You must remember that although you have hired an attorney to help you with your bankruptcy, you are ultimately responsible for the success of your case; therefore, it is important that you take the process seriously and give your FULL AND TIMELY cooperation to your attorney and his or her staff.
NOTE: BEFORE YOU CALL YOUR ATTORNEY WITH A QUESTION ABOUT YOUR BANKRUPTCY, READ THIS DOCUMENT FIRST. THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS MORE THAN LIKELY ANSWERED IN HERE.
"Jerry Daniels is an excellent and extremely thorough attorney. He looks at every possible angle of a case to be totally prepared for all contingencies. I found his knowledge of the law and courtroom abilities to be outstanding. It was very reassuring to have an attorney whom I could trust during what was a difficult personal crisis." - W.R.
WE CAN HELP YOU! Contact our Lawrenceville law office at 770-604-1380.
WHICH BANKRUPTCY IS BEST FOR ME?
The three most used bankruptcies are Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. The other two bankruptcies are Chapter 9 and Chapter 12. Only municipal corporations (towns and cities) are eligible for a Chapter 9 and in order to qualify for a Chapter 12 you must earn your living by farming. We will, therefore, concentrate on the first three chapters.
A Chapter 7 is called a liquidation. Generally, you would file a Chapter 7 if you are unable to meet your regular financial obligations on a timely basis and you can no longer tolerate the collection calls or you are being sued by creditors. You will find more information on Chapter 7s later in this writing.
A Chapter 13 is a payment plan which allows you to catch up payments on debts, such as your mortgage or car loans over time, retain your property, and resume regular monthly payments. In order to qualify to file a Chapter 13, you must have a regular source of income, such as a steady paycheck or provable self-employment income. You will find more information on Chapter 13s later in this writing.
A Chapter 11 is a reorganization for corporations or individuals with large estates (large amounts of personal and/or real property). You will find more information on Chapter 11s later in this writing.
INFORMATION NEEDED TO PREPARE YOUR BANKRUPTCY PAPERS.
In order to prepare and file your bankruptcy, you will be required to provide all of your financial information to our office. You are required by law to list the name, address including zip code, account number, amount you owe and other important information concerning your creditors. A creditor is a person or company you owe money to on an ongoing basis. There are generally three types of creditors which are discussed later in this information sheet. A secured creditor is such as your mortgage company, banks or loan companies you financed cars, furniture, major appliances, electronic equipment, campers, lawn equipment, computers, stereo systems, etc., with, and credit card companies and charge cards with merchants. Someone who has a court judgment against you is secured and known as a judgment creditor. Judgment creditors may require special attention in your bankruptcy case; therefore, it is very important you notify your attorney of any judgment creditor and provide the attorney with all documents you may have concerning the lawsuit filed against you. If you no longer have the documents involved in the judgment, go to the court where you were sued and get a copy of the complaint, answer and the judgment. If you cannot provide this important information about the debt you owe as a result of the judgment, the debt may not be discharged.
You must also provide this office with detailed information concerning your financial affairs for the past several years. You will be required to provide this information in great detail; therefore, it is most important you provide all information requested on the forms we ask you to fill out. Remember, if it is discovered by the Court or trustee that you have not provided the information required, you may not be granted a discharge or your case may be dismissed. You are also required to list all of your real property (houses and land) and personal property in your schedules. Again, if the Court or trustee discovers you failed to list items of value in your schedules, you may not be given a discharge and/or you may lose the property you failed to list. We prefer you give us the most recent statement, invoice, contract, coupon book, copies of lawsuits and judgments, any documents served on you by a law enforcement officer, foreclosure notice, notices and letters from collection agencies or lawyers rather than handwritten or type-written notes.
It is suggested you acquire a current credit report to use as a check system in determining whether you have listed all of your creditors. We will not, however, use your credit report in preparing the bankruptcy petition and schedules. The credit report is strictly for your use in determining who you owe money. Remember, as a general rule utility companies (gas, electric and phone companies) may not report to credit reporting agencies; therefore, you should not rely on the credit report to determine this type of creditor. Additionally, you may have had a contract or lease agreement you breached that has not been reported to a credit reporting agency.
