Bankruptcy FAQ

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What do I have to do to file bankruptcy?

First, you should consult a bankruptcy lawyer for help. Federal law requires that you attend credit-counseling sessions though an agency approved by the United States Trustee's office before filing. Next, a petition must first be filed. Then, schedules of assets and liabilities, and a statement of financial affairs must be provided to the bankruptcy court. Last, you pay the filing fee.

Will I be allowed to file bankruptcy?

It depends. A means test is given as a way to determine your eligibility to apply and ability to make payments. The best thing to do is contact a legal professional, give them the details of your individual situation, and they will be able to tell you what to do from there.

How do I know which chapter to file?

This can be determined through the means test and/or with the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. There are several chapters, and choosing the wrong one may be detrimental to your situation. Rely on the experts for this one.

Can I file bankruptcy without a lawyer?

Yes, you can, but it is not recommended.

Can I get credit after bankruptcy?

Yes, but it will be difficult as you will now fall into the "high risk" category and your interest rates will be higher, as well.

Will I have to give up all my assets?

No. The Bankruptcy Code states that a debtor filing for bankruptcy can keep certain assets for a \"fresh start\" by exempting property from the bankruptcy estate. Exemptions vary from state to state.

Does my spouse have to file bankruptcy with me?

While your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy with you, how joint debts will be handled vary from state to state.

Will bankruptcy stop wage garnishments?

Yes, bankruptcy will stop wage garnishments with the exception of court ordered child support and family support.

What is a bankruptcy discharge?

This is when a debtor no longer has any personal liability,

Are there debts that I cannot discharge?

Yes. Debts that cannot be discharged include student loans, recent taxes, trust fund taxes, child or family support, criminal fine or restitution, accident claims involving intoxication, debts not scheduled, penalties payable to the government other than tax penalties, debts listed in prior bankruptcy where debtor was denied a discharge, taxes for years where return was not filed or filed for less than 2 years

Can I keep my car? My house?

Yes. If there is no equity in the car, you can keep it. If there is equity in the car (over and above the value of the exemptions available), you can buy any unprotected equity from the Chapter 7 trustee. If there is no equity in the house, you can keep it. If there is equity in the house and it is all-exempt, you can keep the house.

Will my utility services be effected?

You cannot be refused service due to your financial situation; however, the utility companies may require a deposit for future service. Requirement of all bill payments in the future is requred.

Will I have to go to court?

You will have to attend a meeting of creditors, or a "341" meeting, to discuss the terms of the bankruptcy, the bankruptcy filing, paperwork and your current financial situation. You may have to appear in court again if you contest the findings of any of the creditors.

How often may I file for bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be filed again after a period of six years, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed at any time.

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