What Property is Safe from Liquidation in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in PA?
One of the biggest questions that people ask themselves when they are in financial trouble and contemplating filing for bankruptcy is “which of my property will I be able to keep?” Bankruptcy filings can allow you to protect certain personal assets from creditors that would otherwise be lost. Property that is not protected, or “exempt” can be seized by creditors through repossession or through a forced sale where the creditor takes the money generated from the sale.
While a bankruptcy filing can wipe out most debts and be a big step towards a fresh start, it is important to know which debt can actually be wiped out, and which will stay no matter what. It is critical to understand the total financial picture you will have after you complete a bankruptcy before you even decide to file for bankruptcy in the first place. If you live in or around Philadelphia and are considering the option of filing for bankruptcy, then contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to best understand your options.
CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY EXEMPTIONS
If you are currently contemplating whether or not to file for bankruptcy, it is essential to know which property you can protect through an exemption. Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions exist at both the state and federal level. You will need to consider which of these exemptions are more beneficial for you when deciding which exemptions to use.
At the state level, Pennsylvania bankruptcy law allows you to exempt:
• Benefits due to you from workers’ compensation
• Disability insurance payments
• Benefits from pension accounts
• Benefits from retirement accounts
At the federal level, federal bankruptcy law allows you to exempt:
• Home equity up to $23,675
• Vehicle equity up to $3,775
• Job-related items up to $2,375
• Personal jewelry up to $1,600
• Household items worth up to $575 each for a total of $12,250
• Other property worth up to $1,250 up to a total of $11,850
If you are married and are considering filing for bankruptcy with your spouse at the same time, all of the exemption totals listed above will double. Any money or property you have that is not exempt under state or federal bankruptcy law will likely be seized in a bankruptcy proceeding. It is also important to note that any assets that you obtain within 6 months of filing for bankruptcy are also not protected under any exemption. In many cases, those that file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy ends up getting to keep their property.
Most people that file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are “no-asset” filers. In these cases, debtors don’t actually give up anything to the bankruptcy trustee as things like household goods and personal items don’t have much value in a resale marketplace. The whole idea of bankruptcy is to allow debtors the chance to start over and start fresh. Leaving debtors with nothing to start with is not the best formula to help them regain their financial footing. These exemptions make filing for bankruptcy much more doable and can make a Chapter 7 filing a realistic and intelligent way to get a fresh start that has the potential for long term success.
DEBTS THAT ARE NOT ELIMINATED BY A CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY
Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a great first step towards regaining control of your financial life, but a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not wipe out all of your debts. Certain debts cannot be eliminated through a bankruptcy filing, they include:
• Child support obligations
• Alimony payments to an ex-spouse
• Certain taxes
• Fines related to property ownership
• Most student loans
To best understand which of your debts will likely be discharged through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Your financial situation is unique, so while finding a website such as this can be a great source of information, it is not a replacement for the advice of a qualified attorney. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings aren’t for everyone, but they can be exactly the fresh start you are looking for.
CALL TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
If you are currently facing financial hardship while living in or around Philadelphia and are wondering if filing bankruptcy might be for you, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help assess your situation. At Young, Marr & Associates Law Firm, we bring over 30 years of experience in helping people determine what their best approach is based on their specific financial situation. We are proud to offer a FREE consultation to help anyone struggling with excessive debt to determine if bankruptcy is the right solution. For help with your case, contact us today online here or call us at (215) 701-6519 to schedule your free consultation.