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What Can I Keep?

Many people put off considering bankruptcy as a form of debt relief because they are afraid of losing valuable assets in the process. Old stereotypes about bankrupt debtors being kicked to the curb with only the clothes on their backs persist, as do other myths about bankruptcy.

In fact, filing for bankruptcy may offer the greatest opportunity to preserve a manageable lifestyle without the burden of unmanageable debt. Filing for bankruptcy can free you immediately of the threat of repossessions, foreclosure, wage garnishment or bank account levies, and you may be able to wind up keeping your home, your car, and most, if not all, of your possessions.

The experienced Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer, Cousino, Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to the most hard-working and well-intentioned people.  We offer a free consultation to examine your individual financial situation, your debts and your goals.  Should bankruptcy be your best option, we will help you get on the path to financial solvency and find the best ways to make sure you can keep as many of your possessions as possible.

What the Laws Say

The question of “What can I keep?” in bankruptcy is best answered through an understanding of state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions are laws that enumerate certain assets that a bankruptcy filer is allowed to set aside and keep, out of reach of the bankruptcy court’s management.  How this is done depends on the type of bankruptcy you file.

1) Chapter 7 bankruptcy — In Ohio, if you file for Chapter 7, which is a liquidation plan, you can automatically keep property that is protected by Ohio’s bankruptcy exemptions. While your bankruptcy trustee will liquidate nonexempt assets to pay creditors, if your assets are less than the exemptions allowed, you may be able to keep them all.

2) Chapter 13 bankruptcy— If you file for Chapter 13, which is a reorganization and repayment plan, your bankruptcy exemptions will affect how much you pay to creditors through the plan.  You may get to keep the vast majority of your assets if you make the agreed-upon payments

You will likely use Ohio’s exemptions if you file a bankruptcy petition in Ohio, and in addition, under certain circumstances, you may use any of the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.  These protect property such as federal and military retirement benefits.

In addition, if you are married and filing jointly for bankruptcy, you can double the Ohio exemptions allowed.

What Are Ohio Exemptions?

Some of the most commonly used exemptions in Ohio include:

Homestead

You can keep a fixed amount in one parcel of real or personal property you or your dependent uses as a residence, including a house, manufactured, or mobile home. You must remain current on your mortgage payments.

Personal Property

including cash and the value of one motor vehicle, household goods, jewelry, etc.

Wages

A set percentage of your wages are exempt.

Pensions

You may keep income you receive from private pensions, tax-exempt retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), and profit-sharing plans), IRA’s, Roth IRA’s up to a certain amount, and state teacher retirement.

Benefits

Benefits that are protected under Ohio law include: workers’ compensation benefits, disability assistance payments, unemployment compensation benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, crime victim’s compensation received during 12 months before filing, and earned income tax credit and child tax credit.

Wildcard

Ohio’s wildcard benefit allows you a fixed amount of value in any property.

Support

You may keep spousal or child support that is reasonably necessary for support.

Tools of the Trade

Allows a fixed amount of value in implements, books, and tools of your trade, occupation, or business.

Miscellaneous

There are additional exemptions available to protect specific property, and Ohio updates exemptions every three years. The fixed amounts listed above change based on those updates.

Contact Us For Help, Answers, And Peace Of Mind

The bankruptcy code is complicated and filled with extremely complex procedures and rules.  Making mistakes can lead to your case being dismissed by the court without a discharge, missing out on exemptions, and losing property that you might have been able to keep.  Hire an experienced attorney so he or she can guide and advise you through the entire process.

The seasoned and compassionate Ohio bankruptcy lawyers at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer are dedicated to helping you through the maze of personal bankruptcy.  Explore and discuss specifics regarding exemptions with the help of our attorneys who can evaluate your particular financial circumstances. We will compare federal bankruptcy exemptions and Ohio bankruptcy exemptions with regard to your specific situation and decide which exemptions you would apply if you choose to file bankruptcy.

A free initial consultation and careful evaluation of your individual financial situation by the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer will point you in the right direction and give you the information you need to help you decide.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email today to set up your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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