Bankruptcy is a legal process established and regulated by federal law. Bankruptcy can provide individuals and businesses who have incurred difficult financial times a much needed fresh start and an opportunity to re-group.
The process initiates an immediate stay of collection activity and may ultimately result in financial debt and obligation being eliminated or discharged.
In some instances it involves developing a financial plan to restructure your financial obligations, a court approved plan to repay your debtors. In other instances it will require the sale of some of your assets to satisfy your debt obligation.
Bankruptcy cases are filed in federal judicial districts, usually in a bankruptcy court and require the assistance of a knowledgeable, experienced attorney. Our attorneys are experienced and licensed in all the federal bankruptcy courts within the State of Oklahoma, as well as in Washington DC, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Federal law provides for four types of bankruptcy. Your Sullivent & Fontanez attorney will examine your situation and, with your guidance, decide if this is the appropriate type of bankruptcy to pursue.
- A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy. Liquidation means that you will be required to sell some of your assets to pay off your debt. You do not need to be penniless to qualify; however, the court appointed “trustee” will take ownership of your non-exempt assets, sell them, and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. You can earn a monthly income and still file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy is used by business and individuals who have very large debt that can be restructured without closing down the business.
- A Chapter 12 bankruptcy is employed by family farmers.
- A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a plan be filed with the court whereby a business or individual can continue to function and the debts can be paid, over time, from current operations and income.
Private individuals will generally file either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and a Chapter 11 can save your business. Contact our attorneys at Sullivent & Fontanez to consider which type will best satisfy your situation and get you back on your feet.
It is unlikely that all of your debts will be eliminated or discharged. Some instances of debt that cannot be discharged are student loans, child support, income taxes, debts from a property settlement in a divorce, and personal injury costs to you or others that are the result of drug or alcohol use. Also not eliminated are loans that are secured by collateral, such as car loans and home loans.
Most credit card debt, small short-term loans, medical bills, past due rent, unpaid utility bills, rental contracts, or personal loans between yourself and family members may be discharged. As a general rule, most unsecured debt can be discharged.
Bankruptcy will also stop foreclosure on your home to allow you to catch up on your payments, prevent repossession of your car, restore terminated utility services, stop wage garnishment, and other creditor actions used to collect debt.
The State of Oklahoma has produced a list of property items that the state has declared to be “exempt” from the creditors’ claims. It is likely your homestead is exempt if it has been your principal residence for a stipulated period of time. There are also a variety of stipulations regarding size, value, location, and the properties purpose. Items that are exempt include kitchen and household furniture, tools that you use in your occupation up to $10,000, personal clothing up to $4,000 in value, wedding and anniversary rings up to $3,000 in value, guns not exceeding $2,000 in value, and burial plots.
However, if a property or item has been used as collateral to secure a loan it is not exempt.
The experienced, knowledgeable attorneys at Sullivent & Fontanez will work with you to get a better understanding of which properties or items will be considered exempt.
Generally, the process can take anywhere from four to six months. However, this will vary depending on the type of bankruptcy that is filed and the complexity of your finances and your estate. Our attorneys will have a consultation meeting with you and request several documents from you. Within a week of receiving these documents and the filing fee, we will file your case with the court. All collection activity will cease at this time.
Shortly after filing a trustee will be appointed by the bankruptcy court. The court will also set a date for meeting with the creditors. This is usually a short meeting since there is no requirement that creditors be, and they have about fifty days to provide information concerning unpaid debt. If you dispute any of the creditors’ claims, the bankruptcy process will take a little longer. The attorneys at Sullivent & Fontanez will provide guidance in your decision throughout this process.
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- AddressSullivent & Fontanez, PLLC
616 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119