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Filing chapter 7

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  • Filing chapter 7

    Please help

    I have so many questions and I haven't been able to get all my answers from a lawyer as of yet because I'm in the middle of a divorce as well. My family law attorney works with the bankruptcy attorney, but I haven't paid the bankruptcy attorney yet. My family law attorney can't answer all my questions.

    So after the divorce, I'm filing chapter 7. My husband makes too much and I make less than 35k a year. I was a dummy and all the debt is in my name. He has spent all the money as well and there's no savings.

    we have no major assets. We have a mobile home we just bought less than a year ago and it's on a mortgage so there' no real equity there. He has a truck we bought that doesn't work right now. I have a car that I'm upside down on but I want to keep paying it. I wouldn' otherwise be able to get to work. He wants the mobile home in the divorce and I don't care because I can't afford it and we would probably lose momey on it.

    I left because of domestic violence reasons. None of this was planned.

    I am in Michigan. These are some questions I'm trying to get answered.

    1. How detailed do they get on the bankruptcy property list? Do I have to say like I have a Roman penny my dad gave me with no value, I have a us 1987 coin proof set worth like $2, or is it more general like categorizing the overall value of categories, like I have $50 in clothes and $2 in coins, ect?

    2. I have one tv. Are they going to likely take It?

    3. I have one Xbox which is the only way I can watch tv. I have no cable. Will they take that?

    4. Should I stop paying creditors? I can't make the minimums on all of them without my husband, so I've been paying the smaller balances to try and pay them off, but I learned that might not be good

    5. I had to move in with my parents. They would like me to pay rent after the divorce until I get on my feet. Will they make allowances for that?

    6. Will they let me keep enough to pay for my medications and medical equipment charges?

    7. How far back do I need bank statements and credit card statements?

    8. Do I need to keep receipts for everything? Like groceries? And how far back?

    9. Are they going to tell me I can't pay for vet bills?

    10. I'm also in the middle of a degree program. I get federal loans. If I take time off for this, my loans will go into repayment and put me behind a whole year in my program. Since I have to pay student loans anyway, is it allowed to take out unsub direct loans in the middle of a bankruptcy or No? I realize that it sounds like a bad idea but I'm concerned about the additional repercussions. I tried contacting the federal loan folks at FAFSA and they won't answer the question.

    11. For those of you that don't own any single item worth more than $600, what kind of stuff did they take to sell? Just so I can be prepared. Most stuff I don't care what they take. I'd just like my bed, cat, dog, computer for school, tv and Xbox, and car. They can sell my wedding ring and my pistol and stuff. I don't care at this point and I deserve it for letting this happen.

    12. In November I had to have over $3,000 in work on my car. I take it every 6 months or less to the dealer to get everything checked over. We don't know why it got so bad that fast. I was only able to pay about half that in cash but it took all our money. I took out a cash advance to try and make things work bill wise in december before my husband threatened me and didnt intend to just leave immediately, though i figured we would divorce at some point as things have been getting worse. I was afraid for my wellbeing. Anyway, the cash advance place accused me of planning this when I told then what happened and they refused to make a payment arrangement or settlement. They wouldn't take any payment less than full. They're accusing me of fraudulent circumstances. I had intended to pay them as agreed in January when we got our next paychecks, but I couldn't on just mine. I'm scared that they're going to fight as fraud?

    other than the house, I have no assets of any value really. The only thing worth anything (power tools, lawn equip, ect) other than my tv and Xbox, my husband has and he wants them in the divorce.

    sorry if it is too many questions. I have been looking all over for answers and I get a lot of general information because no two cases are alike.
    Last edited by stormygate; 02-17-2018, 05:55 PM.

  • #2
    I also closed my old bank account in December. My husband kept trying to make payments on his bills out of my paycheck but I don' have access to his pay. We each have a separate account now. I got the last 3 statements before it was closed. It will be closed about 5-6 months by the time I file. Will that be enough
    Last edited by stormygate; 02-17-2018, 05:47 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just to help ease some of your fears, they are not likely to take anything you own and try to sell it. You really need to look at the bankruptcy laws for your state and get familiar with them. You also need to start going for free consultations with bankruptcy attorneys. They will have the answers to all of your questions.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would OPEN another bank account (not Wells Fargo or a bank you owe money to, that's just problematic) so you have a safe place to store your money. Wells Fargo has a reputation for freezing bank accounts in the mistaken notion that the trustee is going to want that money .

