What is bankruptcy protection?
Filing for bankruptcy protection allows a debtor to reorganize and/ or eliminate some or all debt under the protection of the Federal Bankruptcy Court. There are types of bankruptcies: personal and business.
What are the different types of bankruptcy?
The two most common bankruptcy types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is for individuals with low income and it liquidates assets in order to pay creditors. This type of bankruptcy lasts a few months, approximately 3-6. In order to qualify for chapter 7, a debtor must complete a Chapter 7 Means Test that determines the debtor’s income and ability to repay without government assistance. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is for individuals of moderate to high income. This type of bankruptcy re-organizes your debts and repays some debt over the period of 3-5 years. Typically debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy end up filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Should I file?
There is no age or debt limit when it comes to filing for bankruptcy. Discuss your debts with your attorney and decide if bankruptcy is a good solution to your financial hardships. If you are facing foreclosure and do not qualify for mortgage modification, you will most likely have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as it is the only guaranteed way to keep your home.
Do I need an attorney?
Although it is possible to file for bankruptcy on your own, it is highly not advisable. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will help you settle with your creditors, stop harassing phone calls, stop wage garnishment, release frozen bank accounts, and reduce or eliminate stress.
Are there any alternatives to bankruptcy?
If bankruptcy is not option, your attorney might be able to obtain you a debt settlement through negotiating with creditors. Debt settlement would allow you to pay a certain amount that is less than your initially agreed upon loan.
What is Debt discharge?
Debt discharge releases debtors from the obligation and liability of their debt. Once a debt is discharged, it is illegal for any collection agency to attempt and collect a written off/ discharged debt.
What will I lose if I file?
If you decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy- it is very likely that you will not lose much at all. Of course if you own a home- your Trustee will sell your house in order to pay creditors. However, an asset like a car would most likely remain in your possession. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy- you get to keep all your property.
What do I need to do if I decide to file?
If you decide that bankruptcy is the best solution for you- consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and provide all necessary documents to file as soon as possible. Prior to filing you will have to complete a Pre-filing bankruptcy course online, which lasts 90 minutes. As soon as you file- all creditors and collectors will have to cease all attempts to collect from you. Once it is time for your bankruptcy to be discharged, assuming you met the terms of the bankruptcy, you will have to complete a financial management course. Once you are discharged- you start over.
Do I have to appear in court?
You will most likely not have to appear in court. You will, however, have to attend the Meeting of Creditors about a month after you file for bankruptcy. However, this meeting typically ends up consisting of 1-2 creditors and your Trustee. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you might have to attend a Confirmation hearing. However, this is highly unlikely as your attorney almost always attends on your behalf.
Do I have to file jointly if I am married?
No! If you are married- you have the choice to file either jointly or individually. The decision is based on how much property you own, whether or not you have joint debts, and any exemptions to the law in your filing state.