Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Everett Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Helping You Get a Fresh Start in the Greater Seattle Area
When people think generally about bankruptcy, they are probably picturing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The chance to discharge overwhelming debt and “start over” is a dream of many Washingtonians who are struggling to manage their financial difficulties.
At The Law Office of Ken Schneider, P.S., we help you obtain peace of mind by securing the fresh financial start you need to move forward. Our Everett Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can help you discharge debts and work to protect your property from liquidation. We have over 25 years of legal experience and can leverage our knowledge and resources to provide you with the seasoned guidance you need to succeed.
Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Washington State
Not everyone will necessarily be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington. To determine if you qualify, you will need to complete the state’s Means Test.
First, you will need to assess your average level of income over the preceding six months. You must compare your average current income to the median average income in Washington State for your household size. If you make less than the average median income, you almost certainly qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If your current average income exceeds the state’s average median income, you may still be eligible for Chapter 7. You will need to calculate your current disposable income by subtracting qualifying expenses from your overall income. If you have little to no disposable income, you may be able to seek Chapter 7 relief.
We often meet clients who have been misguided and told they only qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a result of their income or other factors. Our experience, knowledge, and insight into the bankruptcy process allows us to dig deeper. In some cases, we can secure Chapter 7 discharges for clients who believed they could only file for Chapter 13 relief.
Keep Your Home and Car in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of your nonexempt assets. The proceeds of the liquidation are used to partially compensate your creditors.
Liquidation sounds scary, but in many cases, Chapter 7 filers lose little to nothing. Debtors that qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can typically exempt a majority or the entirety of their property from liquidation. In other words, you will often be able to keep your home, car, and other essential assets you need to live your life.
Our Everett Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can help you exempt your:
- Home. You can exempt a certain amount of equity in your home, potentially allowing you to keep the property if you can continue to pay your mortgage following your bankruptcy. The homestead exemption maximum is the county median price of a single-family home in the preceding year or $125,000, whichever is greater.
- Vehicle. You can exempt up to $3,250 of value in a single motor vehicle. If you file jointly with your spouse, you each can exempt a separate vehicle.
- Clothing. You can exempt up to $3,500 in articles of clothing and jewelry.
- Cellphone, Computer, and Printer. You can exempt the full values of your cellphone, computer, and/or printer.
- Books and Keepsakes. You can exempt up to $3,500 per person.
- Furniture and Household Items. You can exempt up to $6,500 if filing individually or $13,000 if filing jointly with your spouse. No single exempted item can be valued at more than $750.
- Professionally Prescribed Health Aids. You can exempt the full value of any items in this category.
- Tools of Your Trade. You can exempt up to $10,000 in any tools, instruments, or materials you need for your profession. You may be able to exempt more if you are a physician, clergyman, attorney, or farmer.
- Personal Injury Judgments. You can generally protect up to $20,000 in personal injury payments per person.
- Wages. You can typically exempt your full wages.
- Certain Types of Pensions. The pensions of firefighters, law enforcement officials, teachers, patrol officers, and city employees are fully exempt from liquidation.
- Retirement Accounts. Many popular types of retirement accounts, including IRAs and 401(k)s, are generally exempt.
- Government Benefits. Many types of government benefits, including unemployment compensation, disability benefits, and workers’ compensation, are exempt.
- Child Support Payments. You can exempt the entirety of any child support payments.
- Other Miscellaneous Types of Personal Property. Washington State offers a wildcard exemption that allows you to protect property valued at up to $3,000 that is not exempted through other categories. There are some limitations: You can exempt only up to $1,500 in cash and $500 in bank accounts. Note that you can protect additional bank account funds that are earmarked to pay consumer debts and educational loans.
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will receive immediate relief in the form of the automatic stay. This court order freezes all imminent or ongoing collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, and wage garnishments. The automatic stay will generally remain in effect throughout the duration of your bankruptcy filing, and creditors will need to seek special permission from the court to carry out any type of collection action.
Once the liquidation process has concluded, you will typically be permitted to discharge any remaining unsecured debts. This includes your credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills.
Our Everett Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at The Law Office of Ken Schneider, P.S. is ready to make the most of your filing. We can work to maximize debt relief while minimizing the impact of liquidation. Many clients will benefit from pre-bankruptcy exemption planning, so we encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible.
“Ken Schneider is a great attorney. He helped me and my family get through one of the toughest times in our lives. He was able to guide us and help pick the best plan that fit my family. I have recommended him to others and will continue.”- Reese
“I not only have come away with the best scenario in a difficult situation, but I also have come away with peace of mind and hope. He came highly recommended and I can highly recommend him to others.”- Melanie
“Ken was right on the case, knew the complex facts quickly and accurately, and was successful at holding the trustee accountable to bankruptcy law.”- Mike
“Ken has a vast knowledge of Chapters 7 and 13 and will counsel you and make sure that he guides you to help you make the right decision. We know of at least 2 other friends that have hired Ken and they are very happy with Ken’s results and knowledge.”- Shaun
“I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Schneider. He is so kind, upfront, and intelligent.”- Stacy