Oklahoma is known for the Black Kettle National Grassland and being part of the Great Plains. That doesn’t mean that its residents aren’t neck-deep in credit card debt, medical bills and other liens. If you’ve lived Oklahoma for more than a year and have a pile of debt looming over you, considering filing for bankruptcy, Chapter 7.
Don’t Join the Trail of Tears – File for Bankruptcy, Chapter 7
Over time, creditors can become a nightmare. If your debts become overwhelming and you can no longer pay your bills, you may end up having to deal with garnishments. These garnishments will come out of your pay check and bank account, leaving you stressed out and afraid of what will happen next. Don’t let it reach this point, Oklahoma residents can file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy providing relief for your worries. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as a straight or liquid bankruptcy, is a process that wipes out most your debts. While a bankruptcy will take care of credit card and medical bills, old tax liens and other debts, it won’t quite take care of everything. You may be left with:
- Child support and alimony
- Student loans
- New tax liens and debts
- Money owed due to fraud or to court judgments
Check to See if You Qualify, Oklahomans
In order to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to hire an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney. These attorneys know the particular laws and regulations that apply in the state of Oklahoma, and are specially trained in all aspects of the bankruptcy process. A bankruptcy attorney knows the ins and out of the entire process, and helps you every step of the way. In order to get started, the first thing that needs to be done is to determine whether or not you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The Chapter 7 qualification process starts by examining your budget and your current and past debts. The first time that you need with your attorney, make sure that you bring along the following information:
- Last year’s tax return, plus that of your spouse
- A list of every debt that you owe, whether they are dischargeable or not
- Past six month’s worth of your pay stubs
- Deeds and titles to your home, any other residential property, and all of your vehicles
- A list of all of your assets
In Oklahoma, in order to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must be at or under the following income limits, depending on the size of your family:
- Family of 1 - $36,884
- Family of 2 - $49,711
- Family of 3 - $54,135
- Family of 4 - $64,037
- Family bigger than 4 - add $7,500 for each person
Please note that these amounts may change from year to year.
If you make too much to qualify, your Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney will perform a means test. This mathematical process was devised by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. During the means test, your assets, income and debts will be weighed to determine whether or not your debts are excessive. If they are, then you can file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If not, you may have to file a Chapter 13.
After the qualifying process, your Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney will fill out a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. This is the official document that gets filed with the court. Before it gets filed, however, you’ll have to complete a credit counseling program that involves two short online courses about debt management. There are a number of companies you can use to complete this required program, but your attorney can advise you which ones are the best.
After you have supplied all of your financial information, completed your courses, and signed the completed petition, you will still need to attend a hearing called a “Meeting of Creditors.” During this hearing you most likely will not meet or see any of your creditors. Rather a trustee will represent your creditors and may ask you and your attorney a couple of brief questions. You should receive your discharge in approximately 90 days after your hearing.
Your Home, Your Assets, and the Property You Spent a Lifetime Building
A common misconception surrounding a Chapter 7 filing is that you will lose everything, hook, line and sinker once you file. The Bankruptcy Reform Act protects debtors by allowing a certain amount of assets and property to be exempt. The amounts and type of the bankruptcy can change depending on the state you live in and the current economic factors. What’s important to remember is that even though you might have to give up a couple of items, nearly all of your debt will be wiped away forever.
Want to know what Oklahoma residents can keep? Check out the brief list below:
- Home exemption: Your primary residence is 100% exempt.
- Home goods:
- Jewelry including wedding rings: $3,000
- 100% of books and photos
- $4,000 worth of wearing apparel
- 1 vehicle worth $7,500
- 1 gun worth $2,000
- 100% of household furniture
- Benefits – includes 100% of the following:
- Firemen's pension benefits
- Police pension benefits
- County employees' pension benefits
- Judges' retirement benefits
- Armed services pension benefits
- Assessment or mutual benefits
- Limited insurance benefits from stock life, accident, health
- Prepaid funeral benefits
- Unemployment compensation benefits
- Other available exemptions:
- 100% Proceeds of life insurance policies payable to person other than insured
- Up to $50,000 worth of claims for personal injury, death, or workers compensation
- 100% Any interest in an Oklahoma College Savings Plan account
- 100% Crop insurance proceeds
- 100% Annuities paid to widows and dependent children of Federal Justices and Judges
- 100% Injury or death compensation payments from war risk hazards
Contact a local Oklahoma bankruptcy lawyer today to find out how you can stand tall and proud again, without the burden of debt. It could be the turning point of your life.
Oklahoma Bankruptcy Courts
Ed Edmondson United States Courthouse
101 North Fifth Street
Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401-6205
Phone: (918) 684-7920
Old Post Office Building
215 Dean A. McGee Avenue, Room 147
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102
Phone: (405) 609-5700
111 West Fourth Street, Room 229
Okmulgee, Oklahoma 74447
Phone: (918) 549-7200
Tenth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
224 South Boulder Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-3006
Phone: (918) 699-4000