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What is bankruptcy means testing?

 

Bankruptcy means testing is a mathematical formula used by bankruptcy attorneys to determine what type of bankruptcy relief a debtor can receive. Means testing was created by congress with the help of the credit card lobby to prevent bankruptcy abuse. The most likely mistake potential bankruptcy clients make is to first go online, late at night when they can’t sleep, and try to do means testing online. 95 percent of all San Diego residents who file bankruptcy wouldn’t fit the means test requirements online but still, qualify for bankruptcy. 0The bankruptcy means test is all about the math and how you put it together.

Means testing will determine if you can first even be considered as a candidate for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or if instead, you may be required to use a Chapter 13 case. This is an income-based means testing, and debtors who have income above the median income of their state are subject to the unpleasant limitations imposed by the Means Test. However, the analysis doesn’t end there; from the income on the Means Test, one gets to take certain deductions.

  • Taxes: You can deduct your tax obligations from your income on the means test as well.
  • Involuntary deductions: Deductions required for employment such as mandatory retirement plans, union dues, or uniforms.
  • Health, disability, or term life insurance
  • Secured debt payments These include payments on secured debts such as your mortgage or car loan. Even if your mortgage or car payment is above the national or local living standards, you can normally deduct it in full on the means test.
  • Court-ordered payments: If you are required to pay domestic support obligations such as alimony or child support, you can deduct these expenses on the means test.
  • Child care: Expenses for child care such as babysitting, daycare, or preschool.
  • Health care: If you incur more out-of-pocket health care costs (other than insurance) for you or your dependents than the allowed national standard, you may be able to deduct the actual amount you pay.
  • Education for employment or disabled child: You can deduct your education expenses if those expenses are required for your employment or for your mentally or physically disabled child.
  • Charitable contributions: If you regularly made charitable contributions prior to bankruptcy and expect to continue making those contributions, you can deduct them on the means test.
  • Care of elderly, chronically ill, or disabled: You can deduct the amount you contribute towards the care of an elderly or disabled family member or person in your household.

The Means Test determines if a bankruptcy petition must be assigned a “Presumption of Abuse” by the court. If your petition is assigned a presumption of abuse status, you must prove that your bankruptcy petition is not “abusive” or fraudulent. The rule of thumb so far, in practice, is that if the Means Test result is that “The Presumption of Abuse Arises,” it is extremely unwise to try and file the case as a Chapter 7. A bankruptcy attorney can properly do the Means Test for you and let you know what your options are. It’s a bad idea for you to rely on the so-called “Online Means Test Calculators” because the test is highly complex. The key to a thorough, accurate Means Test is not just getting in all the required income; it’s knowing how to apply bankruptcy law in figuring out how to maximize the allowable deductions. That is why just having a calculator isn’t going to do the trick.

bankruptcy means testing What is the Bankruptcy Means Test?

The Bankruptcy Means Test is a 2005 addition to bankruptcy law. Created as a way of disqualifying petitions for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the bankruptcy means test takes into consideration a lot of complex factors to force more people into Chapter 13 than Chapter 7. The creditors’ lobby loves the bankruptcy means test, because it means they get paid more, and more often than they used to.

If you are starting to do your research about bankruptcy then you should not do an online means test   They’re abysmal.  I have never ever seen one that came out correctly. Not a single one in nearly 10 years has been correctly done. Even getting close isn’isn’t good enough. This is not horseshoes or hand grenades.

San Diego County residents who file bankruptcy

First, the bankruptcy means analysis measures your income against median income in the area. If you earn below the median income, there is a better chance the Chapter 7 will work. Most people in San Diego who are thinking about bankruptcy or at least who I speak to earn more than the proposed income of the means test. However, if your income is higher than the median, the bankruptcy means test becomes much more challenging. Don’t try to figure it out on your own.

I take the time to go through the bankruptcy Means Examination with each person who sits down with me to do a Fresh Start Planning Session. For free. It takes me about an hour, and I do it every day, four times a day. An online bankruptcy means test calculator will not give you the answers you need If you’re online trying to do your own Means Test it is the first sign that you’re in enough trouble that you really need to talk to a good bankruptcy lawyer.

So go ahead, research online. Educate yourself. Then please save yourself and more important the stress and ask a bankruptcy lawyer to qualify you. The Bankruptcy Means Test is also supposed to help determine if you would be able to pay off your debts under Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. Using the bankruptcy means test, and a couple of other forms and formulae, the court will calculate your disposable income. This is done by mixing fixed expenses and estimates for variable other expenses. If it looks like you can pay off the debts within a three to five-year time frame, you’re in Chapter 13, not a 7. Call me to schedule your Fresh Start Planning Session. You’ll get the answers you need, all you have to do is ask.

do i need to file bankruptcyDo you need bankruptcy ? How do you know when to file?

 

 First of all there are no easy answers , but you probably know that…. Are creditors constantly calling you? Does the thought of opening your mail  stress you out? Are you worried that utilities may be shut off or your car repossessed? Do you lie awake at night because you’re afraid of losing your home? Have you already dipped into savings or, worse, your retirement funds just to pay bills and buy groceries? These are all signs that you might be eligible to file bankruptcy  .

Now, probably more than at any other time in the last fifty years, people are having financial trouble because of events beyond their control, such as recession, layoffs and small business owners suffering acute drop-offs in sales. No one assumes anymore that the need to file bankruptcy is somehow a reflection of the moral character of the person filing. For centuries bankruptcy has been the ultimate relief valve for those in direst of straits. Americans seem pretty unanimous in continuing to believe that bankruptcy is a valid, valuable tool in our economy.  The choice of whether to seek bankruptcy relief is difficult and can be close to
heartbreaking. Many people experience shame and anxiety over filing bankruptcy.  they are sometimes afraid that filing bankruptcy makes them look irresponsible, or like people who don’t want to pay their bills. But the truth is that there is no shame in filing bankruptcy. Some people need bankruptcy, and bankruptcy  law exists to make sure that people having serious financial trouble can survive.

95% of the people who come to my office qualify to file bankruptcy. 

 This is what I have found in my over 20 years of practicing bankruptcy law. By the time a person gets to seeing a  bankruptcy lawyer face to face it is bad. No no wants to come and see a lawyer about being eligible for bankruptcy .

One of the first things you might have done to discover if you are eligible to file bankruptcy is  an online means test.  Big mistake (… really

It is virtually impossible for a middle class person in San Diego with a home and maybe a job  to go online and have any clue if they are eligible to file bankruptcy. There are no easy spreadsheets or lists to help you figure this out.  The process usually takes me about an hour to go over all the issues and questions to really understand are you eligible for bankruptcy. In my practice,we have had  many people who file Chapter 7 who were making a salary of $100,000.00 per year. You might ask, how is that possible?  

There are as many variables to the computation in who and how a person can file for bankruptcy, as choices of cereal at the local grocery store. How much do you owe? How close you are to retirement? Who lives with you? What is your house really worth in San Diego? Who knows that these days? It really does take a professional to figure this out.

One of my practices specialties is taking people who didn’t think they qualified for bankruptcy(or sometimes other lawyers who told it was not possible )and making that happen. Then they can move on with their lives. I am good with the difficult situations,that others can’t seem to figure out. So, if you think it is just not possible to file bankruptcy, or you make too much money or aren’t sure if you qualify. Come down to the office and let’s talk.

The Law Office Of Paul Staley provides legal advice and representation for residents of San Diego County. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Paul Staley
Bankruptcy Attorney
1901 1st Ave., FLR 1 San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: +619 235 40 95
Email: pstaley@paulstaley.com

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