Thinking About Bankruptcy?
“Frequently asked questions”
Bankruptcy Lawyers, Maumee, Ohio
5 TIPS FOR BANKRUPTCY SUCCESS
- Start with a free consultation
- Choose an experienced attorney
- Get a copy of your credit report
- Avoid impersonal & large bankruptcy mills
- Do your homework, learn about bankruptcy
What is bankruptcy? Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding afforded to individuals (or businesses) who are unable to handle a financial crisis. Bankruptcy is made available by federal law so that you can have a fresh chance. There are different types of bankruptcy, so choose a bankruptcy lawyer near Maumee, Ohio who will be your steady guide through the process.
Will I lose my car or home? Many of our clients are able to save their car and home. Legal strategies are available to assist bankruptcy debtors in saving their family home and vehicle(s). Typical warning signs that your home or car may be at risk include loan arrears and excessive equity. Your local bankruptcy attorney will carefully review your specific situation. As a general rule, debtors who wish to keep their home and car are encouraged to remain current on their loan payments until they can discuss their status with a bankruptcy attorney.
What is an exemption? We prefer to think of exemptions as “shields of protection” during the bankruptcy process. Essentially, bankruptcy exemptions protect up to a specific amount of exposed (excess) equity that you may have in your personal and real property. Specific exemptions exist for a multitude of assets. Basic examples of some Ohio bankruptcy exemptions are $3,775.00 per owner towards your primary vehicle and over $130,000.00 (per homeowner) on your primary residence. Other exemptions apply towards jewelry, term life insurance, retirement plans, personal injury settlements, cash, bank accounts, tools of trade, and more. Ohio is considered an “opt out state” meaning that it chooses to follow state specific exemptions. Our bankruptcy clients from Michigan have a choice between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions.
Can I re-establish credit after filing bankruptcy? YES!!!! Bankruptcy is intended to give you a fresh start. After the completion of your bankruptcy case, it is not uncommon to receive new credit offers. However, we advise our clients to be prudent in choosing credit after a bankruptcy. Creditors may seem anxious to lend you money, however many times high interest rates or other negative terms exist. These terms and rates will likely improve with time.
Chapter 7 or Chapter 13? Many individuals file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the U.S. Code. Which one you qualify for is a function of your household income, debts, prior bankruptcy filings, liquidation risks, and various other factors. It is estimated that over 86% of debtors in the metro Toledo area file under chapter 7.
What is Chapter 7? This type of bankruptcy allows individuals who are hopelessly burdened by debt to obtain a fresh chance by eliminating unsecured debts, such as credit cards, medical bills, collections, and vehicle repossessions. Chapter 7 is appropriate for debtors who are unable to pay a portion of their debts back to the creditors. Chapter 7 is referred to as “liquidation” because debtors may have to surrender some of their assets in exchange for the elimination of their debts. However, many exemptions are available to help protect your assets. Your France Law Group attorney will work closely with you to determine if any of your assets appear to be at risk.
What types of debts will NOT be discharged? In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case some of the following debts may be non-dischargeable: taxes, child support, alimony, recent cash advances, recent installment loans, student loans, criminal fines, traffic tickets, and more. Most governmental and court ordered obligations will not be dischargeable.
What is Chapter 13? This type of bankruptcy is essentially a debt repayment plan that allows you to combine your debts and repay them over a 3-5 year period. Chapter 13 debtors are able to retain their home and vehicle while they make regular monthly payments. Chapter 13 is also a great tool for those who want to keep their home, but have fallen substantially behind on their mortgage payments. Filing under chapter 13 can stop foreclosure lawsuits. Your France Law Group attorney will be happy to sit down with you and explain Chapter 13 in its entirety.
What is the credit counseling requirement? Congress has mandated that all bankruptcy debtors successfully complete two credit counseling courses prior to the discharge of their bankruptcy case. This requirement is intended to assist the debtor in maintaining financial success after a bankruptcy. These courses are offered both online and via telephone. Most debtors will be required to pay a nominal fee (estimated $5 to $40 per course). In some cases, debtors may receive a fee waiver. Click on our Bankruptcy Ohio Client Resources link to locate a credit counseling agency which meets your needs. Your France Law Group attorney will refer you to affordable credit counselors.
