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VIDEO FAQ’S

Questions Answered on Video

Frequently Asked Questions

View the latest frequently asked questions on video. All of your answers on video for your convenience.

Can Creditors Threaten to Have Me Arrested If I Fail to Pay My Debt?

There are prohibitions against what a creditor can threaten when collecting a debt. One of those is they cannot threaten to throw you in jail. There are no debtor’s prisons in the United States. Any type of threat, in that respect, is a violation of Florida law and federal law. You can file a lawsuit against the creditor for doing that.

Are There Debts That I Cannot Discharge through Bankruptcy?

There are some debts that you cannot discharge through bankruptcy. The three most common types are student loan debt, IRS, and child support or alimony. However, there are ways to handle those debts through bankruptcy, where you might get a better deal paying them off through bankruptcy, or stopping garnishments, or IRS levies.

Can I File Personal Bankruptcy and Not Have It Affect My Business?

It is possible to file personal bankruptcy and not have that personal filing affect your business. The answer is a little more complicated than that because it depends on the type of business you have, how it was organized, and what assets are involved, so whenever you’re contemplating filing a personal bankruptcy and you own a business, it’s extremely important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney.

Can I Continue Self-Employment as a Consultant If I File Bankruptcy?

You can continue to work as a consultant or a self-employed individual even if you file bankruptcy. Now, there are caveats to that. It all depends on the assets that you have as a self-employed individual. If the business has assets, they are personal assets, so they will have to be disclosed in your bankruptcy petition.

Can I File Bankruptcy Only on My Personal or Business Debts?

When you file bankruptcy, the law requires that you disclose everyone you owe money to. So whether those debts are personal, or if they are a personal obligation for your business, then yes, you have to disclose those in debts in the petition. If you’re filing personally and the business has a debt that you did not personally guarantee, then you can keep that debt outside of the bankruptcy, but otherwise, everything needs to come up.

Can I Convert from a Chapter 13 to 7?

You can convert your Chapter 13 case to Chapter 7. This could happen for a number of different reasons. Sometimes clients are intent on giving it a go in Chapter 13 and making payments to save a house or save other assets, and after awhile on the plan, they can’t afford to do it any longer. The law allows you to change that Chapter 13 case, convert it, over to a Chapter 7. When you do that, a Chapter 7 trustee gets appointed, and it runs like a normal Chapter 7 case, and you get your discharge shortly thereafter.

Can I Discharge Medical Bills in Bankruptcy?

When you file bankruptcy, the law requires that you disclose everyone you owe money to. So whether those debts are personal, or if they are a personal obligation for your business, then yes, you have to disclose those in debts in the petition. If you’re filing personally and the business has a debt that you did not personally guarantee, then you can keep that debt outside of the bankruptcy, but otherwise, everything needs to come up.

Can I File Bankruptcy Only on My Personal or Business Debts?

When you file bankruptcy, the law requires that you disclose everyone you owe money to. So whether those debts are personal, or if they are a personal obligation for your business, then yes, you have to disclose those in debts in the petition. If you’re filing personally and the business has a debt that you did not personally guarantee, then you can keep that debt outside of the bankruptcy, but otherwise, everything needs to come up.

Can I Lose my IRA, 401(k), or Other Retirement Account in Bankruptcy?

If you have a qualified retirement plan such as a 401(k), IRA, 403(b), those assets are protected in bankruptcy up to about a million dollars.

Can I Get Credit After Bankruptcy?

After your bankruptcy is concluded and you’ve been discharged it is possible for you to apply and be approved for a credit card. In fact, that’s one of the ways that you can start reestablishing your credit. Think of it this way, before you filed bankruptcy you got a ton of debt and you’re a bad credit risk and if you go to apply for another credit card and you’ve got all this debt the chances are you’re not going to get it.

Can I Keep My Credit Cards If I File for Bankruptcy?

You will not be able to keep your credit cards when you file for bankruptcy, even if you’ve paid off the credit card debt prior to filing. The reason for that is most credit card companies are alerted when a customer of theirs files bankruptcy, and they will close those accounts. They don’t want to open an account for someone who’s in bankruptcy. However, that doesn’t mean that you will forever be without a credit card.

Can I Save My Home and Other Assets by Filing Under Chapter 13?

After your bankruptcy is concluded and you’ve been discharged it is possible for you to apply and be approved for a credit card. In fact that’s one of the ways that you can start reestablishing your credit. Think of it this way, before you filed bankruptcy you got a ton of debt and you’re a bad credit risk and if you go to apply for another credit card and you’ve got all this debt the chances are you’re not going to get it.

Can I Not Be Approved for Bankruptcy?

It is possible that you will not be approved for bankruptcy. The technical term is that your case gets dismissed. The only reason that would happen though is if you filed the case, and you did not disclose all of your assets. You weren’t truthful in your bankruptcy petition, or frankly, you got bad advice and you didn’t qualify for the type of relief that you’re seeking. All of this can be avoided if you have a qualified attorney helping you through the process.

Can I Put My Assets in Someone Else’s Name Before Filing for Bankruptcy?

There are some things that you should not do before you file bankruptcy. One of those things is transferring assets out of your name. There’s a look back period of up to two years when you file bankruptcy where you must disclose any transfers of assets. If you have a car that you’re trying to save don’t put it in your son’s name or your friend’s name because you’re going to suffer some negative consequences from doing that including denial of your discharge.

