Washington Bankruptcy Lawyer

When you find yourself drowning in debt and you have exhausted all other remedies, it may be time to find a bankruptcy attorney to review your situation. Bankruptcy may provide a fresh start for people who have become indebted and who cannot budget themselves out of debt within the next five years. Most bankruptcies are a result of overwhelming medical bills, job loss, or some other life-altering and costly situation, like divorce.

There are some important things to know about bankruptcy before you enter into the process. Firstly, bankruptcy does not discharge all debts. Alimony and child support, recent back taxes, most student loans, recent large purchases in excess of $550 for luxury goods, fraudulent debts, and some other types of debt will not be covered under your bankruptcy agreement. Neither does bankruptcy automatically wipe the slate clean, as it used to. Congress implemented sweeping changes to bankruptcy law in order to prevent repeat and unnecessary bankruptcies, which means that declaring bankruptcy may be more difficult. This is one reason why a bankruptcy attorney can be a valuable asset to the layperson as they evaluate their personal financial options in the face of overwhelming debt.

There are two basic types of bankruptcy in Washington State. One is Chapter 7, which is also known as Straight Bankruptcy or the liquidation plan. This is most similar to the bankruptcy of yore, under which all debts are wiped except for certain court-determined ones. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for people who earn a very low wage, yet have few valuable assets that they may wish to keep. Under this form of bankruptcy, your assets will be turned over to a trustee, who will liquidate them and then distribute the proceeds to your creditors. Washington statutes list items that are exempt from liquidation such as insurance, pensions, personal items and one vehicle per adult depending on the value.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as the Wage Earners' Bankruptcy, is for those who have a steady income and non-exempt assets. Under this method, you will be able to keep such assets as a home and a vehicle, and to repay back payments and reduce your debt to a manageable amount. You will still be required to repay your debts, however, and it can take three to five years to complete the process.

As you embark on the process of bankruptcy, you will be required to take a means test in order to determine which type of bankruptcy is most appropriate for you. Additionally, you will be required to undergo credit counseling and a financial skills class. If your income falls under the median income for families in Washington, based on Census Bureau statistics, you will be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you make more than the median income for families in Washington, 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 $6,000 ($100/month) to unsecured creditors over five years. If you don't qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your only option would be a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you file Chapter 13 your bankruptcy will be discharged after you have completed your repayment plan and Chapter 7 within about four months of your filing date. You cannot file Chapter 7 again for six years after your initial filing date. Chapter 13 can be filed at any time.

The first step is to contact a qualified, compassionate Washington State bankruptcy attorney lawyer in order to receive a consultation. Your bankruptcy attorney will not only assist you in filing paperwork and explaining all of your options, rights and remedies to you, but will also accompany you to bankruptcy court. Don't make this stressful experience any more stressful than it needs to be by attempting to do it yourself; hire a bankruptcy attorney to take care of you today.


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