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Debt Relief & Bankruptcy Filing F.A.Q.

Have questions about bankruptcy, its fees and cost, and whether filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you?

What is bankruptcy protection?

Bankruptcy provides protection from creditors to individuals and businesses who have suffered difficulties paying their debts & financial obligations. For consumers, the primary two types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

How can filing for bankruptcy help me?

There may be numerous reasons for which you may file for bankruptcy relief. The most common reason for filing for bankruptcy protection is that it helps to eliminate overwhelming unsecured debt. Some other common reasons for filing for bankruptcy protection are high credit card debts, medical bills piling up, trying to keep your house from being foreclosed on or car from being repossessed, pending lawsuits, ending wage garnishments, and overwhelming student loan debt. While every situation is different bankruptcy attorney Kenneth Sheppard, Jr. can work with you to help determine if filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps you reorganize your debts and allows you to keep your primary residence and car. Bankruptcy can also help you end lawsuits and wage garnishments.

Will filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy "strip" away my homes second mortgage?

In chapter 13 bankruptcies, a debtor is permitted to “strip” or avoid the second mortgage (and any other subordinate mortgage lien) if the value of the primary residence is less than the value of the first mortgage.

Can I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than once?

Federal bankruptcy court will deny a discharge in a later chapter 7 bankruptcy case if the debtor received a discharge under chapter 7 in a case filed within 8 years prior to the filing of the second petition. In other words, you are not able to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy if you filed for chapter 7 in the prior 8 years. However, if you find yourself with financial troubles within this period and in need of debt relief there may be other options available, including filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy.  

Can I file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy more than once?

A debtor is ineligible for discharge under chapter 13 if the debtor received a prior discharge in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case filed within the last 4 years prior to the new case. If you received a prior discharge in a chapter 13 case, then you cannot file a later chapter 13 case, unless 2 years has lapsed since the date of filing the first chapter 13.

What’s the difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection discharges 100% of your unsecured non-priority debt (i.e. medical bills and credits); whereas, a chapter 13 bankruptcy protection discharges a percentage of your unsecured non-priority debt upon successful completion of your Chapter 13 plan of reorganization. Chapter 7 liquidation is the true “fresh start” that occurs within 4-6 months after filing. Chapter 13 helps you reorganize your debts based upon your current financial ability.

Am I eligible to qualify for protection under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection you must pass the “means test”. The federal bankruptcy court will assign an income threshold amount to determine your qualification based on the number of members in your household. If you are under that income threshold amount, you will qualify for chapter 7 protection. Even if you are over that income threshold amount, you may still qualify under the “extended means test”. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, other debt relief options may be available, including filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

How much does it cost to file for bankruptcy?

The current bankruptcy filing fee for a chapter 7 case is $335.00 and the bankruptcy filing fee for a chapter 13 case is $310.00.
At your free initial consultation, Columbus Bankruptcy Filing Lawyer Ken Sheppard, Jr. will go over the total attorney and filing fees to file bankruptcy. Once you have made the decision to begin the bankruptcy process you will pay a $400.00 retainer, which will be applied to the overall attorney fees. Upon retaining Sheppard Law Office to handle your bankruptcy case you can refer those annoying creditor calls to Sheppard Law Offices and the Bankruptcy Attorney will customize one page “to-do” list to help you with the handling of your bankruptcy filing.

Do I have to pay for my bankruptcy all at once or are there payment plans available?

Sheppard Law Offices offer payment plans, customized to your budget, so you determine when you pay! At Sheppard Law we do not put any time pressure on you to pay off your bankruptcy costs and attorney fees. However, be aware that no work is performed on your bankruptcy case until payment has been received in full. Each month, Sheppard Law Offices will mail to you a letter reminding you of your outstanding balance. Priority debts

I am married, can I file for individual bankruptcy or does my spouse have to file with me?

Yes you can file bankruptcy as an individual, even though you are married. Your spouse is NOT required to file with you. Be aware that although your spouse may not be filing with you, his or her income and expenses are still included in the calculation of the means test and for the appropriate petition schedules.