Can I Repay Debts Owed to Relatives Before Filing for Bankruptcy?

If you owe money to relatives, you have to remember that under the bankruptcy law relatives are treated the same way as any other creditors would be, and sometimes there are penalties imposed for you choosing to pay relatives over other creditors prior to filing bankruptcy. The best advice is to hold off on paying your relatives back until you’ve consulted an attorney.

Can I Represent Myself in a Bankruptcy Case?

You can represent yourself in a bankruptcy case. It is not required that you have an attorney when you file. There are some issues that you can run into though, if you’re not represented. You may not have chosen your exemptions properly. You may have left some assets unprotected. A Chapter 7 trustee is not your friend in a bankruptcy case. They are not going to advise you of ways to protect your assets. What happens usually in that situation is the client will come to an attorney after the fact and end up spending a lot more money to undo the mess that they got themselves in.

Can My Ex-Spouse Avoid Paying Child Support If They File For Bankruptcy?

One of the types of debts that is not dischargeable in bankruptcy is child support. If your ex-spouse has been ordered to pay child support, he or she cannot avoid that debt through filing bankruptcy.

Can the Bankruptcy Court Decide Tax Disputes?

The bankruptcy court has jurisdiction to decide pretty much any dispute that you have with your creditors. Can they decide tax disputes? Yes, they can determine whether or not that tax debt is dischargeable. If it is, it goes away. If it’s not, it either remains or you have to pay it through a chapter 13 plan.

Do I Have to Pay my Bills During a Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy?

You do have to continue to pay your bills in a Chapter 7 case if those bills are your house or your car, and you want to keep your house or your car. In a Chapter 13, you have to pay your bills, same thing, secured debt. House or car, if you want to keep those things, you have to pay them. If we’re talking about unsecured debt, like credit cards or medical bills, no, you don’t have to pay those because those debts will be discharged.

Does My Spouse Have to File Bankruptcy with Me?

If you’re married, your spouse does not always have to file with you. Typically, what I’m looking at when I’m representing a married couple and answering this question is, “How are the debts situated?” Meaning, are they joint debt? Does only one spouse have the debt? If it’s joint debt, it may make sense to file jointly. If only one spouse has debt, then maybe only one spouse files. There are other considerations to take into account, so of course, it’s a good idea to discuss that with a qualified attorney.

Does the IRS Have to Agree to My Chapter 13 plan?

The IRS does have to agree to your Chapter 13 plan, as do all of your creditors. That’s why it’s important when you’re proposing a plan that you know what you’re doing and that you provide for payments as required under the law. That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a benefit, by just applying the law and making the payments under the Chapter 13 plan, as opposed to outside of it, outside of bankruptcy. Yes, the IRS, as all creditors, need to approve the payment plan that you propose. More importantly, the court needs to approve the payment plan.

Does My Spouse Have to File Bankruptcy with Me?

If you’re married, your spouse does not always have to file with you. Typically, what I’m looking at when I’m representing a married couple and answering this question is, “How are the debts situated?” Meaning, are they joint debt? Does only one spouse have the debt? If it’s joint debt, it may make sense to file jointly. If only one spouse has debt, then maybe only one spouse files. There are other considerations to take into account, so of course, it’s a good idea to discuss that with a qualified attorney.

Does a Previous Bankruptcy Prevent Me From Filing Bankruptcy Again?

A previous bankruptcy filing could prevent you from filing bankruptcy again. The most common scenario where this comes up is, a person receives a discharge from a Chapter 7 case and must wait eight years to file another case. However, you don’t always have to wait eight years. For example, you could file Chapter 13 four years after receiving your discharge from Chapter 7 and be eligible to file in Chapter 13.

Does the IRS Have to Agree to My Chapter 13 plan?

The IRS does have to agree to your Chapter 13 plan, as do all of your creditors. That’s why it’s important when you’re proposing a plan that you know what you’re doing and that you provide for payments as required under the law. That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a benefit, by just applying the law and making the payments under the Chapter 13 plan, as opposed to outside of it, outside of bankruptcy. Yes, the IRS, like all creditors, needs to approve the payment plan that you propose. More importantly, the court needs to approve the payment plan.

Do Bankruptcy Laws Vary from State to State?

Bankruptcy is a federal law, but each state has different exemptions that the state law allows you to apply to assets you have to protect those assets. A short answer is yes, bankruptcy laws will vary from state to state, but generally, the general bankruptcy framework is provided by the bankruptcy code, which is a federal law and applies to all the states.

Do I Have to List All My Debts in a Bankruptcy Filing?

You are required to list all of your debts when you file bankruptcy. This includes personal debts owed to friends or relatives. It includes mortgage debt. It includes debt that you want to keep after you file bankruptcy. It’s an all or nothing thing. You must disclose all of your debts and all of your assets when you file.

Do I Need to Do Credit Counseling before Filing for Bankruptcy?

Credit counseling is a requirement for bankruptcy. There are two courses that must be completed, one before you file and one after you file. These are simple courses that can be done online and they are part of any bankruptcy filing.

How Can I Stop Creditors from Harassing Me in Florida?

