Preliminary Evaluation and Pre-Filing Preparation

bankruptcy

One part of the preliminary evaluation for any bankruptcy is to look at and determine exactly what type of debts you have. Many times this will guide a lawyer in which kind of bankruptcy will be most effective for your situation.

We offer a no-cost preliminary evaluation interview for anyone considering a bankruptcy. However, under the new Bankruptcy Law passed in October 2005, there are many items of documentation that are needed for this interview to be the most productive. To assist in evaluating your situation, you need to provide us with the following at the time of your first interview:

a) Pay history or income history for the past 6 months – This can consist of copies of your paystubs, a payroll history printout from your employer, or other documentation, such as a Social Security award letter where you receive the exact same amount every month. The law requires this information so we can determine if you qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

b) A credit report – This can be acquired on the internet by going to www.annualcreditreport.com and filling out the required information. You can secure a credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can download these off the internet and print them out. These credit reports allow us to verify all reported debts, determine if you are the victim of credit fraud, and provide accurate name, address and account information for your listed creditors.

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c) Copies of any bills that you owe that are not listed on one of your credit reports. (Not all creditors report their debts to a credit-reporting agency.)

d) Copies of installment sales contracts (as well as a title) on any vehicle or other item of personal property (i.e. boat, 4-wheeler, camper, trailers) that you own or are making payments on.

e) Copies of deeds or mortgage papers on any real estate that you own or on which you are making payments.

f) Copy of your county tax appraisal sheet for both real and personal property showing the assessed values.

Bankruptcy Facts

Bankruptcy Facts

How often can I file bankruptcy?

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 changed the time frames within which an individual can file a bankruptcy and receive a full discharge of his or her unsecured debts. Also, the new law changed how some debts are discharged. Time frames are judged from the date of filing of the last bankruptcy to the expected filing date of the new bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be filed once every eight (8) years. A Chapter 13 can only be filed once every two (2) years. If a person had a previous Chapter 7, then a Chapter 13 can only be filed after four (4) years. Due to the change in the law, a personal interview is required to determine exactly which time frame may apply in your case.

When will creditors stop harassing me?

Generally, a Debtor is “fair game” for a creditor until a bankruptcy is actually filed with the Court. As a practical matter, however, most creditors will cease collection efforts once the attorney has been retained to file.

I’ve already been sued. Can bankruptcy help me?

A bankruptcy filing will automatically stop all collection efforts. If you have been sued, but the bankruptcy is filed before a judgment is entered, no judgment can be entered. If a judgment has been entered, collection of the judgment is stopped.

How long will bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

For 10 years. No one can legally remove a bankruptcy notation from a credit report, if 10 years have not elapsed. Do not trust anyone who says that bankruptcy notations less than 10 years old can be removed, especially if they want to charge you a fee to do this.

Will I ever be able to get credit again? Will I be able to buy a home?

There is no magic formula to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy. Obviously, a Debtor who has just completed bankruptcy will want to make timely payments on continuing obligations such as utilities, rent/mortgage payments, car payments, etc., in order to rebuild the credit record. Another way to help rebuild credit is through the judicious use of a secured credit card. Generally, once two (2) years have elapsed after the discharge, creditors start to look favorably about granting credit. Obviously, the reason why someone files for bankruptcy comes into play here. Home mortgage loans are generally available to a Debtor after two (2) years have elapsed, assuming the person otherwise qualifies for the loan.

What are the ramifications of filing bankruptcy?

Quite frankly (in our personal opinion), aside from one’s ability to get future credit, the primary negative aspect of filing bankruptcy is the personal and emotional feelings a person may have about bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Facts

Can I leave some creditors off of my bankruptcy petition? Do I have to list all of my debts?

All debts owing as of the date of the filing of a bankruptcy petition must be listed on the schedules; no creditor can be left off. This applies even to debts owed to friends and relatives. When a person signs a bankruptcy petition, he or she is certifying under penalty of perjury that all assets and liabilities (debts) are listed on the petition. Additionally, at the time of the meeting of creditors, a debtor will be asked, under oath, if all assets and liabilities have been listed. This does not mean, however, that certain debts cannot be reaffirmed. Even if a debt has been discharged, the Bankruptcy Code is very specific that nothing prohibits the voluntary repayment of a discharged debt. On secured debts such as car loans and home loans, the Debtor still lists that debt on the petition, but can reaffirm the debt in order to keep the property.

Do many people file for bankruptcy protection?

Absolutely. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, filings nationwide increased from over 1.4 million petitions in 1997 to over 2 million in 2005. As a result of the passage of the new bankruptcy amendments in October of 2005, new filings for 2006 reduced to 617,660; but gained in 2007 to 850,912. Bankruptcy is still a viable option for many individuals.