Top Five Free Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Tools

Financial problems are an undeniable part of life – we all get stuck with them at some point or another. Although we plan, save and predict, life can always decide to throw us an unwanted curveball (or many curveballs!). It is incredible how “little” issues can become “big” issues in no time. An unpaid medical expense can turn into a mountain of unpaid doctor’s bills. One late mortgage or car payment could snowball into a foreclosure notice. Point being, things happen.

But when times get tough, we need to act. Although we may not want to admit it and we may dread the thought of it, chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the best option to get out of a terrible financial situation.

We are going to provide you a list of the best free chapter 7 bankruptcy tools out there. Not only will the tool be listed, but a brief review as to how the tool works and why it is beneficial will also be included. Knowledge is power and Patel Law Firm Bankruptcy wants you to have the best information at your disposal.

1) Zillow’s Home Assessment Tool

Zillow

Zillow.com is a website that provides real estate estimates. The purpose of Zillow.com for chapter 7 bankruptcy is to obtain a usable price estimate as to how much your home and the homes around you are worth based on the current market. Here is a hypothetical situation to better demonstrate how to use Zillow.

House A is worth $300,000.00 on Zillow. The owner of House A has $315,000.00 of debt on house A. This means there is $15,000.00 more debt on House A than it is actually worth. Because the home is considered “under water” or has more debt than it is worth, the owner is considered to have no “equity” in the home.

Because the homeowner has no equity on House A, the homeowner can make the decision to stop paying the mortgage and surrender the home. This allows the homeowner to get out from under a massive home debt and start fresh.

Note: Zillow.com is known to estimate home values on the high end, meaning they could be worth less in reality.

2) Legal Consumer’s Means Test Calculator

legalconsumer.com

The means test is an essential part of any chapter 7 case. It determines whether an individual qualifies for declaring chapter 7 or should be moved to chapter 13. The means test is based off the average income of a household. The average income of a household is pre-determined by the federal government and is available online.

Legalconsumer.com provides a free, interactive version of the means test for the state of Virginia. Individuals using legalconsumer.com go through an online interactive form which mimics the actual form used by bankruptcy courts in Virginia. Once completed, it provides a simple answer as to whether the individual qualifies or does not qualify based off the information provided.

Note: The means test calculator provided on legalconsumer.com is NOT a concrete decision. If an individual does not qualify for chapter 7 on legalconsumer.com, it does NOT mean that they wouldn’t qualify for chapter 7 in real life. Bankruptcy attorneys may interpret information differently than the calculator, which may allow an individual to qualify. The means test calculator is meant to provide a reference point and can show if the actual means test will be a “close call” or if an individual easily qualifies. As previously stated, for serious decisions, consult an attorney.

3) Kelly Blue Book’s Car Value Calculator

kelly blue book

We’ve all heard of Kelly Blue Book (KBB) and know it to be a trusted tool when assessing the value of a new or used automobile. However, many people do not realize that KBB is very useful for someone who is considering chapter 7 bankruptcy. Using KBB for chapter 7 purposes is very similar to the use of Zillow.com for homes. Here is a hypothetical situation:

Car A is worth $10,000.00. The owner of Car A has $15,000.00 dollars of debt on the car. Because the debt of Car A is greater than the value by $5,000.00, the owner could make a reasonable decision to stop making payments and surrender the car.

However, KBB could also show us when it is a good idea to use the Homestead exemption.
Car A is worth $10,000.00. The owner of Car A has $8,000.00 of debt on the car. Because the value of Car A is $2,000.00 more than the debt, the owner is considered to have value in the car. This $2,000.00 is seen as an asset and would need to be protected in the bankruptcy. The “Homestead” exemption is a $5,000.00 exemption that can be applied to an individual’s assets. In this situation, a bankruptcy attorney could use the Homestead exemption to protect the $2,000.00 of value in the car.

NOTE: KBB offers a range of values for each car it assesses based on the current state of the car. If it is not a new car and there are a lot of miles on the car, it is safe to select the lowest value for the car.

4) U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Legal Resources

U.S. Bankruptcy Court

When starting the bankruptcy process, gathering foundational information on chapter 7 bankruptcy is key. There are dozens of law blogs, forums, and other websites where you can find this information. However, for unbiased and trustworthy information on the chapter 7 bankruptcy process, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court website is ideal. This website houses information on everything from standard bankruptcy forms to filing requirement information. Reading through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of this site can begin to build an individual’s foundational knowledge on the chapter 7 process.

5) Patel Law Firm’s Chapter 7 Legal Fees Calculator

Patel Law Firm Bankruptcy

Shopping around for a bankruptcy attorney online can be a nightmare. The online market is saturated with banner ads and other websites which proclaim remarkably low filing prices. However, what many people do not know is that the advertised price will never be the actual price. Attorneys who advertise rock bottom prices do so in order to lure individuals into their offices for consultations. Throughout the consultation the attorney will most likely identify several reasons as to why the price will need to go up. It’s also not unheard of for an attorney to increase the filing price based on the number of forms in the petition! This practice creates stress and discomfort for the client.

The Patel Law Firm Legal Fees Calculator is designed in a way that allows a user to obtain a competitive quote without making any phone calls or meeting in person. Each question on the interactive page is an important factor in determining the complexity of a case. Once the individual completes the interactive form and clicks “send”, the information goes straight into a secure inbox where it can be analyzed. Then 48 hours late (at most!), the user will receive an actual price quote via email.

Having this hassle-free quote can allow the individual to begin bargaining with other attorneys. In the world of bankruptcy law, attorneys know they need to offer competitive pricing.

Hypothetical situation to consider:
User A obtains a chapter 7 price quote from Patel Law Firm of $1,000.00. User A actually wants to work with a different attorney (Attorney B), because Attorney B’s office is right down the street. User A then has a consultation with Attorney B and receives a price quote (using the same information) of $1,200.00. Because User A used the Patel Law Firm Legal Fees Calculator, they are now in an advantageous position. Attorney B may see the price quote of $1,000.00 and lower his price from $1,200.00 to $1,000.00. In this situation, User A shaved $200.00 off their chapter 7 filing and got to work with an attorney located close by. OR, if Attorney B will not lower his price, User A can simply decide to work with Patel Law Firm for the lower price of $1,000.00.

Conclusion

Life is tough and financial issues can make it even tougher. If you have to pursue chapter 7 bankruptcy, use the tools that are available to you to get the best information out there. An informed decision is a good decision. If this blog was of interest to you, please check out the rest of Patel Law Firm Bankruptcy’s blogs and as always, we are here to help with any and all questions you might have.