Bankruptcy can be a useful tool for individuals struggling to repay their debts. It might not be a quick fix. Bankruptcy can take from a few months to several years depending on the complexity. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy to reduce or eliminate your personal debt, first take the time to educate yourself about the bankruptcy process and all that it will require of you. Work with a bankruptcy lawyer to learn more about the long-term repercussions of bankruptcy and the tasks you need to complete before filing, such as taking a credit counseling class and filing your taxes.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Individuals who are struggling with high levels of personal debt have at least two bankruptcy options: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Not everybody qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, nor does everybody qualify for Chapter 13. Even in cases where an individual does qualify for one or both of these chapters, one might be a better option for him or her than the other.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy because to repay the filer’s debts, his or her non-exempt assets are liquidated and the profits are used to satisfy his or her creditors. Most debtors filing Chapter 7 have few if any non-exempt assets. Therefore, most Chapter 7 debtors are able to keep their property. Exempt assets are assets the individual needs for his or her daily life, such as a car to get to work, household items, and clothing for work and everyday wear. Nonexempt assets, those that can be liquidated, include collectible items, recreational vehicles and objects, and properties other than the filer’s primary residence. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual must pass the “means test.” To pass this test, he or she must earn less than his or her state’s median income or demonstrate that he or she does not have sufficient disposable income to complete a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is in many ways less restrictive than Chapter 7 bankruptcy. With Chapter 13, the individual must submit a plan to repay some of the debt to the bankruptcy court. If it is accepted, he or she works with a bankruptcy trustee to repay some of the debt over the course of three to five years. Although it can be easier to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, not everybody does. Individuals who cannot show that they have enough disposable income after subtracting their required expenses from their monthly income will not have the assets to make payments. Also, those who have more than $1,184,200 in secured debt and those who have more than $394,725 in unsecured debt do not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Work with an Experienced Clark County Bankruptcy Attorney

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, the first thing you should do is speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer about your situation and your goals for the bankruptcy case. An experienced lawyer can not only help you determine which type of bankruptcy is the better choice for you and your case but also determine whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you at all. He or she can also guide you through each step of the bankruptcy process and help you avoid pitfalls that can set you back or even disqualify your case.