FAQs

Can I file for bankruptcy if I do not have much debt?


Bankruptcy laws do not require you to have a minimum amount of debt to be eligible for bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is the right choice for you will depend on your individual circumstances, such as; whether you are able to repay your debts outside of bankruptcy; whether your creditors are willing to work with you; whether you can discharge (wipe out) the types of debt you have in bankruptcy, and the facts of your individual case.

How do I know which bankruptcy chapter to file?


Once you have decided that bankruptcy is the right solution, you and your bankruptcy lawyer will need to decide which type of bankruptcy fits your needs. The vast majority of individuals file either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Your lawyer will help you make this decision and it will depend on several factors, including the types of debts you have, your income, and other detailed facts. Talk to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer about your situation.

How often can I file for bankruptcy?


You can file for bankruptcy multiple times, but restrictions do apply. If you need to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after you have filed a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge then you need to wait 8 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after you have obtained a discharge in a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then you will need to wait 4 years to obtain a complete discharge.
If you received a discharge in your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy then you will need to wait 6 years from the date of filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to receive a full discharge.
If you have received a discharge in a previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy and need to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy again, then you need to wait at least 2 years from the date of filing of your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Can I file for bankruptcy on some of the accounts I owe, or do I have to include all of them?


Bankruptcy law compels you to disclose all your assets, and all your debts. This includes secured debts for items you want to keep, such as car loans and mortgages, and all other debts, even student loans and taxes. Everything must be disclosed.

Can I eliminate all my debts by discharging them in bankruptcy?


It really depends on your individual financial situation. If all your is dischargeable then yes. However, some types of debts are non-dischargeable, meaning they will not be discharged or "wiped out."

If I file for bankruptcy, will the cosigner of my loan still have to pay?


Once again, it really depends on your individual financial situation. Generally, if you have a cosigner on your debts, your cosigner will still be responsible for the debt, despite your bankruptcy filing. For instance, when you successfully complete a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court enters a discharge of your debts.

Once the court enters your discharge, your liability on your dischargeable debts is gone. This means that you are no longer legally obligated to repay those debts, and your creditors cannot collect them from you. However, the discharge only applies to your obligation on the debt and it does not make the debt disappear. The discharge applies to your liability on the debt, not the debt itself. The discharge is personal to the individual who filed bankruptcy. This means that if any other person was liable on the debt, such as a co-borrower or cosigner, that person is still responsible for the entire balance due unless that person filed bankruptcy with you.

What are the differences between secured and unsecured debt?


The major difference between the two is the presence (or absence) of collateral, which is a form of security to the lender against non-repayment from the borrower. For instance, a car loan is a secured loan, because the car is collateral for the loan. If you fall far enough behind on the loan, the lender will repossess the car. The same holds true for a mortgage, which his secured by a home or other real estate.

Unsecured debt has no collateral backing and it requires no security. For example, credit card debt is unsecured. Examples of other unsecured debts include medical bills, and many personal loans.

Secured debts are those for which the borrower puts up some asset as surety or collateral for the loan. A secured debt instrument simply means that in the event of default, the lender can use the asset to repay the funds it has advanced the borrower. Common types of secured debt are mortgages and auto loans, in which the item being financed becomes the collateral for the financing. With a car loan, if the borrower fails to make timely payments, the loan issuer eventually acquires ownership of the vehicle. When an individual or business takes out a mortgage, the property in question is used to back the repayment terms; in fact, the lending institution maintains equity (financial interest) in the property until the mortgage is paid in full. If the borrower defaults on the payments, the lender can seize the property and sell it to recoup the funds owed.

Can I file for bankruptcy and stop a lawsuit or wipe out a money judgement against me?


Yes and no. If you file for bankruptcy, a legal mechanism called the "automatic stay" goes into place. This stops all efforts by all your creditors to collect on debts. This will stop all lawsuits. If everything goes well, the underlying debt will be discharged at the end of the bankruptcy.

However, bankruptcy does not get rid of liens. If you have a court judgment against you, you may have what is called a judgment lien on your real estate (if you own any). So, your obligation to pay the debt will be discharged, but the judgment lien will survive. However, there is a way you can remove a judgment lien by filing a Motion to Avoid Lien. All of this is highly dependent upon your financial situation, and an experienced

What property can I keep, if anything, if I file for bankruptcy?


There are exemptions in bankruptcy, where the law allows you to keep property, so long as it is exempt. In Pennsylvania, most of the time we use the federal exemptions, and they are quite generous. Generally, most bankruptcy debtors get to keep everything they want to, including personal property and real estate.

If you want to keep collateral for a secured debt, such as a home mortgage or a car loan, the situation is simple. If you keep up with the payments, you keep the e item.

Can I keep my home if I file for bankruptcy?


Absolutely. The general rule is if you keep current on your mortgage payments, you can stay in your home. If you are behind on your mortgage, (and even if facing foreclosure) you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to catch up on the mortgage arrears and save your home.

Can I keep my retirement account or Social Security payment if I file for bankruptcy?


In Pennsylvania, we generally use the federal exemptions and generally retirement accounts are fully protected. Please consult a qualified bankruptcy lawyer to make sure, as some restrictions may apply.

Can I file for bankruptcy and keep my inheritance?


This is a tricky question to answer. It all depends on if you can exempt the money and it also depends on when you get the inheritance. If you receive an inheritance after filing for bankruptcy, it might become part of your bankruptcy estate. In a Chapter 7 case, this means the Chapter 7 trustee can take the inheritance unless it is protected by an exemption. In a Chapter 13 case, receiving an inheritance could increase the amount you have to repay to your creditors.

What Documents Will I Need for My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?


The average Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can be more than 50 pages in length, so you will need a lot of information to complete the required forms and schedules. If you are organized, it will make everything much easier.

Here are some documents you will need to get started:
1.six months of paychecks.
2.90 days of bank statements.
3.Your last two federal tax returns.
4.current investment and retirement account statements.
5.current mortgage and car loan statements.
6.credit card, collection, and other billing statements.

If you plan on going ahead with the filing, please bring copies to the free initial consultation. This will provide me with accurate information and help me assess your case.