Can a Married Person File Taxes Without Their Spouse?

A married couple filing income tax returns can choose to do so married filing jointly or married filing separately. In the past, the primary reason for filing separate tax returns was to shield one spouse from the tax liability of the other spouse. Couples filing separate returns paid much more in income taxes than couples filing joint returns. Today, with tax law changes, there are situations where filing separately can result in a lower combined tax burden.

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IRS Wage Garnishments

If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) garnishes your wages for unpaid tax debts, you do have options to stop the IRS. There are a few different tax procedures you can use to stop a garnishment. In some cases, it may even be a good idea to file bankruptcy.

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When Should You File for Bankruptcy?

Millions of Americans feel overwhelmed by debt, but that doesn’t mean all of them should file bankruptcy. There are multiple paths to debt relief, depending on your unique circumstances. Bankruptcy is only one. However, when other possible solutions, such as debt settlement and debt consolidation fall short, bankruptcy may be the most effective way to discharge debt and get the fresh start you need. Read on for more information about the different types of bankruptcy, and how to determine if filing might be right for you.

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Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt?

Whether you are liable for your spouse's debts depends on a few different factors. First, you need to know if you live in a common-law state or a community property state. Second, what kind of debt is it? Is it tax debt? Is it a debt secured by your property? Third, if it is a credit card debt, are you a joint owner of the account, or are you only an authorized user? With any debt, you will be liable if you are a joint owner of the account. As a general rule, an authorized user on a credit card will not be liable. All these factors matter.

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How Can I File Chapter 7 and Keep My House?

If after careful research you determine that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for your circumstances, you may be wondering if it’s possible to wipe away credit card debt and other unsecured loans, but hang on to your house. The short answer is *it depends*. If you’re current on your mortgage and there is not much equity in your home, it is likely that you can keep your house. However, the opposite may be true if there is significant equity in the home, or if you are behind on your mortgage payments. Read on for more information about how filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy might affect your mortgage and property rights.

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Sued For a Credit Card You Can’t Pay? Find Out How to Settle Credit Card Debt Before Going to Court in 6 Steps

If you have a pile of unpaid debt from a credit card that you aren’t able to make even the minimum monthly credit card payments on, you might be facing a credit card lawsuit. Many companies will consider filing this kind of lawsuit about six months after someone stops paying. To avoid facing debt lawsuits, you can try to work out a settlement with your credit card so you can get some debt relief without paying the full amount of debt. Read on to learn some tips to prepare for negotiations.

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Car Repossession 101

Having your car repossessed can feel very sudden, like a slap in the face. Many states don’t require any paperwork about repossession before a car is towed. In some cases, itcan be repossessed after only 30 days of no car payments on the loan. This article will answer some common questions about vehicle repossession, including why does it happen, what the steps are in this process, and how you can get your car back, after it’s been repossessed.

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How to Find Out What Debt Collectors You Owe

If it feels like you’re drowning in a sea of debt, it can seem impossible to find a life raft. Getting a handle on who you owe, and how much money you owe them is an important first step to sorting out your personal finances. Even though this can be intimidating and might feel hopeless, by going through everything and letting it air out, you’ll be able to take some concrete steps towards moving past your debts. This article will give you some tips for taking the bull by the horn and sorting out your financial life.

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Are You Getting Calls From Collection Agencies and Worried What Might Happen? Find Out Here!

Calls from debt collectors are stressful and - if you don’t know what to expect they can be downright scary. Learn whether a collection agency can sue you and how to protect your rights, so you’re ready the next time a collection agency calls.

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What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Collection Agency?

Filing for bankruptcy relief does not mean that you have to give up everything you own. The purpose of filing a bankruptcy case is to get debt relief. The fresh start provided by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy would not be a real fresh start if the filer ends up losing all of their belongings. That's where the bankruptcy exemptions come in.

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Chapter 13 and Your Credit Report: What You Should Know

Bankruptcy provides relief to those who can’t afford to pay their debts as they come due. Oftentimes folks filing bankruptcy have fallen behind on their debt payments and their credit score has already taken the hit. But, that’s not always the case and this is especially true for folks filing Chapter 13 to reorganize their debt, rather than eliminate it completely through [Chapter 7 bankruptcy](https://upsolve.org/learn/chapter-7-versus-chapter-13-bankruptcy/). This article will explore the effect of Chapter 13 bankruptcy on your credit report and credit score.

