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Take control of your personal finances. Life is always full of unforeseen circumstances. Employment difficulties, skyrocketing interest rates, medical bills, unexpected expenses – the list goes on as to what might push a stable financial situation beyond the breaking point. It can seem like there’s no way out and no one who can help. However, there are experienced attorneys at our firm, Duffy Law, LLC, that can assist you in obtaining a fresh start through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

 

First you should contact us to determine what options are available to you. Most individuals qualify for bankruptcy protection, and even if it appears your income might exceed the limit, there are creative options available that our firm might be able to provide, allowing you to qualify where you otherwise might not.

 

Duffy Law provides bankruptcy representation for a low flat fee, and payment plans are available, There comes a time when you need a “fresh start”. At some point the creditor harassment, continual payment problems, and crushing debt needs to stop. When you are faced with debt that you are unable to repay, bankruptcy protection and discharge allow you to move on with your life. Contact Duffy Law today for a free consultation to find out what we can do for you.

 

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Bankruptcy Information From Duffy Law

Below is some important information from Duffy Law regarding consumer bankrupcy. We're also happy to answer any questions you might have with a free consultation.

There are two types of bankruptcy for most individuals:


Chapter 7: Most people file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, whatever assets that don’t qualify for an exemption (and there are many exemptions) are used to pay what they can of the debt, and all of your qualifying debt is erased (discharged). More information is below.


Chapter 13: This is generally only for individuals who continue to generate substantial income, but their debt is overwhelming. Some debts are cancelled or modified and a payment plan is imposed upon the creditors for the debtor to reorganize the debt. More information is below.

Chapter 7

Some common questions of bankruptcy include:

How do I know if I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Will I lose everything?
Can I keep my house?
What debt will get discharged?
What if I’m married?
How will this affect my credit score?
Will the creditors stop bothering me?
How much does it cost?

How do I know if I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

If your expenses are greater than your income after cost of living, you may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is greater than the state median income, you will have to pass what’s called a “means test”. A means test compares your income to the median income in your state, while taking into account a number of other factors. Generally, if your income exceeds the threshold, you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, are are a number of other factors that an experience attorney can help you utilize to qualify for bankruptcy protection:

  • Household size: Additional household members increase the allowance for your income. Duffy Law can help you determine whether or not individuals can be counted as "houshold members"
  • Local variations: There might be an exception to the rule based on your local residence
  • Not all income needs to be counted: For example, social security, disability, a certain other income sources need not be included in the means test
  • A number of other factors: Contact Duffy Law today to determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
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    Will I lose everything?

    Depending on what you own, the answer is almost always NO. There are exemptions for certain things you either need to live, work, or are below a certain value. Many items are exempt from bankruptcy. There might be some variation depending on whether you’re either a Pennsylvania or New Jersey resident, but below is a partial list of federal bankruptcy exceptions:

    • -Tax exempt retirement accounts; IRAs and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person.
    • -Homestead exception: homes, mobile homes and co-ops, up to $20,200. Unused portion of homestead exemption (up to $10,125) may be used for other property.
    • -Tools of trade up to $2,025.
    • -Alimony and child support needed for support.
    • -Public assistance, social security, veteran's benefits, and unemployment compensation.
    • -Unmatured life insurance policy (except credit insurance).
    • -Life insurance policy with loan value up to $10,775.
    • -Disability, unemployment or illness benefits.
    • -Motor vehicle up to $3,225.
    • -Clothing, appliances and furnishings, books, and household goods up to $525 per item, and up to -$10,775 total.
    • -Jewelry up to $1,350.
    • -$1,075 of any property, and unused portion of homestead up to $10,125.
    • -Health aids.

    The experienced attorneys at Duffy Law can assist you in utilizing all of the exemptions available to you, as well as ensuring the assests in question qualify for the chosen exemption.

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    Can I keep my house?

    As noted above, there is a federal “homestead exemption” up to $20,200. This means that if you have less than $20,200 of value in your home, it’s exempt from creditors (other than credit secured by the home itself, such as mortgages or home equity loans).  Keep in mind, it doesn’t mean your home has to be worth less than $20,200, only that you don’t own more than $20,200 in it – so if you have a $200,000 mortgage, and still owe $180,000 on the house, you only have $20,000 in value of the house, and would therefore qualify for the exemption.

