Clients often come to our office and ask questions about Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland. Below we have answered many of the common questions clients:
To begin it is important that we understand what it means to File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In the most basic terms it means that you are requesting help under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code and your most proper jurisdiction is Maryland.
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing usually means that you do not have enough money to pay your creditors. At the same time you are requesting the bankruptcy court to provide you certain protections. The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing can provide protection from your creditor’s collection actions such as paycheck garnishments and bank account garnishments. The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing can even provide you foreclosure protection after the filing of you Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. These protections fall under the automatic stay provisions of the bankruptcy code. After you receive your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge you will also be protected as your creditors will be subject to discharge injunctions.
Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland means that your are either a resident of Maryland or have a principal place of business in Maryland. The most obvious advantage to filing your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland is that you will have your 341 meeting of creditors within Maryland. The 341 meeting of creditors is where you will meet with the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors will have a chance to ask follow up questions if needed. The location of your 341 meeting of creditors will be determined by the county of residence within Maryland. So your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy meeting of creditors could be in Greenbelt, Baltimore, Hagerstown, or Salisbury – all located in Maryland.
Aside from the location of your 341 meeting of creditors, filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland means that you can take full advantage of Maryland exemptions. These exemptions are the laws which help protect your property. Some of the strongest exemptions available in Maryland are those pertaining to your home or real estate. This includes a homestead exemption as well a “tenants by the entireties” exemptions. By taking advantage of these exemptions, you may be able to get rid of a large amount of debt while still keep your home and protecting the equity in your home. To put it in other terms, if you have equity in your home of $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 or more you may be able to still file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland and keep your house while not paying back any creditors. The laws here are complex and it pays to consult with an experienced Chapter 7 Bankruptcy attorney to get full details.
Of course to start the entire process of Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland you start by the filing of a bankruptcy petition. As mentioned above there are several locations of bankruptcy courts in Maryland. The main courthouse is located either in Greenbelt Maryland or in Baltimore Maryland. Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case should be filed in the courthouse in Maryland that corresponds to your filing district. Along with your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case filing, the courthouse in Maryland will request that you pay your filing fees, file your schedules and list of creditors, file your credit counseling certificates, and some other steps.
A question a good number of clients have is whether they should file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland by themselves or with the help of an attorney. Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland without an attorney is also known as filing your case “pro se”. While a Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland may seem straightforward there are many pitfalls along the way. Some online companies promise to fill out Chapter 7 Bankruptcy schedules at a low price and even guarantee their forms. What these online companies are not explaining is that if your forms are not correct you may not discharge, or erase, all of your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy debts and that you could be at risk of losing personal valuable items such as cars and bank accounts and other things. For these reasons you should definitely get yourself an experienced Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney.
A good Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney can be worth their weight in gold. In fact a good Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney should be able to quickly explain your options and you will find that their fees are often very reasonable. In many cases a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney may be willing to quote you a fixed fee and work with you in developing a payment plan you can follow to pay their attorney fees.
Clients also often ask us how long it takes to File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland. The first step in this process will be information gathering. Here it is up to the client to gather much of the information needed for the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing. This may include previous bankruptcy filing information, tax returns, pay stubs, bank account information, creditor information, personal property lists, and other information as requested by the attorney. As your bankruptcy attorney begins to put together your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing you will begin to see why all of this information is needed.
Indeed what makes a good Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing in Maryland is having a clear concise picture of what is going on in your life and where we hope to take things. It is almost as if we are trying to paint a clear picture for everyone involved in your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing as to where things are at a certain point of time. So this will include your assets as well as your debts. This will also include your income and expenses. Above all it is important to be as upfront and honest as possible throughout your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing in Maryland.
Hopefully this discussion help clarify many aspects of Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maryland. We highly recommend that you consult with an experienced Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney in Maryland. With the help of a great attorney, you can look forward to getting a fresh start and putting your debts behind you