1Who can file bankruptcy?
There are many factors to determine whether one qualifies, such as income, expenses, type of debt, residency, assets.
2What are the differences between a Chapter 7, 13 and 11 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 is complete liquidation (although you keep all your “exempt assets”) and all dischargeable debts are discharged forever.
Chapter 13 is a structured payment plan made through the Bankruptcy Court. A plan is either 3 or 5 years, depending upon your income. At the end of that time, you will continue to pay on any secured debt you want to keep. All debts are discharged after the 3 or 5-year plan.
Chapter 11 is for large corporations who want to hold off creditors and reorganize.
3Which bankruptcy chapter is best for me?
This is determined after assessing each case individually and depends upon debtor’s income, expenses, assets, and desired outcome. At this time our firm only handles Chapter 7 cases.
4When can I file bankruptcy?
This is determined for each unique case. Some debtors have garnishments and judgments that are crippling their ability to survive. Some clients are being threatened and harassed to a point of desperation. Some are facing massive lawsuits that can be stopped immediately with a bankruptcy filing. Other clients have to plan to manage their complex assets and complicated expenses before filing to a degree that can take months.
5Who or what is a “Trustee?”
The trustee appointed to your case is a lawyer hired by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Trustee division. The trustee reviews each case to make sure it is properly prepared and complete. The trustee is responsible for identifying and collecting “non-exempt” property that will be sold (or bought back from the court by the debtor) to pay in a fair manner to creditors.
6Do I have to go to court?
Debtors are required to attend a “meeting of creditors” otherwise called a “rule 341 hearing” before a bankruptcy trustee approximately 30 days after a case is filed. You are required to attend with your attorney.
7What is the “meeting of creditors” or “rule 341 hearing” or “trustee meeting?”
These are names for the same thing. About 30 days after filing, the debtor, with the attorney, meet with the trustee to answer questions under oath. The trustee reviews the debtor’s photo ID and social security card to verify the debtor’s identity. Purposes of the hearing include verifying that the debtor actually read, understood and signed the petition and schedules and all the debtor’s assets and debts were disclosed. The trustee may ask questions with important legal consequences about how assets were valued, when and where they were acquired, income, nature of debts, money owed to the debtor, debtor’s intent regarding secured debts, etc.
8I have business debt, can a business file bankruptcy?
A business can file a Chapter 7 liquidation. If a business is no longer in operation and has no assets, it may not need protection from creditors. In most business cases, an owner had to provide personal guarantees to vendors and lenders. Accordingly, a person individually might need protection from creditors for business debts if they were personally guaranteed. Therefore, an individual may need to file bankruptcy because of business debts.
9What property can I keep?
If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are only allowed to keep property the court deems as exempt. The type and value of exempt property is set by statute. Luxury items such as RVs, boats, expensive art, expensive jewelry, sporting equipment and firearms, are examples of non-exempt assets.
10Will someone come to my home to look at my property?
No. On very rare occasions, the trustee will ask to have an item appraised.
11How long does the process take?
Depending on the chapter of bankruptcy filed, a case can be closed 3 to 9 months after filing. As soon as the petition is filed, all collection activity and contact from creditors stops.
12Can I give property away to get it out of my name before I file?
No. Anything transferred prior to filing bankruptcy could be subject to being taken back by the Bankruptcy Court. Transfers can go back as far as 4 years. Any transfers that have happened within that amount of time should be discussed with an attorney to determine if it is acceptable.
In addition, payments amounting to $600 or more to creditors within 90 days before filing will be retrieved by the trustee to be fairly spread among all creditors.
13Can I pay some debts and not pay others?
No. All debts must be disclosed and all debts must be treated equally. After the case, you are free to pay any creditor you want, although you do not have to.
14How often can you file?
In most Chapter 7 cases, a debtor should be able to file again after 8 years from their original file date.
15What is the cost?
Each case is unique and determined on an individual basis, but average costs for a chapter 7 is $2,500 to $3,000. After initial consultation we will provide a fixed cost that you can rely on before we proceed.
We are not a low cost bankruptcy “preparer.”
Our services include analyzing legal issues, developing strategies and timing to preserve the maximum value of assets and discharge all the debt allowed under the law.
We also search court filings, property records, and background information to try our best to discover potential negative issues and obstacles to a successful case.
We arrange to stop collection activity and stop – or delay, foreclosures and repossessions.
We negotiate buy-backs of non-exempt assets for the least possible cost.
Other, low-cost preparers and attorneys do not do these things and leave you open to devastating consequences because of missed ssues and insufficient data. We encourage you to do your homework and investigate the low cost advertisements. Most of the attorneys are not even located in Colorado – they hire preparers to fill out the pleadings and schedules. They do not check for accuracy. They do not analyze legal issues or defend you or the case. Many fees and costs are not disclosed or are hidden from you until it is too late.
We contend it is not possible to properly prepare and present a complete bankruptcy case, and represent you before the U.S. Trustee and Federal Bankruptcy Court for a low “discount” fee that does not include a full range of service.
16Do I have to pay the full bankruptcy fee up front?
Yes, your fees must be paid in full before a case can be filed with the court. If you owe attorney’s fees they must list themselves as a creditor in your case which creates an unacceptable conflict of interest.
17When will my garnishment stop?
Garnishments will stop only after a bankruptcy case has been filed.
18Is there any debt that doesn't go away in bankruptcy?
Yes. Examples of non-dischargeable debts are child support, spousal maintenance, criminal restitution, recent taxes and government guaranteed school loans.
19Does my spouse have to file?
Not necessarily. Your spouse’s income must be considered to determine whether you qualify for a chapter 7 case. But your spouse may not have to file if debts are not in the spouse’s name.
20What happens to my house and car?
If you have a mortgage and a vehicle that is financed, you can typically keep such items as long as you can pay for them. If your vehicle is paid for and is under the exemption, you can keep it.
21What happens to my 401k or IRA?
Typically, IRS approved retirement accounts such as 401k and IRA are completely exempt and you will be able to keep them.
22What proof do I have to show for my income?
Pay stubs must be provided if you are an employee. If you own a business, you may be asked to provide profit and loss statements along with business taxes.
23How long will it take for my credit score to get better?
Usually, right after filing a bankruptcy, your credit starts getting better as all the negative/delinquent status stops being reported. Please be advised that the bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit report for 10 years.
24Can I still keep a credit card?
Most credit cards are cancelled soon after filing bankruptcy even if the cards didn’t have a balance at the time of filing.
25What debts get listed in my bankruptcy?
Every debt must be listed, even the ones you intend to pay back and the debts that are non-dischargeable.