To stop creditors from harassing you in Florida there are a couple of things you can do. Number one, you can hire an attorney and that attorney can send a letter of representation to the creditor informing them that you have hired them. Once that’s done, under Florida law, the creditor is not supposed to contact you. If they do you can turn the tables on the creditor and sue the creditor. You can also file bankruptcy. When you file bankruptcy and automatic stay goes into effect that prevents the creditors or prohibits them from contacting you. Again, if they violate that stay you can sue the creditor.

How Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy?

How do I qualify for bankruptcy? Well, basically it depends on which type of bankruptcy you’re looking at. A Chapter 7 type of bankruptcy requires that you make less income than the median income for the size of your household with some exceptions. A Chapter 13 focuses more on the amount of debt that you have and the type of debt.
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Everyone qualifies for bankruptcy.The question is which type and which is best for you given your circumstances.

How Do I Prepare My Bankruptcy Payment Plan?

Your bankruptcy payment plan is prepared after consulting with your attorney. I need to know what you want to accomplish in your plan. Are you trying to save a house? Are you trying to save your car? Are you trying to eliminate tax debt? All of those considerations are taken into account when preparing a plan to come up with a way to accomplish those goals.

How Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Charge for Their Services?

Most bankruptcy attorneys will charge a flat fee for a bankruptcy case. It’s important to remember that fees that bankruptcy attorneys charge are regulated by the court. It will vary depending on the complexity of your case. How many assets you have, how much debt you’re carrying, what type of debt you’re carrying, but generally it’s a flat fee that’s due before the bankruptcy is filed.

How Do I Determine If I Should File for Bankruptcy?

Determining if you should file bankruptcy is always an individual question. What I find is that clients will become overwhelmed with collection efforts by creditors, the phone calls, the letters, and the stress builds up to a point where they feel that they need to call a qualified attorney to get advice on how to handle it. Usually, in a 15 to 20-minute call, you can get some answers and put your mind at ease..

How Do I Know Which Bankruptcy Chapter to File?

Deciding which chapter of bankruptcy to file under is something that is discussed with your attorney, and after all of your facts and circumstances are taken into account, I look at your assets, your income, your expenses, the type of debt that you have, a recommendation is made as to which filing is best suited to achieve the goals that you want to achieve.

How Do I Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney?

When you’re trying to select a bankruptcy attorney, the best advice I can give you is to speak to the attorney, either by phone or in person. I offer free consultations, many other bankruptcy attorneys do as well. It’s important to have that initial meeting and that face to face talk so that you know what you’re getting if you decide to hire that attorney. Look at experience, speak to friends or relatives. Of course, look on the website. The most important thing is to feel comfortable with the person you’ve selected to represent you through this process.

How Difficult Is It to File for Chapter 7 Under the New Bankruptcy Laws?

When you’re trying to select a bankruptcy attorney, the best advice I can give you is to speak to the attorney, either by phone or in person. I offer free consultations, many other bankruptcy attorneys do as well. It’s important to have that initial meeting and that face to face talk so that you know what you’re getting if you decide to hire that attorney. Look at experience, speak to friends or relatives. Of course, look on the website. The most important thing is to feel comfortable with the person you’ve selected to represent you through this process.

How Does a Bankruptcy Affect a Second Mortgage or Equity Loan?

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can eliminate a second mortgage or equity loan, if the value of your home is worth less than what you owe on the first mortgage. In that case, the second mortgage becomes wholly unsecured, and you can strip it off in a Chapter 13. At the end of your case, that lien goes away, and you no longer have to pay the debt.

How Long Will a Bankruptcy Filing Remain on My Credit Record?

A bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. From the date of filing the petition. A lot of people will hear that and think “I can’t get any credit for 10 years.” That’s not the case. Most of my clients are able to obtain credit shortly after their discharge. A credit card, for example, no problem, you’ll be able to get that shortly after discharge. Even purchasing a new home is possible, although you might have to wait a little bit longer to show that you’ve re-established your credit. 10 years is the time it’ll take for it to fall off, but the negative effects, as far as establishing credit, or reestablishing credit after filing, much shorter than that.

How Does a Bankruptcy Affect a Second Mortgage or Equity Loan?

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can eliminate a second mortgage or equity loan, if the value of your home is worth less than what you owe on the first mortgage. In that case, the second mortgage becomes wholly unsecured, and you can strip it off in a Chapter 13. At the end of your case, that lien goes away, and you no longer have to pay the debt.

How Long Does the Bankruptcy Process Typically Take?

The bankruptcy process can take as little as four months in a Chapter 7 case, from filing the petition to receiving your discharge, or as long as five years in a Chapter 13, from filing to discharge.

Then there is also the time it takes prior to filing, and that’s largely dependent upon the client and how quickly the client can provide the information that I need to prepare the petition and how quickly they can come up with the bankruptcy fee.

How Does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Begin?

A chapter seven bankruptcy case begins or any bankruptcy case begins for that matter, by filing a petition. A bankruptcy petition is a sixty-plus page document that is prepared prior to filing where you disclose all of your creditors, all of your assets, your income and expenses and that is what you hire a qualified attorney to do to make sure that the process runs smoothly. You also choose how to protect your assets in that petition. That’s a very important consideration when you’re going through the filing process.

How Is Debt Handled in Bankruptcy?

The way that IRS debt is handled in bankruptcy really depends on how old the IRS debt is. Generally speaking, if the IRS debt is three years old or older, and you have filed tax returns at least two years from the time that you filed your bankruptcy, that debt can be eliminated. Generally speaking, the newer the IRS debt, the less likely it will be able to be discharged, but it can be handled through a Chapter 13 type of bankruptcy for example and give you better payment options than you might get dealing with the IRS on their own outside of bankruptcy.

