Bankruptcy Debtor/Creditor Relations - Attorneys in Charlotte, NC

Experienced in Bankruptcy, Creditor Relations, Asset Planning and More

We're lawyers who help individuals, families, companies, and business owners who need practical and creative help resolving their financial worries in the Charlotte area.  Every day, we help clients develop and execute the difficult plan to deal with their business creditors, taxing authorities and general unsecured creditors whether it be through liquidation, reorganization or a coordinated workout.  Conversely, we assist clients in selecting the best path to collect money owed to them.  Our firm prides itself in partnering with our clients, educating them about their options, providing counsel, and working toward the collaborative goals we set together, striving to minimize surprises and maximize results.



Our services include:

  • Asset planning and protection
  • Assignments for the benefit of creditors
  • Bankruptcy
  • Chapter 7: representation of debtors, creditors and trustees
  • Chapter 11: representation of debtors, creditors, committees, and trustees
  • Chapter 13: representation of debtors and creditors
  • Adversary proceeding litigation in prosecuting or defending fraud, recharacterization of debt, discharge and dischargeability objections, and preferential or fraudulent transfers
  • Corporate windups and dissolution
  • Business/commercial litigation: North Carolina federal and state courts
  • Breach of contract, guaranty, warranty
  • Business torts
  • Fraud and fraudulent transfers
  • Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
  • Debt restructuring & workouts
  • Receiverships
  • Substitute trustee services (commercial only)

How We Help People File for Bankruptcy Relief in Charlotte

We navigate the unimaginable through creative, thought provoking solutions.  This dedication and innovative thinking when serving our clients allows fellow attorneys, current and former clients, tax and accounting professionals, financial planners, and enrolled agents to regularly refer clients to us.  We have strong relationships with tax, accounting and other professionals and, when appropriate, use a team approach to implement solutions.

We are particularly well known in the bankruptcy courts of the Western District of North Carolina and regularly appear in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina as well as Mecklenburg County courts.  Whether working with clients to resolve matters privately, out of court, or representing them in court, we provide thoughtful, straightforward advice and focused, knowledgeable representation.



Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions


What is bankruptcy? 

The release of personal liability for certain specified types of debts (called “dischargeable debts”).  For a person, the goal is a discharge order from the United States Bankruptcy Court, preventing attempts to collect most types of debts.

How much does it cost to file bankruptcy in North Carolina?

There are two types of fees you can expect to pay when filing for bankruptcy in North Carolina – attorney fees and filing fees set up by the bankruptcy court. During an initial consultation with Essex Richards, we will estimate and explain attorney and filing fees associated with filing your bankruptcy. 

How do I file bankruptcy in Charlotte NC?

When considering filing for bankruptcy in North Carolina, you should first consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney. During your consultation the attorney will guide you through how the process will look for your particular situation.

The first step will likely be reviewing your household income, debts, bills, credit cards, student loans, assets and investments. After reviewing your financial picture with the attorney, you will evaluate options, specifically which type of bankruptcy is the best for you – chapter 7, chapter 11, or chapter 13 – and any non-bankruptcy options you may have.

Individuals and married couples who decide to file a chapter 7, chapter 11 or chapter 13 bankruptcy must complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class within six months prior to filing. Once you complete the class, you will receive a certificate of completion that will be filed with your bankruptcy.  You should hold off on taking the credit counseling course until you speak with an attorney, because the approved agencies vary from district to district.  Also, many bankruptcy attorneys have an arrangement with a particular provider and want their clients to complete the counseling with that provider.F

Hiring an attorney to handle your bankruptcy filing is similar to hiring a CPA to handle your tax returns:  you must provide a lot of information and partner with the attorney preparing all of your bankruptcy paperwork. 

Once the bankruptcy papers are finalized and signed, your attorney will file a bankruptcy petition with the court. After you have filed the petition, most creditors are prevented from contacting you about your debts and from pursuing debt collection against you while the bankruptcy is pending.

Soon after your case is filed, the court will appoint a trustee to handle the administrative tasks in a chapter 7 or chapter 13 case.  Whether a chapter 11 trustee will be appointed depends on the particular case.  The bankruptcy court will mail to you and your creditors written notice of a creditors meeting (called a 341 meeting) that you will be required to attend.  During this meeting creditors have an opportunity to question you about your financial situation and outstanding debts.