        Any cars you have you can surrender easily enough and the balance becomes an unsecured loan that's dischargable. Any cars you want to keep you should be able to reaffirm.

        As far as your possessions go you should be fine. You're surrendering your mobile home. Exemptions should cover most of your possessions. And trustees aren't going to go after your Xbox and your $200 tv that would likely sell for $75 tops. It's just not a good use of the trustees time so they would abandon it. They get $60 for most cases plus a portion of the proceeds of the sales they conduct.

        As long as you intended to pay the payday loan back when you took it out it's hard to see them suing you. Especially if it's less than $925 or taken out more than 70 days before filing. A $10000 loan taken out on day 71 looks bad but a $700 loan taken out on day 90 doesn't have either Presumption and they wouldn't challenge that.

        When filing your budget you're allowed living expenses which include medical expenses. If you have less than $300 in your open accounts you'll be ok there. Just get one before you file .You might have a tough time getting one after filing.

        Your attorney will have the answers but based on what you said you will be fine.

        And you're not weak you're strong. You did what had to be done. My advice is no more credit but you'll be fine. Once you retain the attorney he or she can take your calls and then once you file your creditors can't call at all to collect money. I did get a letter from.one of mine letting me know they closed the account by it I'd not used it in months at that point .

        Best wishes .

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nodebtrenton View Post
          I would OPEN another bank account (not Wells Fargo or a bank you owe money to, that's just problematic) so you have a safe place to store your money. Wells Fargo has a reputation for freezing bank accounts in the mistaken notion that the trustee is going to want that money ....


          And you're not weak you're strong. You did what had to be done. My advice is no more credit but you'll be fine. Once you retain the attorney he or she can take your calls and then once you file your creditors can't call at all to collect money. I did get a letter from.one of mine letting me know they closed the account by it I'd not used it in months at that point .

          Best wishes .
          what do you mean by open another bank account? One where I plan to store money after Filing? I thought I had to disclose all bank accounts and stuff when I file?

          And thank you so much for your encouragement! This is very frightening. I already lost my home. I'm scared of losing my degree program and not being able to pay for basic needs in the process.

          Comment


          • #6
            You do have to disclose them. You also have to be able to produce a statement of how much money is in the accounts. You're right to have as few accounts as possible .I had four and it was difficult getting the statements because my attorney needed them before I got the official statements so they let you use a provisional doxument that shows balances and the like as long as it covers 30 consecutive days and date of filing. The trustee only wants your money not your accounts. But you'll have an account after filing. Think local banks.

            Youll get the statements after filing though so priorities now is paystubs six full months back (filers in march need paystubs Sept 1 through Feb 28) when you intend to file and your last two filed tax returns. Should be either 2015\2016 or 2016/2017 depending on if you filed yet. also proof of SSN such as your social security card or W2.

            Student loans are non dischargeable so don't use unsecured debt to pay for them. Otherwise you should be ok. Your expenses are what they are and considered essential. Plus you likely would pass the means test so your budget won't get a lot of scrutiny. If if did you'd likely still be okay based on what you stated.

            Best wishes

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the help. I still have so many questions. I have been using attorney consults, but all of them refuse to get detailed enough to answer my questions above unless I hire. I'e talked to quite a few now I am going to talk to my family law attorney next week (or try since he hasn' responded in 3 weeks) and see if I can get a consult with their bankruptcy attorney. It would help to kind of have your experiences with these questions as well. I kind of have the feeling the student loan question I asked is obscure as I've found no answers.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't have any experience with school loans, but at one point during our bankruptcy I was considering that I may have to do one. What I found out is that you cannot get a federal student loan until after you have your discharge. Does that help? I'm sorry, i'm not sure what your exact question is but I hope other people here have more experience with this. So if your question was about getting a federal student loan, you would want to have that completed either before you file, or be in a position where you didn't need it until after you had your discharge.

                Comment


                • #9
                  1,2,3: Do not worry about losing your meager household possessions. The (panel) trustee's job is to come after non-exempt cash assets, or non-exempt property which can be liquidated which will make a meaningful impact toward your debts. When I filed, I was a good $600+ over the very stingy exemption amounts offered here in AZ, some of which was my checking account, some of which was household property. The trustee didn't bother going after it, because $600 or so, less his commission, divided among numerous creditors simply doesn't make a meaningful impact toward the debts.

