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Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy?

4 minute read Upsolve is a nonprofit tool that helps you file bankruptcy for free. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we'll never ask you for a credit card. Explore our free tool


In a Nutshell

Do you qualify for bankruptcy? There are a lot of things to consider, and we try to break it down for you. At Upsolve, we provide free Chapter 7 bankruptcy services for those in need of a fresh start.

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 10, 2020


Do I qualify for bankruptcy? That is a question many Americans ask themselves each day. If you're struggling with debts you can't pay, you may qualify to file for debt relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.

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Anita Thompson
Anita Thompson
★★★★★ 10 days ago
Upsolve was my answer to filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I couldn't afford an attorney and I was able to fill out the forms on my smartphone. It was explained in an easy-to-use format for the everyday lay person. This software is free to use and has YouTube videos as well. I highly recommend using Upsolve if you cannot afford an attorney.
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David
David
★★★★★ 11 days ago
I just had my 341 Meeting on May 5th at 10:30 am. The trustee first asked me to be sworn in by standing and raising my right hand. It was a little weird getting out my car, standing and raising my hand because I had to work that day, but I did so. I had to confirm my name for the record and have I read the bankruptcy information sheet; did I my petitions, and am I the one that signed then. Then the yes or no questions started exactly like the Upsolve 341 Meeting video. Have I filed bankruptcy before; my marital status; length of time since my divorce; do I owe alimony or child support; am I renting; place of employment; do I own a car; how much did I pay for it; have I ever owned real estate; view and verify the information on my tax form; have I listed all creditors. The trustee then said that he needed no further information, and there is nothing more I need to do and this concludes the meeting and I can hang up and finally breathed. The meeting lasted about 15 to 20 minutes! Now I’m waiting for the 60 days to be over, and pray that there truly is nothing more for me to do. Thank you so much Upsolve for being there for me, and for the chest compressions when the stress seemed a little too much at times. Your platform has truly been a blessing. I couldn’t have done this on my own. My prayers to everyone! Remember to breathe. One final thing. The questions that are asked by the trustee are not verbatim. They are similar. Just listen carefully and answer.
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Franky Gonzalez
Franky Gonzalez
★★★★★ 12 days ago
I was kinda scared at first to use with recommendation from local pro bono legal service told me use this service to file. I took me a few months to finally file. finally did it and what a huge relief. the community in general is very helpful.
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What is a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case?

Before you begin the process to determine if you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, it helps to understand what a Chapter 7 case involves. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case allows a filer (called the "debtor") to get rid of most, if not all, or their unsecured debts. In most cases, the debtor gets rid of all debt while keeping all property.[1]

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can eliminate debts including:

  • Credit card debt

  • Medical bills

  • Unpaid rent or lease payments

  • Personal loans

  • Old personal income taxes

  • Old utility bills

  • Most judgment debts

Some debts are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, including alimony, child support, and student loans.

Secured debts must be paid if you want to keep the property you used as collateral to obtain the loan. However, you can get rid of secured debt in Chapter 7 by surrendering the property.

By surrendering secured collateral through a Chapter 7 case, you get rid of the debt without worrying about owing the creditor a deficiency judgment if the sales proceeds from the property don't cover the full loan balance.

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case helps you get out of financial trouble when you find yourself hopelessly struggling to pay debts you can't afford to pay. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge gives you the freedom you need from financial problems so that you can focus on a better future for you and your family.

Who Can File for Bankruptcy Relief? Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy?

Individuals, couples, and businesses can qualify to file for bankruptcy relief. Businesses usually always qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition if the business is shutting down. But, consumers (filing by themselves or with their spouse) must meet several requirements if they want to discharge debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy Under Chapter 7 If I Already Filed a Bankruptcy Case?

If you have filed a prior bankruptcy case, you must determine if you qualify to receive another bankruptcy discharge. While it's possible to file multiple bankruptcy cases in a life time, a certain amount of time must pass between cases before someone can ask for another discharge. If your prior case didn't result in a discharge, there's no time limitation but you may have to deal with a shorter than usual automatic stay.

The time that has to pass between cases depends on which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code the cases are filed under. This article contains a detailed overview of all time limits for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy if I Have a Job?

Another qualification for discharging consumer debts in a Chapter 7 is an income limit. If you're asking “Do I qualify for bankruptcy even if I have a job,” the answer is maybe.

Chapter 7 is typically reserved for individuals who don't make enough money to pay their regular living expenses and their debts. Some people qualify for Chapter 7 even if they have some disposable income after paying necessary living expenses each month.

Before you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, you need to complete a Means Test. The means test calculation is formula to answer the question, “Do I qualify for bankruptcy under Chapter 7.”

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy if I Have No or Low Income?

The bankruptcy means test compares your family income to the to the median household income for your household size. The means test calculation determines your average income based on the past six months to arrive at an current monthly income.

Your average annual income is compared to the median annual income of a household of your size in your area. If your income is below the average income level, you meet the income qualification to file Chapter 7.

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy if I Have Some Income?

If your household income exceeds the median income level established for a household in your area, you must complete the second section of the Mean Test to answer your question, “Do I qualify for bankruptcy under Chapter 7.”

The second section of the Means Test allows you to deduct certain household expenses from your average monthly income. Once you deduct all allowable monthly expenses, you may qualify to file under Chapter 7 if your disposable income is not enough to make meaningful monthly payments in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If your income exceeds the maximum amount of disposable income in Chapter 7, you may want to consider filing for debt relief under Chapter 13. If most of your debt is business debt, you don't have to complete the Chapter 7 means test before filing bankruptcy.

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy Under Chapter 7 if I Own Assets?

Another issue many people worry about is whether they might lose their home, car, or other property if they file bankruptcy. The potential for losing property is one of the reasons people do not even bother asking “Do I qualify for bankruptcy.”

The good news is that most Chapter 7 debts keep all their property while getting rid of debt. By using bankruptcy exemptions, you can protect your property from the bankruptcy court and your creditors.

Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy to Get Out of Debt?

Many people ask this question each day because they are struggling to keep their heads above water. It's extremely easy to get upside-down when you face financial hardships. Losing your job, becoming ill or injured, going through a divorce, or losing your spouse can cause you to experience financial trouble.

Upsolve is a non-profit organization. Our free tool helps folks who need bankruptcy relief, but can't afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to help them. We want to help you get a fresh start, so you can move past a financial crisis. We do not charge for our services. You can watch videos of past users who have found debt relief without hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy attorneys provide a valuable service to the public. However, some people can't afford to pay a law firm for help. With Upsolve's free tool, you can join the millions of people who have gotten a second chance with bankruptcy even though you can't afford to pay a bankruptcy attorney.


Sources:

  1. American Bankruptcy Institute. (2002). Bankruptcy by the Numbers - Chapter 7 Asset Cases. ABI Journal. Retrieved August 4, 2020, from https://www.abi.org/abi-journal/chapter-7-asset-cases

Written By:

Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad

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Kristin is a recipient of Harvard Law School’s Public Welfare Foundation A2J Tech Fellowship. At Harvard Law, she served as a member of the Harvard Defenders, the Women’s Law Association, and the Harvard Law Negotiation Review. She was the 2016 – 2017 president of the Harvard Bla... read more about Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad

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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.