If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to pass a means test before applying. The means test looks at your income and expenses to decide if you can repay enough of your unsecured debts to your creditors. If you can pay enough of your debt on your own without filing for bankruptcy, you will not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. What happens if you want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but do not need the means test? There are several different options available to you.
Review the Means Test for Accuracy
If you calculated the means test on your own, we recommend requesting assistance from a lawyer. A bankruptcy lawyer can review your case and help you determine whether you failed the means test or whether a mistake caused you to fail. The means test is one of the most complicated forms debtors need to complete in the bankruptcy process. As a result, making mistakes is common. Some of the most common mistakes include the following:
- overestimating your income
- using the wrong household size
- underestimating or missing important deductions that you are left to take
Delay Your Filing if You Can Pass the Means Test Later
When you complete the means test, it will request information about your average income for the six months before you filed for bankruptcy. If your situation has changed in the last six months, the means test may not accurately reflect your financial circumstances. For example, if you lost your job or received a pay cut, waiting a few months to retake the means test would lower your average income and could allow you to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Instead
If you have availed yourself of the options listed above and you still cannot pass the Chapter 7 means test, it is time to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you will work with the bankruptcy trustee to develop a plan for how you can repay a portion of your debts over a three to five-year time frame. The trustee will consider your income, expenses, and non-exempt property to determine the amount of your monthly payments.
Most debtors only end up paying pennies on the dollar toward their unsecured debt, such as medical bills and credit cards. Even if you were not eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filing for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy could significantly help you.
Contact a San Diego Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you would like to discuss the options available to you, the best thing you can do is discuss your case with a bankruptcy lawyer. The best thing you can do is discuss your case with a bankruptcy lawyer. Our experienced lawyers have helped many San Diego residents file for bankruptcy at Bankruptcy Law Center and began a fresh chapter of their lives. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.