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Archive for the ‘chapter 7’ tag

Unpaid Child and Spousal Support in Chapter 7

January 6th, 2020 at 8:00 am

Chapter 7 does not stop the collection of child or spousal support, nor provide any procedure to pay the support. It may still help enough.  


If you are behind on child or spousal support payments Chapter 7 may or may not be a good solution.

Chapter 7 “straight bankruptcy” is the most common type of consumer bankruptcy case.  It is more likely to be a sensible solution if 1) the support isn’t being collected aggressively and 2) you don’t owe terribly much. Why? Because:

1) Filing Chapter 7 does not stop collection of unpaid child or spousal support. Chapter 13 can.

2) Chapter 7 does not give you a procedure for catching up on the support. Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” does so.

So why would you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you were behind on support?

Filing Chapter 7 When Owing Support

Chapter 7 is usually the most straightforward type of bankruptcy. A case lasts only about 4 months from when your bankruptcy lawyer files it to when it’s completed. A Chapter 13 case involves a formal payment plan that almost always takes 3 to 5 years to finish.

As mentioned above Chapter 13 can stop the immediate collection of unpaid support, and give you time to catch up.

The much quicker Chapter 7 makes sense if you don’t need these kinds of help.

If you stopped paying the debts that Chapter 7 would discharge, could you quickly catch up on support? Would your ex-spouse be willing to accept monthly catch-up payments at an amount you could afford? Or if the debt is being collected by a support enforcement agency, would it accept such voluntary payments? Could you reliably make such payments, while presumably keeping current on the ongoing monthly support?

If you have a feasible way along these lines to catch up on your support obligation during and after your Chapter 7 case, then it may well be your best option.

Other Advantages and Disadvantages of Chapter 13

But you and your bankruptcy lawyer will discuss two other considerations revolving around your other debts.  Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 deal with debts quite differently.

The first consideration is about debts secured by your assets or other ones that you must pay. Secured debts include home mortgages, vehicle loans, and any others with a lien on anything you own. Debts you must pay—besides support—include recent income tax debts. Chapter 13 often handles these kinds of debts much better than Chapter 7. Without getting into the details here, Chapter 13 protects you while you pay such special debts as your budget allows. If you have such debts, how Chapter 13 helps with those may be reason enough to choose that option. Or this, along with the benefits it gives you with unpaid support, may swing you in that direction.

The second consideration is about the rest of your debts—those that are neither secured nor ones you must pay.  These are your “general unsecured” debts. Usually you can discharge (legally write off) all or most of such debts in either Chapter 7 or 13. In most Chapter 7 cases you pay nothing on your general unsecured debts. However, In a Chapter 13 case you often pay a portion of these debts. Whether and how much you pay on your general unsecured debts depend on lots of factors. The biggest factors are your income and expenses and the amount of your special debts (secured and otherwise) that you are paying in full. So you need to weigh the benefits of Chapter 13 regarding your unpaid support and other special debts against the likelihood that you would be paying something instead of nothing on your general unsecured debts.

What Happens to Your Unpaid Child/Spousal Support Debts in a No-Asset Chapter 7 Case?

A “no-asset” Chapter 7 case is one in which everything you own is covered by property exemptions. Exemptions usually allow you to keep certain dollar values of assets in various categories. Most Chapter 7 cases are “no assets” ones. If yours is, you’re able to keep everything (with the exception of collateral you decide to surrender).

In a no-asset Chapter 7 case your bankruptcy trustee does not get any of your assets to liquidate and pay to any of your creditors. (That’s why it’s called “no asset.”) Your bankruptcy lawyer will tell you if yours is expected to be.

Since the trustee doesn’t collect any money to pay your creditors anything, your support debts also receive nothing. So, a support debt gets no money directly from a no-asset Chapter 7 case. You have to deal with the support debt yourself (perhaps with the help of your lawyer), and be prepared to do so right away.

 

Will Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Stop a Foreclosure?

