There are many contributing factors that are associated with financial adversity. The most common reasons include overwhelming debt, foreclosure, divorce, serious illness, or sudden unemployment.
In fact, the average credit card debt in Oregon is a whopping $5,200 per person. In addition, foreclosure rates are also as staggering, one out of every 3,180 OR homes is currently in foreclosure.
If you have found yourself in similar situations, then you are more than likely facing other personal problems that come with dealing with debt. The fear of losing your vehicle, home or your income can drain a person physically. You have probably even considered Filing for Bankruptcy .
If you are thinking “Is Bankruptcy Best For Me?” you are definitely not alone. Around a million people file bankruptcy each year in the United States. Bankruptcy is a means provided by the US Government to help struggling Americans find relief from overwhelming debt. You may want to check your eligibility for bankruptcy if it’s best for you.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy provides people with 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 an individual or married couples jointly. When the bankruptcy is finished, the filer will ‘exit’ with a fresh new start.
During a bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to oversee the deatils of the case. His or her responsibilities will vary and depend on whether the individual has filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Did you know that Oregon ranks #19 in the nation for bankruptcy filings. In 2017 the number of personal bankruptcies was approximately 315 out of every 100,000 residents.
What Is The Difference Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13?
People in Oregon, who claim bankruptcy, will elect to file under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Want to know 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 keep your valuable assets over a 3- to 5-year period.
In order to determine which chapter a person will file, he or she will have to assess their ability to repay under the Bankruptcy Means Test.
What Is A Bankruptcy Means Test?
The objective 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.
- Real property you occupy or intend to occupy to $40,000 ($50,000 if joint owners). Property may not exceed 1 block in a city or town, or 160 acres elsewhere. Sale proceeds exempt 1 year if plan to purchase another home. Prepaid rent and security deposit for renter’s dwelling.
- A soldier or sailor’s property during a time of war.
- Motor vehicle to $3,000; clothing, jewelry, personal items to $1,800 total; household items, furniture, utensils, TVs and radios to $3,000 total (no doubling); health aids; books, pictures & musical instruments to $600 total; food & fuel to last 60 days if debtor is householder; domestic animals & poultry with food to last 60 days to $1,000 (no doubling); lost earnings payments for debtor or someone debtor depended upon needed for support; personal injury recoveries to $10,000.
- Exempt funds deposited into a bank account up to $7,500.
- Pistol; rifle or shotgun if owned by a person over the age of 16, up to $1,000.
- Burial plot.
- Building materials that were to be used for the construction of an improvement.
- Higher education savings accounts up to $7,500.
- The greater of the following: $170 per week or a minimum of 75% of disposable wages. Judge may approve more for low-income debtor.
- Wages withheld in a state employee’s bond saving account.
- 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.
- ERISA-qualified benefits and payments up to $7,500 including IRAs and SEPs.
- Public officers and employees pension payments up to $7,500.
- Crime victims’ compensation.
- Federal earned income tax credit.
- Proceeds of veterans’ loans and veterans’ benefits.
- Old-age assistance up to $7,500.
- Vocational rehabilitation up to $7,500.
- Medical assistance up to $7,500.
- Civil and disaster relief up to $7,500.
- General assistance up to $7,500.
- Injured inmates benefits up to $7,500.
- Aid to blind and disabled up to $7,500.
- Workers’ compensation up to $7,500.
- Unemployment compensation up to $7,500.
Tools of Trade
- Tools or a library of up to $6,000 total.
Alimony and Child Support
- Alimony and child support needed to support.
- Life insurance proceeds or cash value if you are not the insured.
- Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
- Annuity contract benefits up to $500 per month.
- Health or disability insurance proceeds.
- Fraternal benefit society benefits up to $7,500.
- Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts
- Funds or distributions from a health savings or medical savings account are exempt.
- Liquor licenses.
- Partnership property.
- $400 of any personal property that is not already covered under any other exemption.
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 filers to hire a lawyer to declare bankruptcy relief. People 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. Filing alone is not an easy task.
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 may not require 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
Generally speaking, it is usually in one’s best interest to work with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney is there to represent you and not in the interest of creditors.
An attorney is also keenly familiar with exemption laws. Plus, 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 OR, 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 Oregon
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 OregonCongress Center
1001 Southwest Fifth Avenue
Oregon Bankruptcy Court
Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse
405 East Eighth Avenue
Oregon Bankruptcy Court
Additional Oregon Resources
Foreclosure Help Program
Disability SSDI Benefits