Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Indianapolis Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Declaring bankruptcy can ease your financial stress by giving back control over your life. Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney, Jerry E. Smith, offers many ways to ensure the bankruptcy process is accessible to you. By providing free initial consultations (up to one hour) that can be done over the phone, as well as weekend and evening appointments, we can help you regain your peace of mind.


Looking for an Experienced Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer?


If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, your money is stretched to the limit, so you need a skilled Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer. Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code involves selling all of your assets to pay as many debts as possible. Talk to Jerry E. Smith to see if Chapter 7 is right for you, your family, or your business.

Jerry E. Smith is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in addition to practicing law. Our practice started helping clients with financial problems in 2009. If you’re looking for an experienced bankruptcy attorney, contact our office. Our bankruptcy attorney who helps with debt relief will:

  • Take time to explain the law
  • Answer your questions
  • Listen to your side of the story.


Our Indianapolis Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney Helps Individuals and Businesses

Couple riding bikes | Chapter 7 BankruptcyTo qualify for help from Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, you can be an individual, a partnership, a corporation, or some other business entity. A married couple may file jointly. It doesn’t matter how much debt you have. Individuals must get credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency 180 days before filing. A debt management plan must be filed with the court.

One of the goals of bankruptcy is to clear (or discharge) certain debts, so you can have a fresh financial start. After the process is over, individuals won’t owe money for discharged debts. A discharge also prevents creditors from trying to collect any money from you. But not all debts can be discharged.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test

Chapter 7 was changed in 2005 to include a “means test” to try to screen out those who may abuse the system. If your monthly income is greater than the state’s median, you must pass this test to determine whether your filing is considered abusive. A Chapter 7 lawyer in Indianapolis can help you navigate through the means test to improve your chances of bankruptcy relief.

If your filing is accepted, a bankruptcy trustee will be appointed. That person figures out your assets and debts. An “estate” is created when you file. It’s the temporary legal owner of all your property.

Your creditors are paid from the sale of nonexempt estate property. Exempt property is the property you can keep. With the help of an Indianapolis Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney, you should retain exempt property while paying as few debts as possible.

You cannot discharge the following debts:

  • Alimony and child support
  • Some types of taxes
  • Debt for student loans made or guaranteed by the government
  • Debts for a willful and malicious injury you caused to another party or their property
  • Debts for death or personal injury because you operated a motor vehicle while you were intoxicated
  • Debts for specific criminal restitution orders
  • Liens on your property. (While you may discharge liens on your property, if you want to keep the property you will have to pay some or all of the lien(s).)

Our Chapter 7 Lawyer in Indianapolis Can Help You Get Through the Process

When your bankruptcy is handled by attorney Jerry E. Smith, you will have not only a skilled and experienced attorney to guide you through the process, he also understands it can be stressful. You can rest assured you’ll have all your questions answered and be told what to expect every step of the way.

An individual’s Chapter 7 case starts with filing a petition with the bankruptcy court. You must include:

  • A list of assets and liabilities
  • A list of your income and spending
  • A list of your exempt property
  • A statement of financial affairs
  • A list of contracts and current leases
  • Tax returns
  • Certificate of credit counseling (and in certain jurisdictions a copy of the debt repayment plan).

Your filing will stop most collection lawsuits against you or your property. This doesn’t include all lawsuits, and this stoppage may last only a short time. Your creditors, generally, can’t start or continue lawsuits, wage garnishments, or telephone calls seeking payment.

The U.S. bankruptcy trustee will appoint a case trustee to be in charge of your case and sell your nonexempt assets. Between 21 and 40 days after your filing, the case trustee will hold a meeting with you and your creditors. Your Chapter 7 lawyer in Indianapolis will prepare you for this meeting and be there to protect your rights.

  • You will be put under oath.
  • You must cooperate with the trustee and provide the records or documents the trustee requests.
  • The trustee and creditors may ask you questions.

Within ten days of this meeting, the trustee will advise the judge whether your case should be presumed abusive under the means test or not.

You may have an asset or no-asset case. If all your assets are exempt or are subject to valid liens, the trustee will file a no-asset report with the court. If this is your situation, unsecured creditors won’t be paid. (An unsecured creditor lends money without assets they can claim as collateral.) Most individual Chapter 7 cases are no-asset cases. If you have an asset case, unsecured creditors must file claims with the court.

Bankruptcy law covers which creditors will get paid and how much. There are six classes of claims. Starting with the highest priority class, each will be fully paid before moving on to the next. You may get some money back if all classes of claims are paid.

Stay Out of Trouble with the Help of an Indianapolis Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney

With his years of experience, Jerry E. Smith will let you know what issues could arise that can prevent you from a successful bankruptcy proceeding. You could be denied a discharge if the court finds that you…

  • Didn’t keep or produce financial records
  • Failed to fully explain the loss of assets
  • Committed a bankruptcy crime like lying under oath
  • Didn’t obey a lawful bankruptcy court order
  • Dishonestly transferred, hid, or destroyed property that would have been used to pay debts
  • Failed to complete a financial management course.

