Why Hire an Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer in Summit & Stark County?

Have you felt pinched by financial hardships and need relief?

We’ve all experienced some level of hard times over the years. In the past, we’ve limited our recovery forms to what we already knew. Yet, sometimes there is a better way to experience relief.

Filing for bankruptcy relief might be a solution. First, you’ll want to know what Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can provide. You’ll also want to understand which direction is right for you.

Seeking an Ohio bankruptcy attorney is simple. Knowing the right questions to ask will strengthen your position. Akron Bankruptcy Attorney, Mary Lou Burns, is here to help prepare you for your next steps.

If you’re facing financial hardship, the information below can help bring relief. You’ll soon know why hiring an Ohio bankruptcy lawyer in Summit County or Stark County is a smart decision. You will also gain knowledge that helps you make the right choice for your circumstances.

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13

Some people find two bankruptcy types a bit intimidating. However, you can end your anxiety by learning how to decide between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

If you apply for Chapter 7 bankruptcy first and you qualify, then Chapter 13 might not be necessary. If you don’t qualify for chapter 7, you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There are other factors that an attorney can help you understand.

In the meantime, the below information clarifies what each provides and its qualifications.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Ohio

Chapter 7 is a common form of bankruptcy that discharges your debt. That means you don’t have to pay back any creditors, except for non-dischargeable debt. The debts most often covered by Chapter 7 include:

  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Payday loans
  • Personal loans
  • Business debts
  • Utility bills
  • Non-fraudulent bounced checks
  • Deficient balances on vehicle repossessions
  • Rental agreements and past due rent
  • Judgments on debt
  • Automobile accident claims
  • Social security overpayments
  • Older income taxes

The common non-dischargeable debt includes:

  • Student Loans (limited exceptions)
  • Income taxes less than 3-years-old
  • Alimony and child support
  • Court fines and criminal restitution
  • Damage and personal injury resulting from DUI
  • Debts obtained by fraud

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Ohio Exemptions

Hypothetically, there is a possibility of loss of real property with Chapter 7. Realistically speaking, this rarely happens due to exemptions. Once qualified, the exemption protects a certain level of equity in your property.

Ohio provides an exemption of $145,425 of equity to protect an individual’s property.

In other words, if your equity is lower than the exemption, then your home won’t be liquidated.

A second qualifying consideration is the Ohio Means Test. It compares your income to the median income in the state. To calculate the number, take your last six months of income and double it.

If your total exceeds the median income for your household size, it requires additional testing. The additional testing is more involved and can be best explained by an attorney. Should you not qualify, you can apply for Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Ohio

With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you pay back a percentage of your debt. The remainder is discharged through the bankruptcy process. The amount you pay is dependent on several factors.

You make a monthly payment to a trustee who distributes the monies to your creditors. This lasts for 3-5 years according to circumstances. The plan you and your attorney craft determine your monthly payment amount.

You file the plan with the court and it is subject to approval. Once confirmed, you and your creditors must follow the plan. The entire process is overseen by the court and your attorney.

There are five qualifiers to file Chapter 13:

1. Your Income Is Too High to Qualify for Chapter 7

The Chapter 13 Means Test calculation considers two numbers. These are your required plan payment and the percentage of debt you must pay back.
When your annual income exceeds the median income for your household size, you’re required to be in the Chapter 13 plan for five years.

2. You Can Lose Property in Chapter 7 Due to Unprotected Equity

This allows you to keep your property, even if you would have lost it under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In that case, you still pay the trustee to distribute funds to the creditors. The amount is the same as what they would’ve received under Chapter 7.

The only property you might have to turn over in Chapter 13 is a tax refund or an inheritance or personal injury award..

3. You Are Behind in Your Mortgage and Want to Keep the Property

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to get caught up with your mortgage. This also prevents the mortgage company from selling the property at a sheriff’s sale. There would be a monthly payment to the trustee.

The monthly plan payment includes paying the mortgage arrearages, plus trustee and attorney fees. Plus, you’d resume making your regular monthly mortgage payments. Depending on your county regulations, your regular mortgage fees may be rolled into your Chapter 13 plan payment.