Many people ask, "I do not want to bankrupt against my house and car; do I have to list my mortgage company and car finance company?" Yes, you do. You must list all companies and people, including family and friends you owe money to at the time of your filing. If you are in a Chapter 13, your house and car are generally protected from foreclosure and repossession respectively unless you chose to surrender either or both of them. You must remember, however, a Chapter 13 is generally filed to stop foreclosures and repossessions. If you file a Chapter 7, your mortgaged home or financed cars and other financed possessions may be exposed to foreclosure or repossession if you are not current when you file and remain current during the pendency of your bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13, if a foreclosure sale is not complete or the reposed car has not been sold, you may be able to keep your house or automobile.
Generally speaking, in a Chapter 7, if you are current with your mortgage payments, car payments, and the payments to other secured creditors when your case is filed and remain current throughout the pendency of your bankruptcy, you probably will not have any problems reaffirming those debts and keeping your house, cars and other secured items. Secured creditors do not want your house, car and other secured items —- they want your monthly payment. Therefore, it is very important to be current and remain current on the secured debts you wish to keep during the bankruptcy process. If you are not current with your secured payments prior to filing and/or you fall behind in your secured payments prior to your discharge, you may be assured the secured creditor will file a motion for relief from the bankruptcy stay. With very rare exceptions, the Court will grant their motion and the creditor will foreclose or repossess the secured house, car or other secured item. Remember, if a secured creditor files a motion for relief and you request your attorney get involved in negotiating a settlement with the creditor, an additional fee will be required. Generally, creditors will require you make up all payments missed plus pay their attorney fees, if any, before they agree to dismiss their motion for relief.
WHAT YOU MAY KEEP
In Georgia, debtors may retain:
1. $10,000 in real estate equity of your principal residence (the amount of property value in excess of liens on the real property);
2. Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, veteran's benefits, disability benefits, and alimony;
3. $3,500 in equity in vehicles;
4. $300 in each of various items of household furnishings and wearing apparel, up to a total value of $5,000;
5. $500 in jewelry;
6. $1,500 in professional implements, books and tools of the trade; and
7. $600, plus $5,000 of the unused portion of the principal residence exception as a wild card.
8. Pretax IRAs, 401(k)s and most other pretax savings and retirement accounts, no matter how much money you have in the account.
There are other less common exemption rights. In addition, if the creditor holding a lien on a particular item of property consents, and the Bankruptcy Court finds that it is in your best interest, you may retain additional property by reaffirming the debt with the creditor and paying the creditor's claim pursuant to which you had previously agreed. It is important to remember that in a Chapter 7 the creditor does not have to let you reaffirm the debt and keep the secured property.
For an in depth look at what happens to you house or car when you file for bankruptcy, click on of the links below
FILING THE BANKRUPTCY DOCUMENTS
After you sign your petition and schedules your attorney will file them with the clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. Generally we file them electronically over the Internet; however, on some occasions we will file them through the mail or by hand delivery to the clerk's office. If you are filing within one to three days prior to a foreclosure you are attempting to stop, you or a courier may be required to hand deliver the petition, plan and schedules to the court. It is, therefore, incumbent on you to be in a position to file your bankruptcy documents timely.
SAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS
In the event you need to provide proof of filing or proof of your discharge to a new creditor considering whether or not to issue credit after your discharge, and you no longer have copies of your petition or discharge notice, you will need to obtain copies from either the court or our office. Both my office and the court will charge a fee for the copies. The reason our office charges a fee is that after the discharge we send the file to storage and it requires time of our staff to retrieve the documents. Also, if you have given us copies or originals of documents you wish to have returned to you, please come to our office and retrieve the documents. We request you call ahead in order that we may have the documents ready when you arrive. If you do not request the documents be returned to you, we will assume you no longer want the documents and we will destroy them when we close your file. We generally close files within days of receiving notices of the discharge and closing of the estate.
The clerk of court (not your attorney) will send out notices of the bankruptcy to all listed creditors, you and your attorney. The mailing generally occurs in a week to 10 days following the filing. The notice will contain vital information; therefore, it is important you watch the mail for your copy of the notice. Additionally, you must supply this office with a mailing address that you generally receive your mail. If you have not received a copy of the notice of filing bankruptcy within three weeks of signing your petition and schedules, please call the office and notify us. You should also receive a letter from our office reminding you of the meeting of creditors. The notice you receive from the court will contain the following information concerning the meeting of creditors: 1) the date of the 341 meeting; 2) the location of the meeting; 3) the time of the meeting; 4) the room number of the meeting.