                  By the same token, do not overvalue your household items. The goal is to be a "no-asset" case. Of course, we are not telling you to lie on your petition and deny the existence of any valuables. The truth of the matter is that you don't own any valuables, and that your household items are practically worthless from a resale point of view anyways. Make sure to value your items at yard sale prices, which would be a small fraction of the amount you paid for them when new. Resist the temptation to place artificially high values on any of your household items.

                  4: Once you have realized that bankruptcy is inevitable, STOP PAYING unsecured creditors including credit cards, payday loans, personal loans, medical debts, etc. Also, you should stop paying any loans which are secured by property which you plan to surrender, such as a car loan secured by a car which you no longer want, or a mortgage secured by a house which you no longer want. Money paid toward these debts is simply wasted at this point, as the debt will be discharged. You should instead use those funds to pay for living expenses going forward, or to fix your car, pay for any deferred healthcare needs, stock up on food, medicine, and personal care items.

                  5: If you can prove that you're paying rent, then you can use that as an allowed expense for the "means test". It sounds like you're poor enough that qualifying for Chapter 7 won't be an issue anyways.

                  6: No, the fact that you need to buy costly medication(s) or pay medical equipment rental fees does not increase the amount of "cash on hand" which may be exempted. However, proper bankruptcy pre-planning would dictate that you stock up on the medicine, and pre-pay the medical equipment costs before you file, as the medicine itself, and the medical equipment will be exempt.

                  7: The (panel) trustee doesn't care about credit card statements. As long as you didn't charge up thousands of dollars in "luxury items" or take out large cash advances within the 6 months prior to filing, your creditors won't care, either. The trustee will typically request 2-3 months of bank statements, but can always ask for more if they think funds have been transferred/concealed.

                  8: No, you don't need to provide receipts for groceries, personal care items, etc. The bankruptcy court assumes that you eat, that you bathe and wash your clothes, that you pay for transportation expenses, and so on. For purposes of the "means test", the standard allowances should be more than sufficient unless you live in a super-high cost-of-living area.

                  9: You can pay for any ongoing expenses through the pendency of your case, and after discharge. Any past-due vet bills, or a pet-care credit card would be treated as unsecured debt and discharged. You are always free to start repaying any debt, even if discharged, after your bankruptcy is closed.

                  10: You should not have to miss school to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I did my Chapter 7 pro-se during the final semester of my final school year of undergraduate. The bankruptcy did not detract from my studies, and my grades actually improved somewhat, even though I was taking some of the most difficult classes. That being said, if you are actually enrolled in school, and plan to remain enrolled, you can certainly use student loans to pay for your current semester's tuition, fees, and living expenses. As student loans are non-dischargeable, student loan proceeds are exempt in a bankruptcy context.

                  11: As I said under questions 1,2,3, the trustee is looking for non-exempt cash and liquid assets, or high-value non-exempt property, such as valuable paintings, antiques, vehicles, real estate, etc. The trustee does not want your furniture, household electronics, kitchen appliances, cookware, eating implements, hand tools, clothing, or anything like that. It costs way more to collect this kind of property and auction it off than the sale could possibly bring. Your wedding ring and pistol should be covered under separate exemptions, anyways. For example, here in AZ, there is an exemption specifically to cover a wedding ring, and another exemption specifically to cover one pistol, one rifle, and one shotgun.

                  12: The payday loan lender is huffing and puffing and making threats, which they know they can't back up. You can and should ignore these threats. First of all, by the very definition of what a payday lender does, and their intended clientele, people obtain these loans specifically because they need money desperately, and are otherwise insolvent. Therefore, it cannot possibly be considered fraud if a person who was already insolvent becomes more insolvent after taking out this very costly loan, and therefore is unable to repay said loan. Payday loan companies do not ever object to the discharge of their debt when a customer files for bankruptcy because filing an AP would cost them thousands, and they'd lose. Don't lose any sleep over this, and don't pay these vultures any more money. If they have permission to auto-debit your bank account, close the bank account and move to a different, unrelated bank or credit union.

