At the office of Perry O’Brian, we bring more than 36 years of bankruptcy experience to people throughout the northern district of Maine. Our objective is to simplify the process as much as possible to minimize stress and anxiety. Because of our extensive experience and knowledge, we can move you quickly through the process so that you can put the past behind you and rebuild your life.
Our Bankruptcy Practice
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, you are entitled to permanently rid yourself of certain debts in exchange for the sale of nonexempt property. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are referred to as “no-asset” cases, which means that debtors do not lose property by filing for bankruptcy. We let you know what property you could lose in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and what can be done to protect your assets.
Chapter 7 only allows you to discharge unsecured obligations such as medical bills, personal loans, or credit card debts. At the end of your bankruptcy case, you still owe certain debts, such as most taxes and student loans. We carefully review your debts and let you know which bills you cannot discharge.
With respect to secured debts such as home loans and car loans, you can reaffirm the debt (sign an agreement to keep paying for the property), surrender the property to the creditor, or in certain cases, redeem the property (pay the creditor in one lump sum the value of the property). However, to reaffirm home loans and car loans, you do have to establish that you can afford the monthly payments.
Under the 2005 revisions to the federal bankruptcy laws, you must now qualify to file under Chapter 7 by submitting to a “means test.” This requires you to demonstrate to the bankruptcy court that your income is below the state median income given your household size. We look at your gross income for the six-month time period before the month of filing from all sources (except Social Security) to see if you qualify for Chapter 7.
If your income is above the state median income for this period, we file out a long means test form to see if you can still qualify for Chapter 7. Some above-median debtors who have the right mix of deductions can still file for Chapter 7. In coming up with a means test, Congress intended to force some higher-income debtors into filing Chapter 13 bankruptcies and repaying some of their unsecured debts.
When you hire us to assist you with a bankruptcy petition, we walk you through the means test to determine eligibility for Chapter 7. If you qualify, we carefully explain what debts can and cannot be discharged, as well as what property you can keep, so that you know what to expect before you file. Then, we prepare and submit all necessary documentation and appear on your behalf at all meetings or hearings during the process.
Contact the Law Office of Perry O’Brian
For a private meeting with an experienced Bangor bankruptcy lawyer, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 207-942-4697 or toll-free at 877-900-9857. We work with you to set up an installment payment plan, if necessary.