If you're in financial crisis and cannot repay your debts, bankruptcy may be the solution to your debt problems. To learn what bankruptcy is and how it may work for you, check out the bankruptcy information below:
- What is bankruptcy?
- When should you file bankruptcy?
- What is a bankruptcy discharge?
- How to file bankruptcy
- What happens after you declare bankruptcy?
- Can you keep home after filing bankruptcy?
- What debts are not discharged?
- Pros and cons of declaring bankruptcy
What is bankruptcy?
When should you file bankruptcy?
- You're making the minimum payments on your bills.
- More than one account is in collection.
- The lender is about to foreclose on your home.
- You've recently lost your job.
- You have tried other debt solutions and they haven't worked.
What is a bankruptcy discharge?
The discharge does not remove any unpaid liens placed on your property before you filed for bankruptcy due to default on a secured debt (a mortgage or car loan). So, the lender can carry out a foreclosure after the automatic stay is lifted. To avoid a foreclosure after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been discharged, and keep your home, you should sign a Reaffirmation Agreement (for exempt equity) and continue paying your mortgage.
How to file bankruptcy
- Deciding which chapter you can file for under the Means Test.
- Enrolling for Credit Counseling.
- Filing the court documents, including a financial statement.
For more details on how to declare bankruptcy, check out this information on filing for bankruptcy.
What happens after you declare bankruptcy?
- Creditors are notified: Within 14 days of declaring bankruptcy, the court notifies your creditors about the filing. The court sends a copy of your bankruptcy petition, including a notice that the automatic stay has been put in place, the name of your trustee, and the date when the 341 creditor meeting has been set.
- 341 Meeting with your creditors: Between 20-40 days after filing, the trustee holds a 341 Meeting with your creditors. You are required to attend and answer any questions put to you under oath.
- Trustee's role: In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the trustee takes a look at your assets and determines which ones your state law exempts from being sold. Any nonexempt assets are sold off to pay your debts. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the trustee negotiates with your attorney and creditors to work out a repayment plan you can afford.
- Creditors may challenge the discharge: Your creditors have 60 days from the 341 meeting to convince the court you should not be able to discharge their debt.
- Financial Management course: Under the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy code, you are required to enroll with a court approved credit counseling service within 180 days before you file for bankruptcy.
Can you keep your home after filing bankruptcy?
Federal and State Exemptions
Some states permit their citizens to use the Federal exemptions, while others do not. Every state court requires an individual filing for bankruptcy in their state to have lived there for at least 2 years or to have lived in that state for the majority of the 180 days before the 2 year period in order to use their exemptions.
If you have more equity in your home than the state homestead exemption allows, then the trustee will sell your home. You will get an amount equal to the exemption, and the rest will go to pay off your debts, including your court costs. If you are still paying on your mortgage, you may reaffirm your mortgage and exclude your home from your bankruptcy estate.
However, if you have sold or transferred property to another person in order to avoid losing that property in bankruptcy, then you may lose part of an exemption or have your bankruptcy petition denied.
What debts are not discharged?
- Student loans
- Back taxes
- Fraudulent debts
- Child support
- Large purchases
- Government penalty
Pros and cons of declaring bankruptcy
- Keep yourself away from the common myths on bankruptcy
- Check whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or chapter 13