Bankruptcy Attorney Explains Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 in Washington DC
We often fear what we do not understand. That is why many individuals and businesses do not take advantage of the benefits of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws are complex. This is especially true for those who attempt to understand them without guidance from an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Additionally, as your lawyer will explain, Washington DC bankruptcy laws include several allowances and exemptions that can help debtors regain and maintain control of their finances.
Under the laws that govern chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, there are several exemptions within Washington DC. Note that married couples can double their exemptions, meaning each spouse can separately claim the full exemption amount offered. The exemption amount will differ depending on where you file bankruptcy, but it can include:
- Homestead – You can exempt up to a certain amount of equity in a property you use as your personal residence.
- Vehicle – You can exempt up to a certain amount of worth of a vehicle to either reaffirm the debt and keep it, or sell it to obtain the liquid value of the exemption and find a new car or mode of transportation.
- Personal Property – This can include but is not limited to clothing, small appliances, goods, pets and family pictures.
- Tools of the Trade – You may be allowed to exempt (up to a certain amount) tools you use in your profession, such as books, instruments, clothing and books. Note that you cannot include cars cars under this exemption.
- Alimony/Child Support – You may be able to exempt alimony and child support payments received.
- Retirement – This allows you to exempt qualified IRAs and benefits. This also enables state employees to exempt their pensions.
- Insurance – Disability or health settlements or benefits, life insurance, medical insurance benefits and annuity earnings fall under this exemption.
- Public Benefits – This exemption can allow you to protect unemployment compensation, criminal victim compensation and workers’ compensation.
- Wildcard – Under this exemption, you can keep a real estate property, specific amount of cash or personal property out of your bankruptcy estate, which will protect it from creditors.
While you can file for bankruptcy yourself, you might find it saves you more in the end to take advantage of the experience of a bankruptcy attorney who understands the system. Here are a few things you should think about:
- Do I need to file for bankruptcy? Before you file for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy lawyer will be able to explain what to expect throughout the process and any alternatives to bankruptcy that may be available to you.
- What chapter should I file bankruptcy under? Both chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy have their benefits and their pitfalls. For one thing, not everyone qualifies to file for either chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy or both. In addition, if you do qualify to file for both chapter 7 and 13, knowing which one to file for is crucial, because chances are, filing for one will benefit you more than filing for the other.
- What documents do I need to file? Documentation is obviously a key part of any bankruptcy filing and knowing which documents you need to file to successfully complete your bankruptcy can be difficult to decipher. Filing the incorrect documents can easily lead to the court rejecting your bankruptcy petition.
- What exemptions do I qualify for? Exemptions are a crucial part of any bankruptcy petition, as in some cases, an exemption can mean the difference between you keeping your home and car or not. A bankruptcy attorney will know what exemptions you qualify for and make sure they are filed correctly.
- Do I need credit counseling or financial management? Filing for bankruptcy requires you to receive credit counseling and take a course in financial management. Many of those who file for bankruptcy confuse these for the same course instead of two separate courses. In addition, those who take both can fail to file the proper documentation proving they did. This can then derail their bankruptcy filing.
Washington DC bankruptcy lawyer Kevin D. Judd has years of experience helping people who are struggling financially turn their situation around through bankruptcy. The Law Firm of Kevin D. Judd primarily focusses on chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. Attorney Judd practices law in the Washington DC and New York State Courts, as well as the Federal Courts in Maryland, New York and Washington DC. He is professional, courteous and can be counted on to be there every step of the way as he successfully guides you through the bankruptcy process.
The Law Firm of Kevin D. Judd offers free initial phone consultations. Thus, when you contact us, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. To get in touch with our bankruptcy attorney, call (202) 888-8454 or fill out our online contact form.
There are federal and state bankruptcy laws. The Bankruptcy Code is under federal law, but state laws include exemptions, which can widely vary from state to state. Generally, federal bankruptcy law for individuals or married couples involve two types:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy – Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws enable debtors to discharge unsecured debts, such as payday loans, credit card debt and hospital bills. A debtor may then have some of his or her possessions sold to pay back creditors, but this is often not the case, as the debtor is able to exempt property.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy – Bankruptcy laws that fall under the area of chapter 13 bankruptcy allow debtors to restructure their debt if they have a regular income. They enter into a repayment plan approved by the court that is based on how their salary compares to the median income in their state. The repayment plan usually lasts from three to five years. Any remaining unsecured debt not paid off during that time is discharged.
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