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Q: Do I qualify to file bankruptcy?

    A: If you live in, work in, or own property in the United States and you have not received a Discharge under Chapter 7 within the past eight years, or been dismissed under certain grounds within the last 180 days under a previous bankruptcy case, you qualify.

  • Q: How much do I have to owe to qualify for filing bankruptcy?
  • A: There are no provisions regarding the amount of debt a person must owe in order to file bankruptcy. Each person's financial situation is different, and each potential bankruptcy must be approached on a case-by-case analysis.

  • Q: How will filing bankruptcy affect my credit rating?
  • A: Filing bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit score. However, if you are considering bankruptcy, your credit score is probably already damaged. In fact, filing bankruptcy can be the first step in improving your credit rating.

  • Q: How can I improve my credit rating after filing bankruptcy?
  • A: Even though bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit rating, there are a number of financial institutions that are willing to extend you credit if you are willing to pay the higher interest rates. The more time that passes the less the bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit rating.

  • Q: How long will it take to complete the bankruptcy process?
  • A: Chapter 7 will take approximately five months; Chapter 13 will take three to five years.

  • Q: Can I keep my car?
  • A: Yes, but if you still owe money on it you will have to keep current on those payments in order to keep it. You may also be required to maintain full coverage insurance during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceeding if your vehicle is not paid off.

  • Q: What is the difference between a secured debt and an unsecured debt?
  • A secured debt is a debt secured by property, such that if you do not pay the debt the creditor can repossess the property. Examples of secured debts are a house, property taxes, car note and possibly furniture payments or electronics payments.

    An unsecured debt is a debt that is not secured by any property, such that if you do not pay the debt, the creditor does not have any property to repossess. Examples of unsecured debts are credit cards, signature loans, medical bills and some taxes.

  • Q: Can anyone discriminate against me for filing bankruptcy?
  • A: No, it is against the law for anyone to discriminate against you for filing bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy will not affect your civil rights, nor will it affect your eligibility for Federal student loans and grants.

  • Q: Will I lose my property?
  • A: In most cases you will not lose any of your property. The bankruptcy code allows certain exemptions for you to protect the property that you will need to reorganize your debt in order to get a fresh start. Consult an attorney to review your particular case to determine whether all of your property will be protected under the bankruptcy code.

  • Q: Will I have to appear in court?
  • A: In most cases you will not have to appear before a judge. You will, however, be required to appear at a meeting of creditor's to meet the Trustee appointed to administer your case. This is a very simple and routine meeting that will only last approximately five minutes.

  • Q: What is a foreclosure?
  • A: Foreclosure is a legal proceeding where the lender holding the mortgage on real property takes possession of the property from the debtor. Although each lender has its own policies and procedures, once a person becomes late on his or her mortgage payments, generally all past due amounts must be paid in full to bring the account current. Once you are behind more than one payment, you may need to pay all late payments at once. Foreclosures are held on the first Tuesday of every month by posting notice of the sale at the Courthouse 21 days prior to the foreclosure date. The lender must give the debtor notice of the sale by certified mail. Once the property has been posted for foreclosure the entire balance on the note is accelerated. This means that you must pay off the entire mortgage to stop the foreclosure unless the lender agrees otherwise or unless a bankruptcy proceeding is filed. The filing of a bankruptcy stops the foreclosure sale and gives the debtor additional time to catch up on payments.

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