Bankruptcy: Frequently Asked Questions

Bankruptcy FAQ


*What is Bankruptcy?

There are two main types of bankruptcies that an individual person or couple can file.    

1.  Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relieves you from most debts.  You can normally keep certain assets, such your home and vehicles, as long as you continue to pay your mortgage and/or vehicle loan payments for these items.  When filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you can keep your house, vehicles and other property.  Most people do not have more equity in these items then what is allowed by law.  If you do happen to fall into this rare category, you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and still keep your property.          


2.  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a payment plan where you pay the Court and the Court pays the  creditors.  Plan payments are based specifically on that particular person’s situation.  The Chapter 13 Plan lasts 36 to 60 months.  In Chapter 13, you can pay as low as 1% of your unsecured debts, such as credit cards & medical bills, and not be liable for the remaining balance upon completion of the Chapter 13.  Chapter 13 can stop foreclosures on your home & real estate;  repossessions of your vehicles; and other assets.  You may re-obtain a repossessed vehicle, if you act promptly.  

**You do not have to be behind on your bills to file.  

  *May I keep my residence and vehicle(s), etc?

You normally may keep your property.  If you have a mortgage or loan on the property that you want to keep, you must continue to pay on that  mortgage/loan to keep the property.  You are allowed a certain amount of equity in your property.  

As of March 23, 2016, the equity you are allowed to have in your residence real estate is $136,925 ($273,850 for a married couple who own the real estate  together)  and the amount of equity for a vehicle is $3,775 per debtor.

(Equity = Property Value Minus All Mortgages/Loans/Liens On The Property)  

If you do not have more equity than what is allowed, than you should have no problems filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  If you have more than the allowed amount of equity in any  property, you can still keep the property by filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  

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* Can I file on cash advance places & credit cards?

You can file on cash advance places and credit cards.  Under Chapter 7, you normally do not have to pay on the cash advance or credit cards with the exception of the rule listed below.  Under Chapter 13, you only pay a percentage of the debt, which can be as low as 1% and is based on your financial status.

Any amount of debt incurred or charged on a credit card within the ninety days prior to you filing 

bankruptcy may well have to be paid by you.  There are other situations in which you may have to pay certain unsecured debts.  The most common are listed in the item below, "Are there any debts that you cannot eliminate by filing bankruptcy?" 

*Are there any debts that you cannot eliminate by filing bankruptcy?

Yes.  Some debts that you may be obligated to pay include:  IRS Taxes less than 3 years old;  State Taxes;  Spousal  Support;  Child Support;  Student Loans;  Court Fines;  Intentional Tort Costs;  Certain obligations relating to an ex‑spouse;  Any damages or possible  liabilities relating to a vehicle accident or other event where alcohol or drugs were a factor;  etc.  In a Chapter 13, these are normally paid within your  payment to the Court. 

Student Loans are typically only partially or completely discharged IF you file AND win a separate action within your bankruptcy case to determine the dischargeabilty of the student loans.  Such actions are difficult to win.

*When will the lawsuits and/or garnishments be stopped?

Once your bankruptcy is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, normally all Court actions against you will be stopped soon after your case is filed with the Court, unless it is a criminal case.  Normally criminal cases can proceed.

*Can I file bankruptcy on a vehicle accident?

You can normally file bankruptcy on vehicle accidents if there were no drugs, alcohol, or malicious/wilful intent involved. 

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