Qualifying For Chapter 7
Between 2011 and 2015, nearly 600,000 nonbusiness Chapter 7 cases were completed nationally. This type of bankruptcy is common because it’s relatively fast and simple compared to other filings. It is an effective way to have most unsecured debts discharged. However, you must qualify based on your income. In 2005, it became more difficult for consumers to qualify for liquidation. Generally, you must earn less than similar households in Oklahoma or have a monthly disposable income less than $100.
Discharging Debts through Bankruptcy
Most unsecured debts can be discharged with Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debt that is secured by collateral, such as your home or your car, won’t be discharged. In most cases, liens can be enforced after bankruptcy. Back taxes, student loans, alimony and judgments related to criminal lawsuits are also excluded. The following unsecured debts can be discharged.
- Credit card balances
- Medical bills
- Personal loans
- Auto loans
- Utility bills
- Unpaid rent
Exempt and Nonexempt Property
A common misconception with Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you will lose everything you own. Luckily, this is not the case. Oklahoma law is very specific about what you can and cannot keep. There are limits for most types of personal property and assets.
Thanks to Oklahoma’s homestead exemption, an unlimited amount of equity in your primary residence is protected. You can keep books, pictures, furniture, personal computers and up to $4,000 in clothing. You will retain up to $7,500 equity in a vehicle. Social Security and government benefits are also protected.
If you have any questions about Chapter 7 or nonbankruptcy alternatives, call Gary Hammond at 405-216-0007 to arrange a free consultation. I have practiced law in Oklahoma City for more than 25 years. I also served as a state-appointed Chapter 7 trustee for 12 years. I handled more than 13,000 bankruptcy cases during the term. I look forward to meeting you and seeing how I can help.