How Often Will I Have to Go to Court During Bankruptcy Proceedings?

There is one mandatory appearance that every debtor has to make in a bankruptcy case. That is the Meeting of Creditors, the 341 meeting, which takes place about a month after your case is filed. Aside from that, it is very rare that you would ever have to go into a bankruptcy court or see a bankruptcy judge. Most of my clients attend the meeting about a month after the case is filed, and that’s the only time they have to go down to bankruptcy court.

How Will a Bankruptcy Filing Affect My Future Finances?

Hopefully, a bankruptcy filing will improve your future finances because you’re not diverting income that you’re earning to pay creditors who you would have otherwise had to have paid had you not filed bankruptcy. The idea is always to eliminate, remove the debt initially, rebuild after you come out of the bankruptcy, and live a stress-free financial life without these creditors hounding you.

Are My Old Debts Erased from My Credit Report with Bankruptcy?

When you file for bankruptcy and receive a discharge, you no longer owe that debt. When you pull your credit report you should see that creditor who you listed in the bankruptcy still there, but with a zero balance. A zero dollar balance and a note that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy. If you see anything other than that, such as a balance owed, you should contact your attorney, because that creditor is not complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If I Am Having Problems Paying My Bills, What Should I Do?

If you’re having problems paying your bills, really the first thing you should do is prioritize your debt. What I mean by that is there’s unsecured debt and secured debt. Unsecured debt, think credit cards, medical bills. There’s not a lot that those creditors can do to hurt you financially if you stop paying them whereas your car or your house, obviously those things could be taken if you stop paying them, so prioritize.

Are My Old Debts Erased from My Credit Report with Bankruptcy?

When you file for bankruptcy and receive a discharge, you no longer owe that debt. When you pull your credit report you should see that creditor who you listed in the bankruptcy still there, but with a zero balance. A zero dollar balance and a note that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy. If you see anything other than that, such as a balance owed, you should contact your attorney, because that creditor is not complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Is Discharged Bankruptcy Debt Considered Income?

There is no debt forgiveness penalty for filing bankruptcy. What that means is once the debt is discharged, it’s gone. It is not reported as 1099 income on your taxes, and you do not have to pay a tax penalty for discharging debt in bankruptcy. It is one of the great benefits that people receive by filing bankruptcy.

I Declared Bankruptcy Before. When Can I File Again?

Depending on what type of bankruptcy you filed previously, that will dictate how long you have to wait to be able to file again. A Chapter 7 filing can be done once every eight years, while Chapter 13 has a shorter time period that you have to wait. It just depends on the type of bankruptcy that you filed, and when you filed.

Is Discharged Bankruptcy Debt Considered Income?

There is no debt forgiveness penalty for filing bankruptcy. What that means is once the debt is discharged, it’s gone. It is not reported as 1099 income on your taxes, and you do not have to pay a tax penalty for discharging debt in bankruptcy. It is one of the great benefits that people receive by filing bankruptcy.

May I Use Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Get Rid of All My Debts?

Chapter seven bankruptcy is a great way to get rid of most of your debts. There are some exceptions, so newly acquired IRS debt will not go away in a chapter seven case. Child support, alimony will not go away. Student loan debt will not go away in a chapter seven. Aside from that, credit cards, medical bills, mortgages, car repossessions, all of that debt can be eliminated through chapter seven.

What Are Exempt Assets?

 

Exempt assets in bankruptcy are things you can keep. Each state allows for exemptions that you can apply to assets you own to keep them out of the bankruptcy estate. A common example of that is your homestead property in Florida. You can protect the equity in your home; that’s an exempt asset. You can protect the equity in your vehicle up to a certain amount in bankruptcy. There are exemptions you can use to protect retirement accounts and the list goes on. Exemptions and selecting your exemptions when you file is a very important part of the filing.

Right Now, I Can’t Pay My Debts? Besides Bankruptcy, Do I Have Other Options?

You have options besides bankruptcy if you cannot pay your debts. Really the first option is the option of time. It takes time for a creditor to go through the legal process and collect it. Maybe right now you can’t file bankruptcy. You don’t have the income to pay an attorney, or you just don’t want to file. You have time. From the time that you receive a lawsuit on a debt collection action to the time a judgment is entered is usually a number of months. You can do some planning in that time before you actually have to file.

Should I Consolidate My Debt?

 

One of the questions that usually comes up with clients is should I try debt consolidation instead of filing bankruptcy. A lot of times what I find is that clients come to me after being in a debt consolidation program for six months and paying a large amount monthly and not really seeing any benefit. Their balances are still high, their credit score is still low, whereas filing bankruptcy provides an opportunity to either eliminate the debt completely or pay much less monthly than you would in a debt consolidation program.

What Are Non-Exempt Assets?

 

Non-exempt assets are assets that you cannot protect when you file bankruptcy. If you have an asset that is too valuable or exceeds the value of the exemption that you’re using to protect it, you could stand to lose that asset in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. That doesn’t mean you’re going to lose it in a chapter 13 because in chapter 13 you can protect non-exempt assets.

What Are the Advantages of Filing for Bankruptcy?

