Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Question:  If I have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy before, how long must I wait before I file again?

Answer:  If your debts were discharged in a prior Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait 8 years from the prior filing date.

Question:  When do creditors and debt collectors have to stop calling me after I file bankruptcy?

Answer:  Immediately. Once the bankruptcy case is filed, there is an “automatic stay” against all of your creditors. If creditors or debt collectors continue to call after they are on notice that you have filed bankruptcy, they could be sanctioned by the bankruptcy court.

Question:  Will I be able to keep my assets if I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Answer:  Yes. The bankruptcy laws provide for “exemptions” so you can keep some, if not all, of your assets. An attorney should be consulted to discuss what your exemptions are.

Question:  Will I have to go to court if I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Answer:  In a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, if you are represented by an attorney, the only hearing you will have to attend is called the Meeting of Creditors (also called a 341 Meeting). At this hearing, you will be asked questions by the interim trustee, usually lasting 3-5 minutes.

Question:  What happens to my credit score if I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Answer:  Most people that file bankruptcy have already taken a big hit on their credit scores prior to filing bankruptcy. For many, once their debts are discharged in bankruptcy, their credit scores will actually go up.

Question:  How long can bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

Answer:  Up to 10 years.

Question:  I owe my Mom money. Is it ok for me to pay her back before I file bankruptcy?

Answer:  Usually not. The trustee will look back 1 year from the day the bankruptcy case is filed for re-payment to creditors that are “insiders” (e.g. family members or business partners).

Question:  Is it ok for me to give away my assets before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Answer: Usually not. The trustee will look back 2 years from the day the bankruptcy case is filed for ordinary transfers of your assets.

Question:  What is the “means test”?

Answer:  If you make more than the median income for a household of your size in the state in which you live, you will have to go through a formula to see if you are still be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you make less than the median income for your household size, you will not have to do a means test.

Question:  Does my spouse have to file with me if I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Answer:  No. Even if you are married, one spouse can file without the other. However, if there are joint debts, the non-filing spouse will still be responsible for the debt if he or she chose not to file.

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