Baltimore Bankruptcy Lawyers
Filing for Bankruptcy in Maryland
When you file bankruptcy, you are able to keep some or all of your property by exempting it from the bankruptcy estate. Maryland law allows a debtor to protect approximately $12,000 of personal property of any type (household furnishings, clothing, bank accounts, tax refunds, etc.). Additional other types of property are also exempt. For example, a mechanic or other tradesperson may protect an additional $5,000 in tools. Life insurance proceeds, back child support payments, burial plots and retirement benefits are also exempt. Recently, Maryland also began to allow individual homeowners to exempt just over $21,000 of the equity in their primary residence, thus making it easier for homeowners to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Baltimore bankruptcy lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will assist you in protecting as much of your hard-earned property as possible from the creditors during bankruptcy.
Not all debts are excused when you file bankruptcy in Maryland. While most unsecured debts, such as credit card bills, personal loans, and medical bills, are wiped out, you will still be responsible for some debts even after your bankruptcy is finalized. Examples of some non-dischargeable debts are:
- Alimony and child support
- Criminal and traffic fines, including drunk driving penalties and traffic tickets
- Most taxes, including income tax debts that are less than three years old
- Virtually all student loans and other education-related debts
Creditors can also object to certain debts being discharged during your case depending upon the circumstances surrounding the creation of those debts. For example, creditors can often object to the discharge of large debts incurred in the days and weeks just before the filing of the bankruptcy case. Creditors will also object to the discharge of debts created through fraud.
A reaffirmation agreement is a court-approved agreement between the debtor and creditor to “remove” a debt from bankruptcy case. The debt will not be discharged and the debtor will continue to pay the debt after the bankruptcy case is concluded. Generally, debtors reaffirm debts secured by their house or car so that they can keep that property. However, a debtor may elect to reaffirm a debt to a credit union in order to preserve their membership in that credit union. A reaffirmation agreement must receive court approval, and the court will generally only approve an agreement that does not pose a hardship upon the debtor.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Services
LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton has been assisting clients through the bankruptcy process for many years. Our Maryland bankruptcy lawyers meet with you to discuss your financial situation and to determine whether bankruptcy is right for you. Our lawyers will also advise you as to which type of bankruptcy you can and should file. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most commonly filed type of bankruptcy, depending upon your particular financial situation, it may not be the best type of case to file. LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will assist you in gathering all necessary paperwork to ensure that your petition is fully and accurately completed so you do not experience any unnecessary delays or problems with your application.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Repayment Plans
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan runs up to 60 months (five years). The plan cannot run longer than 60 months, but can last for shorter periods of time. Under Chapter 13, a debtor submits a plan to the court detailing how much he or she will pay to his or her creditors each month, and when certain creditors are to be paid. Once a legally acceptable plan is approved by the Bankruptcy Court, your monthly payments to the Chapter 13 trustee will be distributed to the creditors. In most cases, after the successful completion of all plan payments, the remaining balances owed to the creditors will be excused (“discharged”). The monthly plan payments begin thirty (30) days after your case is filed, and continue until your case is concluded.
The payment of certain non-dischargeable debts takes priority over the payment of other debts during a Chapter 13 case. Domestic support obligations (alimony and child support payments) and recent tax debts must be paid first and must be paid in full during the Chapter 13 case, for the Bankruptcy Court to approve a Chapter 13 plan.
Often persons file Chapter 13 cases to catch up on debts that are secured by their house and car so that they can save that property from foreclosure or repossession. Under the Chapter 13 plan, the debtor will generally continue to make the current payments according to the terms of their contract with the creditor while at the same time start catching up on back payments (arrearage) owed to the creditor. However, sometimes a debtor may elect to entirely restructure their secured debt so that it is paid off through the plan.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Services
LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton provides assistance to residents of Baltimore and other areas of Maryland seeking debt relief under Chapter 13. Our Baltimore bankruptcy lawyers have firsthand experience walking many clients through the Chapter 13 process and may be able to do the same for you. We do everything possible to protect your interest and help you on your way to a fresh start. Unlike some bankruptcy petition preparation services, our lawyers will attend the meeting of creditors with you. We will appear on your behalf during court hearings and will negotiate with the trustee to create a legally acceptable and administrable Chapter 13 plan.
Contact LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for a Free Consultation with a Baltimore Bankruptcy Lawyer Experienced in Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Cases
Contact LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Baltimore bankruptcy lawyers. We keep flexible office hours and have offices available in Columbia, Towson or Glen Burnie, in addition to our main Baltimore City office, and are happy to answer any questions you may have.