptcy attorney can help you select the most appropriate bankruptcy chapter that will result in total debt repayment.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is considered the most common bankruptcy type. It involves the process of “liquidation” which means converting any non-exempt property into cash by selling it. This is considered the fastest type of bankruptcy since most of the unsecured debts (credit card debt, personal loan, and medical debt) are “forgiven” or discharged.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is also known as the “wage earner” bankruptcy, allows you to restructure and reorganize your debts through a repayment plan that will last for 3 to 5 years. This type of bankruptcy chapter is best for you if you have assets and properties that you want to keep or a mortgage that you want to get current on. This chapter can help you make monthly payments affordable.
How Do I Qualify for a Bankruptcy Filing?
Before you file bankruptcy in West Virginia, you must first pass the bankruptcy means test. You must also consider your monthly income and living expenses for you to know if your disposable income is enough to pay off debts. A reliable bankruptcy lawyer in West Virginia can help you determine whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if the income of your family is lower than the median income of West Virginia, it means that you pass the means test. On the other hand, if the income of your family is higher than the median income, you may still be qualified to pass the means test after you deduct a list of the allowable living expenses.
On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a debtor to have a stable monthly income to wipe out your debts. To qualify, you need to pay all non-dischargeable debts and the value of your non-exempt property using all your disposable income. In this bankruptcy chapter, you may pay back some or the full amount of what you owe under a repayment plan if your income exceeds the limits of Chapter 7.
What are the Steps in Filing Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy can be financially, physically, and emotionally challenging. A qualified bankruptcy attorney in West Virginia can guide you throughout the bankruptcy process. If you are considering filing bankruptcy, here are the steps you need to know:
Complete the paperwork
You may begin your bankruptcy filing by accomplishing the free and official online bankruptcy form from the website of the United States Bankruptcy Court. You need to fill out the form with the complete details of your current financial situation. You need to declare all your assets, liabilities, monthly income, living expenses, bank account information, credit card debt, loan debt, and property transactions. A seasoned Wheeling bankruptcy attorney can assist you in such filing. You need to ensure that all information and figures in your paperwork are accurate before you submit it to the local court.
Take credit counseling
You can’t file for bankruptcy until you’ve undergone counseling sessions. It assures the court that you have exhausted all alternatives before filing for bankruptcy. You should complete a credit counseling program from an accredited credit counseling agency.
File your petition and schedules
When you file a bankruptcy case, you must pay a filing fee. By submitting an application to have a filing fee waived, you may be able to claim a waiver and not have to pay certain fees. Your credible West Virginia bankruptcy lawyer will help you complete all these documents.
Attend the creditor’s meeting
Once your bankruptcy case has been filed, you have to attend the 341 creditor’s meeting. During the meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will ask about the paperwork that you have submitted to the bankruptcy court. You will also be questioned regarding your income, assets, and creditors.
Finish the debtor education program
Before receiving a bankruptcy discharge, you will have to undergo another class which is the debtor education class. Once you have finished the program, you must submit a B23 form to the court stating that you have successfully finished the course.
How Do I Keep My Property When Filing for Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’ll lose all the assets that you own. However, not all your assets can be fully protected from liquidation. West Virginia has state laws in place that let residents protect some of their assets from creditors during bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy exemption system of West Virginia applies to all debtors who are filing for bankruptcy in the state. If your property falls within one of the exemptions, you can protect it from creditors during the bankruptcy process and use it to start over after you have received a bankruptcy discharge. The amount of exemption may be subject to change from time to time. It is important to check with a trusted bankruptcy attorney in Wheeling for any updates regarding adjustments of exemption.
West Virginia state bankruptcy exemption rules determine the properties and assets that you can protect when you decide to file bankruptcy Chapter 7. These rules will also help you calculate the amount that you need to repay your creditors when you file bankruptcy Chapter 13.
If you choose to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your appointed bankruptcy trustee will liquidate your non-exempt assets to pay off your debts from your creditor. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be allowed to keep your non-exempt assets, but you need to repay the value of your property within three to five years.
Here are the significant bankruptcy exemptions that can be useful to your bankruptcy case:
- Exempt and Non-Exempt Property. Bankruptcy law allows debtors to keep a certain amount of property after going through bankruptcy proceedings. This is called the “exempt” property. This generally includes your assets that are necessary for living and working. On the other hand, a property that cannot be exempted is called a “non-exempt” property. It generally covers items that fall outside of the necessities for living and working.
- Homestead Exemption. In West Virginia, you can protect up to $25,000 worth of your home, condo, or other property covered by the homestead exemption. This amount doubles to $50,000 if you are married and file for joint bankruptcy.
- Motor Vehicle Exemption. You will be allowed to protect up to $2,400 of your equity in one motor vehicle.
- Doubling Bankruptcy Exemptions. Spouses who decide to jointly file for bankruptcy in West Virginia can be eligible for a double exemption as long as the property is owned by both.
Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy in West Virginia?
Bankruptcy is a long and complicated legal process. It is not easy to deal with financial problems without professional help. To ease your burden, it is advisable to hire an experienced Wheeling bankruptcy lawyer at Thomas E. McIntire & Associates, L.C. Our bankruptcy law firm will guide you through the filing process, represent you in court, and negotiate with creditors to ensure a successful bankruptcy case. We provide exceptional service, taking the hard work out of bankruptcy for you.
Call us now at 304-313-4095 and schedule an initial consultation.