The main advantage, in my mind, of filing for bankruptcy is the stress relief that you obtain by simply filing the case and going through the process. The day that you file your case, the phone calls stop, the letters stop, the harassment stops, and it allows you to focus on other areas of your life, your family, your job, and give your time and attention to those areas, and move forward.

What Debts from My Divorce Are Dischargeable in a Bankruptcy?

Debts that you have from a divorce could still be dischargeable in bankruptcy unless you have agreed with your former spouse to take on those debts. It’s always advisable when you’re contemplating divorce and bankruptcy, and we know that these things sometimes go hand in hand, to speak with an attorney before you finalize your divorce. You don’t want to agree to something in your divorce that would make it impossible for you to eliminate that debt in your bankruptcy.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes I Can Make When Filing for Bankruptcy?

By far the most common mistake that you can make when filing for bankruptcy is trying to do it by yourself, or spending a couple hundred dollars on a petition preparer who cannot give you legal advice. I can’t tell you how many times I have had clients come to me to try to fix things that were done incorrectly, and they end up spending a lot more and it’s a lot more stress than what would have happened if they had just come to see a qualified attorney initially.

What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy?

The main types of bankruptcy that consumers file, everyday people are chapter seven and chapter 13. A chapter seven type of bankruptcy does not require you to pay anything back to your unsecured creditors, think credit cards, medical bills. Whereas a chapter 13 requires you to pay back a percentage of what you owe to your unsecured creditors. That percentage is based on your ability to pay. Whether you file a chapter seven or 13 is a decision that you make with your attorney as you go through the process.

What Debts Can be Erased by a Bankruptcy?

Most debts are erased, or discharged, when you file bankruptcy. The only debts that remain are student loans, some IRS debt, and domestic support obligations, think child support or alimony. Pretty much, with some exceptions, all other type of debt is dischargeable.

What Assets Are Protected In Bankruptcy?

Fortunately, there are many assets that are protected in bankruptcy and you won’t lose. Such as your home, up to $5,000 in a vehicle if you don’t own a home, your personal property is protected, your household items, your retirement accounts are protected, and a number of other assets enjoy protection under the bankruptcy code.

What Are The Most Common Reasons For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

The most common reasons for a chapter 7 filing is you’re trying to eliminate some unsecured debt, meaning credit cards or medical bills that have gotten out of control, or you’re trying to walk away from a house and not be held liable for the mortgage on the home. In chapter 7 cases we’re dealing with clients who don’t have a lot of assets that they would lose if they filed chapter 7 but have a lot of debt that they can get rid of, and are looking for that fresh start.

What Are The Main Effects Of Filing Under Chapter 13?

The main effects of filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is you keep your stuff. You keep your house, you keep your cars, you keep assets that you would have otherwise lost if you filed Chapter 7. Chapter 13 provides a debtor a way to protect assets and pay for things at a lower rate than what they would have to pay outside of bankruptcy.

What Are The Major Events In The Bankruptcy Process And When Will The Bankruptcy Be Over?

The major events in the bankruptcy process are number one, filing the petition itself. In a Chapter 7 case, usually about four months after you file, it’s over when you receive your discharge. In a Chapter 13 case, it’s going to last longer, because you’re entering into a three to five-year repayment plan, and then you receive your discharge. There are steps after the case is filed, such as a meeting of creditors, which takes place about a month after you file your case. There are other hearings that are involved that I deal with, that my clients do not have to attend, or deal with. Basically, you file the petition. You get your discharge four months later in a Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13, a little bit longer.

What Happens to My Corporation If I File Personal Bankruptcy?

A personal bankruptcy filing will not affect your corporation in most instances. However, there are exceptions, and it’s a good idea to speak to a qualified attorney to learn about those exceptions, and if they apply to your specific case.

What Do I Need to Provide My Attorney in a Bankruptcy Case?

The documents that you need to provide to your attorney to prepare your case include tax returns that you filed for the three years prior to you filing the bankruptcy, six months worth of bank statements, six months worth of pay advances. Now those could be paycheck stubs or any method of determining exactly what you earned in the six months prior to filing. There is also a brief questionnaire that I give my clients to make sure that we capture all of their monthly expenses, all of their assets. These are things that are necessary to any bankruptcy petition information that’s required to be in there, so we like to get those well ahead of filing the case.

What Does a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Involve?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves filing a petition and committing to a repayment plan of anywhere between three to five years, where you agree to pay back a percentage of what you owe to your unsecured creditors. A Chapter 13 is most commonly filed to stop a foreclosure on a home. It allows you to pay back the arrears that have accrued on your mortgage over that five-year plan. Chapter 13 also allows you to modify your mortgage, to pay less on the car loan that you have than you would have to pay outside of bankruptcy. It has a lot of features that are available in Chapter 13 than in Chapter 7.

What Do I Have to Do to File Bankruptcy?

The first thing you have to do to file bankruptcy is complete a bankruptcy petition. It’s about a 60 to 70 page document, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. You have to disclose all of your creditors. You have to disclose all of your assets. You have to list all your income and expenses, and all of this information goes on forms that are not so easy to fill out, so sometimes it’s a good idea to meet with an attorney, hire an attorney to represent you through the process.

What Happens When I File Bankruptcy?

When you file bankruptcy, hopefully, you’ll experience a great bit of relief because you have dealt with your financial situation in a responsible way, a legal way, and a way that will allow you to rebuild your credit shortly after filing.

