As someone who has decided to file for bankruptcy, you may have done so in an attempt to stop the seemingly constant onslaught of phone calls from debt collectors. Such calls can prove, at best, a nuisance, and you may also have concerns about how it looks to have debt collectors calling you up at your place of business.
By filing for bankruptcy, though, you can put a stop to these persistent phone calls, and this happens because of something called “automatic stay.” Just what is automatic stay? Once you initiate bankruptcy proceedings, the automatic stay takes effect, and your creditors can no longer attempt to collect on certain debts during this timeframe. Just what can bankruptcy’s automatic stay protect you against, in addition to creditor harassment?
Typically, filing for bankruptcy will, at least temporarily, put a stop to a foreclosure against your house. If you do not stay current on your mortgage payments, though, your creditor may file to have the automatic stay removed, so you still need to keep up with your payments during this time.
If you are renting your home and your landlord filed to have you evicted, but he or she is not yet in possession of the eviction judgment from the housing court, bankruptcy’s automatic stay should stop the eviction process. As is the case with mortgage payments, though, your landlord may still be able to evict you if you fail to keep up with your rent.
If you are experiencing one of your creditors taking some of your wages at work, bankruptcy’s automatic stay can also put a stop to the garnishment.
While these are some of the things the automatic stay can protect you against, it is important to note that there are certain debts, such as child support obligations and evictions with judgments, that it typically will not cover.
Mississippi residents who are having trouble paying off debts might look to the bankruptcy system for relief. For most individual filers, there are two options, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. There is a limit on how much debt a filer can have if they want to file bankruptcy under Chapter 13. Specifically, the filer cannot have more than $1,184,200 in secured debts or more than $394,725 in unsecured debts.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is sometimes called wage earner’s bankruptcy, involves the filer paying down debts for a period of between three and five years, pursuant to the terms of a repayment plan approved by the bankruptcy court. There is no maximum income limit for people filing Chapter 13, and it does not matter where the filer’s income comes from. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good solution for people who have regular income. Typically, the filer is allowed to keep important assets like a car or house.
Prior to filing, the debtor must go through credit counseling. After the bankruptcy petition and other required documents are filed, the bankruptcy trustee will work with the debtor to create a repayment plan. It is not up to the debtor how long the repayment plan will last. Rather, the period of repayment is determined based on the filer’s level of income.
Those who are considering bankruptcy as a means to relieve financial stress and reduce or eliminate debts might want to speak with a lawyer. Legal counsel with experience practicing bankruptcy law might help a client file the petition to begin the process. If necessary, the lawyer could fight for the client’s best interests during official proceedings.
Many working people living in Mississippi struggle with their finances. Living paycheck to paycheck, they find it difficult to get ahead of crippling debt. If an emergency strikes, such as a family illness or job loss, they may have difficulty affording food, utilities and shelter.
Some employers are aware of the situation and are working to offer financial planning benefits to their workers. These companies have contracted with third-party companies to provide benefits such as financial counseling, student loan repayment options, emergency loans and medical bill advocacy.
In many cases, these services offer real help. If financial counselors determine that a loan is a good idea, they can provide education to employees about the risks and benefits of borrowing. In some cases, these programs also offer paycheck deduction options that can help ensure on-time repayment and lower the risk of credit damage and late repayments.
However, there are limits to how effective financial assistance programs can be. While they may represent a solid alternative to bankruptcy, there are situations in which a person’s debt is simply out of control. Unless the employee receives a significant wage increase or comes into a large amount of cash, he or she is unlikely to ever complete paying off the debt.
In such cases, bankruptcy might be a good option. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 offer ways for financially insolvent individuals to resolve their debts and move forward in reestablishing their finances. Someone considering bankruptcy might benefit from consulting with an experienced attorney who could explain various debt relief options.
Debtors in Mississippi who have significant debt and who have a lower income or no income may benefit from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, they should carefully consider their financial situation and the impact that bankruptcy will have on their credit before filing.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the most frequently filed bankruptcy, is a liquidation bankruptcy as it uses the proceeds from the sale of secured property, such as a vehicle or home, that exceeds the exemption threshold to pay back creditors. Filing and being discharged from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a process that can take only three to six months; in comparison, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will take three to five years to be completed.
Debtors who are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be aware that the bankruptcy will remain on their credit report for as long as a decade from the time they file. Filing for bankruptcy will also lower their credit score; however, they may find that the negative effect on the credit score will lessen as time goes on.
A means test has to be conducted in order for debtors to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debtors will use this test to determine if their income is low enough for them to file. Their household income will have to be less than their state’s median income for a household of an equal size. The means test will deduct certain monthly expenses, like a vehicle or mortgage payments, from any current monthly income to determine the disposable income.
A bankruptcy attorney may assist clients with financial challenges and determining if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best option to resolve their financial situation. Assistance may be provided for completing the means test and filing the necessary legal paperwork to begin the bankruptcy process.
Data published by credit reporting agency Equifax indicates that people in Mississippi and across the country owe $13.5 trillion in total consumer debt. Of that debt, more than $1 trillion is owed by people between the ages of 18 and 29. This debt is primarily made up of student loans, but it also includes credit card debt, mortgage debt, auto loans and other types of consumer debt. The last time people in this demographic owed over $1 trillion was just before the 2008 financial crisis during the fourth quarter of 2007.
The data was gathered and put out by Equifax and the Fed Consumer Credit Panel of New York. People between the ages of 30 and 39 owe $2.9 trillion. The demographic owing the most in consumer debt is people between 40 and 49, who owe a total of $3.4 trillion. Those between the ages of 50 and 59 are not far behind, owing $3.2 trillion, according to the data.
People over 70 years of age have roughly the same amount of outstanding debt as young people between 18 and 29 at $1 trillion. People between 60 and 69 owe around $2 trillion. The type of debt affecting the most borrowers is student loan debt, which more than 44 million people carry. The U.S. Secretary of Education has said there is a student loan debt crisis. Some research indicates that 40 percent of those with student loan debt might default by the year 2023.
Individuals who are struggling to pay their debts might want to schedule a consultation with a lawyer. An attorney with experience practicing bankruptcy law may examine the facts of the person’s situation and suggesting options to reduce or eliminate debt. Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay, suspending collections efforts by creditors.