4. You Previously Filed Chapter 7 Within the Past Eight Years

You may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within four years from the date that the prior Chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed. You would pay part of your debt under the Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The remaining debt would be discharged in the bankruptcy.

5. You Have Two Mortgages on Your Home and the First One Exceeds Your Home’s Value

A special action is filed when your first mortgage is greater than the value of your property. This will wipe out the second mortgage in the Chapter 13 filing.

Other Considerations

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may include other benefits that might apply to your circumstances. For instance, you may be able to reduce the value of your vehicle to fair market value in the plan and substantially reduce the interest rate. Talk to Canton bankruptcy lawyer, Mary Lou Burns to find out more Chapter 13 bankruptcy benefits that may apply to you.

Reasons to Hire an Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer in Summit & Stark County

The most notable reason to hire an Ohio bankruptcy attorney in Summit and Stark County is to have a person on your side. It’s important to team with not just any person, but one with daily experience in the Akron and Canton courts.

Having a person who knows collection agency tactics will give you peace of mind. Your attorney can handle the logistics of your bankruptcy paperwork. Your attorney can also guide you through the credit reporting bureaucracy.

Expertise

We’ve all heard the terrible numbers of what happens to a person that represents themselves in court. A bankruptcy court is a unique mechanism with a lot of moving parts. It requires special expertise to keep the creditors at bay.

A full understanding of Ohio bankruptcy laws is also necessary to defend your position. You can bet the creditor will have an excellent attorney working for them. An Akron bankruptcy attorney knows the federal and local bankruptcy laws. They know what property is exempt from bankruptcy. They also know the details of filing timeframes, courtroom procedure, court etiquette, and current laws.

Selection Guidance

Having a trusted lawyer on your side can help determine if bankruptcy is right for you. The attorney can also guide you through the process and the required fiscal tests.

To prepare, an experienced Ohio bankruptcy lawyer will review your finances. They will explain your options. They’ll also give you extra non-bankruptcy options for which you might qualify.

Eliminate All Eligible Debt

The best bankruptcy lawyer will know which debts can be discharged and which bankruptcy chapter to activate.This will save you a great deal of money and guarantee you have no lingering debt after bankruptcy. For instance, a bankruptcy attorney in Akron, Ohio will know which debt is past the statute of limitations for collection and eliminate it.

Save Time

An Ohio bankruptcy attorney can save you time with shortcuts. They know the system well and can get things done quickly. They’ll also save you time from conducting a lot of research, which you’d have to do if you represent yourself.

They will already be up-to-speed with the latest bankruptcy information and changes in the law.

Disclosure Advice

The filing process requires pages of precise documentation. The details can make a difference in your positive outcome. Since the filing process is both crucial and timely, your Canton bankruptcy attorney can help you complete the paperwork.

Your lawyer will also provide legal advice on your disclosed assets, income, and expenses. Your decision-making will be based on their knowledge and experience.

Harassment Relief

Once you hire a bankruptcy lawyer and officially file your paperwork, a “stay” will be granted. This stops the creditors from calling you. You’ll be able to inform your creditors or debt collectors to contact your lawyer instead.

Your Akron bankruptcy lawyer will be able to run interference for you. This will be the first step in your relief.

Other relief comes in knowing your attorney will cover for your mistakes and prepare you for court. Your lawyer will let you know what will happen during each step of the process. Your confidence will grow knowing your attorney knows every step along the path to recovery.

They will also sit by you in a creditor meeting and see to your best outcome.

Risks of Filing without an Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer

One mistake could destroy your future. For instance, a judge could throw out your case based on an incomplete or incorrect filing. This could block you from a second filing or release your protection from creditors.

When it comes to property you are trying to protect, an incorrect listing of assets could lead to you losing your possessions. Or, you might no longer be able to discharge certain debts.

Worse yet, committing fraud with your bankruptcy paperwork can land you in jail. Everything must be disclosed to the judge and trustee, not hidden. For instance, you cannot sign over an asset as a gift to a friend or relative with plans of them returning the gift to you at a later date.

