Filing for bankruptcy can be a complicated process, especially with regard to protecting your assets and completing the bankruptcy means test. With an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney by your side, you can confidently follow the process to debt relief.

Consumer Bankruptcy – Chapter 7 & Chapter 13

Being centrally located in Northern lower Michigan, Waltman Law PLLC can assist you with your bankruptcy filing in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan.

Chapter 7 – For Individuals and Dissolution of Businesses

Generally completes within 4 months and applies to those who cannot afford to pay part of their income to their creditors. A trustee is appointed to review the petition and schedules and to sell any assets that are not exempt under applicable federal and state laws to pay your creditors.

As your bankruptcy attorney, we will discuss any expected issues related to keeping your assets prior to the bankruptcy filing and if an asset is at risk, you can choose whether or not to continue with the bankruptcy filing. Full disclosure of all assets and values at the consultation is important. If a valuable asset is listed or located by the Trustee after the bankruptcy is filed, dismissing the case will not protect that asset.

Businesses who wish to cease operations can file Chapter 7 to have the Trustee sell the businesses assets, pay creditors, and dissolve the company. Businesses do not receive a discharge. If personal guarantees were given to obtain business credit, the individual who made the guarantee may need to file an individual Chapter 7 Bankruptcy following the dissolution of the business depending on the amount of debt remaining at the conclusion of the business’s bankruptcy.

Chapter 12 – Like Chapter 13 except for family farmers and family fisherman.

Chapter 13 – For Individuals

Generally continues for three to five years after confirmation of a proposed repayment plan. You must have a source of income that allows you to pay part of your income to your creditors.  A trustee is appointed to review your petition and schedules, to collect the payments, pay your creditors, and make sure you comply with the repayment plan you proposed.

Chapter 13 will allow you, providing funds are available, to bring secured payments current on assets like a home or car that you want to protect from foreclosure or repossession.

Chapter 13 may also allow you to strip a second or third mortgage from your primary residence. If you qualify and complete the bankruptcy to discharge, the second or third lien will be removed from the real estate and no longer reduce your equity in the property. The balance, if any, remaining at the end of the bankruptcy would be discharged along with the remainder of the unsecured creditor debt.

Commonly Asked Questions:

I live in Northern lower Michigan. Am I in the Eastern or Western District?

If your principle residence for the majority of the past 180 days is one of the following Northern lower Michigan counties, you are in the Eastern District: Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Bay, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Iosco, Isabella, Midland, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Saginaw, and Tuscola.

If your principle residence for the majority of the past 180 days is one of the following Northern lower Michigan counties, you are in the Western District: Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford.

Where are the bankruptcy hearings held for Northern Michigan filers? If you are in the Eastern District your hearings will be held in Bay City. If you are in the Western District the meeting of creditors which both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Debtors must attend and Chapter 13 hearings are held in Traverse City. If you are in a Chapter 7 and need to appear before the judge, which is not common, you may have to travel to Grand Rapids.

Can I keep my house and car? If you want to keep your home and car, bankruptcy has different options that allow you to do that depending on the amount of equity, if any, in the item and whether you are current or behind in payments at the time you file. You may have the option of surrendering the asset without further payment, reaffirming it under the same terms that you currently have, or redeeming it for its value rather than what is owed. We will review your options during your bankruptcy consultation.

I listed my doctor, but I want to keep making payments on my bill and continue services there. Is that okay? Generally, you can make voluntary payments on debts that have been discharged. Doctors are a common example. If you are concerned about being able to continue services, check with their office whether repayment is required to maintain the relationship. Use caution if asked to sign any new documents related to the discharged debt as it may make you legally liable for the debt once again.

What if I don’t want to list one of my credit cards? You are required to list all people and companies to whom you owe money. Depending on your reason for wanting to keep the credit card open and the balance owed, it may be possible to reaffirm the debt but doing so is not encouraged as this is your opportunity to remove all of your unsecured debt and get a fresh start.

What is a reaffirmation agreement? A reaffirmation agreement is a voluntary decision on your part to continue a debt after bankruptcy (usually a car payment). It must be something that your household can afford and be in your best interest to continue the debt.

I signed a reaffirmation agreement and I’ve changed my mind. Is it too late? It depends. You can cancel the reaffirmation until the date you receive your discharge or within 60 days of the date it is filed, whichever is later.

Links to some of the Trustee’s websites:

Kelly M. Hagan, Chapter 7 Trustee – Traverse City

Thomas W. McDonald, Jr., Chapter 13 Trustee – Bay City

Brett N. Rodgers, Chapter 13 Trustee – Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo

David Wm. Ruskin, Chapter 13 Trustee – Detroit

Contact us today for a free consultation about our consumer bankruptcy attorney services.