Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions
- How will bankruptcy help me?
For starters, it will immediately stop the constant and sometimes harassing collection calls from bill collectors. Furthermore, it’s meant to provide a “fresh start” by granting relief, through discharge of debts, to honest and hardworking individuals like you who, most of the time through no fault of their own, find themselves in the middle of a financial crisis.
- Who can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the State of Georgia?
You can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia if you’re an individual, a partnership, or a corporation, if you reside in the state, has a domicile in the state for 180 days prior to filing, or have a place of business or property in the state. However, you cannot file a Chapter 7, or any other Chapter for that matter, if during the last 180 days a prior bankruptcy proceeding was dismissed due to your willful failure to appear before the court or obey the court’s orders, or you voluntarily dismissed the previous case to prevent creditors with liens on your property from recovering the property. Whether or not you’re employed, you can file a Chapter 7. But if you’ve been granted a Chapter 7 discharge in a prior case within the last 8 years, you may not qualify for another Chapter 7.
- How much does it cost to file a Chapter 7?
There’s a U.S. Bankruptcy court filing fee of $335, which must be paid at filing. Attorney fees range from $1,200 to $1,800, depending on the complexity of the case. However, it can be paid in installments with just $501 down at the time of filing. Thus, with just $800 paid up front, we can start your Chapter 7 case.
- Can I file Chapter 7, if I have assets that I’d like to keep?
Yes. If, for example, you have a secured debt such as a car loan or mortgage, you can “reaffirm” those debts in the Chapter 7 process. Meaning that so long as you’re current on your payments for those debts, and continue to regularly make those payments and maintain the necessary insurance where applicable, you may be allowed to keep those assets. You may also choose to give them up and any past due amounts you owe on those debts will be discharged when your Chapter 7 is resolved.
- How soon can my debts be discharged if I file a Chapter 7?
Typically, a Chapter 7 case is resolved in about 4 months after the filing date.
- Who can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the State of Georgia?
Only individuals with regular income may file a Chapter 13 in Georgia. That individual must also have:
- No more than $1,010,650 in secured debt (property that can be seized if payment is not made)
- No more than $336,900 in unsecured debt (credit card or consumer debt)
- Disposable income (income left over after your necessary expenses like food, shelter and utilities have been paid)
- How much does it cost to file a Chapter 13?
There’s a U.S. Bankruptcy court filing fee of $310. However, that fee can be paid in installments of $75, $100, and $99. Attorney fees, most of which YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY up front, is a base fee of $3,500. The fees will be paid in installments as part of the Chapter 13 plan, with $500 paid up front at the time of filing.
- How soon can my debts be discharged if I file Chapter 13?
A Chapter 13 plan must be paid up in 3-5 years period for a discharge to occur.
- What is a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 trustee?
When a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed, an impartial case trustee is appointed by the U.S. Trustee’s office to oversee that the case progresses properly. For Chapter 7, the trustee presides over the meeting of creditors and determines whether the debtor has “nonexempt” assets that must be gathered and liquidated for the payment of creditors. If such assets exist, he must gather, liquidate them, and pay the creditors accordingly. For a Chapter 13, the trustee presides over the meeting of creditors and ensures that the debtor is making the plan payments as agreed and as required by the law.
- Will filing for bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling or contacting me directly?
Yes. As soon as we file your bankruptcy petition, your creditors should not contact you. They can only contact us as your attorney. Also, they cannot contact your friends, family, etc. And no collection actions such as wage garnishments, foreclosures, lawsuits, can be brought against you. All such actions must stop immediately after your filing.
- Who will notify my creditors and bill collectors about my filing?
The bankruptcy court will. After we file your petition with the court, it will mail a notice to all creditors listed in the schedules filed with the petition. This may take a couple of weeks.
- What is the meeting of creditors?
This is a meeting that is required to take place in order to allow the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 trustee to ask you questions about your debts, assets, and finances. Not to worry, after we file your petition, we will meet with you ahead of time and prepare you for what to expect at that meeting, and accompany you to it as your attorney so you’re not alone.
- What is a confirmation hearing?
This a hearing in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy held before a bankruptcy judge, who will either approve or deny your proposed repayment plan. Again, not to worry, as your attorney, we will be there with you to see that your plan is approved. If approved and you make your plan payments as agreed, you’d be on your way to a discharge at the end of the 3-5 years plan period.
- Will filing for bankruptcy save my home from foreclosure?
Yes, if you act quickly right up to before the foreclosure sale begins. However, don’t wait until the last minute. Act now!
- Will filing for bankruptcy help me get back my recently repossessed car?
Yes. If you contact us to file your bankruptcy within 10 days of your car being repossessed, we can still retrieve your car. Make sure you have proof of insurance before the car is returned to you.
- Do I have to go to court, and how often?
Typically, you’d be required to make 2 court appearances. Not to worry, we will be there with you as your attorney and represent you on both occasions.
- Can I cancel all of my debts by filing bankruptcy?
Not all debts can be canceled by filing bankruptcy. Certain debts, such as alimony, child support, student loans (with certain exceptions), most tax debts, debts incurred by fraud or dishonesty, and debts that you fail to list in the schedules filed with your bankruptcy petition, cannot be canceled. During your consultation with us, we will go through your debts with you and point out the ones that can be canceled and the ones that cannot, if any.
- What is “exempt” and “nonexempt” property?
“Exempt” property are those assets a debtor gets to keep to help him or her get a “fresh start” after a bankruptcy discharge under the bankruptcy laws. Those assets are not part of the bankruptcy estate and cannot be taken or sold by the bankruptcy trustee for use to pay your bankruptcy debts. “Nonexempt” property are those assets that are part of the bankruptcy estate and can be taken or sold by the bankruptcy trustee for use to pay your bankruptcy debts. During your consultation with us, we will help you sort out what’s “exempt” or “nonexempt” among your assets.
- Will my pension plan be seized to pay my creditors?
No. Generally, the Bankruptcy Code protects legitimate pension plans and IRAs. Pension distributions rolled over from one plan to another are also protected if done within 60 days of the distribution and comply with U.S. tax laws.
- Can I keep my credit cards after filing bankruptcy?
For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, probably not. For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it depends on several factors, for example, the amounts of your credit card balances at the time of your filing, your ability to pay the present and future credit card debts, and what the credit card company is willing to do.
- What is credit counseling, and do I have to attend one?
The new Bankruptcy Law passed in 2005 requires that you complete pre-bankruptcy counseling, from an approved credit counseling agency, within 6 months before filing bankruptcy and obtain a certificate as proof that you received the counseling. It also requires that before your bankruptcy discharge, you complete a pre-discharge bankruptcy education. These sessions are meant to provide you resources and knowledge to help you regain control and avoid future crisis in your financial life. Approved credit counseling agencies offer such counseling that you can attend either in person or electronically online. You can contact one such agency at http://www.cccsinc.org/crisisManagement/bankruptcy.jsp. See the ONLINE RESOURCES page of this website for links to other agencies.
- What should I do to prepare for filing bankruptcy?
- Review the WHAT TO BRING TO A CONSULTATION page of this website
- Print and complete the CLIENT QUESTIONNAIRE on that page (we prefer that you complete it ahead of time before your consultation with us. If you need assistance completing it, call us)
- Call our offices at (770) 962-7201 to schedule a FREE consultation
We’ve tried to anticipate the questions that you may have about bankruptcy on this website. However, should you have any further questions after reading the information on this website, do not hesitate to contact us at (770) 962-7201.
Remember, your initial consultation is free.