After this meeting the bankruptcy is administered. The course of your bankruptcy will depend on the type of bankruptcy you file. Before you receive a discharge from the bankruptcy court, you are required to complete a personal financial management class. This class is designed to help you manage your finances and rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.

Who is eligible for chapter 7 bankruptcy? 

For our purposes, generally, individuals with: 

  1.  no chapter 7 discharge within the past 8 years; and
  2.  sufficiently low income pursuant to “the means test,” or whose debts are primarily  non-consumer in nature. What is “sufficiently low income?”   The following eligibility guidelines apply in cases filed on or after April 1, 2020 to North Carolina and South Carolina residents whose debts are primarily consumer in nature:

NC, 1 in household: $48,722; SC: $47,487
NC, 2 in household: $62,050; SC:  $61,529
NC, 3 in household: $69,102; SC:  $66,595
NC, 4 in household: $87,505; SC:  $81,226

Note: These numbers are periodically revised upward or downward depending on several factors in the country’s economy.

Cautions:  Under certain circumstances, the individual’s debts can be primarily consumer in nature, AND household income can exceed these numbers, and the debtor can still qualify for chapter 7; a good bankruptcy attorney can assist with this analysis.  A person should not simply look at these numbers and determine whether or not they are eligible for bankruptcy relief, as this is a complex, nuanced and evolving area of the law.  Note that the means test looks at the six months of household income prior to filing and is thus a highly artificial snapshot of an individual’s ability to repay creditors.  The means test does not apply where the debtor’s debts are primarily non-consumer.

How much do you have to be in debt to file chapter 7?

There is not a specific dollar amount of debt required to file chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Carolina. Rather, if the majority of your debt is “consumer debt,” to file a chapter 7 you must pass a “means test.” The means test examines financial records including income, household expenses, secured and unsecured debt to determine whether you have the ability – the “means” – to make some payment to your creditors in a chapter 13 case. If the majority of your debt is “non-consumer,” then the means test does not apply, and your eligibility for chapter 7 is not tied to household income. Your bankruptcy attorney will guide you through determining which type of bankruptcy filing is most beneficial for you.

Who is eligible for chapter 13 bankruptcy? 

Only individuals and married couples are eligible for chapter 13 relief, and they are limited to $419,275 of unsecured debt and $1,257,850 of secured debt (these numbers are also periodically revised).  Chapter 13 is a personal reorganization that requires the debtor to demonstrate regular income sufficient to make some repayment to creditors in the form of one monthly payment to the local chapter 13 trustee.  Most chapter 13 plans require 60 monthly payments (5 years).   Chapter 13 is most often useful where the debtor (a) has household income that is too high to qualify for chapter 7; (b) needs to deal immediately with non-dischargeable tax debt; (c) wishes to keep property that would be liquidated in a chapter 7 case; and/or (d) desires, and can afford to, reinstate a loan (often a mortgage for the primary residence).

It is important to understand that a chapter 13 payment is based on one of two things, whichever results in the higher payment to creditors:  (1) the net value of the debtor’s non-exempt property, or (2) the debtor’s disposable monthly income.  Further, in the vast majority of situations, the debtor does not pay his or her debts in full.  Instead, upon completion of the plan payments, the unpaid dischargeable debt is “discharged.”

What is chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 is designed for the reorganization of a business entity but is also available to people. Its provisions are quite complicated and the process is expensive.



We are a debt relief agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.


This is intended as an informational reminder and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular situation, please contact the author. The purpose of this document is to provide general information about North Carolina legal issues and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances.

Meet Our Bankruptcy Lawyers

How We Helped...

When my business failed, creditors swiftly litigated to enforce my personal guarantee while debtors took advantage of my position by delaying payments and making hardship claims of their own. I've never been under such stress. Hiring Heather to deal with both my creditors and debtors was the best move I could have made. Her knowledge of the law and her demeanor were a Godsend – just what I needed. She represented me in court, and counseled me on my rights as a debtor and how to keep personal property from being liquidated to satisfy creditors. She intervened when creditors attempted to bully me. Just as important, she was cool when I was overwrought. If she hadn't gone into law, her personality would have made her a perfect emergency room doctor.