November 13th, 2019 at 11:17 pm

TX foreclosure attorney, Texas chapter 7 lawyerIf you are behind on your monthly mortgage payments and you have reached the point that your loan is in default, you could be facing a possible foreclosure on your home. You probably realize that if the bank forecloses on your loan, your home will be seized and sold, with the proceeds of the sale will go toward satisfying what you owe the bank. In the meantime, you might not have a place to live, and the foreclosure will leave a lasting mark on your credit.

Most people who are facing possible foreclosure often have a substantial amount of other debt in addition to their home loan. These obligations may include medical bills, credit card debt, and outstanding loans, such as personal loans and educational loans. As a result, it is not unusual for an individual in such a situation to consider filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. In certain cases, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might allow you to stop foreclosure proceedings, and a qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you understand your available options.

Bankruptcy Puts a Stay on Collection Activities

Under federal law, filing for bankruptcy of any type will result in an automatic stay being issued on all collections activities related to any debt that you have. The automatic stay applies to foreclosure, even if the lender has already initiated formal foreclosure proceedings. If the lender continues to push the proceedings after the stay has been ordered, your lender is violating federal law, and sanctions against the lender are possible.

The stay, however, will not last forever. In fact, the lender can petition the bankruptcy court to lift the stay so that foreclosure proceedings can continue. If the court has good reasons to believe that you will not ultimately be able to keep your home, the court may grant the lender’s petition to lift the stay.

Chapter 7 and Foreclosure

The goal of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to have as many of your obligations as possible discharged. During the proceedings, you may be required to sell any property of value. Texas law provides exemptions for the equity value in your home, presuming that your property does not exceed the established acreage limits of 10 acres in a city, town, or village, or 100 acres anywhere else.

Medical debts, credit card balances, and unsecured loans are typically eligible to be discharged in a Chapter bankruptcy, as is the amount you owe on your mortgage. Discharging your mortgage obligations, however, does not mean you simply get to keep the home; it means that you are no longer personally responsible for paying the debt. The lender still has the right to take the home to try to recoup its losses. In practice, this means that when the automatic stay expires, your lender is likely to restart the foreclosure process. The proceedings must start again from the very beginning, giving you an additional few months to decide what you will do next.

From a practical standpoint, if you have already paid a substantial amount of equity into your home, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy might not be the best option for stopping a foreclosure. If you do not have any other choices, however, a skilled attorney will help you pursue a favorable outcome in your unique situation.

Call a New Braunfels Bankruptcy Attorney

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage and you are looking at the possibility of bankruptcy to stop foreclosure proceedings, contact an experienced San Antonio Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer at the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. Call 210-342-3400 for a free consultation and case review today.

 

Sources:

https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-7-bankruptcy-basics

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PR/htm/PR.41.htm#41.001

When Should I Delay Filing for Bankruptcy?

October 31st, 2019 at 7:14 pm

bankruptcyDeclaring bankruptcy can get you out of a less-than-favorable financial situation when you are in need, but your circumstances will dictate which type of bankruptcy you are eligible for and how much the bankruptcy will help you. Once you have figured out that you want to file for bankruptcy, you must then determine when your most opportune time to file is. In certain situations, you may want to delay filing for bankruptcy. Delaying your bankruptcy can sometimes allow you to keep more of your money, protect a friend or family member’s money or even increase your chances of qualifying for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Here are a few situations in which you may want to consider delaying filing for bankruptcy.

You Paid Money Owed to a Family Member Too Close to Filing

If you pay certain creditors $600 or more prior to receiving a discharge, your bankruptcy trustee could demand the money back from the creditor. This is called a preference because you have put that creditor in a better position than your other creditors. The preference period for most creditors is 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. For “insiders,” such as friends or family members, the preference period is one year prior to filing for bankruptcy.

You Recently Transferred or Gifted Money or Property to Someone

If you give away or gift property or money and get nothing in return, you could also face allegations of fraudulent transfer. Even if the property or money was a gift given with good intentions, you can still face these allegations if you file for bankruptcy less than two years after you give or transfer the property or money.

Your Income Has Decreased or You Expect Your Income to Decrease

If you want to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will have to pass what is called the means test. The means test compares your income to the median income in your state. If you fail the means test, it will be extremely difficult for you to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if you can even qualify at all. If you know that you currently make too much to qualify, but that you will not be making as much in the future, you should wait to file for bankruptcy.

