What is Chapter 7?

If you are claiming bankruptcy in Columbus, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are your two options. Chapter 7 is the method for eliminating the majority of your unsecured debt.

How do I know if Chapter 7 is right for me?

If you are looking at bankruptcy in Columbus, consider this type of filing if any of the following are true:

  • You typically live paycheck to paycheck.
  • You don’t maintain significant assets (home, car, investments, etc.)
  • Most or all of your earnings go to pay for day-to-day necessities.

One of our Ohio bankruptcy attorneys can look at your individual situation and advise you on whether this is your best choice.

What help can filing provide immediately?

As soon as you file your petition for bankruptcy in Columbus, you are protected under the “automatic stay.” This protection immediately stops your creditors from trying to collect what you owe them. During this time, creditors cannot legally garnish your wages, empty your bank account, repossess your car, evict you from your home, or cut off your utility services. Many people find the automatic stay of immense benefit in helping them stabilize their financial situation.

What happens after I file my petition?

Petitions for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Columbus are typically processed fairly quickly on the way to eliminating your unsecured debt. Until your bankruptcy case is complete, your finances are placed in the hands of the bankruptcy court through a court-appointed person called a “trustee.” The court assumes legal control of the property that you own (except exempt property, which is yours to keep) as well as the debts you owe as of the date you file. None of your property can be sold and no debts can be paid without the court’s consent. However, you retain some control over income and property that you acquire after you file your petition.

The trustee’s role is to evaluate the property you own and what property you claim as exempt. At a short hearing called the “creditor’s meeting,” the trustee examines your petition and asks you questions to clarify the information that you present. Your Columbus bankruptcy attorney will accompany you to this meeting, which will not likely last more than a few minutes. Creditors may attend this meeting, but rarely do.

After this meeting, the trustee collects the property that can be taken from you (the property that you cannot claim as exempt) to be sold to pay your creditors. However, very few people actually lose property after bankruptcy in Columbus. If you do have non-exempt property, you have the option to surrender it to the trustee, to pay the trustee its fair market value, or even swap some exempt property of equal value for nonexempt property if the trustee agrees. Sometimes, the property in question isn’t worth very much or would be hard to sell, and the trustee will “abandon” the property, which means that you get to keep it.

At the end of the process, most of your debts are discharged by the court. You no longer legally owe your creditors.

What if I’ve filed before? What if I ever need to file again?

After filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Columbus, you cannot file again for eight years after the date of your filing. After that, your eligibility resets and you can once again take advantage of the legal protections if you meet the other eligibility criteria. However, you may still be eligible for Chapter 13. Your attorney can advise you of your rights.

How do I qualify for Chapter 7?

Most middle- or lower-class individuals qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your attorney can help you evaluate your eligibility for bankruptcy in Columbus and advise you on the process and likely outcomes. Contact your expert bankruptcy attorney today for a free consultation to get answers to your questions on how to file bankruptcy in Columbus.