Frequently Asked Questions
Before You File:
Is Bankruptcy Still Available?
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a form of relief from debts you owe. You can either work out a repayment plan or eliminate the debts completely. Your individual circumstances will determine which type of bankruptcy is best for you.
What Is Chapter 7?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as “full” or “liquidation” bankruptcy because it wipes out most of your debt such as credit cards, medical bills, and repossessions. Chapter 7 gives you a fresh start. However, certain debts, like student loans, are not dischargeable. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you determine which type of bankruptcy makes sense for you.
What Is Chapter 13?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes your debts into an affordable repayment plan. This type of bankruptcy can help protect assets, catch up home mortgage and car payments, pay taxes and in some instances, remove a second mortgage.
How Do I Know If I Should File?
You should talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney before you do anything else. Often, people will borrow more money or cash out their retirement accounts. These temporary solutions usually hurt you more than they help you.
Why Should I File for Bankruptcy?
Filing a bankruptcy triggers the automatic stay which prohibits creditors from using various collection efforts against you. Bankruptcy can protect you from:
- Wage Garnishment
- Bank Garnishment
- Creditor Calls
- Utility Shut-Offs
How Long Does a Bankruptcy Last?
Chapter 7 usually takes 4 months from filing to discharge. Chapter 13 lasts between 3 to 5 years.
Will I Lose My House If I File Bankruptcy?
It depends on your individual situation. There are many ways to protect your home, even in a bankruptcy. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can review your case and help you figure out options related to your home.
Will I Lose My Car If I File Bankruptcy?
Just like your home, it depends on your individual situation. There are ways to protect your car, even in bankruptcy. Talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your specific circumstances.
Do I Have to File Bankruptcy With My Spouse?
No, you can file for bankruptcy alone but it may be in your best interest to file together.
What Happens to My Credit After I File Bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy reports on your credit for 10 years. However, your credit may be bad now. Bankruptcy is a way to help get a grip on your debt so your credit can improve in the long run.
Should I Transfer My Car or House Into Someone Else’s Name Before I File Bankruptcy?
NO! Transferring an asset is a very bad idea.
Am I a Bad Person for Filing Bankruptcy?
Not at all. Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls. People file for many reasons.
- They get sick
- They lose jobs
- They divorce
- They start businesses that don’t go as well as planned
- They make mistakes
Should I Use a Debt Consolidation Company Instead of Filing Bankruptcy?
Probably not. Their advertisements sound great but in reality these programs don’t work so well. One problem is that each of your creditors can choose whether they agree to the consolidation and on what terms. If they do not agree to participate, they can continue collection efforts. You do not realize something is wrong until you receive a lawsuit. Meanwhile, you think you are doing the right thing by paying your debts only to discover that you now have bigger problems. Not only do the consolidation companies not offer real protection, but they often charge high fees. Occasionally, debt consolidation may be a good fit. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you assess whether this is a good route for you.
How Much Does a Bankruptcy Cost?
It depends on the type of bankruptcy and how much work is needed for your case. I offer a free consultation where I review your case and set the fee. There is no obligation and no pressure. This is an opportunity for you to gather information, get to know each other, and decide whether bankruptcy makes sense for you. If you do decide to move forward, just let us know and we’ll get started. I do accept payment plans and can defer most of my fee in a Chapter 13.
How Can I Afford an Attorney? I Have No Money!
The money part is the second hardest part of the bankruptcy process. You may have things you’re paying that you don’t need to pay. Also, I offer payment arrangements to make the fees easier to handle. We will go over all these details in your free consultation.
What Happens at the Initial Consultation?
We sit down together and figure out what is causing the financial stress. Then, we go through some questions so I can figure out whether a bankruptcy makes sense for you. If it does, I’ll explain the specific benefits for you. I will also explain the process. Finally, we’ll set up a plan for filing your case.
I’m Not Behind on My Bills. Can I Still File Bankruptcy?
Yes. You can be current on your debts but still need bankruptcy relief.
Creditors Are Still Harassing Me. What Should I do?
Please let me know immediately. It is helpful to know who the creditor is, their mailing address and phone number.
When Will My Case Be Filed?
We can file your case when we have the necessary fees, all the documents, and have a signing appointment together.
Which Documents to I Need to File My Bankruptcy?
- Proof of income
- previous 6 months before filing
- Official tax returns or tax transcripts
- previous 4 years
- Credit report
- Recent mortgage statement if applicable
- Land contract agreements if applicable
- Memorandum title for any vehicles with liens
- Clear titles for any vehicles owned free and clear
- Security agreements and financing statements for any secured loans
- Recent bill for vehicle loans
- Life insurance policies
- Divorce and separation agreements
- Retirement account statements
- Stocks or bonds
- Bills/collection letters that are not on the credit report
- Checking and savings account statements
- last 6 months
- Pre-filing certificate
- Business documents if applicable
- Accounts receivable information
Things that go into preparing a case
- paystub review
- paystub analysis for means test
- advise which type of bankruptcy is right for you
- tax return review
- credit report review
- listing all creditors
- real estate search
- reviewing mortgages for defects
- lien search
- reviewing that vehicle liens are properly noted on title
- life insurance review and assessment of equity
- divorce decree analysis
- retirement account review
- other bills
- checking and savings account audit
- review any previous bankruptcy cases
- exemption planning and analysis
- in-depth budget review
- suit search
- suggestions of stay for any suits
- listing prior addresses
- business analysis
- preparing and serving statement of intention
- lien removal if applicable
- providing necessary documents to the Trustee
- attending your Trustee meeting with you
- filing your financial management course
What Happens at My Signing Appointment?
I will prepare your petition based on the documents you’ve provided from the final checklist. After that, we go over the paperwork to confirm that everything on your petition is accurate and complete. This takes about two hours together. When you arrive, please have your bank balances for all accounts.
Where is the Bankruptcy Court and Where Do I Park?
The court is located at 170 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. This is NOT the main courthouse. It is the bankruptcy court house. There is metered parking all around the courthouse and surface lots behind the courthouse.
What Happens at My Trustee Meeting?
The bankruptcy trustees have many responsibilities. They confirm that you are who you say you are by looking at your ID and social security card. Then, I enter my appearance on record as representing you at the trustee meeting. They ask a series of yes or no questions such as:
- did you sign your bankruptcy papers before they were filed with the court?
- is that your signature?
- are you familiar with the information contained in your papers?
- is it accurate and complete to the best of your knowledge?
- are there any changes or omissions to bring to my attention?
- did you list everything that you own?
- did you list everyone that you owe?
Do I Have to go in Front of the Judge?
Not in most cases.
Where Do I Do My Second Class?
athenalegal.startfreshtoday.com. Select the post-filing course.