Bankruptcy Q & A

How Do I Start My Bankruptcy Case?  Before your consultation, locate your paystubs for the last six months, tax returns for the last four years, credit card statements, bills, deeds, personal property tax assessment, real property assessment, and vehicle registration.  If possible, download and fill out a bankruptcy questionnaire and bring it to your appointment. When you are ready to schedule an appointment, call us at (501)224-2928.

Do I Have to List All of My Creditors?  All creditors must be listed on the bankruptcy petition.  Leaving a creditor off the petition may prevent the debt from being discharged.  Failure to list all of your debts could also result in your petition being dismissed entirely or in criminal fraud charges.  If you inadvertently fail to list a creditor, we can amend your schedules to add the creditor.

Am I Going to Lose All of My Property If I File Bankruptcy?  Most clients are able to keep their property because it fits within an allowed exemption.  If a client has property that exceeds the allowed exemption, sometimes the client can redeem the property by “purchasing” the non-exempt equity from the Chapter 7 trustee.  In Chapter 13 cases, the plan payment often allows the client to keep all of their property, since the sum of payments into the plan must pay unsecured creditors an amount at least as muc1h as they would receive in a hypothetical Chapter 7 case.

Should I Transfer My Car, Boat, Savings, or Other Property “Out of My Name” Before I File?  Never transfer property to a friend or relative before filing bankruptcy unless you have talked to an attorney first. In most cases, clients that are worried about losing property in bankruptcy are pleased to find that the bankruptcy code allows clients to keep most property after the case is over. If you transfer property to another person before bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court can deny your discharge, and you could be charged with a crime.  In some cases, the trustee can sue your friend or relative to recover the property.

Do I Have to Report All of My Income?  The “means test” requires you to state your average gross income for the six months before filing bankruptcy. If you have a side job, severance package, lump sum distribution of vacation or sick time pay, it still probably must be reported as income.

What Happens if I am Married and My Spouse Doesn’t Want to File?  Both spouses don’t have to file bankruptcy.  The non-filing spouse will still have to furnish your bankruptcy attorney with information about their income and expenses so that the means test can be prepared.  After the bankruptcy case is over, the non-filing spouse’s credit is not affected by the bankruptcy case.

Can I Pay Off One Credit Card to Keep After the Bankruptcy?  Most credit card companies will cancel your credit card when they find out you have filed bankruptcy, even if you pay off the card each month and carry a zero balance. Credit card companies routinely monitor your credit, and may cancel your card even if there was a zero balance at the time of filing.

How Soon After Bankruptcy Will I Be Able Get Financing to Buy a Car or House?  Although each client’s situation is unique, a bankruptcy debtor may start receiving credit card offers within six months after receiving a discharge.  Clients may be able to purchase a car or home within two years after receiving a discharge, if they can demonstrate regular payments on rent and other obligations.

Will I Have To Go To Court?  In most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases, you will only have to appear at a “meeting of creditors” with the trustee who is appointed to administer the case.  The trustee will place you under oath, verify your identity, and ask you several questions about your bankruptcy petition.  Be sure to bring your driver’s license and social security card to the meeting of creditors.  If you do not have a driver’s license or social security card, contact your attorney to find out what other documents may be used as substitutes.  Although creditors will have an opportunity to ask you questions during the meeting of creditors, usually no creditors appear.  The meeting of creditors will be brief, lasting only a few minutes.  After the meeting of creditors, the trustee will file a report with the court regarding the meeting of creditors.  In a routine Chapter 7 case, there will be no other court appearances and you will receive a discharge within four to six months after filing.  In a Chapter 13 case, if there are no objections, your plan will be confirmed and you will receive a discharge after making all of your plan payments.  Your attorney will be with you during the meeting of creditors, in case you have any questions or concerns.