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Bankruptcy Archives

Choosing between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Most residents of Vancouver understand that the United States Bankruptcy Act can be used to keep creditors at bay and prevent loss of assets such as a house or automobile. A critical aspect of the nation's bankruptcy laws is often overlooked when people are considering filing a bankruptcy petition: the difference between a Chapter 7 proceeding and a Chapter 13 proceeding. An exhaustive list of the differences between these two types of proceedings is too long for this blog post, but an overview can guide initial decision-making.

How does Washington's "means test" affect a bankruptcy?

As most residents of Vancouver realize, a person can file two kinds of individual bankruptcy petitions: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding frequently results in all unsecured debts being discharged. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding is sharply different on this point: the debtor must present a plan to the court for paying off debts over time. If the choice were free, most, if not all filers, would choose a Chapter 7 petition. However, the federal Bankruptcy Act puts a significant barrier in front of persons seeking a Chapter 7 discharge: the means test.

How are different debts treated under Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Sometimes when a person in Vancouver falls on hard financial times, they determine that they need to file for bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be attractive to those who believe that they can repay their debts given more time, as well as to those who want to try to keep certain pieces of property. However, when it comes to repaying debts under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, it is important to understand the difference between priority debts, secured debts and unsecured debts.

What must be included in a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization?

When a Vancouver business files a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Act, the business must eventually draft and submit to the court a plan of reorganization. The plan is intended as a roadmap for the business to reorganize its debts and emerge from bankruptcy as a viable entity. The contents of the plan are prescribed by the Bankruptcy Code.

What bankruptcy exemptions are available in Washington?

One of the reasons people may hesitate from filing for bankruptcy when they are facing financial challenges is because they are afraid they might lose everything they own in the process and be left with nothing at the end. However, this is a myth as Washington offers many exemptions in bankruptcy. Exemptions are basically assets and property that the debtor can keep. Washington is one of the few states that allow debtors to choose between state exemptions or federal exemptions-this means they can choose the set that best fits their circumstances. However, debtors cannot choose both.

The differences between Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy

If a Washingtonian finds themselves struggling to pay off debts, they may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. This is an important decision to make, and depending on one's financial situation, it is likely that either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a much wiser way to go.

Don't navigate the bankruptcy process alone

No matter the cause, financial disasters are extremely stressful events in one's life. From overwhelming medical bills to poor decisions, there are many different types of scenarios that can lead someone down the path of bankruptcy. This, obviously, is a frightening and worrisome situation, but you don't need to go it alone. Getting the assistance you need can not only help you make the right decisions, but can also decrease the amount of stress of fear involved.

A Client's Thanks to New Associate

We want to thank William Gellatly for his kind words to our Associate Attorney, Crystal Lewis, and for allowing us to share them with others. It's always nice to hear when we've done a good job! 

Welcome Aboard!

Marsh, Higgins, Beaty & Hatch, P.C., would like to introduce our newest associate, Crystal M. Lewis. Crystal is a native Oregonian who attended Portland State University, graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting in 1999. After college, she worked as an accountant at Willamette Industries in Portland, Oregon, for one year before attending Lewis and Clark Law School where she earned her J.D. in 2004. At Lewis and Clark, Crystal participated in the Environmental Law Moot Court program and earned a Certificate in Environmental Law. During law school, she worked for the Legal Resource Group in Sherwood, Oregon, litigating First Amendment Commercial Speech issues, and at Pacific Environmental Advocacy Clinic, litigating environmental issues. Crystal is now in her eighth year as a litigator where she focuses on employment law, bankruptcy, homeowners' association law, family law, and construction defect cases. We are very excited to have her join us! If you require assistance in any area of her expertise, please contact us for an appointment. 

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Marsh, Higgins, Beaty & Hatch, P.C.
1112 Daniels Street, Suite 200
Vancouver, WA 98660

Toll Free: 866-678-1372
Phone: 360-450-0993
Fax: 360-694-1758
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