What Happens After the Payment Plan Is Approved?

When the chapter 13 payment plan is approved or confirmed, the judge puts his or her stamp of approval on the plan that you’ve proposed. That’s the plan that you travel under for the rest of the case. A chapter 13 can last anywhere from three to five years. Once that plan is confirmed, you’re making monthly payments and accomplishing the goals that you set forth in that plan.

What if I Can’t Afford a Bankruptcy Attorney?

I believe that everyone can afford a bankruptcy attorney. I work with clients who are in very difficult financial situations, and I understand that. I offer payment plans for my clients that are extremely low monthly payments for example. In chapter 13 types of bankruptcy, you can put most of the fee in the chapter 13 plan, which means that when you make your monthly payment to the trustee you’re paying the attorney’s fee as well. So you’re paying it out of a long period of time. The biggest thing I would say to clients who are unsure if they can afford to pay for an attorney is to speak to an attorney, because there are ways to do it, to pay for the attorney that you may not be aware of, and that the attorney has dealt with for a long time.

What If a Collection Agency Calls Me and Says That My Credit Card Debt Cannot be Discharged?

Sometimes collection agencies will do interesting things, like tell you that the debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. When they do that, they have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and if you are in bankruptcy, they violated the automatic stay. There are remedies that you have for that violation. In fact, you can sue the collection agency for doing that. Bankruptcy judges take this very seriously. The automatic stay is strictly enforced, and if you get a collection agency that does those kinds of things, you should let your attorney know immediately.

What If I cannot Make the Payments on my Chapter 13 Plan?

If you file chapter 13 and find that you cannot make your payments, there are a couple of options that you have. Number one is to modify or amend the initial plan that you proposed. Perhaps we can lower the monthly payment and allow you to stay in chapter 13, or if you find that that’s not possible, you can also convert your case, change it over to a chapter 7, where you don’t have to make payments.

What If I Keep Getting Bills after I File Bankruptcy?

It is possible that you may still receive some bills after you file. It takes about seven to 10 days for the court to notify your creditors that you filed and in that time, you may receive some. But if you continue to get bills collecting on debt that you included in the bankruptcy, you should really let your attorney know because those creditors maybe violating the automatic stay and you may have an action to bring against them.

What If I Want to Pay Back My Creditors?

If you want to pay some of your creditors, you can do that. There is no penalty for voluntarily paying your creditors after you’ve gone through the bankruptcy and have no legal obligation to pay. Some clients do that. They file a chapter seven, they get their discharge, and they feel a moral obligation to make a payment to their creditors. Another way to do it is through a chapter 13, where you pay what you can afford to pay to your unsecured creditors. There are options if you want to pay.

What If the Court Does Not Approve My Chapter 7?

 

The only reason that the court would not approve or grant a discharge to a chapter 7 debtor is if the debtor made too much money or otherwise was untruthful in the petition. I will not file a bankruptcy case, a chapter 7 bankruptcy case for a client if I feel that it won’t be successful, so what we’re usually looking at in that situation is the person’s income, so if you make too much money to file a chapter 7, the advice may be to file chapter 13 so that the court will not reject the filing.

What Is a 341 Hearing?

IA 341 hearing references the section of the bankruptcy code that requires you to meet with a trustee and your creditors. Now that’s a little misleading because in almost every bankruptcy case, your creditors will not appear at the 341 meeting. What happens is you sit at a table next to your attorney and across from the trustee. The trustee places you under oath and asks you general questions about the information you laid out in your bankruptcy papers. It’s a very brief meeting in most cases, usually five minutes or so. It’s usually the only hearing that you have to attend throughout the entire bankruptcy process.

What Is a Bankruptcy Mill?

TA bankruptcy mill is a law firm that files a very large volume of bankruptcy cases, so picture a conveyor belt moving people through the bankruptcy process. You don’t always pick up the nuances in a case, so if you have a cookie-cutter case, meaning lots of unsecured debt, no assets, perhaps a bankruptcy mill is the way to go. If you have anything other than that, you may want to consult an attorney who does not work for a bankruptcy mill, who can sit down and discuss with you your specific issues and put together a strategy to deal with those issues, and spend the time with you that a bankruptcy mill may not be able to.

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation differs from bankruptcy in that you’re not receiving any of the benefits that the bankruptcy law provides you as a debtor when you do debt consolidation. Instead of working under the bankruptcy law to restructure or eliminate your debt, you’re working with the people you owe money to. The deals that you get from those people are not going to be as good as the deals you’re going to get under the bankruptcy law.

What is the Role of the Chapter 13 Trustee?

The role of the Chapter 13 trustee is to receive the monthly payments that you have proposed to make in your Chapter 13 plan and distribute those funds accordingly. For example, the trustee will receive a lump sum payment from you, and according to the dictates of your plan, will send some money to your mortgage lender, some to your vehicle lender and if you’re required to pay anything back to your unsecured creditors, some of that money will go to your unsecured creditors. So the trustee really just takes your payment and distributes it according to the plan that you file at the beginning of your case.

What Is the Next Step after Credit Counseling?

After you’ve completed your credit counseling course, and have provided all the information that we need to prepare your case, then your case is filed. It’s important to remember that the credit counseling certificate is only good for six months after you complete the course. Generally, it’s the last thing we have you do right before we file your petition.

What is the Proposed Payment Plan?

