What is bankruptcy and how does it work in Oklahoma?

There are many reasons people fall behind on debt payments. When you’re in this stressful situation with bills piling up and collections agents calling, getting back on track can feel overwhelming, even impossible. For many Oklahomans, filing bankruptcy can be a reasonable and relatively quick way to get a fresh start.​

You can use bankruptcy as a legal strategy to get out of your current financial circumstances. Making a bankruptcy filing can stop collection efforts, stop obnoxious phone calls, and allow you the breathing room and time to start over.

Contrary to what some people may have you believe, bankruptcy need not spell the end of your financial situation. It is a second opportunity. After filing for bankruptcy, you may immediately begin to repair your credit and your future.

How can a bankruptcy lawyer in OK help me?

To achieve your goal of a financial fresh start, you need the representation of an attorney skilled in bankruptcy law. Attorney Scott Harris has experience helping many Oklahomans in similar situations walk through filing bankruptcy. You can count on Scott Harris to defend your rights as you work toward debt relief and a new financial beginning. You will be provided with legal advice in choosing the right bankruptcy chapter for your case

How does filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy work?

For several reasons, Chapter 7 is frequently chosen as the initial bankruptcy option. It moves quickly; it is finished in a few months. You pay no money to creditors, thus it is also affordable. It works well for those of us whose property comprises the fundamental stuff needed to live and work.

However, those with greater resources could lose them, particularly if they own superfluous luxuries. You can be required to give up your RV, baseball card collection, timeshare in the Bahamas, or even your home or automobile if you owe money on it or have too much equity in it.

In contrast to Chapter 13, Chapter 7 does not offer a payment plan option to make up missed automobile or mortgage payments. As a result, if you file late, you risk losing your house or automobile.

Stopping Creditors With Chapter 7 Bankruptcy's Automatic Stay

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy works well to stop collection efforts. The court issues an “automatic stay” order as soon as you file that prohibits most creditors from trying to collect what you owe them.

At least temporarily, creditors cannot legally seize or “garnish” wages, empty or “levy” your bank account, go after your car, house, or other property, or cut off your utility service when you file for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 will even stop some lawsuits.

Filing for bankruptcy may help when you want your creditors to quit bugging you. Collection efforts including:

  • phone calls, 
  • foreclosing homes, and 
  • lawsuits are instantly halted by the automatic stay. 

Multiple files over the course of a year, however, raise the possibility that the bankruptcy system is being manipulated. To receive the full protection of the automatic stay, you must prove that you are filing for bankruptcy in good faith if this is your second or third filing this year.

The number of times the debtor filed throughout the previous year will determine how long the automatic stay lasts and if it attaches at all.

  • 30-day period – The stay will last 30 days if the debtor has already filed for bankruptcy once within the last year.
  • No Stay – If the debtor filed two or more cases over the previous year, the court won’t impose an automatic stay.

How does filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy work?

In contrast, those who apply for Chapter 13 must use a three- to five-year repayment plan to pay back part or all of their debts to creditors.

However, the payment schedule enables Chapter 13 to provide advantages not present in Chapter 7. For instance, you may prevent your home from going into foreclosure or your automobile from being repossessed while still keeping all of your possessions.

You can utilize this chapter to compel a creditor into a payment plan if you need more time to pay back a debt that you cannot dismiss in bankruptcy.

Which bankruptcy chapter can stop repossession?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not be able to stop a car from being repossessed if you are not making your auto loan payments on time. However, filing for Chapter 7 might momentarily stop the lender from seizing your automobile, giving you more time to reach an agreement or correct your default.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most creditors are prevented from continuing their collection operations. This is known as the automatic stay. This means that your lender cannot repossess your automobile without gaining judicial clearance first. But a Chapter 7 bankruptcy often only lasts a few months. There is no stay once your lawsuit is concluded, so the lender may take the vehicle back at any time.

On the other hand, when you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court puts an order called the “automatic stay” in place that prohibits debt collection attempts. The stay applies to most, but not all, creditors and debt types.

For instance, the stay will stop collections for credit card debt and other loans, as well as a foreclosure sale. It will also prevent a lender from repossessing your car.

However, the stay won’t stop criminal actions, child custody, or visitation proceedings, and, depending on your state law, certain eviction proceedings.

