Bankruptcy FAQ

Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions

Q: What is bankruptcy?

A: Bankruptcy is a process under federal law that allows debtors who owe more money than they can pay to either eliminate their debts or work out a payment plan to pay a portion (or all) of their debts over time.

Q: Will bankruptcy stop all the harassing phone calls and mail from bill collectors?

A: Yes! An “automatic stay” will take effect when you file your case. It will stop the creditor harassment.

Q: Will bankruptcy stop a wage garnishment from a lawsuit over an unsecured debt?

A: Yes. The automatic stay will stop the garnishment.

Q: How long will bankruptcy remain on my credit report?

A: Bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for ten years.

Q: What does “secured” or “unsecured” debt mean?

A: Secured debt is debt that allows a creditor to make a claim on an asset (i.e. home, real property or car). Unsecured debt is held by creditors that have no claim to your assets (i.e. credit cards).

Q: What happens if I file and discover another debt after filing?

A: Your lawyer can amend your case to include any additional debts you may find after the case is filed.

Q: What happens when one spouse files without the other spouse?

A: You need to discuss this carefully with your attorney. The spouse that doesn’t file may end up being responsible for some of the debts.

Q: Can I be held responsible for a debt that I co-signed?

A: Yes. You can be held responsible for any debt that you signed an agreed that said you would pay in the event that someone else failed to make the payments (co-signed).

Q: Can all debts be discharged?

A: No. There are certain debts like student loans, government loans, back taxes and other debts that cannot be discharged.

Q: Will I lose my social security payments if I file?

A: No

Q: Am I going to lose my personal property if I file bankruptcy?

A: There are exemptions, both state and federal, that allow you to keep a certain amount of personal property. Your attorney will explain how these exemptions apply to people who file bankruptcy in your state.

Q: Can I pick which debts to put in the bankruptcy?

A: No. You must include all of your debts.

Q: When will I get my discharge?

A: Generally a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge is received 60 days after the 341 meeting, or first meeting of creditors. In Chapter 13, your discharge will be sent to you once you have completed the payments under the Chapter 13 plan.