• Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

      A Federal debt relief program which discharges (absolves) all your unsecured debts. Although very unlikely, it may also liquidate (sell) all or some of your assets in order to pay your creditors. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most common type of Bankruptcy in the United States. Bankruptcy is preferred by most debtors because it provides them with a fresh start, meaning no more unsecured debts. A Bankruptcy can wipe out all credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, judgments against you and certain federal and state income tax debts.

    • Am I a good candidate for Bankruptcy?
      That is a question that only you can answer. Each one of us has a different level of tolerance for debt. Some ofus are very sensitive to the feeling of being hounded by creditors or being sued in state courts for unpaid debts. Some others may be a little more resilient to this milieu. If you feel that you cannot sleep at night because you worry about making ends meet, if you are afraid to answer your phone because you fear it might be a collection agency, if debts are taking a toll on your family or work, if you are at the verge of losing your home, or if your car is about to be repossessed, Bankruptcy is an option you should seriously consider. Everyone deserves a second chance. Bankruptcy is a LEGAL and HONEST way to obtaining a fresh start.
    • Do I qualify for Bankruptcy?
      Several factors must be considered before answering this question. Generally, some of the factors examined are household size, income of the entire household for the last 6 months, number of dependents, monthly expenses, secured and priority debts. Whether or not you qualify for Bankruptcy is a very complex and factor driven question and can only be determined by your attorney after having thoroughly examined your financial situation.
    • How much do you charge for a Bankruptcy?
      We charge a flat fee of $1,600.00. This covers the court filing fee as well as attorney's fees. The entire amount must be paid in full before your bankruptcy petition can be filed. Will I be able to keep all my assets if I file for Bankruptcy? Most likely yes. It truly comes down to what type of assets you own, how much equity your assets have and whether you have filed a homestead deed before. Based on our experience, most clients filing for Bankruptcy get to keep all of their assets. To conclude, this is a very specific question that can only be answered at your initial appointment.
    • Creditors won't stop hounding me, can Bankruptcy stop it?
      Yes. There is an automatic stay the moment your bankruptcy petition is filed. An automatic stay means that all creditors must immediately cease all collection efforts while the bankruptcy case is pending. The automatic stay also stops all lawsuits that you may have pending against you in state court as well as any garnishments against you. If, after your petition is filed, you find that creditors continue to contact you, let us know immediately and we will send them a cease and decease letter to make them stop.
    • My wages are being garnished; can I get my garnished wages back?
      Possibly. Assuming you have enough exemption available to protect your garnished wages, you will be able to get back all wages garnished during the preference period2 if they exceed $600 in aggregate.
    • Will I be able to keep my vehicle?
      It depends. There is a motor vehicle exemption in Virginia which allows you to keep up to $6,000.00 of equity in your car. Equity is the value of the car minus any liens on the car. Thus, if you own the car free and clear, the equity in the car is how much you could reasonably sell it for in today's market. If there is a lien on your vehicle, the equity is the value of the car minus the amount of the lien. If the lien amount is higher than the value of the car, then you have no equity, or you have negative equity in the car and there is nothing to protect. This means you can keep the car without using your motor vehicle exemption as there is no equity to protect. If the equity in your car surpasses $6,000.00, we can still protect it. Typically, the motor vehicle exemption is used to protect up to $6,000.00 in equity and the Homestead Deed exemption is used to protect any surplus in equity.
    • Will I be able to keep my home?
      It depends on how much equity you have on your home. The same reasoning applies as it does to question No. 8. If you have too much equity in your home, you are probably not a good candidate for Bankruptcy, and you should consider Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. However, if you have no equity in your home or if your home is underwater, you should be able to keep your home if you keep making your mortgage payments on time.
    • Will I be able to keep my retirement accounts?

      Most likely yes. 40l(k), 403(B), VRE's, Federal Pensions, IRA's and other similar pensions are protected. Do I have to disclose all my creditors, or can I keep some credit cards? You must disclose everyone that you owe money to in your Bankruptcy petition. Period. You are certainly welcome to pay back any debts that were discharged in the Bankruptcy, but you must list all of them anyway.

    • Do I have to file with my spouse?
      It depends. If you have joint debt, meaning your spouse is also legally liable, then it is a good idea for your spouse to also file for Bankruptcy. Otherwise, you will be discharged from all joint debts, but your spouse will remain liable; meaning that creditors can still attempt to collect for that particular debt from your spouse. Example: While married to your spouse, you went to the hospital to get treatment. After treatment, you are liable to the hospital in the amount of $10,000.00 Even though the services were provided to you, your spouse may also be responsible for this debt. If you file for bankruptcy, but your spouse does not, the hospital may still attempt to collect the $10,000.00 obligation from your spouse.
    • Is there an extra fee if I file with my spouse?
      Yes. My fees range between $1,000.00 to $1,300.00 depending on the complexity of the case. However, the court fees will be the same, $356.00. Call our office right now to obtain an exact quote.
    • Do I have to go to court?
      Yes. It is called a 341 hearing or meeting of creditors. This hearing is meant to provide your creditors an opportunity to ask you questions (but creditors rarely show up to these hearings). You will meet the bankruptcy trustee at the hearing. The trustee is an attorney whose main task is to revise your petition and make sure there are no assets to be distributed to your creditors.
    • Will an attorney be with me at the court hearing?
    • What do I need to have with me at my court hearing?
      You must have two forms of identification. One of them must have your social security number on it. Ideally, you want to have a driver's license, passport, birth certificate AND social security card or most recent W2.
    • What will happen at the court hearing?
      The Bankruptcy trustee will ask you a series of questions to verify the veracity of your Bankruptcy petition. You do NOT need to prepare for this hearing, you just need to be honest and truthful about your answers.
    • I filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before, is this going to hurt my case?
      No. There is no limit on how many times you can file for bankruptcy. However, the Homestead Exemption in Virginia can only be used once. If you used up all or almost all of your exemption in the previous bankruptcy to protect your assets, you will not be able to use that exemption again, and some or all of your assets my end up unprotected and in the hands of the bankruptcy trustee. We will talk in more detail at the time of your appointment about this issue.
    • When can I file for Bankruptcy again?
      If you filed a chapter 7 before and were discharged successfully: You can file again for chapter 7 bankruptcy 8 years from the time you file your previous chapter 7 petition. If you filed a chapter 13 before and were discharged successfully: You can file for chapter 7 bankruptcy 6 years later from the time you file your chapter 13 petition If your case was dismissed: You can file right away unless the court orders otherwise.
    • What if I don't remember when I filed for Bankruptcy?
      We can find out for you during our appointment.
    • How long does a Bankruptcy take before I will receive my discharge?
      It takes about 3 months before you get your discharge letter in the mail from the Bankruptcy Court.
    • What are the changes of my bankruptcy being dismissed?
      No attorney can guarantee that your petition will be successful. However, the attorney should be able to know whether you are a good candidate for bankruptcy.