South Carolina Bankruptcy Lawyer

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Many Americans are struggling financially, trying to pay back overwhelming amounts of debt. There are credit management programs to assist those who just need a little help getting back on their feet. Bankruptcy, however, may be the best option for those whose debt has become so insurmountable that they need a fresh start. Most Americans who take out loans or use credit cards do so with every intention of paying them off in a timely manner. Yet emergency circumstances like health problems, job loss or divorce can occur, crippling them financially.

Bankruptcy is defined as the legally declared inability, or impairment of ability, of an individual or organization to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a debtor in an effort to recoup a portion of what they are owed or initiate a restructuring. In the majority of cases, however, bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor.

Recent changes to bankruptcy law at the federal level have made it more difficult for average Americans to file for bankruptcy, and to find relief from the bankruptcy courts. Especially difficult to achieve is Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as "liquidation." This is what most people think of when they think of bankruptcy, and it is generally the simplest and quickest form. Under Chapter 7, which is available to some individuals, married couples, corporations and partnerships, a court-appointed trustee gathers and sells your non-exempt property and uses the proceeds from the sale to pay your creditors. Most chapter 7 cases are "no-asset" case, which simply means that you do not have any non-exempt property for the trustee to sell.

A means test will determine whether you are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is below the median income for families in South Carolina, based on Census Bureau statistics, you will be eligible. If you make more than the median income for families in South Carolina, your income over the past six months is considered, along with mortgage and car payments, back taxes and child support due, and school expenses up to $1,650 per year. You won't be eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if, after deducting these amounts, and the living expenses provided in the Internal Revenue Service's national collection standards, you can still pay at least $100/month to your unsecured creditors over five years. If you don't qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your only option is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The U.S. Trustee Program will apply the median family income data to all cases filed on or after March 15, 2009. This median family income data will be adjusted again after the Census Bureau updates the data.

For South Carolina, for cases filed after March 15, 2009, the median income for a single wage earner is $38,728; for a family of two, it is $50,823; for three, $54,834; and for four, $65,974. Add $6,900 for each individual in excess of 4.

You will also be required to undergo approved credit counseling before you can file bankruptcy, and to file any overdue tax returns within several weeks of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you have decided that you must file bankruptcy, it is worth the money to hire a bankruptcy attorney. Your attorney can help you decide which option is best, file all the necessary paperwork, deal with your creditors and represent you in court. If you are feeling stressed and confused about your financial situation, and uncertain whether bankruptcy is right for you, contact a qualified South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer today and get the help you need.


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