If you are struggling to pay your bills, and are seeing the debt pile up with no way forward, it may be time to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy NC. Chapter 13 allows those with enough income to repay all or part of their debts on a three to five year repayment plan as an alternative to liquidation. Here at our Greensboro law firm of Ivey McClellan, we advise individuals and businesses wanting to know more about if this debt relief option is right for them and, if so, who want to understand how to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
What Bankruptcy Is
As you may already surmise, bankruptcy is a form of debt relief. There are many different Greensboro bankruptcy options, including Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13, each with its own host of pros and cons.
Why Debtors File Bankruptcy in Greensboro, NC
While a variety of factors may motivate a consumer to file bankruptcy, our experience as bankruptcy attorneys at Ivey McClellan is that individual debtors often do so to put an end to creditors’ harassing calls, stop foreclosure of their Greensboro area home or repossession of their car, for example.
The commonality each of these bankruptcy options described above share is that they can give individual or business debtors in Greensboro, NC, struggling to repay what they owe, an opportunity to enter into a repayment plan to bring their accounts current or liquidate their assets to repay creditors. Bankruptcy, in general, gives debtors a new financial fresh start, whether that means getting on top of their payments once again or alleviating themselves of them.
Understanding the Different Types of Bankruptcy Available in Greensboro
When you researched bankruptcy, you likely discovered that there are a few options to choose from, including Chapters 7, 11, and 13. The one you choose will likely depend on your income level and what assets or property you hope to keep.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Many indebted consumers initially choose to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy because it wipes away their unsecured debt, such as credit card balances, medical bills, and civil judgments, allowing them to start on a clean financial footing once again. Debtors generally have to pass the means test, which essentially assesses their debt to asset ratio, to qualify as a Greensboro Chapter 7 bankruptcy filer. Consumer debtors must also be willing to liquidate any non-exempt assets and turn over any proceeds from that sale to their creditor. They also must not have had their debts discharged as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing during the eight years preceding their current filing. The trustee presiding over a debtor’s case may dismiss a Chapter 7 filing or convert the case to a Chapter 13 one if a debtor doesn’t meet eligibility requirements.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Greensboro business owners of all sizes often file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's commonly referred to as reorganization bankruptcy because it allows businesses to remain in possession of the assets they are in arrears on and continue operating their business as a "debtor in possession" while working out a payment plan with creditors and continuing to pay down their debt with them.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Debtors in the Greater Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina who want to keep secured assets, such as a home or car generally pursue Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Debtors filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy can generally retain ownership of their secured assets by entering into a repayment plan with their creditors through which they agree to make payments on overdue balances for between 3-5 years. The amount to be repaid is determined by several factors, including the debtor's disposable income. Also, a debtor may be able to keep valuable nonexempt property with a Greensboro Chapter 13.
When Bankruptcy Does Not Help Greensboro Residents
Many debtors look to bankruptcy as the answer to alleviating all their debt woes. However, it doesn't do that. There are some debts that are not able to be discharged or have their payments renegotiated through this form of debt relief.
For example, student loans, back taxes, child support or alimony, and court-imposed judgments stemming from a malicious injury generally are not dischargeable in bankruptcy in Greensboro. In the case of the latter two court-ordered payments, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee is not able to allow for these to be included in a repayment plan since the rulings were entered within a different court system.
Who Can File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in the Piedmont Triad?
Not everyone is eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in North Carolina. There’s a debt cap that debtors must not exceed if they want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As of 2022, debtors must not have more than $465,275 in unsecured debt (like credit card bills or personal loans). They also can’t have more than $1,395,875 in secured debts (like mortgages and car loans). In other words, the overall cap debtors should not exceed if they wish to file bankruptcy Chapter 13 is $2,750,000 in secured and unsecured debts.
When To File for Bankruptcy in Greensboro, NC
Our Ivey McClellan bankruptcy attorneys generally advise our Greensboro, NC clients wishing to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to hold off on doing so if they anticipate incurring substantial bills soon. Our legal team also generally warns our Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients to do the same as there’s no guarantee that they will be able to add missed creditors to their bankruptcy filing once certain deadlines have passed. However, there are some instances that may warrant you moving ahead with your bankruptcy filing.
When To Declare Bankruptcy Quickly in Greensboro, NC
As you have been researching how to file for bankruptcy, you have likely come across information about how filing bankruptcy may result in a stay or stop action on collections, including attempts to stop the auctioning off of your Greensboro area home in foreclosure, for example. Delaying too much in filing for bankruptcy may not be ideal in the following situations:
- Your home has been placed on the foreclosure list and will soon be going up for auction
- Creditors are threatening to sue you for payment on your outstanding balances
- You have become reliant on using a credit card to afford your basic expenses (and you are having to balance transfers back-and-forth to pay it off)
- The thought of withdrawing proceeds in a 401(k) or other investment account has crossed your mind
If you're curious why you should perhaps not delay in filing bankruptcy if you are facing the situations above, it comes down to the implications they could have on your ability to receive a discharge of debt or enter into a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
How To File for Bankruptcy in Greensboro
There are some steps you must take before you are eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Greensboro, NC. You must receive credit counseling from an agency approved by the Bankruptcy Administrator in North Carolina. You can apply for bankruptcy within six months after receiving your credit counseling. After filing, you must take a debtor education course from an approved agency to qualify for your debt discharge.
