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Bowling Green, OH Bankruptcy Guide

Filing Bankruptcy In Bowling Green, OH - How it Works

If you've decided to file for bankruptcy, the following ten steps will guide you from the beginning to the end of the process:

  1. Learn the Basics of Bankruptcy
  2. Find Out If You Qualify for Bankruptcy
  3. Complete a Credit Counseling Class
  4. Fill Out Bankruptcy Paperwork
  5. File Your Petition in Bankruptcy Court
  6. Attend a Creditors Meeting (341 Hearing)
  7. File Motions, Objections, or Responses
  8. Complete a “Personal Financial Management” Class
  9. Get Your Debts Discharged
  10. Get on With Your Life

Step 1. Learn the Basics of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding created to give people a fresh start after financial disasters. If you've explored your alternatives and can't see a way out from under your debt, bankruptcy may be the right solution for you. 

There are two main types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 can wipe out most of your debts in a matter of months in exchange for giving up all of your property that the bankruptcy law does not protect. (Protected property is called your “exempt” property.)

Chapter 13 takes three to five years. During that time, you repay some or all of your debts under a payment plan approved by the bankruptcy court. It’s often used by people who are behind on mortgage payments and want to use Chapter 13 to catch up. Most folks who file for bankruptcy prefer to file for Chapter 7 if they qualify, because you can get out from under lots of debt in a matter of a few months.

To learn more, see How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works and How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works.

Step 2. Find Out If You Qualify for Bankruptcy

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must show that you don’t have enough income to repay your creditors a reasonable amount. You can do this by:

  • proving that your income is below the Ohio median income for your household size, or
  • comparing your income to expenses under a complex formula called the bankruptcy means test to show that you can’t pay.

If your income is above the median income for your state and family size and the means test shows you have enough disposable income to make reasonable payments to your creditors, you may still qualify to file under Chapter 13. To qualify for chapter 13, your debt must be under the limit set by the bankruptcy code and you must be current on your tax filings for the last four years.

To take the means test, you can use our free means test calculator.

Step 3. Complete a Credit Counseling Class

Sometime during the six months before you file for bankruptcy, you must complete a mandatory credit counseling session with a government approved credit counseling agency. (If you are filing with your spouse, you must each complete a class.) You can satisfy this requirement in-person, over the phone, or online. It will take about 90 minutes and may cost as little as $0 or as much as $100, depending on your ability to pay. After you take the class, you’ll receive a certificate that you must file with your bankruptcy petition.

Step 4. Fill Out Bankruptcy Paperwork

Filing for bankruptcy requires you to fill in dozens of pages of forms detailing your current debts, assets, income, and expenses, as well as your intentions regarding loans that are secured by collateral, such as a mortgage or vehicle loans.

To get ready, you’ll want to be sure you have complete information about:

  • your creditors, including the type of debt and how much you owe
  • your income, including sources, amount, and frequency
  • your property, including its current value and whether it is classified as exempt under the bankruptcy code, and
  • your living expenses, including type, amount, and frequency.

Married folks: You’ll also need this information for your spouse, even if you plan to file alone.

If you’re the diligent, organized type, you can prepare your own bankruptcy forms, but this is one place where you will probably appreciate professional help or at least the guidance of a good step-by-step instruction manual for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

To find the forms for your local court, see our bankruptcy forms page for Bowling Green, Ohio.

Step 5. File Your Petition in Bankruptcy Court

After you’ve got your petition and supporting paperwork in order, you must file it in the correct Ohio district court. You can visit our bankruptcy court page for Bowling Green, Ohio to find your local court and other important information, like local rules and requirements that you might have to meet when you file.

When you file your petition, you must pay the filing fee by cash or money order, unless you apply for a fee waiver or payment in installments.

Step 6. Attend a Creditors Meeting (341 Hearing)

Several weeks after you file for bankruptcy, you will be required to attend a 341 hearing, which is also called a "creditors meeting." The bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will lead the meeting and may ask you questions about the information you've provided on your bankruptcy forms. Creditors may also show up at the hearing to ask you questions.

The bankruptcy trustee will tell you exactly what to bring to the meeting, but you should be prepared to bring the following:

  • pay stubs
  • tax returns for the past few years
  • bank statements
  • property ownership documents, like deeds and the pink slip for your car, and
  • copies of mortgage documents.

The book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides detailed information about what to expect at a 341 hearing.

Step 7. File Motions, Objections, or Responses

You may never need to worry about this, but there’s a chance that you will want to file additional paperwork after you submit your bankruptcy petition. For example, you may want to file a request (called a motion) to remove creditors’ claims (liens) against your property. Or, if a creditor says that you owe more than you think you do, you may want to file an objection with the court.

Depending on the complexity of the situation, this is another place that you might want the advice and assistance of a bankrupcy lawyer. If you’re handling your own case and you want to learn more about the situations that may arise after you file, you can turn to a detailed guidebook like How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13: Keep Your Property and Repay Your Debts Over Time.

