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From our legal services offices in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma and Olympia, we serve all of King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, and Thurston County.
The decision about whether or not to file for bankruptcy is often complicated. We want you to understand your legal rights when it comes to debt relief. If you have questions about whether or not filing for bankruptcy is right for you, we invite you to call or email us in order to learn more. We will help you to understand what filing for bankruptcy can do for you personally based on your specific facts and circumstances. We can also help you determine if you can qualify for bankruptcy protection.
Our bankruptcy lawyers are here to help. You can speak directly to one of our debt relief attorneys right away for a general idea of the benefits bankruptcy can provide. In most situations, we can also give you an approximate fee quote and find a convenient time for you to come meet with us in person.
As soon as you learn more about your legal rights under the Bankruptcy Code, you will probably feel a tremendous sense of relief. The worry you have been having, wondering how you will ever be able to climb out of debt, will finally put into the proper perspective. You have options and very important legal rights! We want to help you stop struggling and get out of debt.
After you initial consultation with one of our bankruptcy lawyers, you may suddenly find that having a life with a normal and stable monthly cash flow is once again possible. Your creditors and those nasty bill collectors that mercilessly hound you day and night want you to believe that even considering filing for bankruptcy equates to failure in life.
We want you to understand that this is utter nonsense. When you contact our offices, we will help you to fully understand your legal right and options under the Federal and Washington State bankruptcy laws. The honest truth is that our bankruptcy laws were enacted to help honest and hard working folks who have fallen on hard times, often through no fault of their own, probably someone just like you.
We offer a variety of locations and convenient times to meet you. We can offer some basic information over the phone. Our consultations are free. Stop wondering about this important option and at least find out the basics of how it could help you.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Washington State
Chapter 7 is almost always the easiest and quickest form of bankruptcy. A consumer or a business can file a Chapter 7, but a business does not get a discharge. For a business, it is just an orderly way of winding things down with the assistance of a bankruptcy trustee.
For most of our Washington State bankruptcy clients, if they can qualify for Chapter 7 relief, this is their best option.
For a consumer, the goal in a Chapter 7 is a discharge, which eliminates all qualifying debts permanently. If creditors are paid anything in a Chapter 7, it is through the sale of property of the bankruptcy estate. This includes the debtor’s property but also sometimes includes property that has been transferred out of the debtor’s name, either by gift or by loan repayment. In the overwhelming majority of cases, however, most of our Chapter 7 bankruptcy clients keep 100% of their possessions and their retirement through various exemptions.
The discharge eliminates most debt. Some debts, however, are excepted from the discharge. The most common examples of debts that are excepted from the discharge are student loans, back taxes, domestic support obligations, and court fines. Student loans are very hard to discharge under our current laws, and the ability to discharge back taxes depends on several critical variables, such as whether or not your taxes have been timely filed.
Again, most consumers who file a Chapter 7 do not have to worry about losing any property. Bankruptcy law protects the basic necessities of people who file Chapter 7. These protections are called exemptions. For instance, retirement plans are 100% exempt. There specific exemptions for homes, cars, household goods, personal injury settlements, work tools to name a few examples. When you contact us and speak with one of our bankruptcy lawyers, they can explain in more detail how these exemptions work.
There is also a “wildcard exemption” that can be applied to any kind of property. In Washington, a debtor can choose between federal and state exemptions but you can not use state exemptions for some property and federal exemptions for other property. Our bankruptcy lawyers will help you to understand which exemptions are better to use in your case.
If you are making payments on a piece of property, such as a house, car or household appliance, you can keep this property if you keep making the payments. A creditor will want you to sign a “reaffirmation agreement”, which takes the debt outside the bankruptcy discharge. It is important to understand, however, that a debtor takes a risk by signing this reaffirmation agreement. So, doing so should be considered carefully, and only after consulting with a good bankruptcy lawyer.
If a Chapter 7 debtor’s household income is more than the median income for their state of residence, the income is subjected to a “means test”. The income measured is the last six months of income. The means test deducts expenses based on the IRS standards for tax debt repayment.
If there is anything left over in the budget, there is a presumption that the debtor is abusing the bankruptcy system by filing a Chapter 7. And, the debtor could be forced to convert their case to Chapter 13 or the case could be dismissed. However, there is a chance of rebutting this presumption by claiming special circumstances.
If you have questions about your ability to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection here in Washington State, or, how it can help you and your family get a fresh financial start, we encourage you to contact us today for a free initial consultation. One of our bankruptcy lawyers will be happy to discuss the specifics of your case and how we can help.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy In Washington State
Debtors who make more than the average income for their household size could be forced into a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Even though the debtor has to make payments, it is often a better option than struggling to make payments outside of bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 allows you to wipe out the part of your debt that you just can not afford to pay. It is much better than having 25% of your take home pay garnished. Debt settlement plans can be risky. Chapter 13 offers the certainty of federal bankruptcy law.
If you have questions about your ability to qualify for Chapter 13 protection, or if you are worried about your home being swept into foreclosure proceedings, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free initial consultation.
We know the federal and the Washington State Chapter 13 bankruptcy laws, and we know the local bankruptcy courts. We fight to protect you and your family.
Our Washington State bankruptcy attorneys are skilled at maximizing your relief and your protection based on the Bankruptcy Code. A Chapter 13 case is started by filing a petition with documents listing your property, your debts, your income and your budget, along with other financial details. The debtor also proposes a plan to repay creditors. This plan can make up delinquent mortgage payments, restructure car loans, pay tax debt, take care of traffic tickets and catch up on back child support – basically, it includes all secured or non-dischargeable debts.
For debts such as credit cards and medical bills, known as general "unsecured" debts, the debtor only pays what he or she can afford. The rest is discharged, as long as it can be discharged in bankruptcy. Some debts that cannot be discharged, such as taxes or child support, have to be paid in full in a Chapter 13. Some debt that cannot be discharged has to be paid at the same percentage as other general unsecured debt. A good Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyers know how to structure a plan that is realistic and affordable, while also maximizing the client's financial relief.
A month or so after the Chapter 13 petition and plan are filed, the debtor attends a meeting of creditors with his or her attorney. It is rare for creditors to actually appear at this meeting. They have a later opportunity to object to the plan in bankruptcy court. At the meeting of creditors, the trustee looks over the plan to make sure it complies with the law. This is usually a pretty painless court hearing. And, one of our skilled bankruptcy attorneys will be at your side throughout this process, just in case any unforeseen challenges arise.
The trustee asks the debtor questions under oath and does some investigation of the documents filed. The trustee may ask for some changes to the proposed plan. Creditors can ask for changes too. The ultimate decision is with a bankruptcy judge, who can confirm a plan over the objections of the trustee or creditors. Normally the details of the confirmation are worked out by your attorney outside of court, but occasionally debtors need a good lawyer to argue the case.
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