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Buffalo Chapter 7 Lawyer

Is Chapter 7 bankruptcy the smart solution for you? Many opt for this type of bankruptcy when they’re overwhelmed by debts and have no means of paying them back. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals, couples, and businesses to erase their debts.  For many, it’s a fresh start  into a debt-free life.

Though Chapter 7 is a relatively quick and easy method of debt relief, you’ll need to be strategic when filing this chapter bankruptcy. You must ensure you meet requirements, and you’ll want to protect your important assets from liquidation.

When filing Chapter 7 in Western New York, get sound legal guidance from Attorney John D’Amato. He is highly trusted in the Buffalo area, with over 30 years of service helping individuals and businesses get rid of debt. Start by consulting for free and in private with John D’Amato. Call 716-706-0000 today.

What Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Do?

A Chapter 7 case is sometimes called a “liquidation case” or “straight bankruptcy” because it wipes debt by liquidating (selling) some of the debtor’s assets. The purpose of Chapter 7 is to:

  • Provide you with a fresh start by having some or all of your debts discharged (forgiven)
  • Provide a money distribution system to your creditors on their claims.

Though asset liquidation is the primary means of discharging debts under Chapter 7, most cases are “no asset” cases, meaning the debtor doesn’t have any property to liquidate. Their creditors are provided with no distribution of money at all, but their debts are forgiven just the same.

Chapter 7 Eligibility and Means Test in New York

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the Means Test, a calculation of your annual household income based on your monthly income. Your annual income must not exceed the state limit if you wish to file Chapter 7.

In New York, the income limit for Chapter 7 bankruptcy changes every six months or so. As of November 1, 2022, New York’s annual income limit is $63,715 for a household of one person, $78,663 for two persons, $95,779 for three persons, and so on.

Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to see how your income holds up to the Means Test and if you are eligible for Chapter 7 filing.

How Chapter 7 Works: The Bankruptcy Process

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process starts when you file the petition with the bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction. Filing involves Official Bankruptcy Forms as well as your statement of financial affairs, schedule of assets and liabilities, and other financial documents. A lawyer’s assistance is invaluable in making sure your filing is complete and accurate.

Upon filing Chapter 7, most collections against you are automatically “stayed” or paused. The court clerk will notify your creditors that they cannot enforce collections such as by calling you, garnishing your wages, or suing you while the stay is in effect.

The court will assign a trustee to your case. The trustee’s main role is to liquidate your “nonexempt” assets and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. They will also call you into meetings and request further documents from you to ascertain your financial affairs. It’s important to cooperate with the trustee while also protecting your rights with a lawyer’s help.

The whole Chapter 7 process usually takes three to four months, from filing to debt discharge. At the end of a successful Chapter 7 case, you will receive a discharge of most or all your debts. Non-dischargeable debts include student loans, child support and alimony debts, personal injury debts from causing a DUI accident, and legal fines and penalties.

Protecting Your Assets: Chapter 7 Exemptions in New York

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can liquidate only your “nonexempt” assets. Federal and state laws provide “exemptions,” allowing you to keep certain assets by excluding them from liquidation. There are two sets of exemptions available: one from the federal Bankruptcy Code and another from New York state law. You must choose only one of the two sets. Here are some common New York bankruptcy exemptions:

  • Homestead exemption – protects equity in your house, condominium, or mobile home up to a certain value depending on your county ($89,975 in Erie County)
  • Motor vehicle exemption – protects equity in one vehicle up to $4,825, or $11,975 if it’s a disability-equipped vehicle
  • Wildcard exemption – lets you keep a variety of belongings (cellphones, appliances, jewelry, and more) with a value of up to $11,975. You may include cash up to $6,000.
  • Wages and income – lets you keep 90 percent of your wages earned in the 60 days before you filed for bankruptcy, and anytime after
  • Pensions and benefits – lets you keep your IRA, 401(k), retirement plan, Social Security, unemployment, disability benefits, and the like.

More exemptions are available in New York. To best safeguard your assets, discuss your potential exemptions and strategy with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Remember, it’s possible to protect most or all of your property and turn your bankruptcy into a “no asset” case. Learn your options with Attorney John D’Amato.

Contact John D’Amato Today

Western New York residents count on John D’Amato to guide and assist them in bankruptcy cases. For three decades now, he has demonstrated his sharp legal strategies for debt relief, coupled with his respectful and considerate treatment of his clients.

See how John D’Amato can help you. Your consultation is free and confidential. Call 716-706-0000 today.

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