Bankruptcy in West Virginia is a legal process through which some of the debts of an individual or a business are absolved (excused). You should not view bankruptcy as an opportunity to eliminate your debts just because you don't feel like paying them - it can be a long and difficult procedure. Bankruptcy is designed to be a last resort to prevent complete financial ruin, while allowing creditors to collect at least some of their debts in an orderly fashion. Filing for bankruptcy can have major negative effects on one's credit score, which will make it more difficult to get loans in the future.
Accordingly, if you are considering bankruptcy as an option, you need to thoroughly examine the costs and benefits. A good West Virginia bankruptcy lawyer can advise you as to the pros and cons of bankruptcy, and give his or her expert opinion about whether or not bankruptcy is a good option, based on the facts of your distinct case.
Types of Bankruptcy in West Virginia
Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in filing for bankruptcy in West Virginia will be the same as everywhere else in the United States. There are 2 basic forms of bankruptcy that are often used by consumers. They are Chapter 7, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, named for their locations in the Bankruptcy Code. Businesses commonly use Chapter 11 bankruptcy to liquidate assets. This process is technically available to consumers, but its use by individuals, as opposed to businesses, is very rare.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia is typically referred to as "liquidation." When Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, the court will appoint a trustee to account for all of the debtor's assets, and then determine which ones should be sold off to pay at least a part of their debts. Once this occurs, the rest of the debt is discharged. Many types of property, such as homes, cars, and retirement accounts are exempt from sale, and the debtor is allowed to keep them. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt is normally not excused; instead, it is reorganized. The court will craft a long-term payment plan that allows the debtor to pay off his or her debts in single payments, over time. This usually gives the debtor some breathing room that would not exist if all of his or her debts became due and payable at once.
Typically, it is businesses as opposed to individuals that avail themselves of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Similar to Chapter 13, it entails reorganization of debt, rather than discharge. The debtor has to come up with a plan to reorganize its debts, and this plan must then be approved by a vote of the participating creditors. Once the plan is approved, the debtor has to carry it out.
How Can a West Virginia Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Making the decision to file for bankruptcy can be extremely difficult, given the potential consequences. A West Virginia lawyer specializing in bankruptcy can advise you of the likely consequences you will face if you file, and help you determine if they are outweighed by the potential benefits.
Interesting Facts About West Virginia
West Virginia is situated in the Appalachian region of the U.S., which is famous for its grand mountain ranges. However, because of its geographic position, the state is often listed under many different regions, including the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic U.S. regions. The state's economy is driven mainly by natural resources such as coal and oil.
West Virginia is one of the 11 states that operate only one court of appeals. Most states have an intermediate appellate court, with the state Supreme Court also hearing appeals. Instead, appeals in West Virginia are heard exclusively at the highest level, the Supreme Court of Appeals. This makes the Supreme Court one of the busiest appeals courts in the U.S. Other courts in West Virginia include the Circuit Courts, Magistrate Courts, and Municipal Courts.
An important West Virginia case is West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). This case held that students are protected from being forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and salute the American flag in school. The ruling was largely based on the Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment. The Barnette decision continues to be a landmark decision in the area of Constitutional rights.
Lawyers in West Virginia assist their clients mostly through the Circuit Court system. West Virginia lawyers provide representation during key lawsuits, and can provide advice on obtaining the most favorable legal remedy. A West Virginia attorney can also perform tasks like reviewing legal documents and providing intervention during conflicts.