How much will bankruptcy cost? Fees vary according to the complexity of each case. The typical fees in most cases include attorney fees, court filing fees, and nominal credit counseling fees. When comparing large overall debts to bankruptcy fees, most debtors find a significant value in exchange for the eventual elimination of their debt and immediate peace of mind. Clients begin with a free consultation. All attorney fees and filing fees are due before filing of your bankruptcy case. If you are ready to file your chapter 7 bankruptcy case now, then click on our Express File Bankruptcy link and save up to $200 in attorney fees (conditions apply).
Can I hire France Law Group to represent me in creditor negotiations and avoid bankruptcy? Yes, sometimes creditor negotiations can be an appropriate option. Typically, this is advised for debtors with smaller debt levels needing assistance in getting financially organized. Many clients enjoy having their own legal advocate in negotiating with the aggressive credit card companies and bill collectors. This can also be very helpful for those dealing with the IRS and other departments of taxation.
I’m married – does my spouse have to file for bankruptcy too? No, you and your spouse are not required to file for bankruptcy together. However, you may both want to file for bankruptcy jointly if you and your spouse share responsibility for the debt. (i.e. co-signed debts) In situations where only one spouse files for bankruptcy, the creditors may still be able to collect from the non-filing co-debtor. Also, it may be cost effective to file jointly. France Law Group attorney fees are based on a per case basis, meaning it is the same amount whether one person files alone or if a married couple files bankruptcy jointly.
Do I have to go to court if I file for bankruptcy? Unless there are issues that cannot be resolved among you and your creditors, you will probably not need to go to an actual courthouse in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In most Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases, you will be required to attend one “Meeting Of Creditors.” The “meeting” is typically not held in a courtroom and a judge will not preside. The Meeting Of Creditors typically occurs between 30-50 days after your bankruptcy filing date. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, you will be required to attend an additional hearing to confirm your payment plan. Your France Law Group bankruptcy attorney will be with you every step of the way and will help make the entire process as painless as possible.
How long does the bankruptcy process take? The answer depends on whether your are filing chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Your protection from creditors begins at the time of filing your bankruptcy case. Discharge in a typical chapter 7 bankruptcy happens about 4 to 5 months following the filing of your chapter 7 bankruptcy. In chapter 13 cases, discharge typically occurs after the final monthly plan payment (estimated 3 to 5 years).
What about student loans in bankruptcy? As a general rule, student loans are not discharged in a bankruptcy. Hardship exceptions may apply in certain situations. If you are behind in your student loan repayment, one possible solution is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in which you combine your student loan debt and other debts into a single monthly payment. Your France Law Group bankruptcy attorney can carefully assess your unique situation and advise you.
Divorce and bankruptcy? Sometimes a good marriage can end, leaving two adults with a substantial change in household finances. It is not uncommon for bankruptcy and divorce proceedings to occur simultaneously. You should carefully advise both your bankruptcy attorney and your divorce attorney of your situation so that everyone can work together. Bankruptcy attorneys typically charge by the case, not by the number of people, thus you may be able to save money by filing as a married couple. Also, be aware of joint debts and joint assets. Generally, the terms in your Divorce Decree may have an impact on your bankruptcy case.
Jurisdiction (Where do I file my bankruptcy case)? Jurisdiction refers to the proper location for the filing of your case. France Law Group attorneys are licensed to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases in both the Northern District of Ohio and the Eastern District of Michigan. As a general rule, jurisdiction in bankruptcy cases is the location in which you have resided for the preceding six (6) months. If you have either recently moved, or are planning an upcoming move, it is important to notify your bankruptcy attorney.
FRANCE LAW GROUP (419) 725-9300
BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS Maumee, OHIO AND SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN
*We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
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