Filing for bankruptcy is a right that every American has. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is one where most debt gets dissolved, such as loans, medical bills, and debt stemming from credit cards. Around 8.7 million people in the United States filed for a chapter 7 bankruptcy between 2006 and 2017. This makes it one of the most frequently used financial tools, and the most frequently used bankruptcy.
What’s involved in the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process
For chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process is quite simple. First, some forms will need to be filled out with a Utah bankruptcy lawyer who will discuss your current financial situation– like the amount you earn and spend, and things that you own and owe. You will then file these with your area’s bankruptcy court. If you are employed, pay stubs and tax returns will also need to be included.
Next, you will have an assigned trustee that will ensure all of your bankruptcy forms are in order and fully completed. A meeting will be set up for you and your bankruptcy attorney to meet with the trustee. You will be questioned concerning the content of the documents.
After a few months, you will receive a court notice of your chapter 7 bankruptcy being officially discharged and complete.
Types of Debt That Can Be Discharged
Under chapter 7 bankruptcy, the following debt can be discharged by the bankruptcy court:
- Utility debt
- Non-student loans
- Credit debt
- Healthcare debt
- Debt judgments
These are all unsecured debts that can be “discharged.”
As soon as a bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay is placed. This stay prevents any collector from attempting to make collection efforts towards you.
Types of Debt That Cannot Be Discharged
- Student loans
- GovernmentalTaxes and debts
- Spousal and child support
If you have secured debts, like a vehicle or home, and you want to keep them, they should not be listed in the bankruptcy. With that, you need to make sure that you have the secured debt up to date on the payments. However, if you no longer want any secured property, then you can list it in your chapter 7 and have it discharged after being returned to the lender.
Qualifying for Chapter 7–Are You Able to File?
If you earn below your state’s average income, determined by your household’s size, then chapter 7 is an option for you. This is based on a “means test” that bankruptcy laws determine. This test determines what your monthly income averages out to be in the previous six months.
For individuals that are unemployed or are earning a minimum wage, chapter 7 will also be available. However, if the means test is not passed, then you cannot file for chapter 7.
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah is possible if any of the below factors are involved:
- Debt repayment is impossible over the course of 5 years.
- The means test qualifies you.
- Stress over lawsuit threats stemming from unpaid debt
- Your property is not valuable.
- Your dischargeable debt exceeds $10K
- You have a credit score that’s under 600
- All of your monthly income goes towards debts.
Holding off on filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you have other financial dealing currently processing, like property transfers, you should wait for those to be completed before filing chapter 7. Try to pay off your most recent credit card charges first before filing.
If you are in a current lawsuit or are going to file one, you should wait until your suit is settled before filing chapter 7. Holding off is usually seen during a personal injury suit. If you are unsure of what to hold off with, a Utah Bankruptcy Attorney can easily advise you.
You should hold off on filing chapter 7 if you currently owe money to a landlord, and you plan to continue living in their property. Try to catch up with your payments so that you will be current. This is also true if you plan to keep your vehicle and you have payment arrangements.
If you feel that your financial situation will not improve, you should wait to file chapter 7. The reason why is because you are only permitted to file for bankruptcy every 8 years.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Discharge?
The time frame for a Utah Chapter 7 Bankruptcy from start to finish is determined by how organized you are as you start. If you have all of the necessary documents, and a good Utah Bankruptcy attorney, then you can file within a week. Your trustee meeting will take place a couple of months after you file.
Depending on your trustee meeting outcome, you will receive your official discharge within a few months. From the time of filing chapter 7, you can expect a discharge no later than 6 months.
Cost of Filing for Chapter 7
A $335 fee will be charged by the court when you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. If petitioners are unable to pay the fee, a waiver may be granted. You can also request installment payments for the fee through the court and as long as the court approves the waiver.
If you choose a course for personal finance, then you can expect to pay at least $10 for it. The amount for it will depend on your course provider. A waiver for the course may also be granted if you are unable to afford it.
The attorney’s fees are the largest cost in a bankruptcy. A good attorney will help you collect the necessary documentation to accurately and completely represent your financial situation. They will advise you regarding all available options for discharging and restructuring your debt, and they will represent you and provide assistance during your trustee meeting. Attorneys may bill you a flat fee for these services or may charge hourly rates but require a retainer amount upfront.
Your Financial Life after Discharge
As soon as a discharge is obtained from Chapter 7, individuals usually feel relieved that they no longer have to shoulder the crushing weight of their discharged debts. Shortly after discharge, thier credit score will also begin to improve if it was below 600.
After a chapter 7 bankruptcy, a petitioner can easily feel more confident after their debt has been discharged. They are more educated and prepared to deal with their finances due to the financial courses that are required during the bankruptcy. After the discharge is achieved, individuals normally become more aware of their finances by saving and budgeting their finances. They also utilize credit-building tools such as a secured credit card.
When all is said and done, chapter 7 remains on credit reports for a max of 10 years. However, there have been times when people have secured a mortgage far sooner than that due to an improved credit score and being financially responsible after discharge.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Utah
- Cheap to file
- Fast discharge process
- Option to maintain the property
- Debt collection attempts to cease
- Receive a clean slate
- May not be able to put a stop to foreclosure.
- The ability to file is based on income.
- Bankruptcy remains on credit for 10 years.
- Cannot erase non-dischargeable debt
Deciding to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah is controlled by your current financial circumstances and any other options being available. Your Utah bankruptcy lawyer will be able to advise you on the timing for a filing so that you can make a better decision to file. Your Utah bankruptcy attorney will also be able to suggest which required financial course will be best for your financial situation, so you are better informed and prepared to manage your finances in the future