Are bill collectors harassing you? Are you facing a foreclosure or repossession? If the answer is yes, then personal bankruptcy may help you regain your financial security.
Bankruptcy is a federal law that allows you to manage and, in some cases, eliminate, your debts. Individuals filing for bankruptcy in Oklahoma may choose either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you surrender your non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee, who then sells them to make payments to your creditors. Many individuals own only exempt property and thus do not lose any of their property. Alternatively, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may usually keep all of your property; however, you must pay your disposable income to a trustee, who distributes the payments to your creditors under a plan approved by the court.
Where Do I File for Bankruptcy?
Oklahoma has the following three bankruptcy courts:
- Western District, located in Oklahoma City
- Northern District, located in Tulsa
- Eastern District , which is primarily located in Okmulgee, with a satellite office in McAlester.
Your place of residence determines the bankruptcy court where your bankruptcy case will be filed.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Eligibility Requirements
Chapter 7 bankruptcies are generally reserved for lower income individuals who do not have the resources to repay their debts. If your average monthly income is less than Oklahoma's median income, then you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Oklahoma. However, if your average monthly income is greater than or equal to Oklahoma's median income, then it is presumed that you have the ability to repay at least a portion of your debts. Therefore, you cannot file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless you pass a means test.
How Long Will I Be Required to Pay on my Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan?
For individuals with an average monthly income less than Oklahoma's median income, the maximum length for a Chapter 13 plan is 36 months, unless the bankruptcy court finds good cause to extend it to a maximum of 60 months. However, for individuals with an average monthly income that equals or exceeds Oklahoma's median income, then the Chapter 13 plan must be 60 months long.
Am I Required to Appear in Bankruptcy Court?
In many bankruptcy cases, you will only be required to appear before your case trustee to answer questions about your finances. Your creditors may appear and ask questions at this meeting. You will usually not be required to appear in bankruptcy court.
Available Bankruptcy Exemptions
Exemptions allow you to exclude property from your bankruptcy. Oklahoma residents may only elect to claim the exemptions under state law. Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to exclude the following property from your bankruptcy:
- Homestead up to 160 acres in size and unlimited in value
- Personal injury claims up to $50,000
- Household furnishings
- One motor vehicle up to $7,500 ($15,000 if married)
- Tools of trade up to $10,000
- Clothing up to $4,000
- Wedding and anniversary rings up to $3,000
- Firearms up to $2,000
- Cash value of insurance policies
Additionally, you may also take advantage of federal non-bankruptcy exemptions, which allow you to protect your interest in tax exempt retirement plans, IRAs and Social Security benefits.
Consulting an Attorney
As this article only provides a general introduction to bankruptcy, for information specific to your situation, you should consult with an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney.