Bankruptcy in West Virginia
Are you contemplating bankruptcy or hiring a bankruptcy attorney in West Virginia? 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 West Virginia
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 West Virginia, 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.
In West Virginia, the US Bankruptcy Court is divided into the Northern District and Southern District of West Virginia. The Northern District has courts in Wheeling and Clarksburg, and the Southern Division has courts in Beckley, Bluefield, Charleston, Huntington, and Parkersburg.
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 West Virginia 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.
If the West Virginia debtor’s current monthly income is more than the West Virginia median, the debtor must take a Means Test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As well, individual debtors must file a Certificate of Credit Counseling and complete a Debtor Education course prior to bankruptcy filing.
The Department of Justice provides a list of these courses that have been approved for use in West Virginia. Of note, if your debts are successfully discharged, you may be prohibited from being granted another discharge under Chapter 7 for eight years.
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.
Filing a Chapter 11 case in West Virginia typically begins with completing a voluntary petition. Currently, Filing Fees of $1,738 should accompany the Petition. However, if you are reopening a Chapter 11 case, the filing fees are currently only $1,167. Keep in mind, you may be able to file an Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a debt restructuring or wage earners plan. In West Virginia 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.
Filing for Chapter 13 in West Virginia can start with completing a Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. You must also pay Filing Fees, typically $313 if it is a new petition, and $235 if you are reopening a case. Forms involved in filing for Chapter 13 in West Virginia can also include:
- List of Creditors Mailing Matrix
- Statement About Your Social Security Numbers
The Bankruptcy Process in West Virginia
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 West Virginia 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.
When you file for bankruptcy, West Virginia law allows you to exempt certain assets, including your homestead, from liquidation. Real or personal property used as a primary residence may be exempt up to $35,000. Other exemptions include motor vehicles up to $7,500, and jewelry up to $1,000. Keep in mind you can claim a burial plot up to $35,000, but you have to choose between it and the homestead exemption.
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 West Virginia Lawyer
Hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer in West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia can guide you through the entire bankruptcy process. We can even help you connect with an attorney across West Virginia 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!