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Bankruptcy FAQ

Each Debtor filing an individual bankruptcy has a right to represent him or herself (Pro Se Debtor); however, the use of an attorney is highly recommended. Ignorance of the law may cost an individual far more than an attorney's fee. By law, a Corporation is required to have an attorney.
Your decision whether to file bankruptcy and under which chapter to file depends on your particular circumstances. The decision whether to file a bankruptcy case and under which chapter is an extremely important decision and has tremendous financial impact.
Chapter 7 - In a Chapter 7, Debtors are permitted to retain certain "exempt" property, while the remaining assets are liquidated by the trustee. Most Chapter 7 cases our office is able to exempt all assets are Non-Asset case. In the few, Asset cases, the trustee will distribute the funds from the liquidation to holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Accordingly, potential Debtors should realize that the filing of a petition under chapter 7 might result in the loss of non-exempt property if they do not have the guidance on an Attorney. In some case, filing Bankruptcy at the most appropriate time can make the difference between a non-asset case and an asset case. Chapter 13 - Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income to repay a portion or all of their debt over an extended period of time. Chapter 13 may be appropriate for Debtors who seek to retain certain assets through a repayment plan. Chapter 13 cases are regularly filed to save a home from foreclosure, stripping off a second mortgage or dealing with student loan payments that are unaffordable. Chapter 11 - Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and certain individuals who do not qualify under Chapter 13, to reorganize. As in a Chapter 13, the Debtor (called the "debtor-in-possession" because a trustee is not normally assigned) is required to present a repayment plan. If the plan is accepted by the creditors and subsequently approved ("confirmed") by the Court, this allows the Debtor to reorganize his/her/or its personal, financial, or business affairs. Chapter 11 cases are rarely filed by individuals due to the costs.
Services of petition preparers are limited to the typing of forms. Petition Preparers are not authorized to practice law and therefore cannot provide debtors with legal advice. We have handled cases that petition preparers have prepared and caused debtor’s serious problems. It is more expensive to fix errors made by a bankruptcy preparer than hiring an attorney in the first place and some errors cannot be fixed or undone.
The Notice of the Section §341 Meeting of Creditors reflects a date by which all complaints objecting to discharge or dischargability of debts must be filed. In most of the cases that we have handled it is very rare that a creditor will object to a discharge. The discharge is entered typically two weeks after the expiration of the date stated earlier.
Generally, all debts listed on the petition are dischargeable. However, certain types of debt listed in 11 U.S.C. §523 are not dischargeable. Some of the non-dischargeable debts listed in §523 include, but are not limited to:
  1. Certain taxes and fines;
  2. Debts arising from certain fraudulent conduct;
  3. Debts not listed in your bankruptcy petition;
  4. Alimony, child maintenance or support, and certain other related debts arising out of a divorce decree or separation agreement;
  5. Debts caused by the Debtor's willful and malicious injury to another;
  6. Government guaranteed student loans;
  7. Debts caused by a death or personal injury related to your operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and
  8. Post-bankruptcy condominium or cooperative owner's association fees.
This list includes only examples of non-dischargeable debts; see 11 U.S.C. § 523 for a complete list. Under § 523, a creditor or party in interest may also file a complaint to have their debt declared nondischargeable. In a chapter 13 case, the discharge is broader under 11 U.S.C. § 1328(a).
It releases the Debtor from personal liability for discharged debts. Thus, it prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the Debtor to collect the debts. Most, but not all, types of debts are discharged if they existed on the date the bankruptcy case was filed and were listed on the schedules. Should a creditor take action for a debt which is discharged, our office may be able to pursue an action against the creditor for Violation of the Discharge.
Yes it is a public record; however it is much more complicated that search on google. Access to electronic court records is available by registering with PACER. Normally the people who have access to this information is the Trustee, the Court, your creditors and your Attorney,
Under Chapter 7, an impartial trustee is appointed to administer the case. The Trustee will make a determination whether it is an asset or non-asset case. Under Chapter 13, an impartial trustee is also appointed to administer the case. The primary roles of the chapter 13 trustee are to determine the feasibility of a Debtor's repayment plan for the court and to serve as a disbursing agent, collecting payments from Debtors and making distributions to creditors.
This meeting is referred to as the "meeting of creditors." All creditors are notified so that they may attend, but their attendance is not required and most creditors do not bother showing up as it is not worth their time. Debtors have a duty to appear and testify under oath and answer questions asked by the trustee or any creditors that appear. An Attorney from Worcester Bankruptcy Center will be present with you during this meeting and will represent you at this meeting. The meeting is presided over by the trustee assigned to the case and is held approximately 30-40 days after the petition is filed. Meeting typically take 5-15 minutes on average, more complicated cases take more time. Debtors are required to provide photo identification and proof of social security number to the assigned trustee.
It is listed on your credit report for a maximum of ten years under provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act as a notation. The effect on your creditor score is not for ten years, a Debtor can work to improve their credit immediately after filing Bankruptcy. With effort you can see your credit start to improve in as little as six months.
It takes about two weeks before the creditor is notified by the Bankruptcy Court, after that the Debtor should immediately contact our office as you may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor to obtain a specific order from the court prohibiting the creditor from taking further collection action.
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement that the Creditor between the Debtor and a creditor that puts the Debtor back on the hook as the Debtor agrees to pay the money owed, even though the Debtor has filed bankruptcy. Reaffirmations are not required by the bankruptcy court, the only time our office recommends a reaffirmation agreement is when your lender offers you better terms, i.e. reduced interest rate. Reaffirmation is optional and is not required, we advise against reaffirmation agreements because it puts you back on the hook, this means let's say you lost your job and were unable to pay the mortgage, the lender foreclosed, the lender could, if you signed reaffirmation agreement sue you for the deficiency balance and win and then garnish your wages and you would be stuck paying for a house you do not live in. In Massachusetts we use the Retain and Pay option, you keep your house or vehicle and you agree to pay without being on the hook.