Monday, October 31, 2011

How Often Can a Bucks County Individual File for Bankruptcy?

There are no legal limits to the number of times a bankruptcy client in Bucks County can file for bankruptcy, but there is a definite and specific time line between the filings. For instance, if you filed for a Chapter 7 you must wait 8 years before you are eligible to file another Chapter 7. You may, however, file a Chapter 13 within the 8 years. Be forewarned that if you file for a Chapter 13 before four years of filing for a Chapter 7, your unsecured debts will not be discharged.

If you filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and wish to file another Chapter 13 within a year, you will have to file a motion with the bankruptcy court to extend the automatic stay, which only lasts for 30 days on a second filing (see 11 USC 362 (c) (3)). To be granted the extension, you will have to show a change of circumstances (i.e. reduced expenses, an increase in pay, new family contribution, etc). Your Bucks County bankruptcy attorney can advise you of the best course of action.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What is a Bankruptcy Dismissal in a Bucks County Bankruptcy?

A debtor’s bankruptcy filing in Bucks County can be dismissed or ended in both a Bucks County Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A dismissal can be either voluntary or involuntary on the debtor’s part.

The following are examples of involuntary dismissal: failure to complete the mandatory credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing, failing to be completely truthful in filling out the information on the bankruptcy forms, failing to attend the meeting of your creditors which is located in Trevose in Bucks County, failure to pay the necessary fees, and in the case of Chapter 13, failing to make your monthly planned payments.

A voluntary dismissal would occur if you change your mind about filing or you realize you are unable to make your monthly payments in a Chapter 13 filing.

Except in the case of fraud, which is a federal violation, a debtor can request a reinstatement of the bankruptcy which, if granted, will not affect the original filing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What is Presumption of Abuse in a Bucks County Bankruptcy?

In a Chapter 7 filing in Bucks County, the debtor must demonstrate that his/her filing is not an abuse of the bankruptcy laws. A means test has been established with the changes in the 2005 bankruptcy laws. This test will demonstrate that you either have or have not the financial means to repay your debt under Chapter 7.

The means test is based on your household size and the median income for your state. Unfortunately, and what frustrates many Bucks County residents seeking bankruptcy relief, is that Philadelphia and Bucks County salaries are typically higher than other areas of the state. Since incomes from other parts of the state create a lower median, many bankruptcy clients "fail" the means test and must be a Chapter 13 based upon their income over the last 6 months. Even more frustrating, an individual in Levittown must make under $44,897 per year to qualify for a Chapter 7, whereas a resident of Burlington, NJ (which is only 1 mile away!) who is using a Burlington County bankruptcy attorney has to make less than $59,060 to qualify for a Chapter 7. Clearly, the law attempted to make a simple, baseline test that hurts many potential bankruptcy filers. I wish it were based on Zip Code to more accurately reflect the cost of living for geographic areas.

If you cannot qualify under the means test for a Chapter 7, then you may be considered under Chapter 13 or your case may be dismissed by the trustee. A means test is complicated and you should rely on a Bucks County bankruptcy attorney proficient in such matters to help you establish your position in the bankruptcy filing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What are the fees for a bankruptcy?

For Chapter 7, the court filing fee is $299.00

For Chapter 13, the court filing fee is $274.00

There are also fees for your Bucks County Bankruptcy attorney. These fees vary and will be discussed when you meet with him/her.

Payment arrangements are often possible. In a Chapter 13, it is often possible to roll some of the legal fees due to your attorney into the trustee’s repayment plan. This can be a very powerful way to keep your out-of-pocket costs low.