    If you do have a secured loan on the house, such as a mortgage or home equity loan, it’s not subject to the exemption for those creditors. Then can potentially foreclose on your house. There is an option to reaffirm the debt, meaning you and the creditor agree that you will still be liable for the debt after bankruptcy, and you get to keep the property. Even if the creditor would agree, be very careful when considering this option. As noted below, you only can file for bankruptcy once every eight years, and if you’re unable to pay after reaffirming an obligation in bankruptcy, you’ll have no recourse for at least eight years – the creditor can pursue collection efforts against you for that entire time.

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    What debt will get discharged?

    Most legitimate debt is eligible for discharge in bankruptcy, but not all debt or obligations are automatically discharged. Below is a partial list of debt which generally survives bankruptcy:

    • -Debt owed to the government, such as certain taxes
    • -Alimony and child support payments
    • -Student loans (unless the court finds “extreme hardship”, which is rare)
    • -Debt as a result of fraud, luxury purchases with a credit card soon before filing or debt as a result of willful and malicious conduct

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    What if I’m married?

    For debt that is in only one spouse’s name, that one spouse has the option to file for bankruptcy individually. However, if both spouses would qualify for bankruptcy protection, filing jointly has the effect of doubling the exemptions. For example, if the spouses opt to file jointly, they would receive a federal homestead exemption of $40,400 – this can make the difference between keep the home and losing it. Whether to file jointly or individually is a decision to be considered and discussed with your Duffy Law attorney.

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    How will this affect my credit score?

    As you might imagine, bankruptcy tends to have a negative impact on what credit reporting agencies use to determine your credit score. However, after bankruptcy, your score will likely begin to improve with responsible financial habits and on-time payments. Credit reporting agencies also must remove bankruptcies from your credit history after ten years.

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    Will the creditors stop bothering me?

    The moment you file for bankruptcy an “automatic stay” is instated – among other things, this means that all collection activities must stop, including phone calls, mail, in-person visits, etc. Failure to follow this court order could land the creditors in very hot water, so once they’re notified of the bankruptcy filing they usually are very good about staying away. This automatic stay continues through the bankruptcy proceedings. Once the bankruptcy is discharged, credits are never allowed to attempt to collect any of the discharged debt from you again.

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    How much does it cost?

    Duffy Law charges a low flat fee of $999 for brankruptcy representation, and is with you through the process from start to finish. Payment plans are also available, ensuring you can afford representation regardless of your financial situation.

    In addition to Duffy Law's low fee, there is a $306 court fee for filing Chapter 7.

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    Chapter 13

    Chapter 13 is an optional bankruptcy filing, generally best suited to those with a great deal of debt, but also possessing a source of substantial income. Only certain individuals qualify for Chapter 13 – those with limited secured and unsecured debt and assets.

    Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not an immediate discharge of debt as in Chapter 7, but rather is more of a reorganization of debt. There will be a repayment plan imposed upon the creditors by the bankruptcy court that the debtor must follow. The debtor generally will have three to five years to pay off the debt (absent an agreement to a longer repayment term). The debtor will also be protected from creditors and foreclosure during the bankruptcy period and will get to keep most property. Generally, creditors will get less than they were previously owed under a Chapter 13, and their options as to raising interest rates or accelerating loans are limited in certain ways.

    Chapter 13 has drawbacks, as with any bankruptcy. There is no general discharge, unlike Chapter 7. During the repayment period the debtor generally isn’t allowed to obtain new credit without the approval of the bankruptcy court, and creditors are often unwilling to grant new credit. The bankruptcy does affect the individual’s credit history. These are just some factors to consider – contact our firm immediately to evaluate your specific situation and find out what your legal options might be.

    *$999 Bankruptcy cost applies to Chapter 7 individual bankruptcy filings only, from pre-filing counseling to discharge. This does not include the bankruptcy filing fee, credit counseling fees, or other associated administrative costs. Does not apply to cases involving a business entity or criminal charges. Not all cases qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and not all eleigible cases are accepted by Duffy Law. As with all law firms, Duffy Law reserves the right to accept or decline any given case, for any reason. Offer is subject to change at any time without notice. Other restrictions may apply. Please contact us for more details.


    We look forward to offfering a free consultation, and deomonstrating what we can do for you. Call or contact Duffy Law today to finally get the legal service you deserve.

    Check out Our Local Bankruptcy Sites for more detailed local bankruptcy information.