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Frequently Asked Questions

Bankruptcy allows individuals or businesses (debtors) who owe others (creditors) more money than they're able to pay to either work out a plan to repay the money over time or completely eliminate (discharge) most of the bills.

Secured debt is a claim that's secured by some type of property, either by an agreement or involuntarily with a court judgment or taxes. Creditors can generally claim the property that secures the debt in the event of bankruptcy. Unsecured debt is not tied to any type of property, and the creditor doesn't have a claim to their property. A mortgage is a secured debt on you property.

Consumers typically file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where repayment is made to creditors, or Chapter 7 where the debts are dismissed. Each chapter of bankruptcy spells out: What bills can be eliminated How long payments can be stretched out What possessions you can keep Additional information The type depends on your circumstances and if you have assets available to repay all or part of the your debts. Bankruptcy laws can be tricky and involved, so determining if, when and which type of bankruptcy you need should be made with careful thought or the input of a bankruptcy lawyer.

Generally, you can convert a case one time to any other chapter you're eligible for. The request to convert can be a simple one-sentence document. Watch out for issues, such as moving from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, you'll need to review whether you have acquired items that are now be considered property of the estate under Chapter 7 that weren't part of the previous filing. Ask the trustee or a bankruptcy lawyer for additional issues.

With few exceptions, any person or business owing money to a creditor can file a bankruptcy petition.

Filing bankruptcy can adversely affect your ability to obtain future credit, rent housing and even negatively impact a job application. Any decision to file must be carefully considered. Chapter 7: Can be filed every 8 years from a previous chapter 7 filing or 6 years from a prior chapter 13 filing. Chapter 13: Can be filed 4 years from a prior Chapter 7 filing or 2 years from a prior Chapter 13 filing.

Prepare a list of past and present debts as well as all assets and liabilities. You will also be required to bring a statement of financial affairs to file with the bankruptcy court in addition to your filing fee.

No. However, some situations may not warrant filing for bankruptcy. If you have little property or money, filing bankruptcy may not be necessary, as the creditor may not be able to collect the debt.

If one spouse files and the other doesn't, the one who doesn't file could be responsible for the debts. Please consider this and speak to me about it before filing for bankruptcy.

Yes. The lender can require the co-signor to make payments on a loan once the principal has declared bankruptcy on the credit. This makes it extremely important when considering co-signing a loan: Be ready, and able, to pay the loan in the event that the principal signor defaults.

No. The debts that can't be discharged vary slightly between the different chapters of bankruptcy. Generally, the following cannot be discharged: Debts for taxes owed to local, state or federal agencies Debts for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit, which was obtained fraudulently Debts that weren't in the initial list of debts or that the debtor waived being cancelled Debts owed to a spouse, former spouse, or child, for alimony, maintenance, or support of a spouse or child, with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record Debts owed for injury to another person or property owned by another (as in a court judgment) Debts for government-sponsored educational loans, unless it can be shown that repayment will cause an undue hardship Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor's drunk driving or from driving while under the influence of drugs or other substances (as in a court judgment) Debts incurred after a bankruptcy was filed Any type of legal judgment.

Exemptions allow an individual to "exempt", or keep, certain kinds of property. State law defines what assets are considered "exempt," but typically include: Jewelry Vehicles up to a certain amount Equity in a home up to a certain amount "Tools of the trade" or tools and equipment necessary to allow the individual to continue working.

You must include all the debts you owe in your petition and schedules. You may opt to keep some debts by "reaffirming" the specific debt.

Generally, no. Retirement accounts that are ERISA-qualified aren't considered property of an estate and aren't taken into consideration as assets. Social Security benefits are protected from assignment, or garnishment for debts in bankruptcy. Once paid, the benefits continue to be protected only as long as they can be identified as Social Security benefits. For example, money in a bank account where the "only" deposits into the account are direct deposits of Social Security benefits are identifiable and generally protected.

Possibly. The factors that impact your ability to keep your home are: The state you're in and the exemptions allowed The status of your loan (current or in foreclosure) The type of bankruptcy you're filing (Chapter 13 provides more protection than Chapter 7 as long as payments are current)

Bankruptcies remain on credit reports anywhere from 7 up to 10 years.

No. Although at your option, you can file an explanation with the credit reporting agencies briefly describing the events resulting in your bankruptcy. If an account is reported inaccurately, you can request the record be updated to reflect the actual situation.

Since you will be signing contracts and a substantial amount of money will likely be involved, it is a good idea to hire an attorney to protect your interests and ensure that the entire process is legal and valid.

The title should be searched to ensure that the property is free and clear of any claims or liens. A real estate attorney can do this for you and ensure that it’s safe to go ahead and purchase the property or land you’re interested in.

You’ll want to make sure that there are no claims or liens against your property and determine what items or property should be included in the sale. You will also want to consider your lowest desired price and what you’re willing to accept.   A property law attorney can oversee the process and protect your interests.

You should disclose all defects; however it’s very important that you discuss your options with an attorney.   If there are defects in the home and you do not disclose them, you could find yourself in court.

A real estate transaction is described as the legal process of transferring ownership of property from one party to another. Real estate transactions may involve commercial or residential property and may range in value depending on the worth of the property.

A deed is a legal document that transfers property from one party or parties to another. This is one of the most important documents associated with a real estate transaction.

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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is often referred to as a "straight" or "liquidation" bankruptcy.

Chapter 13

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Real Estate

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