Do I have to go to Court?

You will have to appear at the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors about 30 days after you file your bankruptcy case. This hearing is held for both chapter 13 and chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. The hearing is not in front of a judge; instead, it’s held in a classroom setting before a trustee. The hearing usually lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. You will be accompanied to the hearing by Attorney Sheppard or his Of Counsel.

What property can I keep when filing bankruptcy?

There are some general principles; however, a case-by case analysis must be performed to determine what property may be kept. Assets with no equity can be kept by the debtor. There are state and federal exemptions that may be applied to equity in your property that reduces what the bankruptcy court would otherwise consider as equity in your property. In Ohio, for example, there is an automobile exemption that protects $3,450.00 of equity in 1 vehicle. Also, there is a “wild card” exemption for each debtor in the amount of $1,150.00 that can be applied to any asset’s equity.

What is an automatic stay? And will it end creditor harassment?

When your bankruptcy case is electronically filed, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means that all collection efforts by creditors must stop during your bankruptcy. Lawsuits are suspended, foreclosures are halted, and creditor telephone calls cease. The bankruptcy court takes the automatic stay very seriously, therefore it is not in the interest of creditors to violate the automatic stay.

What’s the difference between unsecured debt and an secured debt?

Credit cards, personal loans, signature loans, old utility bills, and medical bills are examples of unsecured debts. Debts that are tied to an asset are considered secured debts. Examples of secured debts in the eyes of bankruptcy court are, a mortgage, because that debt is tied to the real property, or an auto loan. Surrendering a secured debt can cause that debt to be considered an unsecured debt for purposes of your bankruptcy filing.

My creditors keep calling and harassing me, how do I end creditor harassment?

Technically, creditors can attempt to collect a debt by following certain procedures up to the time your bankruptcy case is filed. Upon filing your bankruptcy case, the automatic stay will then prevent creditors from contacting you.

In order to stop the creditor harassment, at Sheppard Law Offices, once you retain Attorney Sheppard, you may then refer those creditor calls to us.

Can I keep my house when filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Assuming that you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy and that the equity in your home can be protected, then in order to keep your primary residence, you must be current on your mortgage(s) payments at the time of filing the bankruptcy petition. If so, then you will reaffirm that secured debt by completing a reaffirmation agreement. You will continue to make mortgage payments to the creditor in the same amount and at the same interest rate. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or are not able to bring your mortgage payments current and wish to keep your house, other debt relief options including Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be considered.

Can I keep my car when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Assuming that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that the equity in your vehicle can be protected, then in order to keep your vehicle, you must be current on your auto loan payments at the time of filing the bankruptcy petition. If so, then you will reaffirm that secured debt by completing a reaffirmation agreement. You will continue making your loan payments to the creditor in the same amount and at the same interest rate. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or are not able to bring your auto payments current and wish to keep your car, other debt relief options including Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be considered.

Will I be able to get credit cards after bankruptcy?

Typically after filing for bankruptcy you can expect to start receiving credit card offers, of course higher interest rates will likely apply to most of these credit card offers.

Does bankruptcy discharge all of my debts?

Certain priority debts are not dischargeable through bankruptcy, including secured debts that you reaffirm in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Student loans, tax liabilities, and other government obligations are generally not dischargeable. In chapter 13 cases, upon successful completion of your chapter 13 plan, the remaining unsecured non-priority debt is dischargeable. In chapter 7 cases, 100% of your unsecured non-priority debt is dischargeable.

I just received a lawsuit (i.e. a summons and complaint) in the mail. What do I do?

The course of action you take will depend on your bankruptcy strategy. There are several factors that may determine when you should file for bankruptcy; therefore, consult with Attorney Sheppard to confirm the appropriate measures to take when you are named as Defendant in a lawsuit.

Where are Sheppard Law Bankruptcy Offices located?

Click Here to visit the map and directions page to our Columbus, Ohio Filing Bankruptcy Office.
In order to better serve our clients, we also have offices where you can file for bankruptcy in Newark, Ohio and Mount Vernon, Ohio.