The proposed payment plan in a chapter 13 case is really a roadmap for what you want to accomplish in your case. Are you trying to save the house and repay mortgage years? Are you trying to modify a mortgage? Are you trying to pay a lower interest rate on your car or deal with student loan debt in a way that allows you to pay less than what you have to pay outside of bankruptcy? It’s a crucial part of any chapter 13 case and a lot of thought and planning goes into every plan that’s filed.

What is the Role of an Attorney in a Bankruptcy?

The role of an attorney in a bankruptcy is to ensure that the debtor receives a discharge, that at the end of the case, you come out of it debt-free and you preserve your assets. Decisions will be made through that process as far as how to apply the exemptions to protect your assets and what chapter of bankruptcy to file.

What is the Trustee?

The trustee has different roles, depending if it’s a chapter 7 or chapter 13. A chapter 7 trustee is in charge of administering your bankruptcy estate. That means looking for assets that they could take from you and sell to help pay off your creditors. It doesn’t happen in every case. Some cases are no-asset cases and the chapter 7 trustee doesn’t have much to do. A chapter 13 trustee’s job is to distribute the payment that you’re making to the chapter 13 trustee to your creditors according to a chapter 13 payment plan that’s filed at the very beginning of your case.

What Should I Include on My Assets Schedule for Bankruptcy?

You should include all of your assets in your bankruptcy schedules when you file. It’s one of the basic requirements of the debtor when you file. If you want the benefit of being able to eliminate all of your debt, you have to play by the rules and that includes telling your creditors, and the court, what you have. So you list your real property, your personal property and any other type of property you may own.

What Should I List as My Liabilities in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

When you file Chapter Seven Bankruptcy you must disclose all of your financial liabilities. So there will be a section in the petition where you list your secured debts. Things like vehicle loans, home loans, and then another place where you list your unsecured debts, things like credit cards, medical bills, even student loans. Basically everyone you owe has to be disclosed in the petition in different sections in the petition.

What Should I Wear to My 341 Hearing?

There really is no dress code when you go to bankruptcy court. You can wear a suit or you can wear a t-shirt. The important thing is that you appear and that you testify truthfully and that you move your case forward.

What Steps Do I Need to Take Before Filing for Bankruptcy?

A good first step before filing for bankruptcy is to know who you owe. One of the services I offer to my clients is pulling a credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. From there we can determine exactly how much you owe, who you owe and then look at the goals you want to accomplish with those creditors.

When Should I File Tax Returns If I am Going to File for Bankruptcy?

The best time to file tax returns in contemplation of filing a bankruptcy is now. Get your tax returns filed. It’s very important that you have them filed if there’s any chance of you being able to eliminate that tax debt in bankruptcy.

When Will I Be Discharged from Bankruptcy?

You receive your discharge in bankruptcy in a chapter seven case after the trustee has finished administering the case, usually about four months from the date of filing, and in a chapter 13 case, once you have completed your chapter 13 payment plan. That can last anywhere from three to five years.

Which Bankruptcy is Right for Me?

Deciding which bankruptcy is right for you is, obviously, going to depend on your specific facts. There is no blanket answer that one can give to that question. The things that I look for, when I’m speaking with a client, is what goals do you have? Are you trying to save a house? Are you trying to save a car? Are you trying to prevent a garnishment, or deal with high interest, and large student loan debt? All of these things, the answers to those questions, will guide you as to whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the best option for you.

When Should I Consider Bankruptcy as an Option?

You should consider bankruptcy as an option when you can’t make minimum monthly payments on credit card debt or when you just know that you can’t continue this way, you can’t continue to roll some credit card debt into another credit card debt by doing balance transfers, when you’re looking to pull equity out of your home to pay off credit card debts, when you’re getting constant calls at home and work. There is a way out and it’s a relatively painless way out. It allows you to rebuild your credit faster than you may think by filing bankruptcy.

Who Can Use Chapter 13?

To be a debtor in chapter 13 you have to have unsecured debts of no more than about 380,000, and secured debts of no more than a little over a million. Most people can file a chapter 13 bankruptcy. The question is, is that the type of bankruptcy that best suits the goals that you want to accomplish and your financial situation. That’s where a discussion with a qualified bankruptcy attorney really comes into play. Because everything’s laid out on the table and we can decide, after going through everything, whether, even if you’re eligible for chapter 13, is it the best one for you.

Who Makes the Choice Regarding Chapter 7?

Ultimately, the choice to file Chapter Seven, is the client’s to make. Hopefully, the client has been advised well by a qualified attorney and can see that filing Chapter Seven or filing Chapter Thirteen, is the clear choice to make, but it always depends on the facts and circumstances of your case, so it’s important to address those circumstances with a qualified attorney to get the answer you need.

Who Makes the Choice Regarding Chapter 13?

Ultimately the choice regarding which bankruptcy to file, whether a chapter 13 or a 7 is the person who’s filing. That person decides. Hopefully that person will make an educated decision based on consultations they’ve had with a qualified attorney. Where the pros and cons are laid out for filing a chapter 13 or a chapter seven.

Who Notifies the Creditors and Bill Collectors that I Declared Bankruptcy?

The court will notify your creditors and bill collectors when you file. It is an official notice that’s sent out by the clerk of court. It usually takes about seven to 10 days for your creditors to receive that notice. It will have your bankruptcy case number in it and provide warnings to your creditors to lay off the collection activity.

