Thinking About Bankruptcy?
“Frequently Asked Questions”
Bankruptcy Lawyers, Toledo, Ohio
5 TIPS FOR BANKRUPTCY SUCCESS
- Start with a free consultation
- Choose an experienced attorney
- Get a recent 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.
Will I lose my car or home? Many clients are able to save a car or home. Legal strategies are available to assist clients in saving their family home or vehicle. Typical warning signs that your home or car may be at risk include loan arrears and excessive equity. Arm yourself with knowledge at the beginning. Call your lender for a recent pay off value and click on our Bankruptcy Ohio Client Resources link to determine the current value of your home or car. Call today to discuss all available legal options. We can help!
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 any 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 80% 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, and our attorneys will work closely with you to devise a fee payment schedule. 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).
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 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.
Help! My wages are being garnished!! Upon filing for bankruptcy relief, most wage garnishments cease. Common examples wage garnishments resulting from most collections, vehicle repossessions, credit card debts, medical debts, home foreclosure deficiencies, and most civil lawsuit judgments.
Can I transfer the title of my car to a family member? Generally speaking, the transfer of your name off of a vehicle title prior to filing for bankruptcy relief is frowned upon. The US Trustee can look back about 4 years to see if assets have been transferred out of your name. In some cases, it is possible that the transaction can be avoided by the US Trustee. If you suspect that your vehicle is worth more than what can be protected, it is important that you meet with a skilled Toledo, Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney to discuss the specifics as they relate to your needs. The current motor vehicle exemption is $3,775.00. In other words, the motor vehicle exemption can be used to protect up to a statutory amount of equity in a motor vehicle. A debtor can only claim such exemption so long as he or she is on the vehicle title, regardless of who may be on the loan. Other protections may include outstanding loan balances and a wildcard exemption worth $1,250.00. Joint title holders (i.e. married couples who are both on the same title) can combine their exemptions on the same vehicle if they choose to do so. It is possible that you may have more vehicles (or assets such as boats, motorcycles, and trailers), than what can be protected. When assets outnumber exemptions, it may be worthwhile to consider Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. The best place to begin, is to speak with a skilled Toledo, Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney.
FRANCE LAW GROUP (419) 725-9300
BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS TOLEDO, 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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