Oklahoma City Bankruptcy Lawyer
Looking for a bankruptcy attorney in Oklahoma (OKC)? We can help.
Financial strain makes life difficult. It affects both personal and professional relationships. When it happens to you, you want to find a way out. In some cases, bankruptcy might be the best answer. There are different types of bankruptcies depending on your individual circumstances. If you find yourself in need of assistance in a troubling financial situation, you are not alone. The bankruptcy attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook are well-versed in Oklahoma law and will guide you through the process from start to finish. Our team’s primary focus is always on providing our clients with consistent and compassionate support and excellent legal guidance. We will handle your bankruptcy and set you on a path for future success.
How Much Does it Cost to File Bankruptcy?
In addition to the attorney fee, which will be based on your personal circumstances, you will also need to pay the court filing fee and take 2 online courses (the combined cost of these courses is approximately $25.00). The court filing fee for Chapter 7 is currently $335.00 and the court filing fee for Chapter 13 is currently $310.00. The court may allow you to pay this filing fee in installments if you cannot pay all at once.
The Bankruptcy Process in Oklahoma
Filing a bankruptcy in OKC is a lengthy and complicated process. The best way to ensure your case is handled properly is to hire a qualified and experienced OKC bankruptcy attorney. Having an attorney on your side will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on getting your finances under control.
Preparation is key in bankruptcy proceedings. If you are considering bankruptcy, learning what you can about the process is crucial. These financial classes help to educate people how to discharge debts and avoid them in the future. Bankruptcy laws might affect your case in one of two ways:
Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 and 13 are the two most common types of bankruptcies that can be filed by an individual. Eligibility for filing is based on the Means Test, and there are several key differences between the two types:
The basic idea in a chapter 7 bankruptcy is to discharge your debts in exchange for your giving up property, except for “exempt” property which the law allows you to keep.However, property which is not exempt is sold, with the money distributed to creditors. If you want to keep property like a home or a car and are behind on the payments on a mortgage or car loan, a chapter 7 case probably will not be the right choice for you. That is because chapter 7 bankruptcy does not eliminate the right of mortgage holders or car loan creditors to take your property to apply to the debt. In order to qualify for a Chapter 7, a consumer debtor must pass the means test. Individual debtors whose debts are primarily business debts do not have to pass the means test to qualify for Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 (Adjustment of Debts)
You should consider a Chapter 13 if:
- Your income is too high to qualify for Chapter 7.
- You have non-exempt property that you wish to keep.
- You are behind on your mortgage or car loan and wish to keep the property.
- In order to qualify for Chapter 13, you must be an individual (including a married couple) with regular income.
The amount of paperwork required is one of the reasons a bankruptcy case is so time-consuming. You must take several key steps in order to prepare for your bankruptcy, including:
- Itemize Current Income Sources
- Detail Major Financial Transactions Over the Previous Two Years
- Itemize Monthly Living Expenses
- List All Debts, Secured and Unsecured
- List All Assets and Possessions
- Prepared Tax Documents for Previous Two Years
- Gather Deeds to Any Real Estate Owned
- Gather Car Titles
- Gather Documents for Any Outstanding Loans
A bankruptcy attorney will be a huge help during this process. They will make sure you have all the required documents and paperwork. This will allow you to prevent your case to the Court in a clear and organized manner.
Filing for Bankruptcy
After the paperwork has been collected, it is time to file your case. Your attorney will file a two-page petition along with several other forms at your local bankruptcy court. The forms filed will give the Court a picture of your current financial status.
It is imperative to be truthful on any documentation filed with the Court. If it is discovered that you have not been entirely truthful, your case could be negatively affected.
The Hasbrook & Hasbrook Edge
Our team of Oklahoma bankruptcy attorneys have successfully represented clients in a variety of cases. We understand that each case is unique, and we listen carefully to learn the individual needs of each of our clients. A positive outcome from your bankruptcy proceeding is only part of what we seek to accomplish. We also want to make sure our clients are set for future success, so they can rebuild a life free from financial strain.
Bankruptcy Do’s and Don’ts!
The following do’s and don’ts should be considered by any person contemplating bankruptcy.
- Provide your attorney or other petition preparer ALL information and documentation required to complete your Schedules, including your assets, debts, income and recent transfers.
- Complete your credit counseling class. You must provide your certificate at the time you file. Most classes can be taken online!