Who Will Know About My Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a public record, so it will show up on your credit report. If you give someone the authority to pull your credit report, they’re likely to see it. If you’re an average, everyday person who files bankruptcy, it’s unlikely that most people are going to know that you filed. You’re not going to show up on a Google search, for example. You have to subscribe to an online court system to be able to view bankruptcy filings. The likelihood is that no one will know that you filed unless you offer the information, or you give someone the authority to pull your credit report.

Why Chapter 13?

Chapter 13 is a great tool to use to keep you in your home. I meet with a lot of clients who have fallen behind on mortgage payments. A Chapter 13 first of all stops the chance of the home being foreclosed the day that we file the case and it allows for flexibility to pay back what you have fallen behind on the home payment. It also allows you to modify the mortgage to a monthly payment that is easier for you to make. If you’re behind on car payments and want to save the car, Chapter 13 is the tool for that. If you have assets that you would otherwise lose in a Chapter 7, Chapter 13 is the answer. It’s a great tool to help you save your assets and to also eliminate debt.

Will Bankruptcy Remove a Lien?

Liens survive bankruptcy, which means if you have a lien on your home, a first mortgage for example, it will stay on your home, and keep the house as long as you continue to make the payments. Same thing goes for a car. The lien that’s on your car will survive the bankruptcy, and you keep the car, as long as you continue to make the payments. There are instances though where you can remove a lien. The most common one is a second mortgage on your house. If your home is worth less than what you owe on the first mortgage, you can strip off that second mortgage lien, and it will not survive the bankruptcy.

Will Bankruptcy Stop a Judgment?

One of the main benefits of filing bankruptcy is that it stops all lawsuits that have been filed against you, so yes, filing bankruptcy before a judgment is entered, will stop that judgment from being entered. Not only will it stop the judgment from being entered, but it will also eliminate the debt, so there’s no chance of that creditor collecting on that debt in the future.

Will Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishments?

One of the great things about filing bankruptcy is it stops wage garnishments the day that you file. That’s really important and it’s something that is protected and guaranteed under the bankruptcy law by the automatic stay. The day after you file that next pay period your check will be back to normal.

Will Filing for Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse’s Credit?

Filing for bankruptcy will not affect your spouse’s credit so long as you don’t have joint debt and you have not filed bankruptcy jointly. There are occasions where furnishers will incorrectly or inaccurately report information to a credit reporting agency that may affect your spouse’s credit, but there are ways to correct that. It’s just something that you have to keep your eye on and alert your attorney to after the bankruptcy’s been discharged and you’ve pulled your credit report.

Will I Lose My Assets If I File for Chapter 7?

If you are in jeopardy of losing assets in a Chapter seven case, then, you should not file Chapter seven, you can look at Chapter 13, for example, a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy allows you to protect the assets that you would otherwise lose if you file Chapter seven. What I tell clients is if you have an asset that you don’t want to lose, you won’t lose it, you may not be filling a Chapter seven, it may be through Chapter 13 that you’re able to protect that asset, but there are ways to protect assets and still eliminate your debt through bankruptcy.

Will I Lose My House?

You will not lose your house in bankruptcy unless you choose to give it up, or you can’t afford to make the payment. There are many ways to keep a home in bankruptcy, and predominantly those ways are found in Chapter 13. We can modify your mortgage, we can the arrears that you have accrued over time through a five-year repayment plan in a Chapter 13 case. We can eliminate second mortgages on a home in some bankruptcies, so there are ways to preserve a house in the bankruptcy. You don’t have to lose it if you don’t want to.

Will My Creditors Stop Harassing Me When I File for Bankruptcy?

Under the bankruptcy law your creditors must stop harassing you the day that you file for bankruptcy. The automatic stay goes into effect the day that you file, and there are severe penalties for creditors who violate the automatic stay. There are lawsuits that I have brought against creditors who violate the stay, and they face steep fines and penalties for doing that.

Will the Bankruptcy Trustee Come to My House?

It is very rare for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee to show up at your house. They have to have a reason to do that and they’re not real fond of showing up to debtors’ homes in the first place. Where I see this happening is where a debtor has a 4,000 square foot home for example and says they have about $200 worth of personal property in that home. So there has to be a reason for the Chapter 7 trustee to go out and investigate whether the information you put in your petition is accurate.

Will My Co-Signers Be Protected?

Depending on what type of bankruptcy you file, your co-signers either will or will not be protected by the automatic stay that goes into effect when your case is filed. In a chapter 13 case, there is co-debtor stay which is pretty much the same as a co-signer stay. That prevents creditors from going after the co-signer. That protection does not extend to chapter 7 filings. That’s a consideration to bring up when you’re planning your bankruptcy filing. It’s something you should discuss with your attorney.

Can I Convert From a Chapter 7 to 13?

A conversion from Chapter 7 to 13 is possible, although it’s not an automatic thing. In a Chapter 7 case, a Chapter 7 trustee gets appointed to administer the assets in your bankruptcy estate.
What I see sometimes, prominently with people who are not represented by a qualified attorney when they file, is that they file Chapter 7 with assets that they would lose, and then they try to convert the case to a Chapter 13 to save those assets.
Well, the Chapter 7 trustee won’t allow that to happen, so it’s very important before you actually file the Chapter 7 to make sure that you’ve consulted with a qualified bankruptcy attorney so that you’re not in that position.