An experienced Akron bankruptcy attorney knows how to deal with the trustee. They also know how to talk to your creditors. If you forgo an attorney, you’d be responsible for both forms of communication.

Be careful about putting yourself in an awkward position. You don’t want your communication skills to negatively impact your bankruptcy discharge. Clear and appropriate communication can make a difference in you keeping thousands of dollars.

Also, how will you respond if a creditor files a lawsuit or contests your discharge of debt? An Ohio bankruptcy lawyer knows exactly what to do in that scenario to keep your money safe.

Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions

State bankruptcy processes differ from federal ones. Some states attempt to protect their people with more substantial forms of relief. In some states, the individual has a choice to select the federal or the state process.

When filing for bankruptcy, if you live in Ohio, you must use the Ohio bankruptcy exemptions. The good news is that Ohio has an extensive list of exemptions to help with your relief.

This does not stop you from using federal non-bankruptcy exemptions. These exemptions protect qualifying property like military retirement benefits. The below list is not an exhaustive list of exemptions, but some of the more common ones.

How Exemptions Work

Steering through the exemption list can be difficult. This is due in part to the legal language used when describing the exemptions. However, it is important to know those protections are for your benefit.

Some find it hard to look for the right combination of exemptions while their property is at risk. Instead of focusing on the fear of the process, understand that the exemptions help you. The exemptions do not hurt your goals in any way.

An experienced Canton bankruptcy attorney will explain the process and position you for success.

Think of it as a tax exemption. The more legitimate exemptions you find, the more money you get to keep. The exemption laws protect your property from creditors. this allows you to keep more of what is yours.

Once a trustee is appointed to your case, they are empowered to sell your non-exempt assets to pay down your creditors. They are not able to sell your exempt property. This can include IRAs, burial plots, etc.

The process has you turn your property over to the temporary care of the bankruptcy court. This collection of your property is referred to as your bankruptcy estate. Once done, the majority of your debt is forgiven. This includes unsecured debts like credit cards.

If the sum of your bankruptcy estate is exempt, all your debt might be discharged without having to sell off any of your assets. But exemptions can’t protect your assets if you don’t claim the exemption. This is another reason to hire an Ohio bankruptcy lawyer.

Each exemption can either protect the full value of the asset in question or up to a certain dollar amount. The specifics behind each exemption will help explain what is necessary to qualify for its coverage.

Homestead Exemption

Ohio’s homestead exemption protects a certain amount of equity in your primary home. You can protect up to $145,425 of real property that is used as your residence. Keep in mind that the exemption is attached to the amount of equity, not the market value of the residence.

If your house is valued at $425,000 and you owe $475,000, then you have zero dollars of equity and, thus, you don’t have to worry about losing your home. However, if you owe $325,000 on the house, then you have $100,000 of equity, all of which is protected because it is less than the $145,425 homestead exemption. This means the Ohio bankruptcy trustee can find no value in selling the house to pay creditors.

Real estate purchased as an investment does not have this protection. Nor does a second residence.

Wild Card Exemption

The wildcard exemption allows you to pick an asset to protect. You can claim the exemption for any single piece of personal property. This exemption is valued up to $1,325 for an individual filer.

Most people use this to keep something that is personal or sentimental from seizure and sale. Only consider this exemption after you’ve claimed all other exemptions.

Personal Property Exemption

There are separate exemptions that cover miscellaneous items like vehicles, household goods, jewelry and health care aids. The exemption has qualifying rules and a capped ceiling amount.

Married couples filing together can double their personal property exemptions.

In the case of a motor vehicle, Ohio’s exemption amount is $4,000. If your car’s Blue Book value is $9,000 and you owe $7,000, then you have $2,000 of equity that is exempt. This means the trustee will not be able to liquidate the car to pay creditors.

Miscellaneous Property Exemptions

Here is a quick list of other personal property items. The allotted exemption amount is also listed.

