Worrying about credit card debt and medical bills can stress you out, leaving you unable to enjoy even the simplest things in life. If you’ve wished that your stack of bills wasn’t as long as the Columbia River, then a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be just the thing that you need.
Before you end up fielding calls from debt collectors all day, every day, consider filing for bankruptcy, Chapter 7. Doing so will put a stop to bank account and payroll garnishments, as well as creditor harassment. Once you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, those debt collectors will have to talk to your attorney or the bankruptcy trustee instead, since contacting you will become illegal. Wondering how to get started?
Filing for Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, is Easier than Climbing Mount Hood
The first thing on your Chapter 7 to-do list is to find an Oregon bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney is one who has special training all aspects of Oregon bankruptcies. He or she can help you determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you, help you file your petition, and then walk you through the steps of going to bankruptcy court.
However, before you file your bankruptcy petition, you will need to take a short 90 minute course on credit counseling. The certificate from this course will be submitted with your petition. You will be required to take another short course after you file your petition.
A trustee will be appointed to represent your creditors. After the judge approves your petition, you’ll officially be bankrupt and no longer responsible for most of your debts. Some are not dischargeable; including the following:
- Student loans
- Recently filed tax debts
- Child Support
Stop Worrying, Help is Near
At your first appointment with your Oregon bankruptcy attorney, bring the following financial documents:
- A list of your debts. Whether they qualify for dismissal or not, you’ll need a list of all creditors. In some cases, you may also need past statements and other information.
- Your last six month’s worth or paystubs.
- Last year’s filed tax return (and your spouse’s return, as well)
- Deeds to all of the property that you own
- Titles of all of your vehicles
- A list of all of your assets, including stocks and bonds, plus furniture, jewelry, electronics and everything else of significant value
Your attorney needs all of this information to see if you qualify for a bankruptcy, Chapter 7, and to fill out your Chapter 7 petition, if you meet the criteria.
Don’t Hide From Creditors in Crater Lake National Park – See if You Qualify for Chapter 7!
Your bankruptcy attorney will go over all of your information carefully to determine whether or not you meet the requirements for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are certain income limits that you must be at or fall under, depending on the size of your family. For the state of Oregon, they are as follows:
- Family of 1 - $44,707
- Family of 2 - $55,553
- Family of 3 - $60,523
- Family of 4 - $72,767
- Family larger than 4 - add $7,500 for each person
Don’t panic if you make more than the income limits. A means test will be performed to see if your debt is excessive. If it is, then you may still be able to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test, which was created by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, is a mathematical process that weighs your income, assets and debts. If you debts are extremely large, you’ll be able to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if not, you will have to go with a Chapter 13.
Get Rid of the Debt but Keep Your Home
A major misconception about filing for bankruptcy is that you will lose everything you have ever worked in order to get rid of your debt. The Bankruptcy Reform Act prevents debtors from losing all of their property with the state exemptions laws. In Oregon, residents can keep a specified amount of assets and property. Some of those assets include:
- Home exemption: Up to $40,000 is exempt for a primary residence.
- Home goods:
- $1,800 of wearing apparel and jewelry
- $600 worth of books
- $3,000 of household furniture
- $3,000 of tools for a profession
- $3,000 for 1 vehicle
- 100% of 1 rifle and 1 pistol
- 100% of fuel and food for a family for six months
- 75% worth of earned but unpaid wages (not including taxes)
- Benefits – includes 100% of the following:
- 75% veterans benefits
- 100% civil defense and disaster relief benefits
- 100% benefits to injured trainees and inmates
- 100% workmen’s compensation benefits
- 100% unemployment compensation benefits
- 100% Fraternal benefit society benefits
- 100% FEMA benefits
- 100% federal civil service retirement benefits
- 100% social security benefits
- Other benefits:
- $400 of other personal property (cannot be added to other exemptions)
- $7,500 worth of earnings in a bank account
- 75% aid to blind persons
- 75% aid to disabled persons
- 100% state loans to veterans
- 100% medical or old age assistance payments
- 100% liquor license
It is important to note that these exemptions can change from year to year. It is important to ask your attorney what exemptions might be available to you. A knowledgeable attorney will know how to apply these exemption laws to your petition, keeping your property intact.
Don’t wait for garnishments to take your money, or collectors to bang on your door. Contact a local Oregon attorney today to dump the debt, living a free and happy life.
Oregon Bankruptcy Courts
Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse
405 East Eighth Avenue, Suite 2600
Eugene, Oregon 97401-2705
Phone: (541) 431-4000
Ninth Circuit Bankuptcy Appellate Panel
1001 Southwest Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
Portland, Oregon 97204-1145
Phone: (503) 326-1538
1001 Southwest Fifth Avenue, Suite 700
Portland, Oregon 97204-1145
Phone: (503) 326-1500