If you are giving some thought to filing for bankruptcy, you may be wondering about the bankruptcy means test, and what it means and entails. Essentially, the bankruptcy means test determines whether you will be able to move forward with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if preferable, or if your only option is to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
There are benefits and drawbacks associated with both types of bankruptcy filings, but determining which bankruptcy process to follow is an important first step in regaining control over your finances.
What the bankruptcy means test involves
If you undergo a bankruptcy means test, the first step involves determining whether your household income over the last six months falls below the median income in place in Mississippi. If you have lost or taken on a new job within the last six months, you can expect that the income changes will factor in when determining whether you can proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income falls below the median threshold in place in Mississippi, you automatically pass the test and can move on with your Chapter 7 filing.
If you do not pass the means test during the first step, the second step involves gathering documentation regarding all expenses you had in the last six months. Once you take into account expenditures for food, rent, medical bills and so on, any money left over is disposable income that you should reasonably be able to put toward your debt. If your amount of disposable income is below a particular level, you may still be able to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you really want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but you do not pass the means test, you may wait six months and then try again. If you cannot wait another six months to file, your best bet may be to proceed with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy in Mississippi is typically a difficult decision with plenty of forethought. However, filing bankruptcy can also be a financial silver lining to much of the stress and gloom that may have permeated the filing person’s life.
As explained by the Mississippi Bar, two main options Mississippi residents have when deciding to file for bankruptcy are the Chapter 7 and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. The former is when the person agrees to liquidate assets to help pay the debts while the latter involves a payment plan to pay off the debts, usually at a lower amount.
Chapter 13 benefits
One benefit of a Chapter 13 that is not available under Chapter 7 is that if the filing debtor had a cosigner on any of the debt, that cosigner may be able to receive protection under the Chapter 13 filing. In addition, gaining credit back may be easier in some instances because the creditor who sees the Chapter 13 filing on the debtor’s credit report will understand that the debtor paid more of the debt back than if there was a Chapter 7 filing.
Chapter 13 eligibility factors
To be eligible for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, the filing person must have less than a quarter of a million dollars in unsecured debt. Unsecured debt includes that derived from credit card use and medical bills.
There must also be less than three-quarters of a million owed on the secured debt. Secured debt includes such loans as a home mortgage and an auto loan.
The filing debtor must have a reasonably steady income that indicates he or she can likely pay at least part of the debts in a three-to-five-year period. If the debtor has no income, he or she will likely not be able to successfully file for a Chapter 13.
Essentially, the filing person will propose a payment plan that uses his or her disposable income each month to pay creditors. As noted, the duration of the payment plan is typically between three and five years. Disposable income includes that which remains after the debtor satisfies basic living requirements, such as food, housing and other necessary bills.
On the down side, Chapter 13 has a higher failure rate because sometimes the debtor finds he or she is unable to fulfill the payment plan.