Step 8. Complete a Personal Financial Management Class

No more than 45 days after your creditors meeting, you must complete a debt management course. This is different from the credit counseling class you take before you file. The class costs anywhere from $0 to $75 depending on your ability to pay. If you don’t take the class and submit your certificate of completion on time, the bankruptcy court may dismiss your case.

You must take the class from a court-approved provider. You can find a list of providers here.

Step 9. Get Your Debts Discharged

Whew. After completing the steps to this point and meeting all the requirements of your bankruptcy filing—if you've filed under Chapter 13, this means making all the payments under your agreed upon plan—it's finally time for the court to erase your dischargeable debts.

If you filed for Chapter 7 and your case has been dismissed, you may be allowed at this stage to convert to another form of bankruptcy, like Chapter 13.

Step 10. Get on With Your Life

You’ll undoubtedly be eager to get your life back on track after your bankruptcy filing; we hope you can breathe easier and start to rebuild when your bankruptcy is done. Occasionally, things do pop up after the end of a bankruptcy case that you'll need to deal with, from discovering new non-exempt property to dealing with a creditor that tries to collect a debt discharged in your bankruptcy. (Quick tip: Don’t agree to make payments on a discharged debt! The debt collector may be breaking the law. Get advice before you agree to anything.) If questions come up after your case is over, know that you can get answers.

If you’ve been working with a lawyer during your bankruptcy case, you can ask for additional guidance. You can also find information about dealing with post-bankruptcy issues in How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13: Keep Your Property and Repay Your Debts Over Time.


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Bankruptcy as Part of Your COVID-19 Financial Plan

Some people plan for a rainy day. Few are prepared for a monsoon...

You may never have thought about bankruptcy as something you might need....No one wants to file for bankruptcy.

But it if you're one of the millions laid off because the coronavirus recession, you may be facing financial challenges like you've never experienced before.

Bankruptcy might well be part of a sensible financial strategy over the next six months, but it's best to plan for that now, and know what bankruptcy law can and cannot do for you.

Planning for an uncertain future

Its more important than ever, In these uncertain economic times, that you understand what rights you have under bankruptcy law, as you weigh your financial options over the coming months.

Most experts agree, for most people, the timing for bankruptcy is NOT YET, because...

Many people file for bankruptcy to stop creditor harassment or imminent creditor action. However, in this strange year of 2020, 

  • collection efforts have been held back in many cases. and
  • stimulus payments have given people a life raft, and.
  • bankruptcy deals only with past debts, not future debts,
    • most people are facing the prospect of lots of debts still ahead, but debts incurred today have not ripened yet into court judgments and wage garnishments.

Most bankruptcies happening now are about pre-pandemic, past debts, some of which were incurred in the last recession. People already facing wage garnishment and creditor harassment from those against them.

However, all of this is going to change in the next six months, and then bankruptcy might be the right tool for the job.

The problem with the relief programs that have been created thus far, is that they don't do more than squeegee the deaths forward into some future time. The money being deferred is still owed.

When those debts come due, bankruptcy might be and appropriate method of handling them.

Learn about bankruptcy law NOW, to protect what you have, going forward

If bankruptcy could a possibility in your life in the next six months or a year, now would be a good time to plan for that.

The debts you are incurring today may not ripen into wage garnishment until next year. Nevertheless, it's crucial to understand today how those debts are treated under bankruptcy law, and which of your assets are protected,  so you can take full advantage of the financial protections that bankruptcy law provides in the coming year.

There are certain do's and don'ts when it comes to behavior in a year or two prior to a bankruptcy

Far too many people make foolish financial decisions in the year preceding their bankruptcy, and therefore fail to take of advantage of the many protections that bankruptcy law affords to consumers.  

As bankruptcy veteran Cathy Moran explains, bankruptcy is part of a comprehensive financial survival strategy, not a "last resort." 

Bankruptcy is not the last resort

"Bankruptcy offers a swift and certain remedy for overwhelming debt. The biggest tragedy I see in my law practice is people who struggle far too long with debt remedies that are doomed from the beginning...Bankruptcy is an option to be considered alongside other debt options, from the beginning...While bankruptcy is not to be used lightly, it is not a last resort."

Plan Now - File Later

Several recent news stories have discussed how it would be wise for people to think about bankruptcy now rather than later, even if you're not going to file for a while. It helps to think about it now so you can plan for it.

What others are saying bankruptcy as part of your COVID-19 financial strategy 

As financial columnist Liz Weston recently wrote for NerdWallet, 

"If you’ve lost your job or struggle to pay your debt, you may need to file for bankruptcy. If that’s the case, you should ignore some common financial advice and start thinking defensively."

She emphasized these four points

  • don't spend your retirement money
  • don't accumulate cash
  • talk to a lawyer now rather than later and
  • relieve your stress -- it's good for your health.

more...  

Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions

Ohio Exemptions Summary:

Homestead

Real or personal property used as residence to $132,900 (as of April 1, 2013)

Vehicle Exemption

$BKZ_EXEMPTION_VEHICLE_EXEMPTION_SUMMARY

Personal Property

Animals, crops, books, musical instruments, appliances, household goods, furnishings, firearms, hunting & fishing equipment to $575 per item; jewelry to $1,550 for 1 or more items; $12,250 total.
Cash, money due within 90 days, tax refund, bank, security, & utility deposits to $400 total (husband & wife may double)
Implements, books, & tools of trade to $2,235

Wild Card

$1,225 of any property

more...  

Can Bankruptcy Keep Me From Being Evicted in Ohio?

Bankruptcy can delay eviction an extra 60 days, if you file early enough, and your state allows a right to cure. Whatever eviction rights you have come from Ohio’s tenant law on evictions.

Timing is everything...

Each state has wildly different laws. If your state has a right to cure, bankruptcy may be able to extend it. 

How much you may be helped depends a lot on where you are in your state law eviction process, (as explained in this presentation on Eviction and Bankruptcy Remedies given by Bankruptcy Lawyers Cathy Moran, Darya Druch, and Wayne Silver to to the National Housing Law Project, an organization based in San Francisco, California.)

As they point out:

Almost all states require landlords to use legal process to evict tenants. In California it is generally done through a court process known as an “unlawful detainer.” The eviction process usually begins with a termination notice for cause (usually a monetary breach). Receipt of a termination notice is the best time to talk to a bankruptcy attorney, because at that point the tenant has the most bankruptcy options.

A bankruptcy filing prior to the expiration of the allotted time to cure in a termination notice may extend the time to cure an additional sixty (60) days under 11 U.S.C. §108.

Ohio Eviction Resources:

Here's a handy flowchart that shows the eviction process in Ohio

Here are some other helpful links.

Bankruptcy law doesn't add much to those protections, for the simple reason that creditors aren't interested in your lease, chances are, so a landlord can typically get relief from the "automatic stay" that puts a stop to most other kinds of debt collection.

However, consulting with an attorney knowledgeable with debt problems can still help you. It's possible that bankruptcy can be part of an overall financial survival strategy that can keep your home, for example, by wiping out other debts so you can continue to make your rent.

more...  

Life After Bankruptcy: How Bankruptcy Gives You a Fresh Start

After you receive your final discharge, you can get on with your life and enjoy the fresh start that bankruptcy offers.

There may still be a few things left to do, however. For example, you may want to rebuild your credit.

Rebuilding Credit

Although a bankruptcy filing can remain on your credit record for up to ten years after your discharge, you can probably rebuild your credit in about three years to the point that you won’t be turned down for a major loan. Most creditors look for steady employment and a history, since bankruptcy, of making and paying for purchases on credit. And many creditors disregard a bankruptcy completely after about five years.

Create a Budget

The first step to rebuilding your credit is to create a budget. more...  

CDC Bans Evictions Through December

In a striking reversal after doing nothing but issue advisory-only opinions, the Centers for Disease Control has issued an order asserting authority over US property law in all 50 states, based on a World War II era law, governing control of infectious diseases. Violation of the order can result in federal criminal fines of up to $200,000 on landlords.

The Trump administration is trying to halt residential evictions through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but legal scholars are unsure it will stand up in court.

How this is going to go down in states that have traditionally given tenants no rights remains to be seen.

Importantly, the order does not relieve the tenant of the contractual obligation to pay rent, it just denies landlords using eviction to collect that rent, if the tentant has filled out this declaration.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has issued guidance for using the CDC eviction ban. 

And the fine folks at A2J have come up with a very cool tool for state eviction forms by state

Once the ban is over, landlords can proceed with evictions. but you can discharge your personal liability for back rent in bankruptcy after the ban is over, if you're going to lose your lease anyway.

if you choose not to pay rent, now would be a good time to discuss your future options with bankruptcy attorney so you can plan for how you're going to move forward once the eviction ban is over.

The order states more...  

Selected Articles about Bankruptcy and the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus shutdowns have thrown many people into economic peril.

Many writers have written about how people can use bankruptcy to  may play a role in prudent financial planning in the months ahead.

more...  

Best Mortgage forbearance and COVID-19 Resources on the Internet

LegalConsumer.com is gathering the best, most complete, and accurate coronavirus mortgage information and resources on the web. Here's what we've found so far. 

New Free NCLC (National Consumer Law Center) Resources in Response to COVID-19

NCLC has been working hard to create and disseminate resources to help attorneys and consumers navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including the following:

NCLC remains committed to providing consumers and attorneys with the most up-to-date information about COVID-related consumer protections, and continues to add content to our Digital Library article on Major Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 & Consumer Protections page on our website as new information becomes available. more...  


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