Declaring bankruptcy can be a complicated and intimidating process. In addition to the mental and emotional toll it can take on an individual, one must also pay attention to the many rules and procedures that must be followed in order to ensure a successful resolution in bankruptcy court. Lansing bankruptcy attorney Steven M. Feigelson has the extensive knowledge and experience necessary to help make your bankruptcy proceedings as straightforward and efficient as possible. He is committed to understanding the unique aspects of each client’s financial circumstances, and will fight for the best outcome possible for you.Bankruptcy Overview
Bankruptcy is a process available to all individuals who find themselves overwhelmed by debt and in need of assistance and relief. The bankruptcy process recognizes that all of us may face the prospect of unexpected circumstances such as a natural disaster or illness that leave us in an unmanageable financial situation. Bankruptcy protection provides an avenue of relief from such debt and its associated stresses. It is a means of seeking a “fresh start.” Bankruptcy may be a good option for you if:
- You have debts you are unable to pay
- You are experiencing frequent calls from creditors or lawyers
- You are facing foreclosure or repossession
- You are facing the prospect of wage garnishment
Bankruptcy is governed by the United States Constitution and certain federal laws, including the federal Bankruptcy Code. For this reason, bankruptcy proceedings must occur in federal court. However, while federal law may govern procedure in bankruptcy cases, state law is used to determine many aspects of property rights, including exemptions, which are rules that prevent creditors from accessing certain types of personal property.Types of Bankruptcy
Individuals facing bankruptcy have the option of choosing between different kinds of bankruptcy proceedings, but the two most common are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as “liquidation.” This is the most common type of bankruptcy, and involves the court collecting and selling all of your non-exempt assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible. Because exemptions usually cover most essential property, such as a home or pension, many times in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy there are very few assets for the court to collect. It is also important to be aware that in order to be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a “means test,” which will determine whether your income is sufficiently low to qualify you for Chapter 7.
The other most common type of bankruptcy is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is known as a “reorganization.” Under Chapter 13, an individual is allowed to keep most or all of his or her property, but must create a long-term plan to use assets and income to pay off debts over time.
Small businesses in Michigan have the option to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is specifically for businesses, and allows them an opportunity to reorganize their assets and debt in an effort to continue to operate.Bankruptcy in Michigan
Bankruptcy proceedings in Michigan occur in the federal District Court. There are two bankruptcy districts in Michigan, the Eastern District , which is centered in Detroit, and the Western District , which is centered in Grand Rapids. However, each district also has more local offices where Michigan residents can file.
Michigan law governs many of the rules regarding what property an individual can keep when they declare bankruptcy, and what property must be relinquished . Thus, for instance, in Michigan you are allowed to keep your disability or health benefits, public employee pensions, and household goods up to $3,525 in value when you declare a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, Michigan law also allows you to choose between whether you would like to use the Michigan exemptions for property or the federal exemptions, so if you believe federal exemptions would be more appropriate for your circumstances, that option is available.
The rules governing exemptions in Michigan can be very complex and require you to take into consideration the value of your property, any loans you may have, and other calculations based on overall income and marital status. For this reason, it is very important to find a bankruptcy attorney who understands both federal bankruptcy procedure and the specifics of Michigan’s specific bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy can be a complicated process, but a qualified bankruptcy attorney will know how to guide you through it with minimal confusion.Helping You Get a Fresh Start
Choosing to file bankruptcy is a difficult decision that requires careful consideration. Although it may seem like bankruptcy can be a devastating or embarrassing process, the reality is that the purpose of bankruptcy is to help you get back on your feet. Michigan bankruptcy lawyer Steven M. Feigelson believes in the power of bankruptcy to help clients start over, and is here to help you make the best decisions about your financial situation. For more information about your bankruptcy options, contact us at 517-333-3373 or online. We proudly serve a number of local communities in the greater Lansing area, including Dewitt, Charlotte, and Howell.