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Completing the Debtor Education Course After Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Everyone seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief has to complete a mandatory credit counseling class before their case can be filed with the [bankruptcy court](https://upsolve.org/learn/definition-bankruptcy-court/). This has to be done in the 6 months before the case is filed. But what about the second required course? What is that all about and when is the best time to take it? Keep reading to find out.

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What Are the Wyoming Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Some states allow their residents to choose between claiming state exemptions and federal exemptions; Wyoming is not one of these states. As a result, you don’t have to worry about learning more about federal bankruptcy exemptions. While much of your case will be impacted by the federal Bankruptcy Code and federal law, this is one area where you’ll generally only need to pay attention to state law, with a few exceptions. The only exception to this rule comes into play if you’ve lived in Wyoming for less than two years. In this case, you may need to claim exemptions according to the federal Bankruptcy Code or the law of your previous state of residence.

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What Are the West Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Claiming bankruptcy exemptions is straightforward for West Virginia residents because the state doesn’t allow filers to claim federal bankruptcy exemptions. A minority of states allow their residents to choose between applying state exemptions and federal exemptions to their property. However, because West Virginia is part of the majority, you’ll only need to worry about applying state-specific exemptions and federal nonbankruptcy exemptions to your assets. Take note however, that if you moved to West Virginia less than two years ago, you may need to deal with exempt property matters according to the law of your state of previous residence.

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What Are the Washington DC Bankruptcy Exemptions?

District of Columbia law allows Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers to apply either federal bankruptcy exemptions or exemptions unique to the District (including certain federal nonbankruptcy exemptions) to their property. This means that you can choose whichever exemption structure is more financially advantageous for your situation, although you may not “pick and choose” exemptions from both structures. The information listed below will help you to compare and contrast the pros and cons of each approach. Note however, that if you moved to the District of Columbia less than two years ago, you may be required to exempt property according to the state exemption laws of your prior state of residence.

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What Your Bank Statements Tell the Bankruptcy Trustee

Even though it is not a formal requirement under the Bankruptcy Code, most Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees ask filers to provide them with a copy of their bank account statement before the 341 meeting. Many ask for the statement that covers the filing date while some request several months of bank statements. Why are the trustees requesting this information?  It’s not to see how much you spent on take-out last month or to judge you for buying your lunch at the QuickTrip by your work every day. Instead, they’re looking for information that may not be anywhere else on your bankruptcy forms. Let’s find out what that might be! 

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What Are the Vermont Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Vermont is one of 16 states (and the District of Columbia) that allows residents to choose between claiming the state-specific exemptions (coupled with some federal nonbankruptcy exemptions) or the federal exemptions. Each structure is independent, meaning that you can only claim one or the other and may not “cherry pick” those that you like best from each approach. It’s important to compare each structure to determine which will benefit your situation more completely. Note that if you have lived in Vermont for less than 2 years, you may need to apply bankruptcy exemption law from your state of prior residence.

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What Are the South Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions?

South Dakota is among the majority of states that doesn’t allow residents to claim federal bankruptcy exemptions. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow residents to choose from their state exemption structure or the federal exemption structure per the federal Bankruptcy Code. As South Dakota does not, this makes the process of claiming exempt property more straightforward because you won’t have to compare two schemes to see which is more advantageous. As long as you’ve lived in South Dakota for a minimum of two years, you’ll apply state bankruptcy law and federal nonbankruptcy exemptions only when claiming exemptions for your personal property.

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What Are the Mississippi Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Under Mississippi law, almost all Mississippi residents must apply state exemptions to their property, as Mississippi doesn’t allow filers to claim federal exemptions unless an exception for a certain kind of property is allowed under federal law. Mississippi isn’t alone in this approach, as only 17 states allow filers to apply federal bankruptcy exemptions to their property instead of state exemptions. The only scenario under which you’d claim anything other than Mississippi exemptions is if you moved to Mississippi less than two years ago. Because Mississippi residents only have one exemption model to apply to their assets, the process of claiming exemptions is relatively straightforward.

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What Are the Montana Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Montana is not one of the 17 states that allows residents to claim federal exemptions instead of state-specific ones. As a result, as long as you’ve lived in Montana for at least two years, you’ll need to claim state-specific exemptions (as detailed by Montana law) to your property when filing for Montana bankruptcy. This makes the process of claiming bankruptcy exemptions fairly straightforward, as you don’t have to choose between the federal exemption scheme and the Montana exemptions. Simply claim every exemption that applies to you under state bankruptcy law and you’ll keep as much of your property safe from your trustee as possible.