Our New Braunfels, TX Bankruptcy Attorney Can Advise You When to File

Like many things in life, timing is everything when it comes to bankruptcy. Even just a few days’ time can mean the difference between discharging certain debts and being forced to repay them. If you are unsure of when the best time to file for bankruptcy is, you should contact our skilled San Antonio, TX bankruptcy lawyer today. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we will examine your case and advise you as to when you should file for bankruptcy so you can benefit from it the most. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-chapter-7-bankruptcy-316202

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/547

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/548

What Does a Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

September 16th, 2019 at 4:40 pm

trusteeThe most common types of bankruptcies that are filed in the United States are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. There are many differences between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, mainly in the way that the debts are handled. While these two types of bankruptcies differ greatly in many aspects, they do have one thing in common — they both utilize a bankruptcy trustee.

If you have thought about getting a bankruptcy or you have done research about getting one, you have probably come across the term — but do you know what a bankruptcy trustee is? It is important to understand the role of the trustee if you are getting a bankruptcy or considering one.

What Is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

A bankruptcy trustee is a person who works on a bankruptcy case to act as the middleman between the debtor and the creditors. The trustee is not an employee of the bankruptcy court, but rather an independent contractor who is hired to prevent the court itself from having to collect and/or distribute property. Trustees are also responsible for reviewing all financial information that is submitted by the debtor to ensure it is accurate and true.

Trustees in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or liquidation bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets are liquidated or sold so that you can repay as much of your debt as possible before the rest of it is discharged. A trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is responsible for determining which of your assets are non-exempt and using the money from those to repay your debtors.

Trustees in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you reorganize your debts so that you can come up with a three- to five-year repayment plan to pay back all or most of your debts. In this type of bankruptcy, your trustee is responsible for overseeing the repayment plan. He or she will collect your payment each month and distribute it to your debtors.

Questions About the Bankruptcy Process? A San Antonio, TX Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is a serious one. Your credit score will be affected and the bankruptcy will appear on your credit report for a number of years. Ultimately, the bankruptcy trustee can affect your bankruptcy case for the good or the better, which is why it is important to understand their role in your bankruptcy case. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you should talk with a knowledgeable Boerne, TX bankruptcy lawyer. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we can help make sure your bankruptcy process is smooth and as stress-free as possible. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bankruptcy-trustee.asp

https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/bankruptcy-trustee/

https://www.thebalance.com/who-is-a-bankruptcy-trustee-316199

Which Type of Bankruptcy Is Right for Me?

August 19th, 2019 at 2:15 pm

bankruptcy-typeIn the United States, there are many different types of bankruptcies, some being for businesses, government sectors or individuals. If you are an individual filing for bankruptcy, the two most common types of bankruptcies that are filed are either Chapter 7, which is a liquidation bankruptcy, or Chapter 13, which is a reorganization bankruptcy. Each type of bankruptcy has its advantages and disadvantages, along with different sets of criteria to qualify for each type of bankruptcy. If you are unable to pay your bills each month or you are struggling to make ends meet, bankruptcy may be in your best interest. Choosing the right type of bankruptcy for your situation can be the key to your financial success.

Chapter 7 Basics

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy. This is because all of your “unnecessary” assets will be liquidated to help pay off some of your debts before your debts are forgiven. Most unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, will be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning you will no longer be responsible for paying them. It takes roughly three to four months to complete a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is a relatively short time frame.

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a means test, which is a test that is used to determine whether or not you are actually able to repay your debts. If you pass the means test or your income is less than the median income level for Texas, you will most likely qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you earn too much, you may be denied.

Chapter 13 Basics

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as reorganization bankruptcy because your debts will be reconfigured into affordable monthly payments. This type of bankruptcy allows you to repay some or all of your debts over the course of three or five years, depending on your income. At the end of the repayment period, the rest of your unsecured debts will be discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcies allow the person filing to keep all of their property, even property that is deemed to be a “luxury” item in Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

Those who earn too much income to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most people who have regular monthly income can qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because there are no income requirements. However, a person must have less than $419,275 in unsecured debt and less than $1,257,850 in secured debt.

