Your Questions About Bankruptcy Answered
I have practiced chiefly as a bankruptcy lawyer for the last nine years. My name is Paul Petrillo, and I am confident that I can answer your questions and help you qualify for true debt relief and protection from creditors.
Based in New Hampshire, I represent individuals and couples in Rockingham County, Hillsborough County, Nashua, Manchester and throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Chapter 7 And 13 Bankruptcy Questions
- What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a federal proceeding that gives a fresh start to honest debtors by eliminating or reducing debts. Once your petition is filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, lenders, creditors and bill collectors must cease all collection efforts and legal actions.
- Can anyone file bankruptcy?
You must show that you are unable to pay your debts. There is an income means test to qualify for Chapter 7 discharge of debts.
- What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Also known as straight bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out unsecured debts. Creditors rarely challenge a Chapter 7 petition.
- What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Also known as reorganization, Chapter 13 bankruptcy protects you from creditor actions, interest and penalties while you repay your debts over 36 or 60 months.
- How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
The filing fees and attorney fees depend on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. (Chapter 13 generally costs more because of the additional paperwork.) I will explain all the costs in a free, no-obligation consultation.
- How long does bankruptcy take?
A Chapter 7 discharge usually takes about four months from the date you file. In Chapter 13, you pay your debts a month at a time over three to five years.
- Do I have to go to court?
In Chapter 7, you must appear in court for a short hearing in which the bankruptcy judge will verify information and ask a few questions. In Chapter 13, a bankruptcy judge must formally approve your repayment plan.
- Can I keep my house?
Yes, bankruptcy can save your house from foreclosure. If you can keep up with the payments, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop foreclosure and let you catch up on the arrears over time.
- What other property can I keep?
My clients typically keep all or most property. The bankruptcy exemptions cover retirement accounts, home equity, cars and personal possessions, up to a limit. Nonexempt assets may be forfeited in exchange for wiping out your debts.
- What debts are covered by bankruptcy?
You can generally eliminate medical bills, credit card debts, personal loans and other unsecured debts. Bankruptcy does not discharge student loans, child support, court fines or most taxes. I can determine which of your debts are eligible so that you can plan accordingly for your other obligations.
- Can bankruptcy stop repossession?
Yes, Chapter 13 can prevent vehicle repossession or possibly get your repossessed car back (if it’s not too late).
- Can bankruptcy stop wage garnishment?
Yes, Chapter 13 will prevent or stop creditors from garnishing your paychecks.
- Can bankruptcy stop creditor harassment?
On the day that you file, you are under the protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Creditor lawsuits, letters, phone calls, third-party collections — all actions and harassment must cease and desist, subject to penalty.
- Can I file bankruptcy if I am getting divorced?
Yes, and it may be very beneficial for you and your spouse to eliminate debts prior to divorce. You will have less to fight about in court and more disposable income after divorce.
- Won’t bankruptcy ruin my credit?
The truth is, your credit is already bad, especially if you have a record of late payments, missed payments and a high debt ratio. Bankruptcy lets you rebuild your credit rating. Credit will be tight at first, but most people qualify for new credit cards, car loans and even home loans within a year or two.
- What if I filed bankruptcy before?
If you previously filed Chapter 7, you cannot file another Chapter 7 for eight years. There are fewer restrictions on Chapter 13, which I can explain.
- Will my bankruptcy be public knowledge?
Bankruptcy records are technically open to the public. However, consumer bankruptcies are not generally published, and it is unlikely that anyone will know that you filed for bankruptcy.
Discuss The Specifics Of Your Case With An Attorney
Beyond these frequently asked bankruptcy questions, I am happy to answer all of your questions about the bankruptcy process in general and the facts of your unique situation. I invite you to contact my law office to arrange a free and confidential consultation.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.