Definitions

Asset

Assets include everything you currently own and everything you may own in the future. When preparing for bankruptcy, you must list all your assets. When asked about their assets, people sometimes overlook things like clothes, furniture, pets, tax refunds, potential lawsuits, and debts that other people owe to them. Helen will provide you with a helpful questionnaire to guide you through this process. Once you have filled out the questionnaire, Bankruptcy Attorney Helen Wallace will review it with you. After that review, Helen will prepare documents, called schedules, that will be filed with the Court as part of your bankruptcy petition. Prior to filing the bankruptcy petition, Helen will once again meet with you to ensure that the schedules are correct. Helen prides herself on really getting to know her clients, and walking with them through the bankruptcy process. Unlike some other firms, Helen believes an attorney, not a paralegal or assistant, should handle the majority of your case.

Automatic stay

The automatic stay in bankruptcy is one of the fundamental debtor protections provided by the bankruptcy laws. The minute your bankruptcy case is filed with the court, the automatic stay begins to protect you and requires that all creditors cease and desist contacting you.

Debt

Debt is money owed. Sometimes people are unaware of how much, or what, debt they actually have. We recommend running a free credit report to ascertain your debt situation. At www.annualcreditreport.com, you can obtain one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year.

Debtor / Creditor

A debtor is someone who owes a debt, and a creditor is the person or company to whom they owe the debt. When you file for bankruptcy, you will be referred to as the Debtor in the case.

Discharge

When a debt is discharged it means that you no longer have any legal obligation to pay it, and creditors can’t contact you about it or ask you to pay the debt.

Equity

Equity is the difference between the market value of a property and the claims held against the property.

Estate

In bankruptcy, your “estate” consists of all your assets on the date of the petition. Usually, you will retain possession of your property, but you cannot sell, transfer, or destroy any of it without permission while the case is ongoing. Only non-exempt assets from the estate may be used to pay Creditor’s claims.

Exemption

Certain assets are exempt, meaning they are protected under the bankruptcy law. As discussed above, in Ohio, there is a motor vehicle exemption that allows a debtor to keep a car with equity (the difference between the market value of a property and the claims held against it) up to $3,675. An exempt asset is one that the trustee or creditors cannot touch or sell in order to pay Creditors.

Meeting of Creditors

The Meeting of Creditors is also known as a “341 hearing”. It is required in every bankruptcy case, and the debtor must attend. As your attorney, we will prepare you for the hearing, and attend it with you. We will be by your side at all times during the hearing. The Meeting of Creditors is an opportunity for the trustee and the creditors to ask the debtor about his or her financial situation. In practice, creditors rarely attend the majority of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 meetings.

Plan

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to pay back a portion of your debts over either three or five years. The Plan is a document you file that states how much you will be paying, over how long, and the amounts that different types (or classes) of creditors will get.

Trustee

The trustee is appointed by the court to administer a bankruptcy case. The trustee’s job is to represent the estate that is created by a bankruptcy filing. In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee looks for non-exempt property, and if he finds some, he can sell the property, or agree to accept money in lieu of the non-exempt property, and distribute the proceeds to creditors. In a Chapter 13 case, he will receive your plan payments and distribute them to the creditors as stated in your plan. The trustee also conducts the meeting of creditors. In the majority of Chapter 7 cases you will never appear before a judge, only the assigned trustee.

The contents contained in Helen Wallace, Attorney at Law’s Blog and Web Page(s) are for educational and informational purposes only, and shall not be construed as legal or tax advice. The reading of Helen Wallace, Attorney at Law’s Blog or Webpage does not create an attorney/client relationship with Helen Wallace, Attorney at Law. Please consult an Attorney in your jurisdiction (where you live or where the legal action arose) if you are seeking legal advice or representation. Please further be advised that Helen Wallace, Attorney at Law is a debt relief agency and helps people file for bankruptcy relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.

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