Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Representation in Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties
If you do not currently have income and have no way of paying off mounting debt, it is likely time to seek professional assistance, especially if you are receiving frequent calls from creditors. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you temporarily stop collection actions and eliminate certain types of unsecured debt.
Jim Young is an Elgin Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer with 30 years of experience. He has helped over 5,000 people secure debt relief and the fresh starts they need to live a better life. When you choose to work with James Young Law, you receive hands-on access to Jim, who will work closely with you from start to finish. As a former Special Assistant Attorney General, Jim has a complete understanding of the law and how to effectively navigate the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. No matter your circumstances, he will always work to make the most of your filing.
Am I Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Illinois?
As a consumer, you will most likely only qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You are likely a better candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have little to no current income. If you have been unable to secure consistent employment, for example, you may qualify.
To verify your eligibility, you must complete a Means Test, which involves comparing your current income to the median average income for your household size in Illinois. If you make less than this number, you qualify for Chapter 7, but if you make more, you will need to determine your current level of disposable income. Subtract allowable expenses from your gross income and see how much is left over. If your disposable income is close to zero, you may still be eligible for Chapter 7.
If you have a substantial amount of disposable income, you are likely only eligible for Chapter 13 relief. The Elgin Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney at James Young Law can assess your financial situation, advise whether you qualify, and walk you through what filing can accomplish in your case.
How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works in Illinois
When you formally file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will receive immediate, temporary protection from collection actions, including creditor lawsuits, wage garnishments, foreclosures, and repossessions. The court order that halts these actions, known as the “automatic stay,” will generally stay in place until your case has concluded.
The bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee who will oversee your case, and you will be expected to attend a (typically brief) meeting of the creditors. Your lawyer can accompany you to this meeting.
To secure a discharge of qualifying unsecured debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must liquidate non-exempt assets. These assets will be sold to partially pay back your creditors. Fortunately, many of your assets can be “exempted.” You get to keep exempt assets, meaning many filers lose very little – or even nothing at all.
A legal professional can help you exercise all available exemptions, including:
- Up to $15,000 of equity in your home
- Up to $2,400 of equity in a motor vehicle
- Up to $4,000 of value in any asset of your choosing (the “wildcard” exemption)
- Up to $1,500 of value in tools of your trade
- The full amount of any funds necessary for child and spousal support
- Health aids
- Essential clothing
- Public assistance funds (including unemployment compensation) you have yet to receive
After liquidating non-exempt assets, you will generally get permission to discharge your remaining unsecured debts. You will no longer have to worry about your credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, or unpaid utility bills.
Some types of debt cannot be eliminated through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Recent tax debt, missed child or spousal support payments, and student loan debt are all not typically dischargeable. You also cannot eliminate secured debts without losing the assets tied to them.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a relatively fast process, and, in many cases, you can secure a discharge within several months. The Elgin Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at James Young Law is prepared to serve as your guide and ensure you make the most of your filing. Jim Young can also help you address and overcome any obstacles that you may encounter.