Bankruptcy in North Carolina
Are you contemplating bankruptcy or hiring a bankruptcy attorney in North Carolina? Are you tired of creditors calling for payments you can’t make? Maybe looking for a way to get out of debt and have you exhausted all other options? Then bankruptcy might be the solution you seek. It is a legal option that can erase a portion or all of your debts.
Types of Bankruptcy in North Carolina
Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals and businesses get a fresh financial start. It eliminates a portion of or all of their debts or financial liabilities. In North Carolina, to be approved, individuals must prove they have a hardship that prevents them from staying current on their financial obligations. Keep in mind that not all debts qualify. Some liabilities, such as child support arrears, delinquent taxes, alimony, and student loans generally do not qualify for discharge. Consumers who find themselves falling behind in debt can file either Chapter 7, 11 or 13. To determine which option is right for you, you’ll need to assess your goals, assets, and income. You should also consider working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Many people find Chapter 7 to be the right solution for their circumstances because it provides them with the opportunity to start over financially. However, before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should thoroughly assess your income and ability to repay what you owe. You should also speak with a bankruptcy attorney in North Carolina who can help you to decide if a liquidation plan is right for you.
Typically, individuals approved for Chapter 7 lack stable income or have experienced a change in circumstances that has resulted in an inability to manage their debts. Though Chapter 7 erases debts, the tradeoff is you may have to give up certain possessions, such as your home, car or some other assets. However, once you file your petition, an automatic stay goes into effect that requires all collection activity against you like foreclosures and garnishments, to stop temporarily. However, the automatic stay does not prevent all collection attempts. For example, if you owe child support or restitution for a criminal case, you are still liable for those payments.
Before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Carolina, you must pass a Means Test. In short, your family’s income must be lower than the median income of North Carolina families of the same size. When you file a bankruptcy petition in North Carolina, an automatic stay prevents your creditors from continuing their attempts to collect your debt. However, under Local Bankruptcy Rules, a creditor can request an exemption from the court to continue collecting the debt. Bankruptcy law also requires that you undergo credit counseling before you file. This can typically be completed online, and each district in North Carolina provides a list of approved providers.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is more complex than other types of bankruptcy. It is often used by businesses and certain types of people. It allows petitioners to restructure their debts with a reorganization plan, so they are easier to manage over a determined length of time, usually four to 18 months. The main benefit of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it does not require petitioners to sell off or liquidate their assets to pay what they owe. It does allow debtors to negotiate with their creditors a reorganization plan that enables them to stay current on their debts moving forward.
Chapter 11 bankruptcies are much more complex than other types of bankruptcy. Because of this, having a North Carolina attorney on your case is crucial. In fact, the Northern District of North Carolina actually requires counsel for Chapter 11 filings. The fee to file is $1,738, for both individuals and businesses. You will be required to submit a reorganization plan which will then be voted on by your largest creditors. If you do not adhere to all of the rules, your case can be dismissed or converted to a Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a debt restructuring or wage earners plan. In North Carolina after you file, the courts will assign a trustee to examine your liabilities and assets and ability to pay bills. Unlike other types of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 involves you restructuring your debt with a three to five-year repayment plan. The flexibility of this repayment plan will depend on what property you want to keep and how steady your income is. It may also give you the opportunity to have some or most of your debts discharged.
The Middle District of North Carolina provides a comprehensive checklist for filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some of the requirements include:
- File petition and pay fee of $313
- Lists of creditors, both secured and unsecured
- Statement of income and expenses
- Summary of assets and liabilities
- Chapter 13 notice to creditors and proposed plan
The Bankruptcy Process in North Carolina
There is never an ideal time to declare bankruptcy. However, if you are unable to pay off what you owe within five years, filing for bankruptcy can help you to lessen the negative impact on your situation and help you get back on track.
In North Carolina to begin the filing process, gather all of your financial records, including monthly expenses, debts, assets and annual income. This information is crucial to give the courts an accurate picture of your circumstances. Failure to provide all necessary information can result in your petition being denied.
Unlike some states, North Carolina does not give you a choice between the federal and state exemptions. You must use the exemptions provided by North Carolina law, which include:
- Homestead exemption for up to $35,000 in equity for your residence
- Up to $3,500 for one vehicle
- $5,000 in household goods
- Retirement and pension benefits
- Wildcard exemption for any personal property up to the value of any unused portion of the homestead exemption, plus an additional $500
Note that most exemptions in North Carolina do not apply to property purchased within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy.
At least six months before you file for bankruptcy, eliminate unnecessary spending. Do not run up the balances on your credit accounts. You’ll also need to complete an approved credit counseling course, usually online or over the phone. Credit counseling is necessary to help you learn financial literacy and help you learn better financial habits. Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to include in your filing. If you don’t have the certificate of completion from the credit counseling course that you took, the courts will reject your bankruptcy petition.
Work With an Experienced North Carolina Lawyer
Hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina during this process can help reduce the costly risks of self-representation in court. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer understands state and federal bankruptcy laws. He or she can help you understand which laws apply to your case, especially which debts that can be discharged or can’t be discharged. An experienced North Carolina attorney can also offer you guidance to improve the outcome of your case.
Keep in mind that there are debt management alternatives and financial resources that may benefit you more than bankruptcy, such as debt consolidation. Though bankruptcy is an attractive solution, it is best as a last resort. Do you need immediate help? Then one of our experienced lawyers in North Carolina can guide you through the entire bankruptcy process. We can even help you connect with an attorney across North Carolina state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!