Your Bankruptcy Questions Answered
At The Colpitts Law Firm, we understand that bankruptcy can be incredibly confusing. Many debt-ridden Americans are not aware of this viable and helpful legal avenue toward financial security. Our bankruptcy attorneys are here to clear the air and help you understand whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you.
If you still have questions about bankruptcy, do not hesitate to contact The Colpitts Law Firm at (918) 302-2662. We are happy to assist you.
Q:What is a bankruptcy?
A:A bankruptcy is a court procedure where an individual or business can discharge certain debts and usually retain all or most of their assets. It is a process designed to give you a "fresh start." You can learn more by contacting us and scheduling a free consultation.
Q:How much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Oklahoma?
A:The filing fee for Chapter 7 is $335. For a Chapter 13, the fee is $310. Attorney’s fees usually vary based on the complexity of the case. There may be a small additional fee charged by the trustee for filing bankruptcy, and an additional fee for the mandatory classes.
Q:What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
A:A Chapter 7 bankruptcy enables you to discharge unsecured debts such as most credit card debts and medical bills as well as any unsecured loans. In some limited cases, you can discharge past taxes. You will be able to keep property that is exempt such as household furniture, clothing, and most retirement funds. Oklahoma also has an unlimited homestead exemption. For other items like automobiles, you can keep one car with equity up to $7,500.00.
A Chapter 13 is a reorganization in which you and your attorney come up with a plan that must be approved by the trustee to pay back your creditors within five years. You can keep all of your property but you must have a steady income that is sufficient to pay your creditors and to satisfy the trustee.
In a Chapter 13, you make one monthly payment to the trustee who pays your creditors in order of priority with unsecured creditors at the bottom. At the conclusion of the repayment period, which is 36 or 60 months, any unpaid debt owed to unsecured creditors may be discharged.
Our bankruptcy lawyers can advise you on whether filing for bankruptcy is in your best interests and which chapter to file under.
Q:What happens if I have already been sued?
A:A bankruptcy filing operates to automatically stay all legal proceedings, meaning that any court cases or collection actions must stop. In many cases, you may be able to name the person or company suing you in your bankruptcy and have the potential debt discharged.
Q:Will I lose any property?
A:Not in a Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7, you can retain any exempt property. Exempt property means that creditors cannot touch it and the trustee cannot seize it and have it sold to pay your creditors. Examples of exempt property under Oklahoma law includes the total equity in your home, one car up to $7500, retirement accounts, household furnishings, most if not all of the cash in your bank accounts, and other property that your attorney can advise you on. If you have a second home or own real estate that is not your home, it is not exempt and the trustee can seize it. Consult with our team regarding your assets in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Q:What happens to my credit?
A:A bankruptcy will stay on your credit record for 10 years but there are numerous ways you can rebuild your credit to obtain car and home loans on excellent terms after only two years or so. Your attorney can give you some reassuring news about how to build up your credit.
Q:What debts are not dischargeable?
A:You cannot discharge the following debts in a Chapter 7: Student loans; Most tax liabilities; Court fines or fines levied by municipalities; Debt incurred by fraud; Debt incurred in a personal injury action where punitive damages were awarded; Child support and spousal maintenance ;Cash advances or loans of at least $750 obtained within 70 days of filing.
Q:Do I go to court?
A:No, but you will have to attend a First Meeting of Creditors, or a 341 Meeting, in which you will be questioned by the trustee regarding your petition. Most of these meetings are very short. Creditors may attend this meeting and question you about your property but this is not typical.
Q:Who can file?
A:Individuals, married couples, and businesses can file. You cannot file a Chapter 7 if you filed for bankruptcy in the past eight years. You will also have to pass a means test to see if you qualify for a Chapter 7.