WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY IN NEW JERSEY? TRAVIS J. RICHARDS SOUTH NEW JERSEY BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY

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1 WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY IN NEW JERSEY? TRAVIS J. RICHARDS SOUTH NEW JERSEY BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY

2 Bankruptcy is the legal procedure that an individual or company uses to deal with debt problems. A bankruptcy is a proceeding filed under one of the chapters of Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. This is the answer to this question that you would expect from a law dictionary; however, bankruptcy is much more than simply a legal proceeding. Bankruptcy laws were enacted to give debtors a fresh start so that they could recover from a financial crisis. In Local Loan Co. v. Hunt, 292 U.S. 234, 244 (1934), the Supreme Court said that bankruptcy gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt. This is the ultimate goal of the bankruptcy process.

3 HOW DOES BANKRUPTCY GIVE DEBTS A FRESH START? Filing a bankruptcy case in itself does not give the debtor the fresh start that Congress intended when enacting bankruptcy laws. The bankruptcy discharge that the debtor receives after completing the bankruptcy process is what accomplishes this goal. Simply put, the bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from legal liability for specific types of debts. In other words, the debtor is under no legal obligation to repay those debts. This gives the debtor the ability to make a fresh start to begin rebuilding his or her finances after a financial crisis. Furthermore, the bankruptcy discharge gives debtors the relief they need from creditors and debt collectors. The emotional stress from dealing with collection attempts and aggressive debt collectors can be overwhelming. Filing a bankruptcy stops debt collections. The automatic stay that goes into effect when your bankruptcy case is filed prohibits creditors from taking any actions to collect a debt including filing or continuing any legal action to collect the debt as well as

4 communicating with the debtor through telephone, letters or other personal contact. The automatic stay remains in effect during your bankruptcy case. When your bankruptcy case is completed, the bankruptcy discharge continues to prohibit creditors from attempting to collect any debts that were discharged through your bankruptcy case. If a creditor violates the bankruptcy discharge, it can face penalties under bankruptcy law. WHAT CHAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE UNDER THE BANKRUPTCY CODE? There are six basic types of bankruptcy chapters included in the Bankruptcy Code; however, three of those chapters are not as common. Chapter 9 is designed for a municipality (i.e. Chicago s bankruptcy case), Chapter 12 is for family farmers or fisherman and Chapter 15 applies when a debtor s estate is subject to the laws of the United States as well as one or more foreign countries. The three most common types of bankruptcy chapters filed are under Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

5 CHAPTER 7 LIQUIDATION Chapter 7 is available for individuals and businesses. It is the court-supervised liquidation of the debtor s non-exempt assets. An individual debtor must meet the income requirements set forth in the Bankruptcy Code to qualify to file under Chapter 7. A trustee is appointed to review the debtor s estate to determine what, if any, assets are available to liquidate to pay the debtor s creditors. For a business, filing under Chapter 7 means that the business will close because bankruptcy exemptions are not available for businesses to protect assets. However, for an individual filing a Chapter 7 case, bankruptcy exemptions are available to protect some, if not all, of the individual s assets. Ninety-nine percent of all Chapter 7 cases that are filed in New Jersey are no-asset cases. This means that the debtor does not lose any of his or her property but erases most, if not all, of his or her debts.

6 CHAPTER 13 ADJUSTMENT OF DEBTS OF AN INDIVIDUAL WITH REGULAR INCOME Chapter 13 is also referred to as a wage earners bankruptcy because it allows individuals with a regular source of income to reorganize their debts into an affordable monthly plan. Debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 will still find relief from their debt problems through a Chapter 13 case. Chapter 13 cases are also used for protecting valuable assets and saving assets from liquidation by a creditor (i.e. foreclosure and repossession). Debtors who file under Chapter 13 propose a plan to repay their debts over a three to five year period. In most cases, debtors only pay a percentage of their unsecured debts through the bankruptcy plan. Once the debtor completes the plan, the remaining unsecured debt is discharged and the creditor is barred from attempting to collect the remaining balance. There are many advantages to filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy such as stopping foreclosures, preventing garnishments, repaying past due domestic support obligations and protecting assets.

7 CHAPTER 11 REORGANIZATION Chapter 13 is also referred to as a wage earners bankruptcy because it allows individuals with a regular source of income to reorganize their debts into an affordable monthly plan. Debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 will still find relief from their debt problems through a Chapter 13 case. Chapter 13 cases are also used for protecting valuable assets and saving assets from liquidation by a creditor (i.e. foreclosure and repossession). Debtors who file under Chapter 13 propose a plan to repay their debts over a three to five year period. In most cases, debtors only pay a percentage of their unsecured debts through the bankruptcy plan. Once the debtor completes the plan, the remaining unsecured debt is discharged and the creditor is barred from attempting to collect the remaining balance. There are many advantages to

8 filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy such as stopping foreclosures, preventing garnishments, repaying past due domestic support obligations and protecting assets. IS FILING BANKRUPTCY RIGHT FOR ME? Your first step is to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your legal options regarding your debt problems. If you decide to file a bankruptcy, the attorney will advise you what chapter you qualify for and the advantages and disadvantages of filing bankruptcy. In almost every case, the advantages of bankruptcy far exceed any temporary disadvantages of filing.

9 The Law Office of Travis J. Richards, LLC You can eliminate your debts and, in most cases, keep your property by filing for bankruptcy relief. By helping you choose the right bankruptcy chapter for your financial situation, I help you get a fresh start while protecting your interests. My staff and I are here to assist you with your financial problems. I focus my services on bankruptcy, debt consolidation and credit repair. I offer free bankruptcy consultations during normal business hours as well as on weekends and after-hours. Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced New Jersey Bankruptcy Attorney If you are having problems with debt collectors in Burlington County or anywhere in South Jersey, call The Law Office of Travis J. Richards, LLC in Mount Holly at or use our convenient online contact form to schedule an appointment today.

10 About the Author Travis J. Richards Travis Richards is not your typical attorney. He understands the random curve balls life throws at honest, hard-working people. Growing up on farm in Southampton, New Jersey, money didn t always come easy for many of his family, friends and neighbors. He saw that bad things often happen to good people. This background shaped his approach to the practice of law. Mr. Richards considers it a privilege to help clients from all walks of life recover from financial hardship. In doing so, he aims to provide every client with the same service he would provide a member of his own family. His mission is to get to know each client individually and provide the best legal advice possible for them to regain control of their lives. Over the past decade I have impacted the lives of hundreds of individuals and families in an extremely positive way, he says. Through bankruptcy I am able to show my clients a freedom that they thought impossible to achieve My goal is not only wipe out the debt they have accumulated, but also help make sure they will never be in a situation to need my services again. Mr Richards has helped hundreds of individuals eliminate debt, keep their property and return to financial stability. Bankruptcy gives deserving individuals a second chance. Mr.Richards graduated with honors from Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, NJ where he majored in History. In 1999 he graduated, again with honors, from Rutgers School of Law, Camden, NJ. He was admitted to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bar in 1999, where he is licensed to practice law before the United States District Courts. Mr. Richards practices bankruptcy, mortgage loan modification work, debtor rights and credit card negotiations. He maintains memberships in the National Associate of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the Burlington County Bar Association, the New Jersey State Bar, the Pennsylvania State Bar, and the American Bankruptcy Institute The Law Office of Travis J. Richards 141 High Street Mount Holly NJ Phone: Fax: Website: njbankruptcyinformation.com

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