There are many contributing factors that are associated with financial troubles. The most common reasons include unmanageable debt, divorce, serious illness, foreclosure, or losing one’s job.
In fact, the average credit card debt in South Carolina is a whopping $5,371 per person. In addition, foreclosure rates are also as staggering, one out of every 1,409 SC homes is currently in foreclosure.
If you can relate to the scenarios above, then you are more than likely dealing with other personal problems that come with being in debt. The fear of losing your vehicle, home or your income can drain a person mentally & physically. You may have even considered Declaring Bankruptcy .
If you are thinking “Should I File Bankruptcy?” you are surprisingly not alone. Just under a million people file bankruptcy each year in America. Bankruptcy is a tool provided by the US Government to help struggling Americans find relief from substantial debt. You may want to think about bankruptcy relief if it’s best for you.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy offers people the chance to resolve their debt while still working with lenders in a legal capacity. It is started by an individual filing a Petition with their nearest bankruptcy court. The Petition can be filed by an individual or married couples jointly. When the bankruptcy is done, the filer will ‘exit’ and will have a chance for a fresh start on their finances.
During a bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to oversee the particulars of the case. His or her duties differ and depend on whether the individual has filed for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Did you know that South Carolina ranks #43 in the nation for bankruptcy filings. In 2017 the number of personal bankruptcies was approximately 153 out of every 100,000 residents.
What Is The Difference Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13?
People in South Carolina, who claim bankruptcy, can choose to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. What is the difference? Take a look at the descriptions below for more information:
The trustee of the bankruptcy will liquidate the assets, such as cars, homes, and other property of value in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding, In exchange for dissolving all past due debts.
Debtors that were listed on the bankruptcy filing will be repaid with the proceeds collected during liquidation
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan is reserved for people who have the means to pay some of their debts through a restructuring. You will be allowed to keep your valuable assets over a 3- to 5-year period.
In order to decide which chapter an individual can file, they will have to assess their ability to repay using 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 takes into account your:
- income and expenses
- household size and composition
- debt-to-income ratio
For those who do not qualify for a Chapter 7 filing, they will be able to file for Chapter 13, as described above.
What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?
Specific states have certain exclusions that are enacted by congress as federal bankruptcy exemptions for filers. 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 Code of Laws of South Carolina.
- Real property or co-op, up to $59,100 for single owner; up to $118,200 for multiple owners.
- Motor vehicle up to $5,900; clothing, household goods, furnishings, appliances, books, musical instruments, animals and crops up to $4,725 total; jewelry up to $1,175; health aids; personal injury and wrongful death recoveries for person you depended on for support.
- Burial plot up to $59,100 (you can use this in place of the homestead exemption).
- Cash and other liquid assets up to $5,900, instead of homestead and burial plot.
- College investment program trust fund.
- 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.
- Public employees.
- Judges and solicitors.
- General assembly members
- Police officers.
- ERISA-qualified benefits
- Roth IRAs and IRAs
- Unemployment compensation; Social Security; veterans’ benefits; local public assistance; crime victims’ compensation.
- Workers’ compensation.
- General relief; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
Tools of Trade
- Tools, books, and implements of trade up to $1,775.
Alimony and Child Support
- Alimony and child support.
- Unmatured life insurance contract (but a credit insurance policy is not exempt); disability or illness benefits; life insurance proceeds from a policy for a person you depended upon which is needed for support; life insurance dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value from a policy for a person you depended upon up to $4,725.
- Fraternal benefit society benefits.
- Accident and disability benefits; Group life insurance proceeds’ cash value not to exceed a particular amount (check statute); Life insurance proceeds for a spouse or child if purchased 2 years before filing for bankruptcy.
- Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
- Business partnership property.
- Up to $5,900 for any property from unused exemption amounts.
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 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. 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 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 lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney is there to represent you and not the 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 SC, 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 South Carolina
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 South CarolinaDonald S. Russell Federal Courthouse
201 Magnolia Street
South Carolina Bankruptcy Court
J. Bratton Davis United States Courthouse
1100 Laurel Street
South Carolina Bankruptcy Court
King and Queen Street Building
145 King Street
South Carolina Bankruptcy Court
Additional South Carolina Resources
Foreclosure Help Program
Disability SSDI Benefits