Unsure of Which Type of Bankruptcy You Should Go With? Contact a New Braunfels, TX Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for any type of bankruptcy has consequences that you must deal with after everything is said and done. Though these consequences sometimes differ depending on the type of bankruptcy you choose, they can still affect your life. If you are wondering which type of bankruptcy would be best for your financial situation, or if you should file for bankruptcy at all, a skilled San Antonio, TX bankruptcy attorney can be an invaluable asset. Contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee today to see how we can help you find solutions for your debt. Call our office at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://upsolve.org/learn/every-type-of-bankruptcy-explained/

https://www.credit.com/debt/filing-for-bankruptcy-difference-between-chapters-7-11-13/

Qualifying for Bankruptcy in Texas

August 14th, 2019 at 10:22 am

Texas bankruptcy lawyer, TX chapter 7 attorney, A bankruptcy can help by allowing you to discharge your debts and no longer be legally responsible for repaying those debts, giving you the chance to start over. This blank slate comes with a price, however. Filing for bankruptcy will affect your credit score and can make it harder to get future loans or credit cards. Nevertheless, for many people who are in financial trouble, there is no other way to remedy the situation but to file for bankruptcy. There are two types of bankruptcies that are commonly filed by individuals in the United States — Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Each type of bankruptcy has its own way of helping those who are in insurmountable debt, with Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharging most or all of your debts and Chapter 13 reorganizing your debts into more manageable monthly payments. Qualification requirements also vary depending on the type of bankruptcy you choose to go with.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The idea behind a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you do not have enough income to repay all of the debts that you owe. As such, most of your debts are discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In 2005, bankruptcy laws changed to add income limits to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The past six months of your income will be used to determine whether or not you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy along with the number of people in your household. Generally, the income limits are as follows:

  • Single person: $40,389
  • 2-Person Household: $54,762
  • 3-Person Household: $59,276
  • 4-Person Household: $65,932
  • Add $7,500 for each additional person over four household members

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Qualifying for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is slightly different. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to reorganize your debts and make affordable monthly payments over three or five years. Because you are still technically paying all or most of your debts, you must prove that you have regular income and a sufficient amount to pay those debts. Next, your debts must not be above the thresholds. Unsecured debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, must be below $394,725. Secured debts, such as a mortgage or auto loan, cannot be more than $1,184,200.

Unsure if You Qualify for Bankruptcy? Contact a San Antonio, TX Bankruptcy Attorney Today

Financial troubles are never easy to deal with, especially when you have to deal with a bankruptcy. If you believe that bankruptcy is the best course of action for your financial issues, your next move is to determine which type of bankruptcy you qualify for. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we can help you determine which type of bankruptcy is right for your particular case. With help from a Boerne, TX bankruptcy lawyer, you can be sure that you are receiving helpful and accurate advice. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/bankruptcy-chapter-7-vs-chapter-13/

https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/what-is-chapter-13-bankruptcy/

 

What to Expect at a 341 Meeting of Creditors

July 19th, 2019 at 6:49 pm

TX bankruptcy lawyer, TX chapter 7 attorney Once you have made the decision to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, prepared and filled out all required paperwork and filed that paperwork, you will have to attend a meeting. This meeting is referred to as a 341 meeting of creditors and will take place at a time, place, and location that is determined by the bankruptcy court and will include your bankruptcy trustee and creditors. This can be a nerve-wracking time for you because the trustee will ask you a series of questions about your application to ensure you are not trying to commit bankruptcy fraud and to discover whether or not you have nonexempt assets that could be sold to repay all or part of your debts.

During the Meeting

Prior to the 341 meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee will have already reviewed your paperwork and financial records. During the meeting, the trustee will ask you a series of questions to gather more information about your case. By federal law, during the meeting, the trustee is required to ensure that you are aware of:

  • The consequences of filing for bankruptcy, such as the impact it will have on your credit history
  • Your ability to file for bankruptcy through different means, such as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  • The effect that receiving a discharge of your debts through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will have
  • The effect of reaffirming a debt

The trustee will also ask you questions about why you are filing for bankruptcy, your monthly income and expenses, assets, debts, marital status and any dependents you might have. They will also want to know about any other financial obligations you may have, such as child support or spousal maintenance. The trustee will want to make sure that you do not have any assets that are not exempt that could be used to repay all or part of your debts. You will also have to attest, under oath, that all of the information that you have provided is true.

