Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive at Blanton Law, P.A., regarding bankruptcy:
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal option that provides a fresh financial start to individuals and businesses that are unable to pay their debt.
Will filing for bankruptcy stop creditor harassment?
Yes. As soon as you file for bankruptcy, creditors must contact your attorney and are no longer allowed to contact you directly.
What are the different types of bankruptcy?
The most common types of consumer bankruptcy are Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 13 debt reorganization. Additionally, Chapter 11 is an option that allows businesses and individuals with significant debt to reorganize it. Chapter 12 is reserved for family farmers and fishermen.
Can I keep my home, car and other personal belongings?
In most cases, people can keep their homes and cars along with other personal belongings. In fact, filing for bankruptcy can be an effective tool in avoiding foreclosure.
Will I be able to restore my credit?
Yes. Over time, you will be able to rebuild your credit.
Does filing bankruptcy put me in danger of losing my job?
No. You are not in danger of losing your job by filing for bankruptcy.
Does my spouse need to file with me?
No. However, it is important to understand that your spouse’s income will be taken into account when applying the means test.
What is the difference between bankruptcy and debt consolidation?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that can reduce or eliminate debt owed to creditors. Debt consolidation is a process where multiple debts are combined into one debt, possibly reducing the interest and amount of the total monthly payment, but not reducing the total amount owed.
What is the difference between secured and unsecured debt?
Secured debt is money owed that has collateral that can be taken back by the creditor if you fail to make the required payments. This is usually items such as a home mortgage, car loan or boat loan. Some credit card debts can be secured debt, such as those used to obtain furniture, appliances and computers. Unsecured debt is made up of mostly credit cards, medical bills and personal loans, which have no collateral attached.
How long will the process take?
Chapter 7 proceedings generally take four to five months. For a Chapter 13 filing, you will need to complete a three- to five-year payment plan before your remaining debt will be discharged.
What do I do about all the collection calls?
Once your attorney fees have been paid, you can then advise creditors that you have retained a bankruptcy attorney and you may give them our name and number. Please note that creditors do call our office to verify representation and if you are not our client, we will let the creditor know that you have not retained our attorneys for bankruptcy. Also note that creditors have the right to contact you up until you meet with your trustee approximately 45 days after your case is filed, but most creditors stop calling once they find out you have retained an attorney for bankruptcy.
When will my case be filed?
All cases are filed every Friday after you have signed the final paperwork with the paralegal, supplied all necessary documentation and taken your first credit counseling course.
I have just made my last payment to my Chapter 13 trustee. When will I get my discharge?
Please allow at least 60 days from your last payment made to receive your discharge.
What hearings do I need to attend?
Unless our office contacts you, the only hearing you need to attend is the 341 meeting of the creditors, which is the meeting with your trustee. A copy of this notice will be mailed to you seven to 10 business days from the day your case is filed.
What will happen at my 341 meeting of the creditors, my meeting with my trustee?
Please see the “Trustee Meeting” tab on this website for more details. You must bring your driver’s license and Social Security card to this meeting. If you do not, your trustee will reschedule the meeting so you can provide the missing documents. We also advise clients to bring all documents that they provided to our office (tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, etc.), as well as a copy of your petition (a stapled form about 30 to 50 pages long that you signed containing all your asset, liability, income and expense information). The trustee will ask you questions listed in the petition.
Will my lawyer be at my meeting with the trustee?
Yes. Laurie Blanton will be at your meeting with your trustee to represent you. The trustee wants to speak with you and not the attorney, so you should not be worried if the attorney does not speak. The attorney’s job is to answer any legal questions that arise.
I provided all my originals to your office. When do I get them back?
Please pick up or make arrangements to have all originals mailed to you approximately one week prior to your meeting with your trustee. We are now 100 percent electronic with the trustee’s office and no longer make copies of compliance information that you provide. We strongly encourage you to provide our office with copies, rather than your originals, but in either case, copies and originals will be returned before you meet with your trustee (see “Timeline” and “Trustee Meeting” tab). Please keep all originals/copies returned to you until your case is discharged (Chapter 7) or confirmed (Chapter 13).
How and when do I take my first course?
- First course by phone: Complete the budget section provided by the paralegal and call 941-584-4263. This course must be completed before your case can be filed. This course has already been prepaid for by our office.
- First course by internet: Go to www.bkhelp.org. Click on the giant button with a picture that says “Pre-Bankruptcy Counseling Click Here.” Click “By Internet” and fill out the remaining information requested. When finished or if you should have any problems with the website, call 941-584-4263. This course must be completed before your case can be filed. This course has already been prepaid for by our office.
How and when do I take my second course?
- Second course by phone: Once you receive your 341 notice of the meeting of creditors, this is the piece of paper that our office made an example copy of in your 341 review packet, which tells you when and where to attend your meeting with your trustee. Call 941-584-4263 to let them know you are ready to take your second course. They will send you a book in the mail and require a telephone course as well. Follow the instructions provided to you. If you do not receive your book, call 941-584-4263. This course has already been prepaid for by our office. Your second course must be completed after your case is filed, but before your meeting with your trustee.
- Second course by internet: Once you receive your 341 notice of the meeting of creditors, this is the piece of paper that our office made an example copy of in your 341 review packet, which tells you when and where to attend your meeting with your trustee. Go to www.bkhelp.org. Click on the giant button with a picture that says “After Filing Debtor Education Click Here.” Click “By Internet” and fill out the remaining information requested. When finished or if you should have any problems with the website, call 941-584-4263. This course has already been prepaid for by our office. Your second course must be completed after your case is filed, but before your meeting with your trustee.
For More Information About Bankruptcy
Contact us online or call 941-584-4263 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers to find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you. Evening and Saturday morning appointments are available upon request.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code