- Provide information and documents requested by your trustee. Failure to provide required documentation may result in the dismissal of your case.
- Attend your 341 Hearing! While a first failure to appear will likely result in the hearing be rescheduled, continuous failures will result in the dismissal of your case.
- Complete the debtor education class. You cannot receive your discharge until this requirement is completed. The failure to do so will eventually result in the dismissal of your case.
Following the above “do’s” may not ensure that your case goes smoothly from filing to discharge, there could, for instance, be issues of dischargeability related to alleged prior actions. However, it will help to ensure that if you obtain all the relief you are entitled to under the Bankruptcy Code.
- Take on new debt or transfer property while you are contemplating bankruptcy. Recent debt may not be dischargeable and transferring property could be prohibited by the bankruptcy code. If you must transfer property, talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney first to determine if such a transfer would be impacted by a future bankruptcy filing.
- Omit any debt, income or assets from your Schedules. (See above). You don’t get to pick and choose which debts you file on. The loan you owe to your relatives must be listed. However, that does not prevent you from voluntarily paying the discharged debt after your bankruptcy.
- Sign your Petition and Schedules without carefully reviewing them. They are submitted under oath and you are verifying the truth and accuracy of them. It is well worth your time to review them and ensure that you and your representative prepared them fully and completely.
- Stop paying for property secured by a mortgage or lien (house or car) if you wish to keep the property after you file bankruptcy.
- Make large payments to a single creditor. This can be called a “preference” and the trustee can actually get the payment back from the creditor. If the creditor is a family member, the trustee can look back 1 year for such payments. If the creditor is not a family member, the trustee can look back 90 days.
The above is not exhaustive. It is important to understand the requirements of the bankruptcy code if you are considering filing a case.
Bankruptcy Free Consultation
As always, a consultation with Hasbrook & Hasbrook is completely free of charge. We will sit down with you and listen to the facts of your case and then advise you on the best course of action. If you are considering bankruptcy and need to discuss your options, please reach out today. We are a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy in Oklahoma City
When Does the Discharge Occur?
The timing of the discharge varies, depending on the chapter under which the case is filed. In a chapter 7 (liquidation) case, for example, the court usually grants the discharge promptly on expiration of the time fixed for filing a complaint objecting to discharge and the time fixed for filing a motion to dismiss the case for substantial abuse (60 days following the first date set for the 341 meeting). In individual chapter 11 cases, and in cases under chapter 12 (adjustment of debts of a family farmer or fisherman) and 13 (adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income), the court generally grants the discharge as soon as practicable after the debtor completes all payments under the plan. Since a chapter 12 or chapter 13 plan may provide for payments to be made over three to five years, the discharge typically occurs about four years after the date of filing.
Do You Get out of All Debts if You Declare Bankruptcy?
Not all debts are discharged. The debts discharged vary under each chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Section 523(a) of the Code specifically excepts various categories of debts from the discharge granted to individual debtors. Therefore, the debtor must still repay those debts after bankruptcy.
Does the Debtor Have the Right to a Discharge or Can Creditors Object to the Discharge?
In chapter 12 and chapter 13 cases, the debtor is usually entitled to a discharge upon completion of all payments under the plan. As in chapter 7, however, discharge may not occur in chapter 13 if the debtor fails to complete a required course on personal financial management. A debtor is also ineligible for a discharge in chapter 13 if he or she received a prior discharge in another case commenced within time frames. Unlike chapter 7, creditors do not have standing to object to the discharge of a chapter 12 or chapter 13 debtor. Creditors can object to confirmation of the repayment plan, but cannot object to the discharge if the debtor has completed making plan payments.
Can a Debtor Receive a Second Discharge in a Later Chapter 7 Case?
The court will deny a discharge in a later chapter 7 case if the debtor received a discharge under chapter 7 or chapter 11 in a case filed within eight years before the second petition is filed. The court will also deny a chapter 7 discharge if the debtor previously received a discharge in a chapter 12 or chapter 13 case filed within six years before the date of the filing of the second case unless (1) the debtor paid all “allowed unsecured” claims in the earlier case in full, or (2) the debtor made payments under the plan in the earlier case totaling at least 70 percent of the allowed unsecured claims and the debtor’s plan was proposed in good faith and the payments represented the debtor’s best effort.
What Happens If Bankruptcy is not Discharged?
