What’s the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

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The difference between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy is that one filing involves selling your assets, while another does not. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as the “liquidation” chapter. Basically, your non-exempt assets will be sold off to pay your creditors. This usually takes less than six months.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a payment plan that takes anywhere from three to five years. To qualify, you must pass something called a “means test,” which measures your income and ability to pay back your creditors.

Filing for bankruptcy can be a major financial decision that may require some consideration, and you could seek the help of an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer. However, there can be several important benefits of a bankruptcy filing, depending on your financial situation.

What You Should Know About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 is known as liquidation bankruptcy. One of the most common forms of bankruptcy filings, those who opt for chapter 7 will work with a bankruptcy trustee who then will analyze and sell their applicable assets to repay creditors.

Individuals and businesses may file for chapter 7. However, those whose incomes fall above a certain level may be ineligible for this filing.

The Means Test and Income Limits for Chapter 7

The U.S. Courts notes that when you file for chapter 7, you should expect to submit documentation of your:

  • Assets
  • Current income
  • Expenditures
  • Most recent tax return

You may be subject to a means test, which is intended to limit chapter 7 filings to those below a certain income level, per the Florida Bar. If your income falls below a certain median income level, you will not have to submit the additional forms necessary to pass the means test.

Exemptions Available in Florida

Just because chapter 7 is known as liquidation bankruptcy does not mean that all of your assets must be sold off. Many exemptions are available for those filing for chapter 7 in Florida, which means that many of your assets will be protected from sale during bankruptcy proceedings. Some of your exemptions may include:

Depending on your situation, you may even fall into a category known as a “no-asset case,” in which you are deemed to own no assets after available exemptions are applied.

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What You Should Know About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

While the idea of bankruptcy may call to mind the process of selling assets, not all forms of bankruptcy entail liquidation. This is not the case for those who opt for a chapter 13 filing.

Chapter 13 does not involve the sale of assets through liquidation. Instead, you will develop a plan to repay your debts over a three to five-year period. Individuals and business owners may qualify for chapter 13.

How to File for Chapter 13

Because this form of bankruptcy entails a process of gradually repaying debt, chapter 13 is intended for those who earn a regular income. Known as a form of “reorganization” bankruptcy, these repayments are often taken out of the debtor’s future wages, according to the Florida Bar.

Unlike chapter 7, you will not be subject to a means test. However, you will have to submit several forms of documentation when you file for chapter 13, including schedule forms to note your debts, a monthly income statement, and a statement regarding your financial affairs.

The Benefits of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

If you are unsure about the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy or you’re not sure which type of filing makes sense for your case, we advise that you get a free case review from our team. We will be able to help you consider how factors such as your income level, current debts, and ability to repay your debt will determine your options for filing.

Benefits of Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Those considering chapter 7 may want to note several of its benefits, including:

  • A faster filing process. While your debts could be cleared in a matter of months when you proceed with chapter 7, you will be repaying certain debts over the course of several years with chapter 13.
  • An automatic stay on debt collection. Once you file for chapter 7, your creditors may not be able to collect payments or garnish your wages.

Benefits of Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you are in a position to take advantage of chapter 13 and you can afford to wait through a longer bankruptcy process, you may want to consider several of its benefits, including:

  • Less impact to your credit score, compared to chapter 7
  • No liquidation of your assets
  • A stop to the foreclosure process, if you are a homeowner who is behind on your mortgage

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The Value of a Bankruptcy Attorney

A bankruptcy lawyer plays a critical role in guiding clients through the complexities of declaring bankruptcy, ensuring that they choose the right chapter based on their financial situation. For those considering chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, a lawyer provides a detailed analysis of their debts, assets, income, and expenses. This evaluation helps determine eligibility for these and other types of bankruptcy.

Preparation and Filing

Bankruptcy lawyers assist in preparing the necessary documentation, including the bankruptcy petition, schedules of assets and liabilities, income and expenditure statement, and more. They ensure that all paperwork accurately reflects the your financial status to avoid any discrepancies that could lead to the dismissal of the case. Additionally, lawyers navigate the filing process, adhering to strict deadlines and procedural requirements, to officially initiate the bankruptcy process.

Representation and Negotiation

Throughout the bankruptcy proceedings, the attorney will represent you in court and in meetings with creditors. In Chapter 13 cases, this includes negotiating the terms of the repayment plan to be feasible for you while satisfying creditors. For chapter 7, the lawyer works to protect your assets from liquidation under the exemptions allowed by law.

Resolution and Aftercare

Finally, a bankruptcy lawyer aids in achieving a favorable resolution, whether it’s the discharge of debts under chapter 7 or the completion of a repayment plan under chapter 13. They also offer advice on rebuilding credit and managing finances post-bankruptcy, helping people like you start on a new path toward financial stability.

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Bogin, Munns & Munns Can Help You File for Bankruptcy

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation, you don’t have to be alone in your bankruptcy case. At Bogin, Munns & Munns, our commercial law attorneys can help you with every step of the process. We can ensure that your paperwork is filed accurately, choose the filing that’s right for you, and take advantage of any relevant exemptions.

Speak with someone from our team today for a free case review, just call our office today to get started.

Call or text 855-780-9986 or submit our Consultation Request form today



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