                  Any more questions? Let us know. It also doesn't hurt to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. Here in AZ, the bankruptcy court offers a program in which real bankruptcy attorneys will meet with you for an hour, review your paperwork, answer any questions you might have, and this is held in a room in the courthouse. This is free of charge, though you must make an appointment online to reserve a time slot. Perhaps this exists where you live?
                  Last edited by bcohen; 02-18-2018, 10:50 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If your lawyer in non-responsive, you might want to set an appointment. Or, find someone else.

                    it is never ok to be someone's punching bag. Getting out is the right thing to do, and I praise your courage in doing so.

                    if the divorce is still in process, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy before the divorce is final. That way you are not stuck with bills from the other side, plus, your alimony and child support payments (if any) won't force you into a chapter 13. You might have some "innocent spouse" protections, and, all of the assets will be laid bare and any hidden savings or retirement accounts are more likely found now than after the fact, including social security amounts. Plus, if there are unpaid tax debts, you don't want to be on the hook for them if they are not yours, or, the other side was responsible for paying for them. if not, no worries, bankruptcies happen before and after divorces. Further, some bankruptcy lawyers don't want to be involved until you have reach a divorce division of property and debts incurred . Michigan is supposed to be an equitable division state, so maybe some of the debts can be put back on who ran up the charges, if they were for individual use and not family use. Unfortunately, if the cards are in your name, you are it.

                    Are you sure there is no equity in the mobile home? Check Zillow. The home might not have any but the property it is on might have some.

                    When you sign the promissory note for student loans, that is generally considered the loan agreement for the entire year, even if funds from the loan are disbursed over time. Read through the threads to find that except for at least one 341 meeting, with a lawyer, bankruptcy is kind of a "set it and forget it" option. If the meeting coincides with a major exam, ask your lawyer to change the date.

                    Can you get a car that you're not upside down on? Sometimes it is better to do so before a bankruptcy. Get something you can afford on your income, without inflated amounts for previous debts. There are also ways to reduce the amount owed on the vehicle in bankruptcy, but the lawyer will have a few hoops to jump through.

                    Definitely stop paying unsecured creditors, after you've found a vehicle or decided on keeping what you have. They may whine and complain, but if you haven't already changed your number, now would be a good time. You don't have to give it out to anyone except maybe your lawyers. The unsecured creditors don't need it. That's one way to keep yourself sane, withhold information from your unsecured creditors.

                    Maybe you don't have to file immediately. Sure, the payday loan folks are cranky, but if they don't have your number, how can they call? Letters? You can burn them to keep warm. Summons? Hand them to your lawyer, maybe it'll encourage the process along. Wage garnishment? You'll have filed before the payday loan can can get to garnishment.

                    Perhaps a chat with your employer's HR can help. They can have an employee benefit of counselors for going through this kind of stuff. They can inform you if a bogus wage garnishment is filed. They can deny access to a pissed off other side. They can be forgiving if you need some time off for court dates. Or, time to recover from injuries. Or if your job performance drops for a little while. Or perhaps a chat with your school's health clinic can help. Maybe the other side's health insurance will allow you a COBRA option to help keep down the price of care, and you divorce lawyer can get the other side to pay for it for awhile.

                    as for stuff, what is the value of the pistol? Are you carrying concealed for personal protection from the other side? The rest of the stuff seems low value, think thrift store, Craig's list, eBay, and yard sale prices, and probably all of it exemptable thru state or federal law. Internet search "michigan property exemptions" to find that what you have is exemptable in bankruptcy.

                    If you get the phone to stop ringing, who says you have to answer anyways?, are you still in a hurry to file? Or can you take the time to plan, such that you can geyjt your share of any income tax return, get a proper amount of alimony, and then get yourself out of debt while saving your stuff and have a fresh start.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks so much. I'm not sure why I didn't get the email notification of responses this time. This helped answer some of my questions I wanted to ask the attorney

                      Originally posted by bcohen View Post

                      10: You should not have to miss school to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I did my Chapter 7 pro-se during the final semester of my final school year of undergraduate. The bankruptcy did not detract from my studies, and my grades actually improved somewhat, even though I was taking some of the most difficult classes. That being said, if you are actually enrolled in school, and plan to remain enrolled, you can certainly use student loans to pay for your current semester's tuition, fees, and living expenses. As student loans are non-dischargeable, student loan proceeds are exempt in a bankruptcy context.
                      I am on student loans. I have a student loan refund coming that I was going to use for a class, but it won't be disbursed until March. I was going to use it to take a class this summer, but because of the timing I might have to prove it's exempt during the bankruptcy. Due to the fact that I would need student loans to be able to afford classes in Fall 2018, I won't be able to go. I've been told I can't take out any loans until after the discharge, and at the current timeline that wont happen until September or October because I'm in the middle of a divorce right now. The loan approval and disbursement according to the student loan timetable would happen right in the middle of bankruptcy. The next classes I need are only offered in fall, so that pushes me out a year. I wouldn't be able to come up with that kind of money out of pocket in time. If they do let me keep my loan refund from this semester, I CAN take that class that I need to take at another university, I just might wait to take it in fall after all this is over if I have to wait a year on the other classes anyway.

