Frequent Questions about Bankruptcy

I have already filed a bankruptcy, can I file again?

Probably yes.  If your previous case was a chapter 7 case you need to wait 8 years from the date the previous case was filed to file another chapter 7.   It does not matter when you got your discharge or when the case closed, it only matters when your last case was filed.  If your previous case was a chapter 13 you need to wait  4 years to file a new chapter 7 case and 2 years to file a new chapter 13 case.

Can I stop a garnishment?  

Yes, almost all  garnishments can be stopped except for child support or spousal support obligations. Some creditors that hold  claims that will not be discharged like student loans can start garnishment again as soon as your discharge is entered. 

Can I stop a foreclosure on my home?

Yes, usually the best way to do this is to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy and propose a payment plan to pay off your past-due house payments.  In many cases you will have up to 5 years to do this.  This means that even if you owe a fairly large amount of past-due payments your chapter 13 payment could be relatively small and affordable.  Please click here to for a more detailed summary of the chapter 13 process and how it can deal with foreclosures.

Can I sell my …….... before I file?

Maybe, it depends on what you are selling, to whom you are selling it to and how much money you receive.  The main this you need to be aware of is that you cannot sell something for a lot less than it is worth. For example, if you own a  classic car worth $20,000 you cannot sell it to your brother or friend for a dollar or even for $10,000. This is called a fraudulent conveyance and a bankruptcy trustee can sue the person you “sold” it to in order to recover the property. Generally if you sell something for a fair price and keep good records to show where the money was spent, there is no law that states you cannot sell the property before bankruptcy. However, I always advise client to not sell anything without first consulting with their lawyer.

Can I give away my ……… before I file.

Maybe, but probably not.  Just like in a sale for less than fair market value, giving something away will probably be considered a fraudulent conveyance and a bankruptcy trustee could recover the property.  However, if the property is worth very little money, it may not be worth it for the trustee to go after the property. I always advise clients to not dispose of anything without first consulting with their lawyer so they avoid any problems. 

I really need a car,  can I buy a car before I file?

There is nothing in the bankruptcy laws that prohibit you from borrowing money prior to filing a bankruptcy as long as YOU INTEND TO PAY IT BACK. If you borrow money and do not intend to pay it back, it would be considered  bankruptcy fraud.  The bankruptcy code prohibits attorneys from advising anyone  to incur debt in contemplation of bankruptcy.  Unless that provision is declared unconstitutional, a lawyer  cannot advise you to incur more debt. But, if you do decide to buy a car before you file your bankruptcy you may be required to reaffirm the debt in order to keep the vehicle.   

Can I pay you with a credit card?

I am sorry but I  cannot accept credit card payments from my clients or third parties and it would be fraud to borrow money on your credit cards to pay for your attorney.

Can I leave a creditor off my schedules?

No, you are required to list all debts. Even debts that you want to keep paying.  In fact, just because a debt is not listed on a bankruptcy schedule does not mean it is not included in the bankruptcy. In many cases even unlisted debts are discharged.  

Can I pay someone back after bankruptcy.

Absolutely, there is no prohibition against paying a debt back after you file. You can voluntarily pay back anyone you like, however, the creditor cannot demand payment once the debt has been discharged.