Frequently Asked Questions about Bankruptcy
Answers from Our Experienced Attorneys
At Musselwhite, Meinhart & Staples, we are here to answer your questions about bankruptcy. Our lawyers have decades of experience assisting individuals with bankruptcy claims in Radcliff, Elizabethtown, and throughout north central Kentucky.
Continue reading for answers to commonly asked questions. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, call our firm at (270) 200-6326 to discuss your situation during a free consultation.
Does bankruptcy discharge all debts?
Not always. There are some kinds of debts that may not be discharged through a bankruptcy, such as support obligations, some taxes, and most student loans, barring some extreme circumstances.
How long does bankruptcy take?
Chapter 7 filings are usually completed in approximately 3 months. Chapter 13 cases typically require a 36 to 60 month(s) repayment period. Regardless of which type of bankruptcy you choose, you are protected from your creditors the minute you file.
What’s the difference between a secured and unsecured creditor?
A secured creditor has a lien or a mortgage on your property. An unsecured creditor does not. Secured debts typically include mortgage loans, debts from finance companies, and car loans. Unsecured debts may include credit card debt, medical debt, signature loans, and more.
When am I protected from my creditors?
From the minute you file a petition with the court, you are protected from your creditors. They can no longer call, sue, garnish, or otherwise attempt to collect their debt without first seeking permission from the court.
Will I have to go to court?
Typically there is one court appearance you are required to attend, held approximately four weeks from the date we file. This hearing is, in essence, a deposition. Any creditor, as well as the trustee appointed by the court to oversee your case, has the right to question you regarding the information you provided in your petition that was filed with the court.
Who is the “trustee?”
The trustee is the individual appointed by the court to oversee your bankruptcy case and review your petition for completeness and accuracy. The trustee’s primary function is to liquidate nonexempt assets and distribute those assets to the creditors in your plan.
What property am I allowed to keep when I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
This varies from state to state. In Kentucky, you can either adopt the state exemptions or the federal exemptions. In either case, you are typically able to keep considerable equity in your home, car, household goods, retirement accounts, tools of the trade, etc. These exemptions do change from time to time and we can advise you as to the specific exemption amounts.
Can I include my student loans or tax debt in my bankruptcy?
Generally student loans and income tax obligations are non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. There are hardship exceptions for student loans and timing considerations for tax debt. These debts may be repaid in a Chapter 13 plan. Contact us immediately and we can appropriately advise you.
The court ordered me to pay certain debts in my divorce, can I include those in my bankruptcy?
Debts you were assigned or agreed to take in a divorce or legal separation may not be discharged in a bankruptcy to the extent that doing so would harm the other party. Like with many other areas of the law, there are exceptions.
How long will the bankruptcy stay on my credit?
Bankruptcy filings stay on your credit report for 10 years. However, that does not mean you cannot incur credit prior to that time. Most mortgage companies will make you wait approximately 3 years before buying a home. Most finance companies and credit card companies will usually extend you credit immediately after you receive your discharge.
What if I inherit property after I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
If you become entitled to estate proceeds, gifts, insurance payments or other windfalls within six months of your file date, that money may have to be turned over to the trustee for distribution to your creditors.
Can a creditor demand payment after I file?
No, and if a creditor attempts to collect a debt included in your petition without the permission of the bankruptcy court, then that creditor is in violation of the automatic stay. If this occurs you should contact us immediately.
Do I need to list all creditors in my bankruptcy?
Yes. If you have questions about a specific debt, your attorney can advise you.
Can I file bankruptcy again if I have filed previously?
Yes, though there are certain restrictions that may apply. We can quickly help you determine if you are eligible to file.
What does it mean when a debt is discharged?
If a debt is discharged you have no obligation to pay it and the creditor cannot attempt to collect on a discharged debt. If a creditor is attempting collection of a discharged debt, contact Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples as soon as possible.
Would a co-signor be protected if the debt is discharged?
No. If another person co-signed or guaranteed the loan then his/her obligation is not dischargeable in a Chapter 7. There are, however, certain ways to protect a co-signor in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Contact us immediately and we can appropriately advise you.
What is a reaffirmation agreement?
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement to pay a debt even though the debt would otherwise be discharged in your bankruptcy. People usually reaffirm on debts in order to keep the secured property such as a house or car. If you default on the payments on a reaffirmed debt then the creditor can repossess or foreclose on the property and seek a personal judgment.
Can I make payments on a discharged debt without a reaffirmation agreement?
Yes. You can voluntarily pay a discharged debt but you are under no legal requirement to do so.
Does a bankruptcy automatically remove liens against my property?
No, but there are steps that can be taken in order to remove the liens.
Can my employer fire me for filing bankruptcy?
The Bankruptcy Code prohibits an employer from firing you solely because you filed bankruptcy and/or because you did not pay a debt discharged in bankruptcy.
Arrange a free consultation to get your questions answered by our experienced attorneys. Call (270) 200-6326 or contact us online. We are available 24/7 and offer same day and after hour appointments, when available.
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