There are many contributing factors that are associated with financial troubles. The most common reasons include heavy debt, losing one’s job, divorce, home foreclosure, or illness.
In fact, the average credit card debt in Oklahoma is a whopping $5,459 per person. In addition, foreclosure rates are also as staggering, one out of every 1,844 OK homes is currently in foreclosure.
If you can relate to the scenarios above, then you are more than likely dealing with other personal issues that come with dealing with debt. The fear of losing your automobile, home or your money can drain a person physically and emotionally. You may have even considered Declaring Bankruptcy .
If you are thinking “Is Bankruptcy Best For Me?” you are surprisingly not alone. Close to a million people file bankruptcy each year in America. Bankruptcy is a tool created by the US Government to help struggling Americans find relief from heavy debt. You may want to consider filing bankruptcy if it’s best for you.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy gives people the opportunity to lift their financial burden while still working with lenders in a legal capacity. It is started by a person filing a Petition with their nearest bankruptcy court. The Petition can be filed by a person or married couples jointly. When the bankruptcy is settled, the filer will ‘exit’ and will have a chance for a fresh start on their finances.
Throughout the bankruptcy process, a trustee is appointed to oversee the deatils of the matter. His or her duties differ and depend on whether the individual has filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Did you know that Oklahoma ranks #29 in the nation for bankruptcy filings. In 2017 the number of personal bankruptcies was approximately 256 out of every 100,000 residents.
What Is The Difference Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13?
Individuals or couples in Oklahoma, who claim bankruptcy, will elect to file under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. What is the difference? Look below for more information
In exchange for dissolving all past due debts, the trustee of the bankruptcy will liquidate the assets, such as cars, homes, and other property of value in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding.
The proceeds collected during liquidation will be used to repay debtors that were listed on the bankruptcy filing.
If you have the means to pay some of your debts, a chapter 13 bankruptcy plan may work for you. You will be allowed to retain your valuable assets over a 3- to 5-year period.
In order to determine which type of bankruptcy an individual will file, they will have to determine their ability to repay using the Bankruptcy Means Test.
What Is A Bankruptcy Means Test?
The goal of the Bankruptcy Means Test is to determine who is eligible to apply for debt forgiveness through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It considers your:
- income and expenses
- household size and composition
- debt-to-income ratio
If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be able to file for Chapter 13, as above-described.
What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?
The federal bankruptcy exemptions are a list of exclusions by Congress that are available to filers in specific states. These exemptions will determine what you are able to retain throughout and after Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13 situation, the exemptions will determine what amount you will have to pay certain financial institutions in your repayment plan.
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Oklahoma Statutes Annotated.
- Real property or manufactured home of unlimited value, but cannot exceed 160 acres if not in a city or town, or 1 acre in a city or town. You may rent the homestead as long as you do not acquire another. May be limited to $5,000 if more than 25% of the property is used for business purposes.
- Burial plots.
- Motor vehicle up to $7,500; clothing up to $4,000; furniture, books, portraits, pictures, and health aids; food to last 1 year; 2 bridles and 2 saddles; 100 chickens, 20 sheep, 10 hogs, 5 cows and calves under 6 months, 2 horses and forage for livestock to last 1 year; personal injury, workers’ compensation and wrongful death recoveries up to $50,000 total; college savings plan interest; Deposits made into an Individual Development Account; guns for household use up to $2,000; anniversary and wedding rings up to $3,000; household and kitchen furniture; personal computer and related equipment; federal earned income tax credit.
- Prepaid funeral benefits.
- War bond payroll savings accounts.
- 75% of wages earned within 90 days prior to filing bankruptcy. Judge may approve more if you can show hardship.
- Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).
- IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025.
- Disabled veterans.
- Police officers.
- Law enforcement employees.
- County employees.
- Tax exempt benefits.
- ERISA-qualified benefits.
- Public employees.
- Crime victims’ compensation.
- Federal earned income tax credit.
- Unemployment compensation.
- Public assistance and Social Security.
- Workers’ compensation.
Tools of Trade
- Tools, books, apparatus of trade, and implements to farm homestead, up to $10,000 total.
Alimony and Child Support
- Alimony and child support.
- Annuity benefits and cash value.
- Assessment or mutual benefits.
- Limited stock insurance benefits.
- Fraternal benefit society benefits.
- Life,health, accident, and mutual benefit insurance policy cash value or proceeds if the policy does not prohibit it being used to pay creditors.
- Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
- Funeral benefits if pre-paid and placed in trust.
- Beneficiary’s interest in a statutory support trust.
- Liquor license.
- Business partnership property.
Want to know if you can include Student Loans in Bankruptcy or Medical Bills in Bankruptcy? Check out our Bankruptcy FAQ’s section.
Filing Bankruptcy Alone vs. Filing With An Attorney
Current bankruptcy laws do not require individuals to hire a lawyer to declare bankruptcy relief. Individuals are permitted to represent him or herself as a pro se debtor. You will simply contact the local bankruptcy court and obtain all forms and requirements directly through them. Going it alone is not for the faint of heart.
Filing Bankruptcy without an Attorney
A basic Chapter 7 Bankruptcy that doesn’t have a lot of debtors or assets may be easy to manage on your own.
A basic bankruptcy that doesn’t involve an attorney might look like:.
- Your income is below the state median;
- You have no property;
- Your debts will be considered dis-chargeable.
Working With An Attorney
Most of the time, it is usually in one’s best interest to work with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy lawyer is there to represent you and not the creditors.
An attorney is also accustomed with exemption laws. In addition, they can come up with creative strategies to keep your assets through practical repayment strategies that are fair to everyone involved.
While you may have the fight and ability to manage a Bankruptcy on your own, it tends to make things a lot easier on an already stressful situation, especially when there is so much at stake.
What Does Bankruptcy Include?
Once you file for bankruptcy in OK, the courts put in place an order called an Automatic Stay. This order will stop debt collection calls, wage garnishments, and additional claims. Keep in mind that payments regarding child support and criminal cases will still need to be made during this time.
In any event, Bankruptcy will be able to include:
- credit card debt
- protection from eviction
- avoidance of foreclosure
- utility bills
- medical expenses
Again, unless you are filing a complex Chapter 13 case, you will lose all assets associated with a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. You will, however, be able to prevent any and all collections from occurring as long as they were incurred before the date of filing and discharge.
Final Thoughts And Considerations On Filing For Bankruptcy In Oklahoma
As you can see, there a lot of information associated with successfully filing for bankruptcy and then exiting it unscathed or satisfied. Only a licensed bankruptcy attorney can guide you through this arduous process, particularly when it comes to complex cases. Be sure to hire someone you respect and trust.
Bankruptcy Courts In OklahomaUnited States Post Office and Courthouse
111 West Fourth Street
Oklahoma Eastern Bankruptcy Court
Old Post Office Building
215 Dean A. McGee Avenue
Oklahoma City,OK 73102
Oklahoma Western Bankruptcy Court
Additional Oklahoma Resources
Foreclosure Help Program
Disability SSDI Benefits