Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which an individual who cannot pay his/her bills can get a fresh financial start. The right to file for bankruptcy is provided by federal law, and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal court. Filing bankruptcy immediately stops all of your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until your debts are sorted out, according to the law.
Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:
Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem, nor is it the right option for every individual or business. In bankruptcy it is not usually possibly to:
There are four types of bankruptcy cases provided under the law:
Yes, many people believe they cannot own anything for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy. This is not true. In fact, you can keep your exempt property and anything you obtain after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed. However, if you receive an inheritance, a property settlement, or life insurance benefits within 180 days after your bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors, if the property or money is not exempt. You can also keep any property covered by bankruptcy exemptions through the bankruptcy.
With some exceptions – yes. Bankruptcy will not normally wipe out:
In most bankruptcy cases, you will only have to attend a proceeding called the Meeting of Creditors, in which you meet with the bankruptcy trustee and any creditor who chooses to attend. Most of the time, this meeting will be a short and simple procedure where you are asked a few questions about your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation.
Occasionally, if complications arise, or if you choose to dispute a debt, you may have to appear before a judge at a hearing. If you need to go to court, you will receive notice of the court date and time from the court and/or from your attorney.
There is not clear answer to this question. Unfortunately, if you are behind on your bills, your credit may already be poor. Bankruptcy will probably not make the situation worse. The fact that you’ve filed for bankruptcy can appear on your credit for up to ten years. However, since bankruptcy wipes out your old debts, you are likely to be in a better position to pay your current bills, and you may be able to apply for new credit.
Yes, there are several options available. While technically not a credit card, you could use a bank or debit card to perform activities for which you normally would use a credit card. You also may be able to keep the credit card you already have if the creditor grants approval. If these options do not work, you can get a secured credit card, which is backed by your own bank account.
Yes, but your spouse will still be liable for any joint debts. If you file together you will be able to double your exemptions. In some cases where only one spouse has debts, or one spouse has debts that are not dischargeable, then it might be advisable to have only one spouse file. If the spouses have joint debts, the fact that one spouse discharged the debt may show on the other spouses credit report.
There are many questions surrounding the process of bankruptcy, which you may not completely understand. However, the attorneys at the Law Office of Brian R. Lewis can assist you in filing bankruptcy, and making the decisions that are right for you. Contact us today for your free initial consultation.