                      Originally posted by Maria80386 View Post
                      Can you get a car that you're not upside down on? Sometimes it is better to do so before a bankruptcy. Get something you can afford on your income, without inflated amounts for previous debts. There are also ways to reduce the amount owed on the vehicle in bankruptcy, but the lawyer will have a few hoops to jump through.

                      Definitely stop paying unsecured creditors, after you've found a vehicle or decided on keeping what you have. They may whine and complain, but if you haven't already changed your number, now would be a good time. You don't have to give it out to anyone except maybe your lawyers. The unsecured creditors don't need it. That's one way to keep yourself sane, withhold information from your unsecured creditors.

                      Maybe you don't have to file immediately. Sure, the payday loan folks are cranky, but if they don't have your number, how can they call? Letters? You can burn them to keep warm. Summons? Hand them to your lawyer, maybe it'll encourage the process along. Wage garnishment? You'll have filed before the payday loan can can get to garnishment.

                      Perhaps a chat with your employer's HR can help. They can have an employee benefit of counselors for going through this kind of stuff. They can inform you if a bogus wage garnishment is filed. They can deny access to a pissed off other side. They can be forgiving if you need some time off for court dates. Or, time to recover from injuries. Or if your job performance drops for a little while. Or perhaps a chat with your school's health clinic can help. Maybe the other side's health insurance will allow you a COBRA option to help keep down the price of care, and you divorce lawyer can get the other side to pay for it for awhile.

                      as for stuff, what is the value of the pistol? Are you carrying concealed for personal protection from the other side? The rest of the stuff seems low value, think thrift store, Craig's list, eBay, and yard sale prices, and probably all of it exemptable thru state or federal law. Internet search "michigan property exemptions" to find that what you have is exemptable in bankruptcy.

                      For the same reason, I couldn't come up with a car I'm not upside down on. I don't really have any funds. Everything I'm saving by not paying credit card bills now which I only just started, is going to pay taxes and attorney fees. I owe the IRS for 2017 taxes. Also I just put $3,000 in repairs in that car which was all of the funds we had in November. I don't want to buy a $2,000 car on craigslist that will need work when I only owe $8k on my car.

                      Yea based on the advice others gave, I stopped paying credit cards,

                      I can't file immediately because of the divorce. Bankruptcy filing wouldn't be until a minimum of 6 months after not paying credit cards. I have some capital one cards, and from reading online it's my understanding they could try to sue as soon as then. I owe them the most of any single credit card creditor, so I can't settle with them. Again, all funds are basically gone.

                      I actually started with my employer's HR. They have a EAP program, but all it does is they give you a phone consult with an attorney in a random state. It did help initially. They then give you a referral to a random attorney in your state. In my case they referred me to one 2 hours away. I did not take their referral. I've called a number of attorneys, but I couldn't afford any of them except the one I hired. Most were not willing to answer too many specific questions because they want to be hired and paid. My school is in New Jersey and I'm in Michigan. It's online unfortunately. I'm employed full time and already pay for health insurance through my employer so there's no COBRA. I don't qualify for Medicaid. It's a low deduct plan, but high coinsurance. I've already paid $2000 in out of pocket costs this year and am anticipating a lot more. There's nothing I'm really recovering from, I have ongoing conditions. Unexpected dental bills sucked up my whole HSA this year already so I won't have it to pay for medical copays and coinsurances the rest of the year on my normal care. I went to a new dentist for a second opinion in December and found out my old dentist had been lying to me. Not on purpose I'm sure, but being negligent. I had a couple new dental providers verify. Really, really bad timing. I thought I had perfect teeth for 20 years.

                      I don't carry the pistol. I don't have a CPL. It's for in home protection and for taking to a range. Right now it's locked up and separated from the magazine according to our state laws because our state laws have really grey areas on types of medication people are on and gun ownership. The weird part is that it's not illegal to own, but I can't make new purchases unless they change my medications for pain management. So it wouldn't be the end of the world to not have until they do some clarifications on our state laws. I originally wanted to get my CPL because I've had multiple people over the years approach me in my car either asking for money or trying to get in my car. But for the aforementioned reason, I can't get it right now anyway. They wouldn't know, but I won't lie if outright asked. Better safe than sorry.
                      Last edited by stormygate; 02-23-2018, 09:28 AM.

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