The first thing you have to do is to organize all your personal financial information. They would include all your secured and unsecured debts, deeds to your real estate properties, tax returns, car titles and other documents that might be relevant to your finances. After making sure you have all the important financial documents with you, you will have to complete personal bankruptcy forms. The forms will actually describe your present financial situation and most recent transactions. At this point, you can hire a bankruptcy lawyer to make sure you answered each question on the form correctly and decide on which type of personal bankruptcy to file, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Capter 11 is for businesses and extremely wealthy individuals who cannot file a chapter 13 reorganization.
The criteria for filing is basically that you are insolvent in that you cannot make payments on your bills as they become due.
Since the 2005 rule changes, it has become more difficult to qualify for filing a chapter 7 where you can just giveup all your non exempt assets and debts and get a fresh start. If your income and living expenses exceed the median income levels in your area and your living expenses exceed certain IRS criteria for what they deem as reasonable, you will be forced to file chapter 13 BK where you will have to repay most of your secured debts on a 3-5 yr plan but may still get a break on the unsecured credit card type debt.
Chapter 11 is a reorganization and repayment plan for businesses where as chapter 13 is for individuals;
MOst people file a chapter 7 or chapter 13;
A chapter 7 can be over in as little time as 4-8 months depending on the court's docket;
A chaper 13 can last 3-5 years depending on the repayment plan that the court approves.
Yes, you can file a personal bankruptcy on your own. For a chapter 7, you can probably buy a book at the bookstore with all the forms and do it yourself. For a chapter 13, you may need the help of a lawyer.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will leave you with no assets but all your debt will be wiped out. On the other hand, if you file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you get to keep all your exempted assets and pay your creditors within a period of 3 to 5 years under the supervision of the bankruptcy court.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy also requires a $299.00 filing fee and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a $274.00 filing fee. Once the personal bankruptcy petition is filed, all your creditors are prohibited from contacting you and staking claims to your assets.
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