Should You Declare Bankruptcy?
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can give you a “fresh start” by eliminating your unsecured debts (chapter 7) or allow you to consolidate and repay your debts (chapter 13) over a three to five year period.
Can I keep my property if I file bankruptcy?
The property you can keep is determined by specific federal or state exemptions available to you at the time you file your bankruptcy. In most cases, you can keep your house, car and household items.
What is the minimum amount of debt required?
There is no minimum amount of debt required to file a bankruptcy.
How long after I file bankruptcy will the creditors stop harassing me?
As soon as you file your bankruptcy petition, an “automatic stay” goes into effect prohibiting creditors from contacting you, filing lawsuits against you, garnishing your wages, repossessing your vehicle and foreclosing on your home.
Will I have to go to court?
Approximately one month after filing your bankruptcy petition, you are required to attend what is called a first meeting of creditors. This first meeting of creditors is often referred to as a “341” meeting. The 341 meeting is conducted by an individual (“trustee”) appointed by the United States Trustee. The trustee will ask you questions regarding the information you listed in your bankruptcy petition and schedules. Creditors normally do not appear at this meeting unless they have specific questions or there are certain issues needing to be addressed in your case. 341 meetings are currently held on the 12th floor of the Bank of America building in downtown Little Rock. You will receive a notice from the bankruptcy court approximately one week after you file your bankruptcy petition providing you with the exact date, time and address for your meeting. If there are no challenges in a chapter 7 case, you will receive a notice approximately 60 days after your 341 meeting from the bankruptcy court discharging you of your dischargeable debt. If a creditor, trustee or other party having an interest in your case files an adversary proceeding or motion contesting a matter in your case, you may have to appear before a judge at a hearing.
Can I file a bankruptcy without my spouse?
Yes. However, if you have any joint debt, your spouse will still be liable for the debt.
How long does a bankruptcy stay on my record?
A bankruptcy will stay on your record for 7 to 10 years. However, it is up to the creditor whether or not to give you credit. Most people are able to obtain credit shortly after they receive a discharge.