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What Are the Rhode Island Bankruptcy Exemptions?

One important decision you’ll need to make when filling out your bankruptcy petition involves choosing which exemption statutes you’ll apply to your property. Rhode Island bankruptcy law allows residents (who have lived in the state for a minimum of 2 years) to claim either state exemptions or federal exemptions. It’s possible that you can exempt the same amount of property under both schemes, depending on what you own. But it’s also possible that you’ll benefit significantly by choosing one approach over the other. As you aren’t allowed to “cherry pick” exemptions from both structures, it’s important to compare and contrast the exemption types (including the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions) and amounts allowed under both schemes. That way, you can make an informed decision regarding which will serve you best.

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What Are the New Hampshire Bankruptcy Exemptions?

New Hampshire residents have a choice to make when claiming bankruptcy exemptions. As long as you’ve lived in New Hampshire for a minimum of 2 years, you can choose to claim either New Hampshire exemptions or exemptions under federal law. You aren’t allowed to pick and choose exemptions from both structures, so you’ll want to carefully compare and contrast the values of each (listed below) to determine whether state bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions will protect more of the property you own. Just remember that not all exempt property is created equal. For example, if you’re a homeowner, you may want to take advantage of a superior homestead exemption, even if a particular approach offers less in the way of personal property exemptions. Note that you can take advantage of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, even if you choose to apply New Hampshire exemptions to your case.

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What Are the North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions?

One straightforward thing about filing for bankruptcy in North Dakota is that it doesn’t allow residents to claim federal bankruptcy exemptions. Although 17 jurisdictions in the United States do allow residents to apply federal exemptions to their property, North Dakota law doesn’t provide a choice between federal exemptions and state exemptions. Therefore, unless you moved to North Dakota less than 2 years ago, you don’t have to worry about comparing state law with federal law in this regard. Simply evaluate the North Dakota exemptions listed below and claim them if they apply to you. However, if you have qualifying assets, you will also want to take the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions into consideration in addition to the state-specific structure.

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What Are the Arkansas Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Most states only allow residents to apply their specific state’s exemptions to their property. However, Arkansas is one of 17 states that allows most residents to choose between the federal exemption scheme and exemptions allowed by Arkansas law. You can only apply one structure to your case, so it’s important to compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of each approach before committing to one or the other. As long as you’ve lived in Arkansas for at least 2 years, you can choose whichever approach will allow you broader bankruptcy protection for your property.

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What Are the Kentucky Bankruptcy Exemptions?

The exemption amounts available to you will depend on whether you choose to apply Kentucky bankruptcy exemptions or federal exemptions to your property. Kentucky law allows residents who have lived in the state for at least 2 years to choose between the Kentucky exemption structure and the federal exemption structure. You can’t “pick and choose” between structures, so it’s important to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each before deciding which will be most financially beneficial for your situation. Below, you’ll find detailed information about each structure so that you can determine which will be most advantageous for your family.

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What Are the Iowa Bankruptcy Exemptions?

You may have heard about federal exemptions before, but you won’t need to worry about them when filing bankruptcy in Iowa. State law only allows Iowa residents to claim Iowa exemptions and doesn’t give filers the choice to apply federal bankruptcy exemptions to their property instead. This Iowa law isn’t an unusual approach, as only 17 states in the U.S. allow residents to choose between state-specific bankruptcy exemptions and exemption laws provided by the federal Bankruptcy Code. Note however that if you moved to Iowa within 2 years of filing for bankruptcy, you may be subject to a different set of exemption standards than long-time Iowa residents are.

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What Are the South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Only 17 states allow their residents to choose between claiming state exemptions and federal bankruptcy exemptions. South Carolina is not one of these states. Instead, South Carolina law provides residents with state-specific exemptions and does not allow its residents to claim federal exemptions. While some federal law in the Bankruptcy Code does influence how some South Carolina exemptions are structured, the kinds of exempt property filers can claim and the exemption amounts that apply to bankruptcy cases are state-specific. It’s important to note that if you have lived in South Carolina for less than 2 years, you may not be able to claim South Carolina’s exemptions to your property.

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What Are the Connecticut Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allows most residents to choose between its unique exemptions and federal exemptions. As you can’t “cherry pick” exemptions from both structures, it’s a good idea to compare how much property you can safeguard under both schemes. That way, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about whether to take advantage of Connecticut law or federal law when it comes to exemptions. Unless you’ve lived in Connecticut for less than 2 years, you can pick whichever structure is most financially advantageous for your unique situation. Detailed information concerning both options can be found below.

