Featured News 2013 Typical Errors Committed on the Means Test

Typical Errors Committed on the Means Test

Whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to complete a means test. This test decides whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and it also factors into how long your Chapter 13 bankruptcy lasts. Even though this test is vital to the bankruptcy process, it is far from straightforward. It can be too easy to make a mistake on this form. You need to get this test right, so here are some of the usual mistakes people make, mistakes that you can now know to avoid.

One of the most classic slipups is putting down the wrong number for household size. It is not as simple a calculation as you would think; even courts do not have a standard that they agree on. The minority of courts will say that you need to include everyone who lives at your residence; this can be called the "heads on the beds" calculation. Otherwise, a court is going to want to know about the residents who are financial dependents of the debtor. For example, you would include your parent who moved in with you, but you would not include someone who pays you to rent for a room. Getting the right household size matters a great deal, because it affects how your family income is and how much you deduct for living costs.

You also have to make sure you put down the right amount for income. A common error is to list a different income than is depicted by your financial documents. It is typical to forget to include a one-time payment, or payment that only occurred for a brief time. When it comes to child support, some people forget that it only counts as income if they are actually getting those payments. If your child support payments are not coming, then you should not include this as income. Similarly, if you are supposed to be paying child support but you actually are not, then you cannot put this down as an expense.

Deductions are an area that can be prone to mistakes. If you are not going to keep the house, then it is a mistake to try adjusting the housing deduction by putting down the amount of your current mortgage. The standard housing deduction is what you have to go with. There are other deductions that you cannot include. Retirement account loan repayments are usually something that you cannot deduct. Do not include cell phones as distinct from your utility deduction. You probably will not be able to deduct any expenses for your child's college, but you should be able to deduct the cost of any education that is required by your job. Married couples who are not filing for joint bankruptcy often forget that they cannot put down their expenses twice. That is to say, you cannot include expenses that you put down under a marital adjustment deduction that you already have under a standard deduction, and vice versa.

And you definitely cannot afford to forego any deductions that you qualify for. Too many people do this. Thoroughness is vital. Do not forget to include any court-ordered payments, such as alimony, in your expenses (if and only if you are actually making those payments). You can also include taxes and insurance as separate deductions if they are not included under your mortgage.

As always, your best bet is to work closely with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. With professional help, you can understand exactly what you need to do to wipe your slate clean and get a fresh financial start. Do not undermine this important step with costly errors. Get legal help today.

Related News:

Detroit Risks Running out of Money, Could This Lead to Bankruptcy?

While we often hear of people or companies running out of money and filing for bankruptcy, it is not unheard of that entire cities experience the very same things. Sadly, this may be the case for the ...
Read More »

Forest Park Medical Center at Frisco Files Bankruptcy

On Sep. 22, 2015, Forest Park Medical Center filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court. The medical center opened in July 2012, and is located along the Dallas North Tollway in Frisco Square. It is ...
Read More »

Are Payday Loans Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

Payday loans are short-term, small amount loans that are perfect for a situation where you simply need a small amount of money to tie you over until a paycheck comes in. The payday loan seems like a ...
Read More »