Filing Bankruptcy Basics
Discover the Power of Bankruptcy
Debt happens. But it doesn't have to consume you. You have the power to resolve your financial problems.
Bankruptcy is designed to clear debts related to credit card, home mortgage, car loans, medical bills and more. Plus, it has special tools that may protect you from foreclosure, lawsuits, wage garnishment and more.
Wondering if bankruptcy is the right option for you? Get all the basics and details about how filing could affect you. For a free case evaluation with a local bankruptcy attorney, complete the free form on this page or call, toll free, 877-349-1309.
Is Filing Bankruptcy Right For Me?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that takes place in one of the federal bankruptcy courts located in your state. The length of your case will depend on whether you file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
What Happens When I File? - Learn about the steps to filing bankruptcy.
Cars in Bankruptcy - Can I keep my car when I file bankruptcy? Learn how your car may be protected from repossession.
Which Debts Aren't Dischargeable? - Not all debts can be resolved through bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Fees - Court filing fees: How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy Law - Bankruptcy laws by state, including Chapter 7 exemptions.
The New Bankruptcy Law - Recent updates to U.S. bankruptcy laws, including means test information.
Bankruptcy Lawyer Q&A - Bankruptcy questions answered by our sponsoring lawyers.
Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions
Here are some common bankruptcy questions and their answers:
- What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Sometimes called "liquidation," this type of personal bankruptcy works by offering filers a complete discharge of certain unsecured debts, such as those related to credit cards, medical bills and personal loans. You may also be able to use Chapter 7 exemptions to protect valuable property, including your home, car and home furnishings. These exemptions vary by state, so speak to a lawyer about how your property may be protected.
- How do I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Since the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005, filers interested in Chapter 7 have had to pass a means test. Your attorney can help you with this test, which is used to measure your true need for the powerful help of Chapter 7. It's typically based on your income, the median income in your state and your debts.
- What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Sometimes called "reorganization," this type of personal bankruptcy works by setting up a 3-5 year repayment plan under the protection of the automatic stay, which protects you from foreclosure and repossession. In the plan, a filer’s debts are reorganized and often reduced.
- What is the automatic stay? When you file your bankruptcy petition with the court, a legal protection called the automatic stay takes effect. This protection prevents your creditors from contacting you and also stops all collection actions (including garnishment, repossession and foreclosure). The automatic stay generally remains in effect for the duration of your bankruptcy case (generally less than six months for Chapter 7 cases and three to five years for Chapter 13 cases).
- How do I qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy? While there’s no means test to pass in order to file under Chapter 13, you must meet certain debt level requirements and have a regular, dependable income so that you can make payments according to the terms of your payment plan. If you miss a payment, you risk losing the protection of the bankruptcy court, which means that your creditors (including those interested in repossession or foreclosure) may begin collection actions again.
- Do I need a bankruptcy lawyer? Since the new bankruptcy law was introduced in 2005, filing for bankruptcy has gotten more complicated. While no law requires filers to work with a lawyer, having a local bankruptcy attorney on your side may offer you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you don’t have to worry about missing deadlines, filing paperwork or interpreting complex laws.
- How do I choose a bankruptcy lawyer? Filing for bankruptcy is a major decision, and, as with all major decisions, it can be a good idea to consult with any bankruptcy lawyer you may be considering before proceeding.
- Will bankruptcy affect my credit? Yes. But consider this: if you’re considering a bankruptcy filing, chances are that your credit isn’t very strong right now. Bankruptcy’s discharge offers a fresh financial start, which you can take advantage of by rebuilding your credit to make it stronger than ever. Plus, a bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years, but its overall impact on your credit score diminishes with time.
Talk to a Bankruptcy Lawyer
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people decide to file bankruptcy.
A local bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine whether filing bankruptcy is an option for you. Ask questions and get answer about the basics of filing bankruptcy and how it may affect you.
For a free case evaluation with a bankruptcy lawyer near you simply complete the below form or call us at 877-349-1309.