How can I file for bankruptcy in Oklahoma?

Although both the debtor and the creditor may file for bankruptcy under Oklahoma law, the debtor often initiates the legal process. By submitting a petition to the U.S. federal court, they must legally declare bankruptcy. The debtor will, nevertheless, benefit from hiring a bankruptcy lawyer experienced in Oklahoma bankruptcy law.

Gathering of Financial Records

Any debtor filing for bankruptcy must first establish a list of all the following financial records:

  • Assets
  • Sources of income
  • Spending and expenditures
  • Total amount of debts outstanding

The debtor will need to disclose this information to the courts. By gathering this information, the designated trustee can determine the best course of action and as much as possible about the beneficiary’s financial status. Additionally, pre-bankruptcy credit counseling calls for this information.

Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is required under Oklahoma’s bankruptcy statutes for anybody declaring bankruptcy. During this procedure, the debtor will be allocated a counselor who will check over all of their money. Their role is to find any method in which debts can be paid without declaring bankruptcy.

The debtor will obtain a certificate once the counseling is over, and they must also show it to the courts. It indicates that all alternative routes of repayment have been tried and establishes to the courts that bankruptcy is the only realistic choice.

Bankruptcy Petition

At least 180 days after credit counseling is finished, the debtor can file a bankruptcy petition. If you haven’t already, now is the time to hire a lawyer to assist with the legal paperwork. 

All forms that need filling may be found on the U.S. Courts online and include paperwork that includes the debtor’s tax returns, evidence of income, identity, appraisal of assets, and more. The debtor must specify in the petition what kind of bankruptcy they are submitting.

Debtor Attendance at the Creditors Meeting

The debtor must be at the 341 creditor’s meeting following the court’s acceptance of the petition and selection of a trustee for the case. During this conference, creditors can ask questions regarding the debtor’s financial condition.

Will I lose everything in bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, you won’t lose everything. You’ll employ the bankruptcy exemption provisions in your state to save your possessions. In this case, in Oklahoma.

Property that is exempt and non-exempt

Exemptions or “exempt” property allows you to maintain property protection. If a bankruptcy exemption doesn’t cover the property, you’ll either lose it in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or have to pay for it through a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Selecting either federal or state exemptions

You cannot pick between the state exemption list and the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions, in contrast to several other states. Use Oklahoma’s exemptions only. The federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, however, are applicable.

Will filing for bankruptcy help with foreclosure?

If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can return the “arrearage” (late, unpaid payments) throughout the course of your suggested Chapter 13 repayment plan, which is typically five years.

In addition to covering the arrearage, you’ll also need to have enough money to make your regular mortgage payment. Assuming you complete all the needed payments up to the conclusion of the repayment plan, you’ll avoid foreclosure and maintain your house.

Moreover, you might be able to stop making payments on your second or third mortgage if you file for chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You could not have any equity left to use to finance subsequent mortgages if your initial mortgage is fully secured by the value of your property, which is feasible if the home’s value has decreased.

This enables the Chapter 13 court to “strip off” the second and third mortgages and reclassify them as unsecured debt, which is given last priority in Chapter 13 bankruptcy and frequently does not need repayment at all. This strategy is applied less frequently as home equity increases.

The capacity to properly safeguard equity with the homestead exemption permitted by the filer’s state are carefully considered.

A filer must include the value of the nonexempt property in the repayment plan as well if the homestead exemption is insufficient to allow them to maintain their home.

How can bankruptcy help me with wage garnishments?

Going back to the automatic stay, a court order that is put into place when you file for bankruptcy, which prevents most creditors from pursuing or continuing collection activities by the stay, also includes refraining from or suspending a garnishment and eliminating the underlying debt.

Although it is a helpful tool, the automatic stay is not impenetrable. The automatic stay could only be in effect for 30 days or it might not be at all if you’ve filed for bankruptcy more than once.

Get in touch with a bankruptcy attorney in Oklahoma

If you are tired of harassing debt collection calls and sleepless nights wondering what to do, it’s time to contact Scott Harris Law. Your initial consultation is free. We will meet with you to discuss your situation and what options might be available to you. We can help you decide the best plan to move forward and begin to defend your rights.

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