Can I File Bankruptcy

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Can I File Bankruptcy?

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If you are facing financial problems, your first question is often “Can I file bankruptcy?”. The answer is simply, maybe yes, maybe no.

First are you really having financial problems or are you actually bothered by just one debt? I ask this because a lot of people have problems with one debt and want to get rid of it by filing bankruptcy. Unfortunately, you cannot pick which debts on which to file bankruptcy. Rather, you must list all of your debts when filing bankruptcy. So, if you are really bothered by only one debt, then you probable cannot file bankruptcy.

Next, are you really bankrupt? Do you have more debts that you can pay? Simply having financial problems is generally not enough to file bankruptcy. In order to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must owe more on a monthly basis than you have monthly income. If your monthly expenses and monthly income are the same or if your monthly income is slightly more than your monthly expenses, you cannot file bankruptcy under Chapter 7.

If you have regular income and would have some extra money each month, if you did not have to pay unsecured creditors (such as unsecured credit cards), then you may be able to file bankruptcy under Chapter 13. For example, if your unsecured debt(s), such as unsecured credit cards, was a $1,000.00 a month, but if you did not have to pay the debt(s), you would have $700.00 extra each month, they you can probably file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay the $700.00 each month
instead of the $1,000.00. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, unsecured creditors may receive less than what they are owed and still have their debts discharged.

A major part of the “can I file bankruptcy” answer is do you qualify for either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

To qualify for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, you must in fact be bankrupt. You must be unable to pay your bills. Next, you must pass the means test. This is really not a test before you can file bankruptcy, but rather a series of questions which the Chapter 7 Trustee will look at after you have filed. If the Trustee finds that you do not pass the means test, then your bankruptcy will either have to be dismissed or converted to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

To qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must be a real person as opposed to a business entity,  you must have a regular income, you must have disposable income (determined by looking at your income and expenses if you didn’t have to pay unsecured debts), and you must meet other qualifications concerning total debts, prior bankruptcy filings, and tax filings.

There are so many ifs and ramifications in trying to answer “can I file bankruptcy” that you are wise to talk with a lawyer and have the lawyer look at your specific situation.

This is general information only. If you have any questions whatsoever, talk with a lawyer licensed in your state who has experience with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or bankruptcy in general.

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