1. What will I need to do to have debts discharged in bankruptcy?
(a) fill out forms to help us assess your circumstances and help us prepare documents necessary to file your case.
(b) provide certain financial documents, such as paystubs and tax returns to be submitted to the bankruptcy trustee.
(c) take a short online credit counseling course prior to filing.
(d) itemize and value all of your personal property.
(e) review and sign off on the documents filed on your behalf.
(f) arrange to pay the fees and costs associated with the bankruptcy.
(g) attend a meeting of your creditors iand the trustee (this is an informal meeting and most of the time no creditors show up).
(h) take a second financial management course prior to your debts being discharged.
2. What is the Means Test?
The Means Test standardizes qualification for bankruptcy. If your income is below a certain amount you automatically qualify for bankruptcy. If it doesn’t fall below the designated amount you can still qualify if you have certain qualifying expenses.
3. How do I figure out whether I qualify for bankruptcy?
Start by taking our Online Assessment or filling out the Assessment form. We can then make a preliminary assessment as to whether your debts can be successfully discharged. If our assessment shows that you are a good candidate for bankruptcy we will gather more information from you and determine whether bankruptcy is the right solution for you.
4. Who will find out I have filed for bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy filing is a matter of public record but as a practical matter typically the only people who find out you have filed for bankruptcy are your creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and whoever you tell that you have filed.
5. Will filing bankruptcy stop the lender from foreclosing on my home?
Yes filing a bankruptcy will stop a foreclosure sale, at least temporarily. A bankruptcy can give you a chance to catch up on payments or work out an arrangement with your lender. We will help you analyze the value of your home to determine whether your home will receive bankrutpcy protection.
6. Can I keep my car?
In most cases you can keep your car if you are current on your car payments and the car has little or no equity. If you want to keep your car you may have to reaffirm the debt with the holder of your car loan. In Chapter 7 you may also "redeem" your car which means you will pay your car loan holder the value of the property rather than the larger loan amount. If you own the car outright and it is worth more than $2,600 we can evaluate ways to keep it.
7. Can I gift my house to my children to so it won’t show as an asset?
No, transferring assets in contemplation of filing bankruptcy is considered fraud and the court will consider your home part of your estate. The fraud aspect is taken very seriously and you will most likely be precluded from bankruptcy protections and you may face criminal prosecution. This is why is important that you are honest and provide detailed information, particularly when listing your assets.
Likewise you should not obtain loans or use your credit cards while planning to have these debts discharged in bankruptcy. Again, this could result in denial of bankruptcy relief and prosecution for fraud.
8. What if I file for bankruptcy and then my circumstances improve, can I stop the bankruptcy?
Yes. You can dismiss the petition.
9. It is true I will have to take a course in order to file for bankruptcy?
Yes. The course is short and can be taken in one sitting. We arrange an online course for most of our clients.
10. What happens at the Meeting of Creditors?
Typically, the Trustee who is assigned to your case presides over the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to give your creditors a chance to ask questions, though creditors do not usually attend these meeting. More often, the trustee will ask a few questions about particular items in your petition.
11. Will I lose my personal property and other assets?
All of your personal property will become part of the bankruptcy estate and the bankruptcy trustee will have an opportunity to sell the property to pay off creditors. That said, in most cases nearly all of the assets of most people are exempt from being liquidated by the trustee.
12. Will I be able to obtain credit after I am discharged from bankruptcy?
Yes. Some lenders feel people who have come through bankruptcy are credit worthy because they have very little debt and they are ineligible to file bankruptcy in the near future. You will probably have low credit limits until you have a chance to build back your credit profile. Our credit data resource has shown that many of our clients' scores will actually improve after they are discharged from bankruptcy.
13. Creditor phone calls are very stressful, will filing bankruptcy stop their calls?
Yes. Once you have retained our firm you may refer the creditors to us for response. As soon as your bankruptcy is filed and your creditors have been notified that you have filed they are prohibited from continuing collection efforts.
14. Can I discharge income taxes?
No. Certain debts, such as unpaid taxes, government-backed student loans and unpaid child support are not dischargeable.
15. Will I have to give up my retirement accounts?
Generally no. Most types of retirement account are exempt.
16. How long does bankruptcy take?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes abount 3 to 4 months to complete. A Chapter 13 case, wherein you establish a payment plan with your creditors takes from 3 to 5 years.