For residents that have more bills than money, West Virginia provides debt relief through bankruptcy. For those individuals that qualify for a fresh start, straight bankruptcy is the best option. For wage earners hoping to retain their property, a restructuring plan can satisfy creditors.
West Virginia Bankruptcy Topics
- Personal Bankruptcy Options
- Keep Your Home: Bankruptcy and Foreclosure
- West Virginia Exemptions to Bankruptcy Liquidation
- Options for Filing Bankruptcy
- Local Bankruptcy Courts and Trustees
Personal Bankruptcy in West Virginia
The state of West Virginia complies with the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Title 11. Debtors may file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court trustee will be appointed to liquidate applicable assets. The proceeds are equally divided among the creditors, in order to partially satisfy the debts. Then, all but the financial responsibilities exempt from bankruptcy are forgiven. The debtor essentially has a fresh start to create a better financial future. However, not all debtors qualify for Chapter 7. A means test prevents people from taking advantage of the court. The average income is $38,706 for singles, $42,865 for two, and $50,997 for a family of three.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
For debtors hoping to retain their assets, Chapter 13 can facilitate a restructure payment plan that is more affordable. The court negotiates with creditors to reduce the amount necessary for debt resolution. The remaining balances are combined and calculated to create a repayment plan that will be completed in 3-5 years. Nevertheless, not all debtors are able to qualify for Chapter 13. The debts should be no greater than $1,010,650 for secured items or $336,900 for unsecured debt. In addition, the debtor must have enough income to pay the court and keep all other payments current. (See more on Filing Chapter 13 in West Virginia).
Filing Bankruptcy during Foreclosure
Filing bankruptcy during foreclosure proceedings will probably only delay the inevitable. Although creditors cannot ask for payment after bankruptcy has been filed, the lien holder can request that the stay be lifted on property already in process of repossession. If granted, the property will be seized and resold. Alternatively, the debtor should consult a bankruptcy attorney before the foreclosure notice is served. Then, possible solutions for retaining the property are discussed.
West Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions
West Virginia allows debtors to claim exemptions from the bankruptcy process. The chart below includes a partial list:
Type of Asset(s)
Details on Applicable Exemption(s)
Real or personal property up to $25,000-any amount left over may be applied to personal property.
Group life, fraternal and society benefits, health and disability, life insurance payments for beneficiary support, unmatured life insurance up to the value of $8000
Alimony, child support, and partnership business assets
Public employees, teachers, and ERISA
Household goods, furnishings and personal items up to $8000; if no homestead-burial plot up to $15,000; $1000 of jewellery; health aids; $2400 worth of vehicle; wrongful death payments used for support, injury benefits of $15,000
Aid to the blind, disabled and elderly; Social Security; unemployment, victims, and workmen’s compensation; veterans benefits
80% of unpaid wages-unless the judge authorizes more
West Virginia Bankruptcy Court Filing Options
Use a Bankruptcy Lawyer
Bankruptcy is a risky endeavour, without the assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer. Documents are forgotten, exemptible assets are missed, legal proceedings are confusing, and court questions go unanswered. Absent legal counsel, the debtor is susceptible to legal woes and excessive financial difficulties.
Use a Filing Service
A filing service is not dependable. The service fills out documents and files them with the court. But, they are not responsible for missed paperwork, mistakes, or providing legal advice. Thus, it is not much of an improvement over pro se.
File “Pro Se”
Debtors may represent themselves and file pro se. However, the legal and financial ramifications of going to court without legal counsel are potentially long lasting. Therefore, it is better to borrow the attorney fee, in order to ensure all asset exemptions are taken, and all legal issues are adequately addressed.
Courts and West Virginia Bankruptcy Trustee Information
West Virginia Northern District Court Main Office
Federal Bldg and United States
Courthouse, Suite 247
1125 Chapline Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
West Virginia Southern District Court Main Office
2400 Robert C. Byrd
United States Courthouse
300 Virginia Street East
Charleston, WV 25301