A discharge can be later revoked at the request of a creditor, the Chapter 7 case trustee, or U.S. trustee if…

  • It was obtained through fraud
  • You obtained estate property that you knowingly and fraudulently failed to report to the trustee
  • You knowingly and fraudulently failed to surrender property to the trustee
  • You, without a full explanation, made a misstatement impacting your case
  • You didn’t give documents or other information so an audit of your case could be done.

Reaffirmation of Debt in a Chapter 7 Case: Can You Keep Your Car?

Secured creditors (those who have collateral) may keep some rights to seize property to secure a debt even after a discharge is granted. If you want to keep this property (such as your car), you may “reaffirm” this debt.

A reaffirmation is an agreement between you and the creditor that you will pay all or some of the money you owe, even though the debt could be discharged. In return, the creditor promises it won’t repossess or take back the automobile or other property as long as you pay the debt.

If you owe significantly more than the auto is worth instead of reaffirmation, you may “redeem” the auto for it’s fair market value. If you cannot afford to repay the fair market value, you may try to get a redemption loan to pay over time.

Advice from a Chapter 7 Attorney Can Help Smooth the Path to Ending Your Debts

There are things you should do and should not do before you file. By thinking and acting ahead, you may make the process simpler and less stressful.

Trying to hide your money or other assets is a bad idea. Don’t transfer ownership to family members thinking that will make them disappear. You’ll be asked about transfers during the bankruptcy meeting. If you lie, bankruptcy fraud is a crime. Transfers that could get you in trouble include changing the title to your car, taking your name off of bank accounts, depositing money into another’s bank account, and changing the deed of your property.

Don’t play favorites with your creditors. You shouldn’t make an unusual debt payment while not paying others. If you do, these transfers could result in a lawsuit by the bankruptcy court trustee to get this money back.

Stop using credit cards unless you need to get necessities like gas, housing, or food. You can still use debit cards.

Don’t deposit into your bank accounts anything beyond your salary or payments, like money owed by family or friends. If you own a business, don’t put money from it into a personal account.

Money you don’t have now but you expect to get in the future will be part of your bankruptcy case. The trustee can use this money to pay creditors, so don’t pay debts now because you expect money in the future. Problems these actions can cause may be prevented by waiting to file at the right time. There are “look back” periods for many transfers or actions. If you file after these periods have passed, you may be able to avoid problems.

While these loans may seem to be the most essential to pay off, that may not be true in the eyes of the court. The trustee can reverse preferential transfers that occurred 12 months prior to filing bankruptcy. So the funds you used to pay off the loan, could be taken back due to filing.

If you anticipate that you’re going to file bankruptcy, stop writing personal checks a couple weeks before filing your case. Instead, make necessary payments with alternative methods like cash or a cashier’s check. In bankruptcy, any outstanding personal check is treated like a bad debt and the cash in your account is an asset that the Trustee may take for your creditors. By the time of your meeting of creditors, the check will have cleared and the money will be gone, but the Trustee may demand you turn it over.”

Client Testimonial

”Jerry Smith asked me to offer a review of his legal practice and I was more than happy to do so. I highly recommend Jerry and I cannot thank him enough for both his legal guidance and expertise as well as his professionalism and personal touch that put me at ease throughout the entire process of what wasn’t the most pleasant of situations. Jerry was communicative, never made me feel intimidated by the process and never made me feel awkward when asking the occasional “dumb question”. My bankruptcy was executed flawlessly, timely and thoroughly and I walked away knowing my financial health was on the mend. Thank you again to Jerry and his office staff and assistant.” – CHANDLER WRIGHT (Google Review)

Attorney Jerry E. Smith

Attorney & CPA Jerry E. Smith practices bankruptcy law and tax resolution. Smith’s practice focuses on representing consumer debtors and assisting them in getting a fresh start by reorganizing or eliminating their debt and attempting to put them in the best financial position possible. Mr. Smith has been practicing law since March 1, 2009. Before that, he was and still is a real estate investor. He also previously worked as a Cost Accountant, Financial Analyst, and Internal Auditor for two large multi-billion-dollar international consumer product companies. [ Attorney Bio ]

Request Free Initial Consultation


    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Filing
    How Long Does a Foreclosure Stay on Your Credit Report?
    September 15, 2022

    How long does a foreclosure stay on your credit report? This is one of the many questions we frequently receive about foreclosures. We are not surprised that people have questions about this scary yet common process. Since 2009, when we first started helping consumers conquer their debt issues, we have seen so many lives affected by the changing landscape of mortgages and homeownership in the United States. The good news is that foreclosure problems don’t h [...]

    Chapter 7 Attorney Jerry E. Smith Has Helped Thousands of Others. He Can Help You, Too.

    Chapter 7 is a drastic step to resolve your financial problems, but it might be the right choice for you, your family, or your business. Jerry E. Smith is an experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer who has represented clients with financial problems since 2009. If you need a skilled attorney who will explain the law, answer your questions, and listen to your side of the story, he’s the one for you. Call our debt relief team at (317) 917-8680 for a free consultation (up to one hour) today.