Rhode Island’s bankruptcy laws are generous as to what belongings you’re allowed to keep (exempt) after filing bankruptcy. In fact, it’s rare for anyone to lose a house, car or anything else in a RI bankruptcy filing (assuming they’ve hired an experienced RI bankruptcy attorney).
Generally speaking, you can file bankruptcy in Rhode Island if you’ve live here for the last 6 months. So for example if you’ve lived in Warwick, RI for the last 180 days, you can file in the District of Rhode Island.
There is a catch, however, if you’ve recently moved here from out-of-state. Even if you’ve lived here for over 180 days, you may still be under your old state’s laws in terms of what things you’re allowed to keep after the bankruptcy.
Bottom line: the longer you’ve lived here, the better. You’ll want to consult with a Rhode Island attorney experienced with bankruptcy to ensure you’re eligible to keep your house, car, and other belongings through a RI bankruptcy.
Posted in chapter 13, chapter 7, Rhode Island, RI Bankruptcy Court, RI Bankruptcy Exemptions
Tagged chapter 13, chapter 7, Providence bankruptcy lawyer, Rhode Island, RI Bankruptcy Court, RI bankruptcy exemptions, RI Bankruptcy Information, Warwick bankruptcy attorney
Bankruptcy laws are more complex than ever, and a messed-up filing is a headache!
When you file bankruptcy in Rhode Island, you should list everyone you owe money to. If you fail to list a creditor, you risk not getting off the hook for that particular debt. How can you avoid leaving a creditor out of your bankruptcy filing? Typically a credit report will identify most of your creditors. (Once every 12 months you can order a free credit report through annualcreditreport.com, or by calling 877-322-8228.)
However, not all debts will appear on your credit report. Medical bills, utility bills, and cell phone bills are often missing from credit reports, as are outstanding gym membership fees, unpaid magazine subscriptions, etc. In addition, debts that have been unpaid for more than seven years may stop showing up on a credit report. But if you don’t list them they might come back to haunt you after your bankruptcy (for the original amount plus a lot of interest accrued in the hands of some local collection agency– after the original creditor “charged off” the debt).
If you do accidentally fail to list a creditor when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it’s often possible to go back and amend (fix) your bankruptcy papers to include the missing creditor within 90 days after you file, though a $26 court fee will apply. Beyond 90 days, a heftier court fee ($260) will apply, and there are some situations where adding a missing creditor may not even be allowed. Chapter 13 (payment-plan type) bankruptcies can be even more risky to have to add a missing creditor.
Generally speaking, yes — Rhode Islanders who are unemployed can file for bankruptcy, even if they’re still getting unemployment payments. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eligible to file a wipe-it-all-clean Chapter 7 bankruptcy (versus a Chapter 13 payment plan bankruptcy). Also, if you have a worker’s compensation claim or are suing your former employer for wrongful discharge, this may complicate things a bit. But a Rhode Island attorney experienced with bankruptcy should be able to sort out these details for you.
It is rare for someone who is represented by a bankruptcy attorney to lose their property (home, personal possessions, retirement plans, etc.) as a result of a bankruptcy filed in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island statute dealing with what you are allowed to keep or “exempt” in spite of a bankruptcy filing has some particularly generous provisions. You can often keep or “exempt” the following items (up to set dollar limits) from being taken from you as a result of a bankruptcy filing in Rhode Island:
• the home where you live
• one or more vehicles
• furniture, home electronics, and other household items
• office equipment
• 401ks, IRAs and various other types of retirement accounts
• Cash, bank account balances, and cash equivalent assets
If you are considering filing bankruptcy and own real estate or other significant assets, you owe it to yourself to speak to an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law before assuming that all of your assets will be exempt. I offer free initial consultations and often can determine during this first meeting if there is a risk of assets being lost as a result of a bankruptcy filing. Please feel free to give me a call to schedule an appointment to discuss your particular situation.
According to a recent study, the typical Rhode Island house lost 25% of its value last year. For many homeowners, the only alternative to losing a home to foreclosure may be to modify their mortgage. Fortunately, current bankruptcy laws allow for many Rhode Island homeowners to dramatically reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
If your house is valued at less than you own on your first mortgage, you may be able to eliminate most of yoursecond mortgage with a bankruptcy (for owners of rental properties or investment real estate, it’s even better: you can often use a RI bankruptcy filing to modify both the first and second mortgage). This can be done by filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy: you eliminate your second mortgage obligation and instead make a series of monthly payments for a limited period of time (between 36 and 60 months, depending on your income).
Given the magnitude of most second mortgages, this approach can result in significant savings. For example, if you have a $40,000 second mortgage, you could potentially eliminate all but $7,200 of your debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Many people think they won’t be able to sign up for new credit cards after filing bankruptcy. While all bets are off given the current credit crisis, in recent years the answer to the above question has typically been yes — it was fairly common to hear of clients receiving offers to sign up for credit cards soon after filing.
Why does this happen? It’s because credit card companies know that you won’t be able to file bankruptcy for a number of years, which makes you a relatively good credit risk.
Yes, in many cases you can. In Rhode Island, you can keep vehicles you own outright up to $12,000 under the state’s “motor vehicle” exemption. Even if your vehicle is worth more, you could potentially hold on to a vehicle valued up to $17,000 by also claiming the state’s $5,000 “wildcard” exemption.
If a creditor has a secured loan on your vehicle, you can often keep your vehicle through a bankruptcy as well. Debtors can choose to reaffirm an auto loan, and if the car payments continue to be made, the secured creditor would have no reason to repossess the vehicle.