Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyers in Philadelphia
In troubled economic times, thousands of Pennsylvanians are financially struggling. Medical bills, credit card balances, utility bills, home mortgages, and other expenses can pile up fast, plunging families, couples, and businesses deep into debt. If you are among the many who are struggling to keep afloat, it may be the right time to consult with an attorney about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Philadelphia. Chapter 7 can wipe away your debts, stop creditors from harassing you, prevent your utilities from being disconnected, and even delay an eviction or foreclosure – but only if you take action before it is too late.
If you live in the Philadelphia or region and need help getting debt relief, talk to the friendly and experienced Chapter 7 attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates about debt management options in Pennsylvania. Personal bankruptcy has already helped millions of people emerge from financial hardship and gain a fresh start. With legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney, bankruptcy can help you achieve the same results. For a free legal consultation about filing for bankruptcy in Philadelphia, contact the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates online, or call our Pennsylvania offices at (215) 701-6519.
What is “Chapter 7” Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is governed by federal law. Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws are contained within Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which is where the term comes from.
Chapter 7 has several nicknames, including “liquidation” bankruptcy, “straight” bankruptcy, and “ordinary” bankruptcy. The second two stem from the relative speed, ease, and simplicity of Chapter 7. The first – liquidation – comes from the Chapter 7 process.
When a debtor files for Chapter 7, the bankruptcy court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to the case. Part of the trustee’s job is to evaluate the debtor’s finances, including the debtor’s assets and property. The trustee can sell some of the debtor’s property to the debtor’s “creditors”: people or companies to whom the debtor owes money. However, that does not mean the debtor will lose their home, their car, or their other belongings. With skilled bankruptcy representation, it is generally possible to retain most of the debtor’s property, or even to keep all of it.
Once the debtor’s creditors have been repaid to the greatest extent possible, the court will “discharge,” or wipe out, many of the debtor’s debts. This process takes approximately four to six months to complete.
What Debts Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cover?
There is good news for debtors: Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out a huge variety of debts, including some of the largest and most common sources of debt for Pennsylvanians. Any debt that can be erased by bankruptcy is called a “dischargeable” debt. Dischargeable debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania include, but are not limited to, the following causes of debt:
- Debt from certain car accident claims
- Debt from credit card bills
- Debt from medical bills
- Debt from past-due rent
- Debt from past-due utility bills
- Debt from personal loans from friends and family members
- Debt from small businesses
- Debt from Social Security overpayments
It’s important to understand that some debts are non-dischargeable. These debts include debts related to alimony/spousal support, child support, criminal fines/restitution, and others.
Other debts are usually non-dischargeable, but can be eliminated under narrow circumstances. These debts include student loan debts and income tax debts which meet certain legal criteria.
How to File Chapter 7 in Philadelphia
The process for filing bankruptcy in Philadelphia can be complicated, even under Chapter 7, which is the simplest and most streamlined version of consumer bankruptcy. There are myriad legal rules, which are spelled out in technical language that is difficult for most debtors to understand. Failure to comply with any one of these rules can lead to a poor outcome – including complete dismissal of the case. If the case is dismissed, no debts will be erased.
Because the Chapter 7 process is complicated – and because bankruptcy will have lasting financial impacts – it is vital to have guidance from a Philadelphia Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney if you are considering filing. To give you an idea of what the process involves, consider the following rules and regulations about how to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania:
- You must pay a Chapter 7 filing fee to declare bankruptcy, unless the fee is waived.
- You must file in the correct court, which depends on where you live. If you are a resident of Philadelphia, your bankruptcy court is the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Division.
- You must complete various bankruptcy forms, including the petition for bankruptcy and accompanying lists of your debts, assets, income, properties, and so forth.
- You must meet certain requirements before filing Chapter 7, like the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling requirement.
- You must meet certain requirements after you file, but before your debts can be discharged, such as the pre-discharge debtor education requirement.
Our Philadelphia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help
It may feel like your situation is hopeless, but don’t give up on debt relief: by guiding you carefully through the Pennsylvania bankruptcy process, the Chapter 7 lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates can lighten your debt burden and help you emerge in healthier financial condition. Our legal team possesses over 30 years of experience filing thousands of bankruptcy cases, giving you peace of mind that your financial future will be in capable hands.
To learn about how bankruptcy can help you with debt relief in a free consultation, contact us online, or call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519. We will keep your information confidential, and your initial consultation is totally free of charge. We handle Chapter 7 cases throughout Philadelphia.