When you are considering bankruptcy, you are probably stressed and worried about what will happen to your house, your car and your income should you go that route. Not all debts are dischargeable. According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, you cannot discharge these types of debts:
- Certain taxes or government fines
- Debts not listed on your bankruptcy petition
- Child support or maintenance
- Government-guaranteed student loans
An experienced bankruptcy attorney will help you understand which debts fall into which category. The attorney will also help you understand if bankruptcy is for you. For personal debts, not business ones, there are two main types of bankruptcy.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debts are restructured to allow you to pay them off. This generally means that you have regular income, but you cannot pay all of your debt and have enough to meet your living arrangements. This figure is calculated by the court, and you generally have three to five years to meet your obligations. A Chapter 13 might stop foreclosure proceedings, but you will have to make up any missed payments. This type of bankruptcy only stays on your credit report for seven years. There are limitations to a Chapter 13, but you should be able to keep your car and house if you can continue to make payments.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a fresh start. Debtors are typically allowed to keep future income, but have certain debts eliminated. There are many regulations and requirements attached to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but your attorney can quickly determine if you qualify. You may or may not be allowed to keep your car and house, based on whether you can afford the payments and if the property is exempt. This determination is quite complex, and your attorney will have to work with you to get all the documentation that provides the information needed.
Get personalized information for your case
The court assigns a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. Current law requires that you take a financial education class before your debts are discharged, and you may have to face your creditors in a meeting to answer their questions about your debts and property. However, you can get relief from dealing with creditors as soon as your application is filed, because they are required to work with your attorney from that point on.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bankruptcy, which is why it’s important to speak to a bankruptcy attorney about filing. Be prepared to discuss your entire financial portfolio, including any retirement plans and assets, to decide what course best suits your circumstances.