Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated August 1, 2019
If you are overwhelmed with debt, filing a West Virginia bankruptcy may be an option to help you get back on your feet and start enjoying your life in the Mountain State. Bankruptcy laws were enacted to help the “honest” but “unfortunate debtor” get a fresh start. One of the major changes Congress made to the bankruptcy laws was the additional requirement of the Chapter 7 Means Test that debtors must pass in order to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia. This test was enacted to stop people from filing fraudulent bankruptcies. In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the bankruptcy Means Test in West Virginia. The Means Test determines who is eligible for almost immediate debt forgiveness under Chapter 7, and who should pay at least as much as their budget allows for 5 years before getting their discharge. If your monthly income is below the median income for a family of your size in West Virginia, you pass the Chapter 7 Means Test. If your income is higher and it doesn’t look like you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of it, remember that this means that you’re better off than a lot of people. Plus, you still have another chance to qualify! You’ll have to go to the second part of the bankruptcy Means Test in West Virginia, which looks at your disposable income after your monthly expenses. If you still do not qualify, then you may consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
West Virginia Median Income Levels
West Virginia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Discharge in Bankruptcy for West Virginia
A West Virginia bankruptcy discharge is the result you want when your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is complete. This is when the West Virginia Bankruptcy Court enters an order stating that you’re no longer obligated to pay your creditors. If you get to this point, congratulations! Your bankruptcy is almost complete. The discharge order means that creditors can’t garnish you, call you, send demand letters, or take any action against you for your unpaid debt from the time before your West Virginia bankruptcy case was filed with the Court. The discharge order is usually mailed to your home 2 - 3 months after your court date. Once the discharge is entered, the case usually closes a short period of time later. Keep in mind that not every debt may be discharged, even though you received a discharge order.
West Virginia Means Test Calculator
If your income is higher than West Virginia’s median income for your household size, then you will have to complete the second portion of the Chapter 7 Means Test. In order to complete the second part of the bankruptcy Means Test in West Virginia, you’ll need to know your monthly expenses. The Means Test allows you to deduct certain reasonable expenses; some are pre-determined and some are not, so it may seem confusing at first. Many websites provide calculators to help you complete the Chapter 7 Means Test. You can type in the words “West Virginia Means Test calculator” into your search engine, and you will see quite a few results pop up. Make sure that you understand how to use the calculator and that the information being provided to you is the most up-to-date information. If you file a Chapter 7 even though you don’t qualify, the Court will throw out your case (and you lose the court filing fee), so it’s really important to make sure that you qualify. If your debt is primarily business debt you may be exempt from having to qualify under the Chapter 7 Means Test. This means you can file a Chapter 7 even if you have a higher income. Upsolve is a nonprofit organization that helps low income Americans file bankruptcy free of charge.
What Happens If I Fail The Means Test for West Virginia?
If you don’t pass the Chapter 7 Means Test, then you may want to consider reviewing the numbers you entered to make sure they were accurately entered. Sometimes, even a slight mistake throws off the entire calculation. You may be able to wait to file your West Virginia bankruptcy and see if you qualify in a few months. Since the Means Test averages your income from the last six months, if your income recently decreased, you may pass the Chapter 7 Means Test down the road. For example, if you had an annual salary of $170,000 the past seven months but lost your job last month and now have no income, you may qualify if you can’t find new employment and wait 6 months. If you are expecting a baby or getting a divorce in the near future this can also impact your calculations. Further, you may want to look into your monthly expenses. Do you have health insurance? Do you have life insurance? If not, do you need it? Are you thinking about leasing or financing a vehicle in the next few months to help you get to and from work? Will your kids start school that you will have to pay for in the upcoming months? If all other options have been exhausted you may consider filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If you believe that you don’t qualify under the Chapter 7 Means Test, then you may want to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer. Many lawyers give free consultations, and they may be able to help determine if you qualify.