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Take a means test to determine Chapter 7 eligibility

The thought of having the majority of one's debts cleared is enough to make anyone smile, especially if he or she is in a really bad financial spot. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing has the ability to do this. However, this is not a debt relief option for which all Illinois residents will qualify. In order to determine eligibility one can take a means test.

Not to worry -- this test is easy and there are no wrong answers. In order to complete a means test, one just needs to gather information about his or her income and find out what the state's current median income level is. All the means test does is compare the two in order to determine if one is eligible for a Chapter 7 filing.

If a person's income level is lower than the state median, he or she may pursue a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. If that individual's income level is higher, however, and he or she has the disposable income to pay down debts, this type of bankruptcy is likely off the table. The only way a person with a higher income level will qualify for a Chapter 7 filing is if his or her disposable income -- money left after paying allowed expenses -- is not enough to make payments to creditors.

Illinois residents can access a means test either online or by obtaining one from a bankruptcy attorney. As the legal jargon used on the form may be difficult to understand, getting this form in person and asking for help in completing it may be wise. If it turns out one does meet the eligibility requirements to file a Chapter 7 petition, one's legal counsel can see one through the process from beginning to end.

Source: justice.gov, "Means Testing", Accessed on July 6, 2017

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