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What Are the Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Utah law does not allow residents to choose between claiming state-specific exemptions and federal exemptions. Instead, Utah Code specifies that residents who have lived in the state for at least two years must apply Utah exemptions to their property. While some states allow their residents to apply the federal structure of exemptions to their assets, Utah doesn’t, which makes the process of identifying exempt property and exemption values available to you more straightforward. All you need to remember is that to protect as much of your property as you can while you’re seeking debt relief and laying the groundwork for a fresh start, you’ll need to claim as many Utah exemptions to your property as are available and relevant to your situation.

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What Are the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Massachusetts law allows for most residents to choose between applying federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions to property that could be affected by the bankruptcy process. The only time that this choice is not available is if a filer is a new Massachusetts resident and has lived in the state for less than 2 years. By examining each approach below, you can determine whether your case will be served best by applying Massachusetts exemptions or by claiming those available under federal law. Oftentimes, both schemes do an equally adequate job of safeguarding a filer’s property. But sometimes, it’s advantageous to choose one option over the other.

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What Are the North Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Every state has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions. There’s also a set of federal exemptions contained in the United States Bankruptcy Code. Several states allow filers to choose whether to use state exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions, however, North Carolina doesn’t allow for the choice. If you’re a North Carolina resident filing bankruptcy, your only option is to use the North Carolina state bankruptcy exemptions. You can, however, use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions in addition to the North Carolina state exemptions for any other federal protections available, either within a bankruptcy or not, beyond the state exemptions.

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What Are the Kansas Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Kansas does not allow filers to choose between using state exemptions and the federal exemptions. If you have lived in Kansas for more than two years you must use Kansas state exemptions in your bankruptcy case. If you do not meet the two-year (730-day) residency requirement, then you need to use the 180-day rule to determine which state’s rules apply. With the 180-day rule, you should look to where you lived for the majority of the 180 days before two years prior to your filing date. In other words, where you lived two and a half years ago. Once you have surpassed that two-year mark, however, you’re only able to use Kansas state exemptions. Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy together in Kansas can double most of the exemption amounts, so long as both spouses have an ownership interest in the property. Additionally, filers in Kansas can also use the protections offered by the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions along with their state exemptions.

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What Are the Nevada Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Nevada has opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions. This means that if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nevada, presuming you fulfill the residency requirement, you must use the Nevada state exemptions for your bankruptcy case. There is one exception to this, which is if you have lived in Nevada for less than 730 days (two years), you don’t yet qualify to use the Nevada state exemptions. Instead, you’ll need to look back to where you lived during the 180 days before the two years prior to your filing, or roughly two and a half years ago. In either case, you will still have access to the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions in addition to your state exemptions.

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What Is a Lien and How Does It Affect My Property

A lien is a property right held by a creditor to secure the creditor’s right to payment from the borrower. Once the creditor is paid in full, the lien is released and the borrower owns the property free and clear. This article will provide an overview of the different types of liens, how they arise, and provide some guidance and additional resources on how to deal with liens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Confused about what happened at your reaffirmation hearing? You're not alone!

The process of reaffirming a loan - most often a loan secured by a vehicle - can be one of the most confusing aspects of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This article will go through the possible outcomes following a reaffirmation hearing and explain what each means. But first, let’s do a quick reaffirmation recap!

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What happens if your debt goes to a collections company?

Most of us have a pile of “to-dos” that never seem to be done. For many people, this includes a stack of bills and debts that just keep getting higher. As much as you’d love to pay off that medical debt, there’s never quite enough to go around on payday. Having this debt hang over your head can be really stressful. A lot of people sit up at night, worrying about what will happen next to their debt. Read more to find out what debt collectors can – and can’t – do, how they might legally be able to claim that money, and how this might affect your credit history.

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Bankruptcy and the Homestead Exemption

Bankruptcy exemptions play an important role in Chapter 7 cases, and the homestead exemption may be the most important of all. It’s the homestead exemption that makes it possible for many people to wipe out unsecured debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy without losing their homes. In this article, you’ll learn how the homestead exemption may protect your house in bankruptcy. We’ll also touch on some of the limitations of the homestead exemption. And, we’ll discuss alternatives for people who aren’t fully protected by their state’s exemptions.

