Common Questions of Personal Bankruptcy
Here are a few frequently asked questions about bankruptcy, along with answers from our experienced bankruptcy attorneys. If you have questions, please call us at 1-800-260-1402 or complete our FREE debt evaluation form.
Generally, you may file a bankruptcy and retain all of your personal belongings, including your house, your car and all household goods.
Bankruptcy laws called “exemptions” allow you to keep certain assets like household goods, and even home and car equity. The attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy know how to properly claim all of the exemptions you are entitled to, and will make sure that all of your belongings are protected before filing your case.
The reality is that most of us do not have significant equity in our homes or cars. If you have a mortgage against your home or a loan against your car, you may owe more than they are worth. So, the bankruptcy court wouldn’t want to sell your house or car, because after sale there would be no money left over to make a distribution to your creditors. The same goes for your personal property and household goods. Even if your property is worth more than what is owed on it, or is paid in full, in most cases we can use exemptions to protect these items.
You may be more at risk of losing property if you don't file bankruptcy. Without the protection offered by bankruptcy, creditors can sue you and attach your bank accounts, garnish your wages, and attach and seize your property. As a result, you may miss rent, mortgage or car payments, making it difficult to provide even your most basic necessities.
Immediately! As soon as you come into our office, we will give you a client record number and you will then refer all future creditor calls to your bankruptcy attorney at Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy. We will advise you to stop making credit card payments and refer any creditor calls to us immediately upon retaining Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy. Collection agencies are not allowed to harass you, or even call you once they know we are representing you. If they do, we have attorneys who can sue them for harassing you!
If all or most of the debts are in your name only, your spouse may not have to file. Creditors usually cannot pursue a non-filing spouse, unless he or she is legally a co-debtor on the debt. Additionally, the bankruptcy should not be reflected on the non-filing spouse's credit report. The law does vary, however, from state to state so make sure you ask a Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy attorney about whether or not your spouse should file with you.
The only parties that receive notice of the bankruptcy are your creditors and the bankruptcy court. Your employer will not be notified of the bankruptcy unless your employer is also a creditor. Bankruptcy filings are public record, so anyone who wants to find out could determine that you had filed. Generally, however, only you and your creditors will know about the bankruptcy. Just in case, strict anti-discrimination laws are available to protect you from employment discrimination if your employer takes any action against you because of your filing.
There are typically over a million bankruptcies filed each year in the United States. Common sense will tell you that these people are not all living on the street. If you are presently renting a home or apartment, usually your present landlord will renew your lease without running an updated credit report, and may not even know you filed a bankruptcy.
If you are applying for a new lease, you may be asked to explain the circumstances that led to your blemished credit history and bankruptcy filing. Remember that it is the blemished credit report, not necessarily the bankruptcy that will reflect poorly on your application. If you are already having difficulty making payments to your creditors, the credit damage may already be done. In those cases, bankruptcy can actually help to improve your credit score and your ability to obtain a lease. You see, following a bankruptcy, you will have little or no outstanding debt; so you may appear to be a better credit risk than other applicants who have lots of outstanding debt.
We find that a good faith gesture, such as offering an extra month security deposit, is often enough for a potential lessor to overcome her concerns about your blemished credit.
*Are you here because you are being sued?? If you are being sued, and you own a home, we strongly urge you to speak with a Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy attorney immediately about your options. A bankruptcy will stop a lawsuit immediately and prevent your creditors from placing a lien on your home or garnishing your hard-earned wages.
*Are you behind on your mortgage or car payments? Are you afraid your home could be foreclosed on, or your car repossessed? If so, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can prevent the foreclosure or repossession from proceeding, allow you to consolidate your mortgage arrears or automobile balance, and make payments on those debts over time through a payment plan. As long as you can make these payments, Chapter 13 can allow you to keep these items. If you wish to surrender the house or car, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate any remaining balance owed on them after foreclosure or repossession.
*Do credit cards or medical bills have you so deep in debt that it is hard for you to save for the future? If you are only paying the minimum payment on the credit card bills from month to month (generally from two to three percent of the outstanding balance), and the interest rate is only 15%, you will take about 20 years to pay off a $10,000 debt. Do you really want to be in the same financial situation for the next twenty years? Chapter 7 bankruptcy can provide you with a fresh start that you are entitled to under the law and get you out of debt NOW.
Absolutely not! Everyone is entitled to a fresh start. Bankruptcy relief is even guaranteed by the US Constitution. Many times, events occur in people's lives that cannot be expected. You may have had a sudden loss in income, a family medical catastrophe, a work injury, or any one of numerous other difficulties that would have been almost impossible to plan for. Most of the people that we represent are good people who have encountered unfortunate circumstances and just want to get a fresh start. We understand that for most of our clients bankruptcy is the last resort. Many of our clients have a very difficult time determining if bankruptcy is the right decision for them.
Ask yourself…are the credit card companies concerned about your financial difficulties? Are you paying your creditors instead of saving for your children's education or your retirement? Or worse, are you considering selling assets or drawing funds out of a 401k to pay down debt? Unfortunately, many of our clients come to us only as a last resort, and have already spent thousands of dollars of their retirement funds, incurred large tax penalties, or wasted money on failed attempts at paying or settling their debts by the time they come see us. Bankruptcy relief should not be seen as only a last resort after all else fails; it is a legally available option that allows you to protect your retirement and provide for your family.
Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy believes that it is very important for an attorney to provide both bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy alternatives. We believe in giving you our honest opinion as to what will put you in the best possible financial condition now and into your future. The client always comes first.
