Which type of bankruptcy is best for me?
For most people there are two types of bankruptcy protection that may be available – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. The two different chapters of bankruptcy are designed to accomplish different goals. For a summary of the two different chapters please click on the FAQ tab. The decision regarding which chapter to file under is one of the most basic decisions that must be made. Should you be a good candidate for bankruptcy, our knowledgeable attorney, Steven R. Wilmoth, can generally advise you on the best chapter for your unique circumstances after a brief consultation.
What information do I need to provide?
The following is a list of information that Steven will need before your case is filed in order to advise you of your bankruptcy options:
Proof of your income over the 6 months leading up to the file date. If you are married, he will also need proof of your spouse’s income over that same period, regardless of whether they will file as well. He must also submit this information to the Court.
A copy of the past two years’ tax returns, assuming you were required to file a tax return. He must submit the most recent tax return to the Court.
A complete list of everyone that you owe money to. He will need the name of the creditor, valid addresses for all creditors, the balance owed, and an account number. If you are still receiving bills from all of your creditors those will have all of the required information. If you have not obtained a copy of your credit report in the last year you may obtain a FREE copy from the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) at www.annualcreditreport.com.
In addition to the specifics items listed above, Steven will also need a copy of any summons you have received as a result of a lawsuit commenced by any creditor.
In addition to the above documents, there is also an on-line counseling session that you must complete prior to filing bankruptcy. He will go over this requirement in more detail at your initial consultation.
Once Steven have all of the necessary documents and the counseling session has been completed, he will be ready to file your case with the bankruptcy court.
What happens next?
If you file a Chapter 7 you will go to bankruptcy court approximately four weeks after filing. It is about six weeks later if you file a Chapter 13. Court will consist of you, Steven and a bankruptcy trustee who is there to administer and review your case. He or she will ask you questions concerning your petition and will inquire about any changes that may have taken place since the filing of the petition. If you filed a Chapter 13 the trustee will also ensure that you have started making payments into the Chapter 13 plan. You and Steven will go over how this works in much more detail prior to filing the case.
If you filed a Chapter 7 you should receive your discharge, which is a legal order that relieves you from the obligation to pay any dischargeable debt, about three months after you go to court.
If you filed a Chapter 13 you will not receive a discharge until you have successfully completed the repayment plan. Once you receive the discharge the bankruptcy process is over barring any unforeseen, unusual situation.
Please keep in mind that this is a general outline of how most bankruptcy cases work. Each case is unique and unique issues may arise in your case. The decision to file bankruptcy is not an easy one and should not be made lightly. If you are having trouble paying off your debts or are in danger of losing an asset that you wish to keep, we urge you to give Steven a call to set up a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your options. If Steven feels that bankruptcy is not in your best interest, he will let you know. If you are a good candidate for bankruptcy he will let you know which chapter is best suited for your situation. Steven will go over the unique issues of your case and walk you through the process from beginning to end. If after the consultation you decide that bankruptcy would not be in your best interest, then at least you will leave armed with more information than you walked in with. Bankruptcy is a specialized and complex area of the law, but you do not have to attempt to navigate the system alone.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does it make sense for me to file bankruptcy at this point?
Of course this depends on the situation of your case. If you decide to take advantage of my free initial consultation we will go over your financial situation in detail. Once I have all of the details I need I will be able to give you options on how to handle the situation that you find yourself in. If I think bankruptcy, whether it be Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, is in your best interest then that is what I will recommend. If bankruptcy is not right for your situation I will let you know that as well. Ultimately what path you take is up to you, I am here to give you the information you need to make that informed decision and to guide you through the complexities of the bankruptcy system.
What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is designed primarily to discharge, or eliminate, unsecured debt such as credit card and medical debt. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be able to retain all or most of your assets even in a Chapter 7 filing. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will generally take approximately 4-5 months from filing to discharge. Once you receive your discharge your dischargeable debt will be eliminated giving you a fresh financial start.
Chapter 13 is a repayment plan designed to pay off a portion of your unsecured debts over a set period of time, generally 3-5 years. This chapter is designed to allow clients to protect assets that they may have fallen behind on such as houses and vehicles. It is also the chapter you must file if you earn an income that is too high to allow for a Chapter 7 filing.
There are several factors that are used to determine the appropriate chapter to file. Deciding which chapter is right for your situation is an important part of what I discuss with my clients at the free initial consultation.
Can I retain my assets, such as my house, car and other personal belonging if I decide to file for bankruptcy?
The answer to this depends on the specific facts of your case. You are often able to retain all or most of your assets regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
When will creditors stop the harassment?
Upon filing for either chapter of bankruptcy the Bankruptcy Court immediately issues an automatic stay. This stay protects you from all collection efforts while your case is pending. Collection efforts that must cease include phone calls, letters, garnishments, foreclosures, lawsuits, and repossessions. You get the protection you need immediately upon filing.
Will I have to go to court if I decide to file a bankruptcy petition?
Yes, you must attend what is known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors. This typically held about 4 weeks after filing for a Chapter 7 and about 6 weeks after filing for a Chapter 13. While there will not be a judge present at the meeting, there will be a trustee whose job is to ensure everything on the petition is accurate and to administer the bankruptcy. Your creditors may also appear and ask any questions they may have.
How long will a Bankruptcy remain on my credit report?
A bankruptcy will typically appear on your credit report for 7-10 years.
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The Fleming Law Firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Federal Bankruptcy Code.
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