Understanding How the Bankruptcy Process Unfolds
Once the education requirements outlined above are met, you can then focus on your bankruptcy forms. When preparing your bankruptcy paperwork, there are some considerations to keep in mind:
Official Federal and State Bankruptcy Forms
You will have to fill in the appropriate forms before the North Carolina Bankruptcy Court discharges your qualifying debts or allows you to enter into a repayment plan as part of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process. Within these forms, you must input lists of your property, debts, income, expenses, and financial transactions.
Once complete, you will submit the forms to the bankruptcy court. Along with the paperwork, you will have to submit a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you have completed the credit counseling course. All bankruptcy cases fall under federal law, but you will also have to submit paperwork specific to North Carolina as well. Other information you may need to include are:
- A list of creditors and the amount of their claims
- A list of the debtor’s property, as well as an accounting of all contracts and leases in the debtor’s name
- A breakdown of the debtor’s monthly living expenses
- Tax information, including a copy of the debtor’s most recent federal tax return and a statement of any unpaid taxes
While Chapter 7 bankruptcies require a means test to ensure that your income is below the median point, this isn’t something you have to do as part of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing process. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy has no means test, but a similar calculation will help you determine your expected monthly repayment plan amount.
When you file for a chapter 13 bankruptcy in NC, you will likely be able to exempt or protect most of your property. A full list of exempt assets appears on the list of North Carolina exemptions. You typically wouldn’t have to give up any Greensboro property or assets that do not appear on the list, but instead, their value would be added to your Chapter 13 repayment plan. In addition, spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in North Carolina can double the exemption amount as long as they both own the property.
You can file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy NC paperwork in one of two locations, including:
- The district where you have been residing for the majority of the 180 days prior to your bankruptcy filing
- The district where you currently maintain your Greensboro area home
How Can a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Greensboro, NC Help You
As has been outlined above, if you want to keep a valuable piece of property like a car or a home, Chapter 13 will allow you to keep your Greensboro property by catching up on the payments and continuing to make them based on a payment plan.
If you rely heavily on your home or a car, Chapter 13 can be used to prevent a house foreclosure, catch up on missed mortgage or car payments, pay back taxes, keep valuable non-exempt property, or even stop interest from accruing on your local, state or federal tax debt. If you can complete your repayment plan as outlined in the agreement, your remaining dischargeable debt will be released at the end of the plan.
Consequences of Bankruptcy
Do you remember when we mentioned that there are pros and cons associated with choosing to file for bankruptcy? While the financial freedom this form of debt relief can provide is unmistakable, it also affects your ability to secure loans and other credit for some time after your case’s discharge, or you have satisfied your repayment plan requirements. This may adversely impact your ability to secure a car, housing, and job.
Additionally, there are restrictions on how often both Greensboro, NC residents and businesses can file for bankruptcy and have their debts discharged, Filing bankruptcy now can require you to wait up to several years to do so again, meaning if you incur further debt in that time, you might not be able to secure the same type of relief from them.
Alternatives To Bankruptcy
There are many options that individuals consider when trying to determine which debt relief option may be best for them. Some bankruptcy alternatives, which come with their own benefits and disadvantages, include:
- Debt consolidation
- Mortgage refinancing or restructuring
- Credit counseling
- Debt settlement
Is a Greensboro Lawyer Needed To File for Bankruptcy?
It’s not necessary to hire an attorney to walk you through filing bankruptcy or to represent you in any court proceedings in your Greensboro case. However, it is advisable to have a lawyer guide you through this process. Attorneys like ours at Ivey McClellan keep up with updated bankruptcy codes and can answer questions as they arise to give you the best possible chance of your Greensboro filing being accepted and debts discharged or included as part of a repayment plan.
How To File Bankruptcy Chapter 13 in NC With an Experienced Attorney
When you work with the experienced lawyers at our Greensboro, NC bankruptcy law firm of Ivey McClellan, you can get sound legal advice and guidance to comfortably move forward with your filing. We provide thorough case evaluations, quick action and even estimated repayment plans. Also, we support you by providing honest and tenacious representation at trustee meetings you must attend in your case.
Our attorneys can help walk you through every step of the process, from deciding which chapter to file for and showing you the forms to fill out, to taking caution to ensure you are meeting the appropriate and latest legal and filing requirements along the way. Reach out to our attorneys with any questions you may have about the Greensboro, North Carolina Chapter 13 bankruptcy process today!