• Bankruptcy

    • What is the difference between a chapter 7, 11, and 13 bankruptcy?

      A chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most of your debt so that you are no longer responsible for those pre-petition/pre-bankruptcy debt. Therefore, any creditors which existed at the time you filed bankruptcy cannot try to collect that debt from you. A chapter 7 can be filed by an individual or an entity. Chapter 7 is oftentimes the best option for our clients who are looking to get a fresh start.

      Chapter 11 is a reorganization and is typically seen with corporations that have a large amount of debt. This requires the corporation (or individual) to propose a plan minimizing expenses/costs and creating new sources of income/revenue.

      Chapter 13 puts you on a payment plan to re-pay your debt. This is oftentimes seen when a debtor is behind on his mortgage payments or some other kind of secured debt. Chapter 13 allows the debtor to pay back the amounts in arrears in increments in addition to the monthly payments. This is usually not the best often if you only have unsecured debt or are current with your secured debt payments.

    • Can I file bankruptcy if I filed before?

      Yes, but you will only get a discharge if a certain amount of time has passed since the filing of your last bankruptcy.

      If you previously filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait 8 years from the date of your first filing before filing a new chapter 7. If you previously filed a chapter 13, you must wait 6 years to file a chapter 7; however, there are exceptions to the 6-year waiting period.

      If you previously filed a chapter 13, you must wait 2 years to file a subsequent chapter 13. If you previously filed a chapter 7, you must wait 4 years to file a chapter 13 in order to get a discharge. However, in certain circumstances, filing a chapter 13 before the 4 year period passes may be beneficial.

    • How long does the bankruptcy process take?

      Typically, the process takes 90-95 days to receive a discharge from the date we file your bankruptcy.

    • What is involved in filing for bankruptcy?
      Once we receive all your documents and information and you have completed the credit counseling course online, we can file your bankruptcy. Approximately one month after your bankruptcy is filed, you will attend a Meeting of Creditors, or a 341 meeting. You and your attorney attend this meeting together to meet with the bankruptcy trustee. The Meeting of Creditors is essentially an interview conducted by the bankruptcy trustee, verifying and confirming the information provided in your bankruptcy documents and determining whether there are any non-exempt assets. In a basic chapter 7 case, this will be the only meeting you will have to attend; no other court appearance or meeting is required unless there are special circumstances which we would discuss prior.
    • What is the 341 meeting or a meeting of creditors?

      The 341 meeting is generally a meeting attended by the debtor, the debtor’s attorney, and the bankruptcy trustee. However, creditors are given notice of this meeting, so they may attend as well to ask their own questions. The 341 meeting is a time for the trustee to ask you questions about your case. The trustee’s job is to verify the information in your bankruptcy petition and schedules and to determine whether you have any non-exempt assets. The trustee can ask you about your personal assets, real estate you may own, employment, tax refunds, and if anyone owes you any money. Don’t worry, your attorney will be right next to you during this meeting. We also meet with you beforehand to go over everything so that you know what to expect and the types of questions the trustee will ask. We know because we attend these meetings each and every week. I like to call this process an ID verification because for the vast majority of my clients, that's exactly what it is.

    • How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

      Our legal fee for a basic chapter 7 bankruptcy starts at $899. However, depending on the facts and your situation, your case may require additional work (dismissal of lawsuits, dismissal of garnishments, the release of judicial liens, the release of judgments, etc.). The best way to obtain an estimate is to call to make an appointment for your FREE bankruptcy consultation with our experienced bankruptcy attorney.

    • Can I keep my home if I file bankruptcy?

      Most often, YES. Many times the amount of secured debt secured by the home is in excess of the value of the home. A lot of times your home may be titled in the name of you and your spouse and could be entitled to the tenancy by entirety exemption. Even if you have equity in your home, do not worry. Speak to one of our qualified bankruptcy attorneys. We can help explain the Virginia exemptions applicable to your home and help make sure your most precious asset is protected.

    • Can I keep my car?
      Most of the time yes. If your automobile has a lien or loan securing it, then most likely you can keep your automobile so long as your continue to pay your loan payments each month. Even if your automobile is paid off, Virginia allows for both an automobile exemption up to $6,000 per person and an additional $5,000 per person available as a Homestead Exemption. Depending your age and number of dependents, additional Homestead Exemptions above the standard $5,000 may be available to you.
    • I am being harassed by collection agencies. What do I do?

      Once you retain our firm and made your initial deposit, tell them you hired a bankruptcy attorney and give the collection company our name and phone number.

    • What is a discharge?

      The most common purpose for an individual to file bankruptcy is to obtain a discharge of debts, meaning that the individual is relieved of the legal obligation of having to pay them back. Generally, the discharge applies only to debts which arose before your bankruptcy case was filed, and only covers those debts that you listed. Among others, child support, alimony, and most student loans are not dischargeable.

      Secured debts, like car loans and mortgages, are also discharged, but if you fail to pay them, the secured creditor can repossess or foreclose its collateral as the discharge does not by itself alter creditors’ lien rights.

    • What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?
      Some vehicle lenders require a Reaffirmation Agreement before you can retain the vehicle. Essentially, a reaffirmation agreement takes the vehicle loan out of bankruptcy and means your are still liable for the loan balance even after the bankruptcy discharge. I rarely ever recommend that my clients complete a reaffirmation agreement unless the terms of the loan, such as interest rate and monthly payment are greatly in your favor and there is equity in the vehicle in the event the vehicle is a total loss and your insurance will cover the entire payoff amount to the lender.
    • What is a Motion for Relief from Stay?
      The initial filing of a bankruptcy creates an automatic and temporary stay which prevents creditors from collecting on their debts, including repossessing cars, foreclosing homes, garnishing wages or bank accounts, or continuing any other collection activities. After filing, if you are delinquent on your house or car payment, your lender may file a Motion for Relief from the automatic stay, requesting permission to repossess your car or foreclose on your home.
    • How long will the bankruptcy remain on my credit report?

      For a chapter 7 filing, 10 years from the filing date. For a chapter 13 filing, 7 years from the filing date.