Recently we discussed the two most common kinds of consumer bankruptcy – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. This week we wanted to add a few more points that might be helpful in case you’re considering either form of debt relief.

Qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection means that you would have to pass a “means test” showing that you don’t make enough money to bump you into Chapter 13. As we said before, if you have heavy debt despite your regular income, then Chapter 13 is probably for you.

Chapter 13 offers some advantages that Chapter 7 doesn’t necessarily provide. For example, Chapter 13 can be particularly effective in preventing or stopping foreclosure or the repossession of a vehicle.

It should also be noted that if someone co-signed on a loan with you, Chapter 13 also protects that person from creditor actions. Like you, the co-signer is liable for the debt, but the co-signer doesn’t also have to file for bankruptcy to be protected from creditor actions. We call that protection a “co-debtor stay.”

To get a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing in order, you – or preferably your attorney – will have to gather a significant amount of relevant information to present to the court. You’ll have to present a schedule of your expenses and income, a detailed outline of your liabilities and assets, and a list of any financial contracts or leases to which you are bound.

A Chapter 13 trustee will then assess your situation with a view toward establishing a workable repayment plan. It’s best to have an attorney in your corner throughout the process.

Source: Ebony, “The Different Degrees of Bankruptcy, Explained,” Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, June 19, 2014

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