The court may revoke a discharge under certain circumstances. For example, a trustee, creditor, or the U.S. trustee may request that the court revoke the debtor’s discharge in a chapter 7 case based on allegations that the debtor: obtained the discharge fraudulently; failed to disclose the fact that he or she acquired or became entitled to acquire property that would constitute property of the bankruptcy estate; committed one of several acts of impropriety described in the Bankruptcy Code; or failed to explain any misstatements discovered in an audit of the case or fails to provide documents or information requested in an audit of the case.
In chapter 11, 12, and 13 cases, if confirmation of a plan or the discharge is obtained through fraud, the court can revoke the order of confirmation or discharge.
Can I Repay Debts That Were Discharged in Bankruptcy?
A debtor who has received a discharge may voluntarily repay any discharged debt. A debtor may repay a discharged debt even though it can no longer be legally enforced. Sometimes a debtor agrees to repay a debt because it is owed to a family member or because it represents an obligation to an individual for whom the debtor’s reputation is important, such as a family doctor.
What Can the Debtor Do if a Creditor Attempts to Collect a Discharged Debt After the Case is Concluded?
If a creditor attempts collection efforts on a discharged debt, the debtor can file a motion with the court, reporting the action and asking that the case be reopened to address the matter. The bankruptcy court will often do so to ensure that the discharge is not violated. The discharge constitutes a permanent statutory injunction prohibiting creditors from taking any action, including the filing of a lawsuit, designed to collect a discharged debt. A creditor can be sanctioned by the court for violating the discharge injunction. The normal sanction for violating the discharge injunction is civil contempt, which is often punishable by a fine.
In Oklahoma Will I Lose My Property?
In a chapter 7 case, you can keep all property which is “exempt” from the claims of creditors. Oklahoma law provides for many exemptions which are available. In determining whether property is exempt, you must keep a few things in mind. In a chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your property if your plan meets the requirements of the bankruptcy law. In most cases you will have to pay the mortgages or liens as you would if you didn’t file bankruptcy.
What Will Happen to My Home and Car If I File Bankruptcy in Oklahoma?
In most cases you will not lose your home or car during your bankruptcy case as long as your equity in the property is fully exempt. Even if your property is not fully exempt, you will be able to keep it, if you pay its non-exempt value to creditors in chapter 13.
Do I Go to Court?
In most bankruptcy cases, you only have to go to a proceeding called the “meeting of creditors”. Most of the time, this meeting is short with questions by your attorney and your case trustee, primarily about your petition, schedules and financial situation. Your creditors also have the right to attend this meeting and ask you questions, normally about your intention to pay on a secured debt. If your circumstances suggest that a creditor may appear for other reasons, you and your attorney should discuss the issue before the meeting.
There are a few instances where you may need to actually appear before the bankruptcy judge. For instance, if you wish to reaffirm a debt but don’t have sufficient income, or if you dispute a debt, a hearing with the court may be required. If so, your attorney will notify you.
Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?
A discharge may stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. However, if you are behind on your bills, your credit may already be bad. In addition, since bankruptcy wipes out your old debts, you are likely to be in a better position to pay your current bills, and you may be able to get new credit.
Can I Obtain Credit After Discharge?
Most likely. You will have just discharged debt and you will be unable to do so again in a Chapter 7 for 8 years from the date your case was filed.
Can Bankruptcy Help Get My Oklahoma Driver’s License Back?
If you lost your license solely because you couldn’t pay court-ordered damages sustained in an accident (financial responsibility), bankruptcy will allow you the chance to get your license back. However, Chapter 7 does not normally discharge fines owed to a governmental unit.
I’m Married, Can I File by Myself?
Yes, but your spouse will still be liable for any joint debts. If you file together you will likely be able to double your exemptions as most exemptions apply “per debtor”. You will likely need to report your non-filing spouses income (and expenses) on the means test and Schedule I, which my impact your ability to file under Chapter 7.
Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?
Yes. The automatic stay prevents bill collectors from taking any action to collect debts. This stay goes into effect when your case is filed. At that time, the court will mail notice to all listed creditors. In the interim, if you have not already done so, tell any creditors who contact you that you have hired an attorney and have filed bankruptcy. If they continue to contact you, they are violating the automatic stay and may be liable to you.
If I recently moved, where do I file my case?
If you haven’t lived in your current state for 91 days you must wait until you have lived there for 91 days and then file in your current state.
If you are considering bankruptcy, contact us for help.