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Can I buy or refinance a car during Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Yes, you can buy a new (to you) car while your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is pending. If possible, wait until your discharge has been granted as that will give you more negotiating power with the bank.

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What happens after the Meeting of Creditors?

The 341 meeting often marks the last official step the filer in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case has to complete. Here is what happens after the 341 meeting.

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How to calculate your income for your bankruptcy forms if you’re self-employed

If you're self-employed, you likely aren't getting regular paycheck stubs to help you figure out your monthly income. This article will provide some tips on how to figure out your income for your bankruptcy forms even without a paycheck stub. Your income is calculated differently depending on whether you have a business entity or are a sole proprietor or independent contractor. Let's first take a look at what is considered income depending on how your business is set up and then figure out how to calculate your income for your bankruptcy forms.

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Am I responsible for my business’s debts?

nfortunately, running a small business can be difficult, and sometimes businesses fail. Many small business owners that are struggling and look to bankruptcy as a tool to help them get out of debt. Many small business owners often wonder “Am I personally liable for the debts incurred because of my business?” To answer that question, we first need to define personal liability as it relates to bankruptcy.

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Converting a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Life happens to everyone, including those in a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Thankfully, the Bankruptcy Code provides a mechanism for changing (converting) your case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy if needed. Let’s take a look at what that entails exactly and what you should know about this affects your property and your debts.

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Bankruptcy Court - A Definition

The bankruptcy court is a federal court that oversees all bankruptcy cases filed in the United States.

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How to get back wages that were garnished before your bankruptcy was filed

In some cases, you may be able to get back some of your garnished wages. If the garnishment occurred 90 days before you filed bankruptcy then you could be entitled to the money they took from your paychecks if you have an exemption you can claim. Read this article to learn more about this possibility.

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6 simple steps to stop wage garnishment with bankruptcy

While this may sound like a scary process, you're mostly acting as the middle man, making sure that everyone is on the same page and is doing what they need to, so your next paycheck is not garnished again. Ultimately, if the creditor fails to take the necessary steps to stop the garnishment, you can ask the court to sanction them. The creditors - and their attorneys - know this and generally don't want to get called into court to explain their actions.

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3 Important Players in Bankruptcy Court

In addition to the person filing bankruptcy, other individuals who will play an important role in your bankruptcy case are your case trustee, your bankruptcy judge, and - if you have one - your bankruptcy attorney. Let’s take a look at some of the important players -other than your creditors - that you may encounter in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What are the Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Maine does not allow its residents to use federal bankruptcy exemptions at this time. While 17 states do allow most residents to choose between their state’s bankruptcy exemption structure and federal exemptions, Maine is one of the 33 states that requires residents to use Maine exemptions only. This means that if you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Maine, as long as you’ve lived in the state for a minimum of 2 years, you’ll only be applying Maine bankruptcy exemptions to your property (except where state bankruptcy law allows for the limited use of very specific federal exemptions as add-ons).

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What are the Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Identifying available bankruptcy exemptions is relatively straightforward in Oklahoma, because state law doesn’t allow residents to claim federal bankruptcy exemptions. While 17 states do allow residents to choose between state and federal exemptions, Oklahoma does not. As a result, if you have lived in Oklahoma for at least two years, the bankruptcy court will only allow you to claim Oklahoma’s unique state exemptions. You can learn about each of the exemptions available to you in the information listed below. As you’re reading this information, jot down any questions that it inspires so that you can reference them easily if you choose to meet with a bankruptcy attorney.

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What are the New Mexico Bankruptcy Exemptions?

In New Mexico, filers are generally allowed to choose between applying federal bankruptcy exemptions or state-specific bankruptcy exemptions to their property. This means that most filers can take advantage of either exemption structure, depending on which will yield the most favorable results. However, if you haven’t lived in New Mexico for a minimum of two years, you may be required to use a specific exemption structure in accordance with federal and state laws. This approach aims to prevent people from moving to a different state to take advantage of the best exemption offerings available.

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How do I know if my trustee is going to seize an asset?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy and if the filer has property that is not protected by the available exemptions, the bankruptcy trustee sells the property for the benefit of all unsecured creditors. The vast majority of all consumer Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases filed in the United States do not result in the sale of any assets by the trustee. Trustees never simply come and take an asset - whether that’s money in your bank account or a boat sitting in your driveway. Let’s look at what you can review to determine whether your trustee is likely to seize an asset from you and what to expect once your case is filed.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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