Florida Bankruptcy Lawyer: How Do You Pass the Means Test?

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Above I mentioned that one of the main reasons a Florida bankruptcy lawyer might not take your case is if you don’t pass the “means test.” But what is the Florida bankruptcy means test—and how does it work? The point of the test is not to prevent people who are really struggling from declaring bankruptcy, but to deter people from abusing the system if they should be able to pay.

The means test is a two-part evaluation. It works by looking at how much money you’re making each month and subtracting specific expenses. Whatever’s left is considered “disposable,” and if this amount is high enough, it can disqualify you from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Here are the main items that an experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer will tell you to look at.

Median state income. Every state has median monthly incomes for households of various sizes. Let’s say for you that this is $4,000. If you make less than this, you automatically pass the means test. People over this limit don’t have to despair, though. Just being over it isn’t enough to disqualify you.

Disposable income. This is where the Chapter 7 means test can become extremely complicated, because not just states, but individual counties and metro areas set their own amounts for the different categories that make up your exempt or “allowed” expenses. Whatever you have left after paying for these necessary living expenses is considered “disposable,” and if this amount is too high, you can’t file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

A Means Calculator. Are there ways for you to tell if you would pass the means test without having to see a Florida bankruptcy attorney? Today, there are means test calculators online. They provide a quick way to figure out whether or not Chapter 7 bankruptcy is something that you should even think about pursuing. Just plug in your individual information and it will do the work for you.

But this does not mean that you don’t need a Florida bankruptcy lawyer to help calculate your disposable income. Because the means test is complicated, mistakes are often made. And as the video explains, there are ways a Florida bankruptcy lawyer can help you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy even if you do not meet the means test.

Many people pass the means test once we examine all the exemptions, expenses and allowable deductions in a bankruptcy case. Timing is a factor as well—while you may not qualify for chapter 7 today, you might become eligible after the first of next month. An experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer at Kramer Law Firm will look at all of these angles, and examine the entirely of your debt problems to find the solution that works best for you and protects you.

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