Smith & Miller, Attorneys at Law

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Bankruptcy FAQ

Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties Bankruptcy Lawyers

Chapter 7 / Chapter 13:

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Circumstances surrounding bankruptcies are very stressful. Most often, bankruptcies are initiated by a divorce, loss of job, health issues or other factors beyond personal control. The law provides you the opportunity for a clean slate, and we are here to help you.

Who can file?

  • Anyone over the age of 18 years of age who has not filed bankruptcy within the past eight (8) years.

What debts are not dischargeable in bankruptcy?

  • Debts not dischargeable in bankruptcy include most student loans, taxes owed federal, state or local authorities, damages resulting from intentional conduct, court fines and any type of debt relating to child support or spousal support.

What are the options available to me?

  • Chapter 7 is a straight liquidation of debts with no repayment unless you decide to reaffirm a debt. The retainer fee for a chapter 7 is $2000.00, and half must be paid before we begin work and the other half before filing. This includes the current filing fee of $335.00. Your annual income, and the margin of income over expenses may disqualify you from a chapter 7 and require that you file a chapter 13.
  • Chapter 13 is a repayment plan where you make monthly pro-rata payments to the trustee for unsecured creditors using your monthly disposable income for a period of 36 or 60 months. You continue to make payments directly to secured creditors and you continue to pay direct your daily cost of living.

    At the end of these payments, you are relieved of any further payment to your unsecured creditors. The retainer fee for a chapter 13 is $3,000.00, and half must be paid before we begin work and the other half before filing. This includes the current filing fee of $310.00.

If you consult with a lawyer, make sure you understand what the fee charged covers. You are entitled by law to a written fee agreement.

What is a reaffirmation agreement?

  • A reaffirmation agreement can be part of a chapter 7 bankruptcy where you agree to maintain the debt even after you file for bankruptcy. This often enables you to keep your home, car or other personal property.

    You need to understand that if you sign a reaffirmation agreement, you lose the protections of the bankruptcy laws should your fortunes take a worse turn and you are unable to make your monthly payments. Your creditor can then sue you in court and garnish wages or attach your property.

What do I need to do to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

  1. Payment of the retainer
  2. Six months of pay stubs or other proof of income. This proof must consist of gross income and all of the deductions from that income.
  3. Two years of IRS returns.
  4. A list of all your creditors, including their name and address, account number and the amount owed.
  5. A list of all your assets and their values, including house, real estate, cars or other motor vehicles, pension or retirement plans, and personal property with a value exceeding $1,000.00.
  6. A list of monthly expenses

How much is this going to cost?

  • Chapter 7’s have a retainer of $2,000 and Chapter 13’s have a retainer of $3,000.00 (both require half before beginning work and the remaining half before filing)
  • Chapter 7 filing fee is $335.00 and Chapter 13 filing fee is $310.00

We have included our Bankruptcy forms to assist you in preparing for your initial consultation.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, Ashtabula County residents please call 440-576-9155, residents outside of Ashtabula County please call 866-373-0497 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Our Jefferson office is conveniently located right across the street from the Ashtabula County Courthouse.