Please call, toll-free at 1-800-260-1402 to speak with a Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy attorney about the issues you should consider when deciding whether or not bankruptcy is for you.
When considering filing bankruptcy, you want to be advised by someone who is familiar and experienced with all of the "ins and outs" of consumer bankruptcy law. There are some general practice attorneys who will attempt to handle the occasional bankruptcy case. But consumer bankruptcy is a specialized field, handled in Federal Court. You want an attorney who will know what to expect, who will know how to best protect your assets, who has the expertise to handle your case professionally and correctly.
At Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy, our bankruptcy attorneys devote 100% of their practice to consumer cases and getting people just like you out of debt. As one of the largest consumer firms in the country, we have the resources and backing of hundreds of years of combined experience in dealing with consumer bankruptcy issues. You will be hard pressed to find another law firm with the same level of experience and resources as Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy.
Many of our clients express concern over the costs to file a bankruptcy case. At Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy we provide high quality legal representation, often at a fraction of the cost of other law firms, and we offer convenient payment plans to help you cover the expense of filing. The fees we charge are commensurate with the work performed in your case and determined by your attorney based on the specific circumstances of your case. Beware of any bankruptcy attorney who gives you a flat fee quote over the phone without having conducted a full consultation to truly understand your situation. Such a “one size fits all” approach generally means the attorney is either over-charging most of their clients, or on the other extreme, giving a teaser fee over the phone so they can get you into their office and then charge you other fees.
Other firms may encourage you to retain them for “no money down” and encourage you to file Chapter 13 unnecessarily. This sounds like a cheap way to get your case filed quickly, but the end result is that you may end up paying the attorney thousands more than necessary to obtain bankruptcy relief.
As soon as you retain Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy - for as little as $100 down – you can refer calls from your creditors to us and we can enforce laws to get creditor harassment to stop. Most of our clients are able to avoid garnishments and other creditor actions while working to pay the remainder of the bankruptcy costs to file their case. The best thing you can do if garnishments are a concern is to come see us right away. Waiting until the last minute is usually the greatest barrier to preventing garnishments. That said, if you need your case filed immediately, we may be able to work with you.
A bankruptcy attorney must have a sophisticated understanding of bankruptcy law to deal with student loan and tax debts. Until October 2005, it was possible to discharge certain student loans in bankruptcy. In October 2005, a new law went into effect that disqualified all student loans from discharge, unless there is an “undue hardship.”
While there is some variance depending on where you live, the majority of courts apply the Brunner test. The test requires that 1) the debtor cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a “minimal” standard of living for the debtor and the debtor’s dependents if forced to repay the student loans; 2) additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans; and 3) the debtor has made good faith efforts to repay the loans.
The attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy can help you evaluate the possibility of discharging your student loans in chapter 7, or can help you obtain some relief from your student loan debts through the use of Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we can consolidate your student loan debt, along with any other outstanding bills, and arrange an interest free repayment plan, so that you do not have to suffer through the burden of garnishments, harassment and other collection efforts by student loan agencies. We may even be able to reduce the amount paid to the student loan agency during the course of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that your consolidation payment is as low as possible.
Dealing with tax debts in bankruptcy is even more complex. As a general rule, tax debts can be discharged if they are old enough (at least three years old) when you file your bankruptcy case. However, there are other requirements for discharge, such as when the returns were filed, when the IRS assessed your tax liability, and other more complex issues. This is one example where the timing of when your case is filed with the bankruptcy court is so vital. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to guide you in ensuring the best possible outcome for your situation.
Even tax debts that cannot be discharged can be dealt with through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Your attorney will be able to assist you in determining the best solution depending on your specific situation.
If you would like to find out more about how Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy can ease the burden of student loan and tax debts through the use of the bankruptcy code, call us toll-free at 1-800-260-1402.
The fact that you filed a bankruptcy can legally be listed on your credit report for up to 7 to 10 years, depending on which chapter of bankruptcy you file. However, you can begin to reestablish your credit immediately after your case ends. Remember that "credit" is your ability to borrow money. Lenders consider many factors while determining whether to loan you money, but most importantly, they consider your debt-to-income ratio.
You are probably visiting this site because you already have more outstanding debt than you have the ability to pay. So, arguably, you already do not have credit. Filing bankruptcy eliminates most, if not all of your debts, thereby reducing your debt-to-income ratio, which can improve your ability to borrow money in the future.
Some financial institutions actively solicit business from people who have filed. You see, lenders are in business to make money by lending you money and charging you interest. They look to minimize their risk by offering loans to consumers with the ability to repay those loans. If you have lots of other debts in the way, you look like a high risk borrower. Once you have a clean slate and no other debts to prevent repayment of your new loan, you look like a much better credit risk.
Many of our clients have purchased cars immediately upon receiving their discharge order. Many lenders have programs that provide for post-bankruptcy borrowers to obtain home financing within a year or two after a discharge. Many of our clients even receive solicitations for unsecured credit cards almost immediately upon receiving their discharge. So credit is available. That said, at Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy, we do more than just file your case and send you on your way. We are committed to guiding you through the entire process, before, during, and after your bankruptcy. So we direct our clients to the best financial management education programs after filing. We can even put you in touch with a budget coach and other financial planning professionals to make sure you have the tools you need to use your new credit responsibly and avoid falling back into the credit card trap.
CALL TOLL-FREE, 1-800-260-1402 TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION. YOU WE HAVE CONVENIENT LOCATIONS AND HOURS WHERE YOU CAN MEET WITH AN ATTORNEY MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY!