There are two main types of consumer bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most common and is appropriate for people who have more debts than assets and donâ€™t have the income to pay the debts. Itâ€™s sometimes referred to as a straight liquidation bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is sometimes called a wage earner plan or debt consolidation bankruptcy. If you have the ability to pay some portion of your debt over time, but just need to restructure your debt and stop the crazy late fees and interest, then a Chapter 13 may be an option.
Most bankruptcy attorneys will offer you a free telephonic screening, to determine if Bankruptcy is a good option for your, and a free in person consultation.
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Here are some of the more common Q and Aâ€™s regarding bankruptcy. Keep in mind, each personâ€™s situation is different. You should seek an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your facts and how the laws apply to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to go to Court if I file bankruptcy?
- What types of bankruptcy are there?
- Do I lose everything if I file bankruptcy?
- Where do I get a free copy of my credit report?
- Are my creditors going to stop calling me if I file bankruptcy?
- Do I have to list all of the people that I owe money to when I file for bankruptcy?
- Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
- Is my spouse required to file bankruptcy if I file?
- How long does the entire bankruptcy process take?
- Who is the bankruptcy Trustee?
- Can I get credit after my bankruptcy is completed?
- I got caught in the trap of payday advance loans. Can I discharge those in bankruptcy?
Do I have to go to Court if I file bankruptcy?
Usually not. You are required to attend one hearing which occurs about one month after your case is filed. This is called the â€śmeeting of creditors.â€ť You will be sworn in as a witness and asked some questions by a bankruptcy trustee. Itâ€™s not a courtroom setting and the questions are generally related to your assets, income, and the accuracy of your petition. Your attorney will be with you at this hearing. Creditors usually donâ€™t to attend this hearing.
What types of bankruptcy are there?
The most common types of consumer bankruptcies are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Other types include Chapter 12 (family farmers), Chapter 11 (business reorganization) Most consumers choose to file for relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Can I keep anything if I file bankruptcy?
Yes. There are specific exemptions that (if properly applied) will protect most of your basic assets. The rules that apply to you are related to where you have lived in the recent past. It is important to know these rules so the proper exemptions are applied in your case. Because each personâ€™s assets and situation are different, itâ€™s important to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney whoâ€™s familiar with the correct exemption laws.
Where do I get a free copy of my credit report?
Once a year you have the right to get a free credit report from all three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you do, make sure you are at a computer that can print these reports out. There may be a charge if you view the report and try to access it later.
Are my creditors going to stop contacting me once I file bankruptcy?
Once the bankruptcy case is filed, creditors are barred from contacting you for collection purposes. This is called the â€śautomatic stayâ€ť. Itâ€™s very powerful and is designed to put an immediate stop to all collection activity. If your creditors continue to harass you after theyâ€™ve been notified of the automatic stay you may be able to sue them for damages.
Can I exclude some of the people that I owe money to when I file for bankruptcy? Like my parents?
No, You have to list all creditors. You may be able to affirm some of the creditors debts, for instance secured accounts that you want to remain open. You should consult with your attorney about that option.
Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
No, you may represent yourself in a bankruptcy proceeding. But be aware that there are many potential pitfalls for the inexperienced and sometimes itâ€™s safer and less expensive to do it right the first time. Bankruptcy laws are complex, and no matter how straight-forward you think your situation is, there are a number of technical problems that may arise during your bankruptcy. Also, pre bankruptcy planning can be important. Sometimes there are specific steps that you will want to take before a case is filed to put you in the best position for filing. Like a lot of things, in bankruptcy timing can be everything. A good attorney will be able to tell you when the best time to file your case is.
Is my spouse required to file bankruptcy if I file?
No, you can file a bankruptcy without your spouse. There may be some benefits to filing a joint bankruptcy, but sometimes it is better for only one spouse to file. An experienced attorney will be able to let you know when it would be beneficial for one, or both of you to file.
How long does the entire bankruptcy process take?
Typically a Chapter 7 process takes about 3 to 4 months from time of filing until the debts are discharged. If you file a Chapter 13 the process is longer because itâ€™s designed to restructure your debts and allow you to repay some, or all of your creditors based on what you can afford. Chapter 13 cases may vary in length, but typically are 36-60 month plans. Though the preparation and filing itself may only takes a few weeks.
Who is the bankruptcy Trustee?
A Trustee is assigned to each case. In Chapter 7 the Trustee has the power to claim certain assets that are not protected, and liquidate those assets using those funds to pay the creditors some money. A Chapter 13 trustee is responsible for collecting a debtorâ€™s Chapter 13 payments and distributing them to creditors during the plan. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 the trustees also are responsible for questioning each debtor at the meeting of creditors.
Can I get credit after my bankruptcy is completed?
Although a bankruptcy may legally appear on your credit report for up to 10 years, you can start reestablishing your credit immediately. Lenders consider many factors while determining whether to loan you money, but most importantly, they consider your debt-to-income ratio. You are probably visiting this site because you already have more outstanding debt than you have the ability to pay. So even if you have a nice score, you may not be a great credit risk to a lender.
A bankruptcy will eliminate most, if not all of your debts, which reduces your debt-to-income ratio, potentially improving your ability to borrow money in the future. Some financial institutions actively solicit business from people who have filed. Lenders are in business to make money by lending you money and charging you interest. Lenders know that once you have filed, you will not be able to file again for a specific period of time (generally 4-8 years).
I got caught in the trap of payday advance loans. Can I discharge those in bankruptcy?
Yes. Payday loans are not an exception: They are dischargeable in bankruptcy.
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