I've seen and heard commercials stating that filing for bankruptcy is difficult and
time consuming, is this true?
No. Filing for Chapter 7 or 13 doesn't take a great deal of time. The amount of time required totally depends on the emphasis you place on it. The majority of the time you will spend will be used while providing us with the requested information; once you get the information to us it generally takes 3 to 5 business days to get your paperwork ready and to sign.
What information will I be required to provide to file for protection under
Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
We make it as easy on you as we can. The majority of the information requested will be in the form of a questionnaire which asks you to provide information about your household income and expenses, assets, vehicles, property, and the creditors which you owe. In addition, you are required to provide pay stubs or other pay statements for the past 6 full months prior to filing (as well as the current month), tax returns for the past two years, and property tax assessments for any homes or property in your name.
Is it considered immoral or sinful to file bankruptcy?
Not at all. As a matter of fact, Bankruptcy is mentioned in the bible. In Leviticus Chapter 25, during the time of Jubilee, God gave specific instructions as to how debtors should react to those needing financial assistance. In the book of Deuteronomy 15:1-2, God told creditors to grant release from debt to anyone who had borrowed money. There was no reason too trivial or any exclusions given, simply, the debt was expected to be forgiven, no questions asked.
Why shouldn't I choose to use a private debt consolidation service rather than file
for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection?
That's a simple question to answer, LEGAL PROTECTION. Private debt consolidation services do not have the power to prevent the following actions: creditors placing claims on your assets, mortgage companies from foreclosing on your property, loan providers from repossessing your vehicle, and many others. The Bankruptcy Court STOPS those things from happening and they can also force the creditors to accept lower payouts than what is due on their claims. Consolidation services do not have the ability to discharge a debtor from unpaid portions of debt.
Why should I consider Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7?
Chapter 13 is usually preferable when the client has an income but can no longer keep up with their monthly payments, BUT wishes to keep the assets for which they owe. Under Chapter 13 protection, the debt is reorganized and consolidated into one monthly payment (made by the client), which is then dispersed to each of your secured creditors by the Chapter 13 Trustee. This allows you to keep your assets and property (generally, filing a Chapter 7 requires you to give back the assets or property for which you are filing). In a nutshell, a Chapter 13 takes your debt and reorganizes it in a way that you still pay it back, but within a much more reasonable timeframe. You may also consider filing for Chapter 13 protection if you: you feel a moral obligation to repay your debts, have valuable property held as security for debts, you're behind on your mortgage or car loan, you have co-debtors on personal loans, or if you have sufficient assets with which to repay your debts, but need relief from your creditors in order to do so. It is not uncommon to file a Chapter 13 and pay nothing to unsecured creditors.
When should I consider Chapter 7 instead of Chapter 13?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, commonly referred to as liquidation (converting assets into money) or straight bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy is best suited for those who have little to no regular household income and few non-exempt assets accompanied by varying amounts of unsecured debt. Certain types of debt, such as student loans, child support, and alimony, are not dischargeable and would be your responsibility to repay.
(No time to listen? Read the full audio transcript here.)
Does filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 hurt my credit rating?
Many people believe that their credit score is either good or bad, period! That simply isn't the case. There are a wide range of credit scores which are determined by varying factors. Unfortunately, by the time most people even consider filing; the damage has already been done. Filing for protection under Chapter 7 or 13 eliminates the line of bad financial history and allows the client to "start fresh." While it's true that the bankruptcy will show on your credit report, it will only remain there for 7 years for a Chapter 13, or 10 years for a Chapter 7. More importantly, your credit report will show your filing date and date of discharge, allowing all future creditors to know that you're past credit history is no longer relevant.
Can filing Chapter 7 or 13 stop garnishments or creditor lawsuits against me?
Filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter13 immediately stops all collection activity, including lawsuits.
The vehicle finance company is threatening repossession, can this be stopped?
Absolutely. Once you file for protection under Chapter 13 "wage-earners reorganization", your vehicle is protected and no longer in danger of repossession. We may even be able to get back a vehicle that has been repossessed prior to filing for Chapter 13 (time constraints apply).
Can a private or government employer discriminate against or discipline people
who file bankruptcy?
It is illegal for private or government employers to discriminate against a person as to employment because that person has filed bankruptcy. It is also illegal for a civilian or government employer to punish or adversely affect employees who have filed for protection under Chapter 7 or 13.
How can I get a copy of my credit report?
Under Georgia Law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. To obtain a copy of your credit report you can go to one of the 3 major reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, or Transunion) or you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com, which utilizes all three major reporting agencies.
I received notice from the mortgage company that my house is up for foreclosure,
can this be stopped?
Yes, but it is very important to act fast. In order to stop the foreclosure you must get the required information to us and an appointment scheduled to sign your paperwork. This has to be completed before the given day of sale on your homes foreclosure.
Once I have completed my case, how can I rebuild my credit?
Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy isn't overly difficult, but it can take some time. There are several things you can do to build it back to a respectable level. 1) Check your credit report, after the bankruptcy is complete, and dispute anything that is inaccurate. Should you need a dispute form, we can provide one for you. 2) Start paying your bills early. That doesn't necessarily mean weeks early, simply pay them a few days ahead. This shows you're serious about your financial "fresh start." 3) Get a secured credit card with an institution that reports to the credit bureaus. With a secured credit card, the amount you can charge is totally dependant on how much you have deposited into the account. Obtaining "revolving credit" is paramount in the rebuilding of your credit rating. 4) If you have regular (unsecured) credit cards, pay the balance in full each month. This further illustrates your changed attitude toward spending and
repayment. 5) Obtain an installment loan. Auto, home, and student loans, paid on time
boosts credit scores exponentially.
Do I have to file bankruptcy on all the creditors that I owe?
You have to provide all of the creditors that you owe; however, you can request to keep some debts by reaffirming those specific debts.
Will my spouse be responsible for our debt if I'm the only one that files?
This is a possibility. If they are listed as a co-debtor who is also responsible for the outstanding balance, they could be held liable for, and be pressured to pay the debt. However, In a Chapter 13, the debt can be repaid at contract rate and protect the codebtor.
Will I lose my personal retirement accounts or payments from social security?
If your retirement account is ERISA qualified, it is protected. Social security benefits are also protected by the Social Security Administration against garnishments.
If I forget to add one of my creditors to my bankruptcy, can I add it after my case
has been filed?
Yes you can. All you have to do is come to the office and file an amendment. All that you have to do is provide the creditors information and pay a minimal fee (the fee is the same no matter the number of creditors you will be adding). The fee goes straight to the bankruptcy court for administrative fees; we charge no additional fees for the process.
Are there any limits on the number of times, or the time period between filing for
Chapter 7 and/or Chapter 13?
Times between bankruptcies are as follows (dated from the last FILING date):
8 years between Chapter 7 cases
4 years between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases
2 years between Chapter 13 cases
Woodall & Woodall is located in Valdosta, Georgia, but we frequently travel throughout southern Georgia to reach our clients. If you live in other towns, such as Tifton or Thomasville, call our office at to schedule a free consultation. You can also e-mail our firm using our online contact form.