Articles Tagged with Bankruptcy

No. If you have been convicted of a crime you can still file bankruptcy. The bankruptcy papers don’t ask you questions like that. A criminal record would only be an issue if you were trying to file bankruptcy to get rid of fines or restitution. You can’t wipe out court fines and criminal restitution in bankruptcy. However, a chapter 13 bankruptcy would allow you to make your restitution payments over a 60 month period if you were having trouble making the payments ordered by the court that convicted you.

Of course you can. Just like you can set your own broken leg, deliver your own baby and rebuild the engine in your own car. You can do these things, but do you really want to? Do you have time? Do you have the proper tools, information and knowledge to get it done right?

Bankruptcy laws are complicated and full of traps. Mistakes and errors can cost you your property and your discharge.  Misrepresentation and dishonesty can land you in jail. Let me tell you about preparing and filing a bankruptcy case.

Attorney’s all use software to prepare and print the 50 plus pages that make up a bankruptcy filing just like your tax guy uses a tax program and just like your doctor uses a program to keep up with your visits and medical records. Bankruptcy lawyers put your information into a program that prints the forms and files the papers with the court. This seems simple enough. But once the papers are filed the U.S. Trustee, the case trustee and the court clerks all start going over your papers to see how they can kick you out, deny your discharge or disqualify you from the benefits of bankruptcy.  Do you know how to defend your position? Provide responses to any filed objections?

Here are some things to consider before you file bankruptcy so you don’t make a mistake that could get you in trouble or cost you a discharge.

1. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney sooner rather than later.  Find out right now how bankruptcy can benefit you.  Most people who file should have been in to see a bankruptcy lawyer six months to a year before they made the appointment. Instead they struggled and fought to survive, draining all their savings and retirement, doing everything they could to keep from getting information that could have led to their financial recovery and a new life.

2. Don’t use your credit cards. Some credit card charges may have to be paid if they are made right before you file.

Over and over I meet people who owe money to their bank but want to leave them out of a bankruptcy. They say “I have been with that bank for years.” Then they tell me what good friends they are with the bank and how the bank is like one of their family. Banks spend millions in advertising to make you believe this. The reality is your bank sees you as a piece of business. They don’t care if you made every payment on time and paid off numerous loans in the past. This is a business relationship and they will drop you like a hot potato if you appear to be a credit risk. You don’t believe me? Ask the bank for credit when times are bad for you. Your bank acts like your best friend when times are good for you but they won’t be there when you really need them. It’s just business to them and nothing more. No one wants to file bankruptcy. But when it is necessary it should be a business decision for you and nothing more. Bankruptcy is just a financial tool. Phony personal relationships should not get in the way of your financial recovery.

At least twice a month I receive calls from homeowners who are in the middle of the modification process with their mortgage company and they get notice of a foreclosure.  Over and over they had been told the modification was still being reviewed.  In some cases they were told they’d been approved.  But all of a sudden they find their home is being advertised in the newspaper and a sale date is set at the courthouse. Mortgage companies review loans for modification and try to foreclosure at the same time.  This is known as “dual tracking”.  They don’t stop the foreclosure process when a mortgage is considered for a modification.  If you are in the modification process with your mortgage company you can never assume that it will be approved or they won’t foreclose.  The foreclosure process in Mississippi is quick, so you can’t trust anything they tell you over the phone.  If you become aware your home is in foreclosure, contact our office immediately.  We can stop the foreclosure sale through filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you can still follow-up with a modification, if needed.  You never want to be in a position of trying to get your home back after the foreclosure.  Better to be safe than sorry and stop the foreclosure before it happens.

Bankruptcy Courts use “replacement value” when determining the value of your assets. Replacement value is defined in the Bankruptcy Code as the price that a retail merchant would charge for property of the same kind, considering the age and condition of the property at the time its value is determined.

This is not the cost to replace the item with a new one or what you could sell the item for; it is the cost that a retailer would sell the used item for in the condition it’s in now.

In cases such as used clothing, furniture, computers, TV, etc. it would be the value of the items if you had a yard sale or placed them on eBay.

No.  Just because you are filing for bankruptcy, it does not mean you will automatically Keep your assetslose everything you own.  You are entitled to claim “exemptions”, which are things that creditors cannot take from you.  You must be honest with the Court and include a list of all your assets.  To keep your assets, you must list them.

You can expect problems with your case and can lose your property if you do not list it or you are not completely honest about what you own.  You must list everything you own, have in your possession, will own in the future, or might have an interest in now or in the future. For example, property you would inherit from a parent in the future, the $5 in your wallet, the car or house that is “owned by the bank”, and your baseball card collection.  Everything means everything.

It includes things that you are making payments on (cars, real estate, furniture); things you own with someone else (including your spouse); things that have your name on the title or deed as the legal owner (even if you do not have possession of it); things that you are holding for someone else (college account for your child); things that you may not think have a lot of value (household goods and clothing); and claims you might have against someone else such as a claim for injuries in an auto accident.

Possibly, but first you need to understand that a Chapter 13 plan is not based on your income.  It does not fluctuate depending upon how much you make.  The Chapter 13 plan amount depends upon what you plan on keeping and/or what creditors you plan on paying through the bankruptcy.  For example, if you are paying for only your home through your plan, the amount of the payments will be based upon the mortgage amount then that amount spread out over the life of the plan to catch up your back notes.  This amount won’t change unless your mortgage note happens to change.

However, if you are paying for several things – such as a student loan, a vehicle, a home, and a furniture note – through your Chapter 13 plan, the payments could become lower if you decide to stop paying toward the student loan or decide to surrender a vehicle, or the home, etc.

Since a Chapter 13 plan is dependent upon who you plan to pay and what you plan to keep – you can decide to change (with some exceptions) who you are paying and/or what you are keeping in order to lower the note.

Definition of StrategyAlthough there is not a limit on the number of bankruptcy cases you can file and no limit to the amount of time in between filings, there are limits to when you are eligible to receive a proper “discharge”.  So why would you want to file a bankruptcy case if you know you cannot receive a discharge?  There are several reasons why this strategy may be utilized.  For example, say that you recently filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy and wiped out your unsecured debt but you have student loan or tax debt that is non-dischargeable.  You could turn around and file a chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to be protected from garnishments, lawsuits, levies, etc relating to the student loans or tax debts for up to 5 yrs even though you would not receive a discharge.

Here are the time frames that must occur between filings for discharge eligibility (Note: the time is counted from date filed to date filed):

8 years between Chapter 7’s. -727(a)(8)

If you are filing bankruptcy as an individual (not jointly with your spouse), yes, you must still report your spouse’s income. However, this in no way includes your spouse in the filing.  The court simply looks at your total household income for calculating eligibility   (Means Test) and for your post-bankruptcy household budget (schedule I and J).   Even though your spouse is not filing with you, it is highly recommended that you both participate in the consultation so that both of you understand the process and requirements. And as mentioned before – have decided that the best strategy for addressing your financial situation is to file individually.

There is an exception to this though if you are married but separated.  If you and your spouse are separated, your total household income is your income.  If your spouse is paying domestic support, you will need to include that in your totals.

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