If you are in a Chapter 13, the notice will also contain the date of your confirmation hearing.
COLLECTION LETTERS OR PHONE CALLS AFTER THE FILING OF YOUR PETITION
If you receive any collection letters after your bankruptcy has been filed with the Court, do the following: Make a copy of the letter you received from the creditor or the creditor's collection agent or attorney and make a copy of the Notice of Filing of Bankruptcy you received from the Court, and mail both copied documents to the return address shown on the collection letter. If the creditor or collector continues to send you statements or collection letters, make a copy of both collection letters or statements you received and mail them to your attorney's office. Include in your mailing to the attorney a note stating that you have sent a copy of the Notice of Filing of Bankruptcy to the collector or creditor and they continue to send you collection notices.
If a creditor or its collection agent or attorney contacts you by phone, tell them you have filed bankruptcy, give then your attorney's name and phone number and wish them a good day and hang up the phone. Usually this information is enough to stop the creditor or collector from calling you. Do not let them engage you in a conversation! If they continue to call, get the name and phone number of the person calling and, if he or she will give you the information, his or her supervisor's name and phone number. And, as in the collection letters situation, mail or fax the information to your attorney's office
You will be required to have a meeting of creditors so that they may ask quesitons about why you are filing for bankruptcy. Click the link below for more details.
There are many unique aspects about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy that distinguish it from Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. The Link Below will give you an in-depth look at Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
If you have debt that is secured, such as a lein on your car or home, then you may be able to exclude such debt from your bankruptcy. With a reaffirmation agreement, you may continue making payments on the debt and keep your property. Click below to read more about reaffirmation agreements.
REAFFIRMATION AGREEMENTS (Not applicable in a Chapter 13)
Remember your credit reports will report the fact that you have filed bankruptcy for no less than seven years and up to 10 years. If you file a Chapter 13, the bankruptcy will remain on your report for the longer time of 10 years. You may get free credit reports from the credit reporting agencies. Generally, if you call them they will take your name and address and mail the report to you within several days. We strongly recommend you get a credit report around three months after you file your case and check it for accuracy. If you find inaccuracies in your credit report, we encourage you to purchase a product from Office Depot called EZ Credit Repair. This kit contains easy-to-follow instructions, form letters and the law pertaining to credit reporting. Our office generally does not become involved in credit reporting issues; however, if you request we become involved, we will charge a fee for this service at our hourly rate in effect at the time the services are rendered. You may also obtain your credit report online; however, the way in which to do that is beyond the scope of this writing.
If you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should receive a discharge in six to eight months after you file. What is a discharge? A discharge is an order entered by the Court essentially relieving you of your debts and making them go away forever. There are, however, certain debts that will not be discharged. It is not the intent of this writing to cover all of those debts which are not dischargeable in bankruptcy; however, a few of the most common non-dischargeable debts are: student loans guaranteed by a governmental unit or nonprofit corporation; taxes not mentioned in the taxes section below; debts that have been determined to be incurred by fraud; alimony and child support; restitution for criminal acts; most criminal fines; personal injury and property damages caused by accidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should receive your discharge after completing your plan. The plan payments should include the payment of those non-dischargeable items mentioned above as well as arrears on your mortgage payment and the payment of car notes which do not exceed a payment period of 60 months. It should be noted that student loans may or may not be paid in the plan depending on the circumstances of the payback period. It should be noted that interest on unsecured debts being paid in the plan stops upon filing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy; however, secured debts, student loans and a few other debts continue accumulating interest after the filing.
LIFE AFTER BANKRUPTCY
It goes without saying, the ability to acquire credit after filing any form of bankruptcy is difficult. Generally, auto dealers will arrange the financing of a car when you present them with your discharge document. You will, however, expect the interest rate to be in the high teens or low twenties. Most mortgage institutions will no longer consider your bankruptcy as a negative when qualifying you for a mortgage when two and one-half years have passed since the filing of your bankruptcy. There are several good books containing good information on how to reestablish your credit after bankruptcy. You are encouraged to purchase one at your local bookstore or on the Internet or check one out of your local library and read it.
From our office in Lawrenceville, our lawyers represent clients in communities throughout Gwinnett County and Walton County, Georgia. Call us at 770-604-1380 or contact us by email to arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced Lawrenceville bankruptcy lawyers today. At your first meeting, we will determine if you should file for bankruptcy and what information you will need to get started.