  • Cash on hand not to exceed $500
  • Household goods totaling up to $13,400 but not exceeding $625 per item (furnishings, appliances)
  • Jewelry up to $1,700
  • Single burial plot
  • Society death benefits up to $5,000
  • Awarded funds for personal injuries up to $25,175

You’ll want to get clarification on qualifying information for each of the above.

Pension Exemption

There is also an exemption covering pensions and retirement plans.

Included are 403Bs and 401Ks, IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEPs, Keoghs, and ERISAs. Also covered are public employee retirement benefits. In each case, you’ll need to verify the exemption amount based on qualifying factors.

Any pension covered under federal tax exemptions is usually exempt under the Ohio bankruptcy laws.

Wage Exemption

There is a minimum of 75% of disposable weekly earnings.

An Ohio bankruptcy attorney in Akron or Canton can help you with this calculation based on your actual wages.

Benefit Exemptions

The following exemptions are available to cover public benefits.

  • Worker’s compensation
  • Child tax credit
  • Earned income credit
  • Crime victim benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation credit
  • Disability assistance
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Public assistance

Insurance

There are several types of insurances that can be protected.

  • Group life insurance policies
  • Fraternal society benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Life insurance proceeds for your spouse
  • Other life insurance policies that prohibit payment to creditors

Alimony and Child Support

Child support and alimony (or maintenance) are considered exempt in Ohio. The only caveat is that of reason. The payments must be reasonably necessary for the ongoing support of the filer’s dependents.

Tools of the Trade

You can protect up to $2,550 of books and tools of your trade, business, or occupation. Business partnership property can also be protected.

Hiring an Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer

A Canton bankruptcy lawyer will help you navigate the many exemptions. They know which ones will protect your property. The attorney can also customize the right combination of exemptions. This grouping of exemptions will save you the greatest amount of money.

Your attorney will educate you on the laws limiting and regulating bankruptcy exemptions. The attorney will also be aware of any revised codes that are beneficial to you. This will save you lots of time researching the latest laws.

Contact Akron Bankruptcy Lawyer

Relief is around the corner. The easiest way to bankruptcy relief is hiring an Ohio bankruptcy lawyer. They know how to take you through the decision-making process. They also guide you through filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 based on your qualifications.

Simplify your life today. Contact Canton bankruptcy lawyer, Mary Lou Burns, and take advantage of our free consultation. This meeting will educate you on the exemptions most beneficial to you.

You will also be able to discuss a practical strategy. This will include what is important to you and your goals. Ohio bankruptcy lawyer, Mary Lou Burns, will be able to consider the next steps that are best suited for your circumstances.

Summit County Areas Attorney Mary Lou Burns Serves

  • Akron
  • Bath
  • Barberton
  • Boston Heights
  • Clinton
  • Copley
  • Cuyahoga Falls
  • Fairlawn
  • Green
  • Hudson
  • Lakemore
  • Macedonia
  • Mogadore
  • Montrose-Ghent CDP
  • Munroe Falls
  • New Franklin
  • Northfield
  • Norton
  • Peninsula
  • Portage Lakes
  • Reminderville
  • Richfield
  • Sagamore Hills
  • Sawyerwood
  • Silver Lake
  • Stow
  • Tallmadge
  • Twinsburg
  • Twinsburg Heights

Stark County Areas Attorney Mary Lou Burns Serves

  • Alliance
  • Beach City
  • Brewster
  • Canal Fulton
  • Canton
  • East Canton
  • East Sparta
  • Greentown
  • Hartville
  • Hills and Dales
  • Limaville
  • Louisville
  • Magnolia
  • Marlboro
  • Massillon
  • Meyers Lake
  • Minerva
  • Navarre
  • North Canton
  • North Lawrence
  • Perry Heights
  • Richville
  • Robertsville
  • Uniontown
  • Waynesburg
  • Wilmot

Is debt ruining your life?

  • At risk of wage garnishment?
  • Overwhelmed with collection calls?
  • Scared of losing your house or car?
  • Facing a home foreclosure?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. I will help you get your fresh start through bankruptcy.

Fill out the form below to schedule your free consultation.

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