Bankruptcy

bankruptcyYou are not alone in dealing with debt challenges. In 2011, more than 1.3 million people filed a bankruptcy petition. Whether you are facing unemployment, under-employment, declining business, medical bills, unexpected expenses, soaring interest rates, deflated property values, or any other financial hardship. Our experience with consumer debtors makes us uniquely qualified to help you determine if a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is the right answer for you. You do not have to live with the fear of debt collectors or repossession. The bankruptcy laws were created for people like you – honest, hard-working people that have gotten in over their heads.

At the Law Offices of Robert D. Eckard & Associates, P.A., we help people get out from under crushing debts. With our help, you can take steps to get peace of mind and a new financial beginning through bankruptcy.

In a free consultation, one of our attorneys will review your situation, answer your questions and recommend a strategy for you. This may involve a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that eliminates credit card debt, medical bills and other unsecured and secured debts. Or you may qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that reduces the debts you have to pay by creating a debt repayment plan. You can focus on your life, while our firm stands between you and your creditors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which should I choose, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?

Will I lose anything if I file for personal bankruptcy?

Does my spouse have to file jointly with me?

Who knows about my personal bankruptcy case?

Will I be able to rent after I file personal bankruptcy?

Can I get credit after filing personal bankruptcy?

Which should I choose, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?

If filing for bankruptcy is an opportunity for a debtor to emerge out of a financial crisis and start afresh, then Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is the way to achieve this end relatively faster. Under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code all non-exempt property of the debtor is sold and the proceeds of the same are distributed to the creditors. In most cases where Chapter 7 is brought into force the debtor has no assets to lose, therefore the fresh start takes place relatively faster.

When someone files for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, their aim is to have the opportunity to repay some or all the debts in their name, in better terms, i.e. lower or no interest. Unlike Chapter 7 which involves liquidation of assets, this process involves restructuring debts which allows the debtor to use whatever income they may have in the future to pay off the creditors. Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is thus applicable for a debtor who has a regular income, and thus can afford to request for such adjustments or reductions. The United States Bankruptcy Code gives the debtor a ceiling of 5 years, within which the creditors must be paid back. While the attorney will safeguard your interests, the entire process is carried out under the supervision of the courts.

Chapter 13 is also a great option if you would like to keep your home but have fallen behind on your mortgage payments.  In this type of bankruptcy, you will have the opportunity to make your monthly payments to the bank and catch up on any arrears that you may have.  You may even be able to get a loan modification while in the bankruptcy which will restructure your monthly payments altogether.  The success rate of getting a loan modification in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is much higher than through a foreclosure.  More importantly, while the Bankruptcy Court cannot force the banks to offer you a loan modification, they can force the bank to respond to your loan modification request.

Will I lose anything if I file for personal bankruptcy?

Generally, you may file a bankruptcy and retain all of your personal belongings, including your house, your car and all household goods. If you owe more on your car than the car is worth, the bankruptcy court will not sell your car, because after sale there would be no money left over to make a distribution to your creditors. The same goes for your personal property. Even if your property is worth more than what is owed on it, usually we can use the state bankruptcy exemptions to protect these items.

You may be more at risk of losing property if you don’t file bankruptcy, as creditors can sue you and attack your bank accounts, garnish your wages, and seize your property. As a result, you may miss rent, mortgage or car payments, making it difficult to provide even your most basic necessities.

Does my spouse have to file jointly with me?

If all or most of the debts are in your name only, your spouse may not have to file. Creditors usually cannot pursue a non-filing spouse, unless he or she is legally a co-debtor on the debt. Additionally, the bankruptcy should not be reflected on the non-filing spouse’s credit report. The law does vary, however, from state to state.

Who knows about my personal bankruptcy case?

The only parties that receive notice of the bankruptcy are your creditors, the bankruptcy court, the IRS and anyone that you list on your petition. Your employer will not be notified of the bankruptcy unless your employer is also a creditor. The bankruptcy is public record however, and anyone who wanted to spend the time and money could find out.

Will I be able to rent after I file personal bankruptcy?

Typically, renting a home or apartment after the filing of a bankruptcy is not an issue. If you are presently renting a home or apartment, usually your present landlord will renew your lease without running an updated credit report. As long as you pay your rent on time and have been a good tenant, you should be fine.

Can I get credit after filing personal bankruptcy?

Although bankruptcy may be on your credit report for up to 10 years, you can begin to reestablish your credit immediately after receiving a discharge of your debts. Filing for bankruptcy eliminates most, if not all of your debts, thereby reducing your debt-to-income ratio and potentially improving your ability to borrow money in the future. Oftentimes, your credit score will improve after successfully completing a bankruptcy. Lenders are in business to make money by lending you money and charging you interest. Lenders know that once you have filed, you will not be able to file again for quite some time.