A Schertz, TX Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help

If you are thinking about filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are certain requirements you must meet and procedures you must take. Help from a knowledgeable New Braunfels, TX Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can be extremely helpful throughout the bankruptcy process. At the Law Office of Chance M. McGhee, we can help you prepare for your creditor meeting and we will also accompany you to the meeting to ensure your rights are protected. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/1/341-meeting.asp

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/341

What Not to Do Before Filing for a Texas Bankruptcy

April 26th, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Texas bankruptcy attorneyFor many people who have quite a bit of debt, bankruptcy is the best option. There are two types of bankruptcies that individuals can file for in the United States — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one that discharges most of your debt and leaves you with a blank slate so you can rebuild your finances. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is basically a reorganization of your debts — you work with your debtors to come up with a repayment plan that works for you. In either of these scenarios, there are certain things that are big no-no’s. It is important that you avoid these common mistakes when filing for a Texas bankruptcy:

Lying or Withholding Information from Your Attorney

Though it may seem beneficial to lie or hide certain assets from your attorney, it is quite the opposite. It is against the law to attempt to hide assets or omit them from your list of assets that you submit to the bankruptcy court. Not only could your bankruptcy case be rejected, but you can also face criminal charges related to bankruptcy fraud.

Acquiring New Debt After You Have Started the Process

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most if not all of your debts are discharged. It may be tempting to take your credit card and go on a shopping spree before you file for bankruptcy, but that is the last thing you should do. Incurring new debt within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy is highly frowned upon and will most likely not be dischargeable in your bankruptcy, meaning you will be responsible for repaying that debt.

Giving Money or Property to Your Friends or Family

Similar to lying about your assets, it is also not a good idea to try to give money or other property to your friends or family before you file for bankruptcy. This is also illegal and can put your bankruptcy case in jeopardy, along with possible criminal charges and repercussions.

Not Hiring a Skilled New Braunfels, TX Bankruptcy Lawyer

The bankruptcy process can be overwhelming for many people — there is a lot of paperwork that must be filed and there are many legalities that must be followed. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we take the confusion out of bankruptcy and help you avoid making these costly mistakes. Let our knowledgeable Kerrville, TX bankruptcy attorneys guide you throughout the bankruptcy process and lead you on a path to financial wellbeing. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to set up a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.allbusiness.com/13-mistakes-avoid-filing-chapter-13-bankruptcy-12340-1.html

https://www.myhorizontoday.com/bankruptcy101/five-common-mistakes-debtors-make-when-filing-bankruptcy/

https://www.debt.org/blog/what-not-to-do-before-filing-bankruptcy/

Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Bankruptcy

April 12th, 2019 at 10:11 pm

TX bankruptcy attorneyBeing in debt can often feel like being in quicksand — the more you try to climb your way out, the quicker you sink further. Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is a very serious one and should only be made as a last resort. Because of this, most people who file for bankruptcy are in an overwhelming amount of debt. This can cause much uncertainty and may have you wondering how you should file, which type of bankruptcy is right for you and what your life will look like after your bankruptcy is done. Here are a few frequently asked questions about bankruptcy and their answers:

When Should I File For Bankruptcy?

This is a very personal question and because of that, the answer will never be the same for all people. There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to deciding when you should file for bankruptcy — it should be your last resort. Before you file for bankruptcy, you should try other ways of relieving debt, such as budgeting and consolidating your debt. If you feel that you are drowning in debt, it may be time to consider bankruptcy.

Which Type of Bankruptcy Is Right For Me?

For private consumers, there are two types of bankruptcies that you can apply for: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy where most of your debt is discharged and you are given a clean slate. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy utilizes a repayment plan to help you pay off your debts, rather than discharging them. The kind of bankruptcy that is best for you depends on a variety of factors — which you should talk to your attorney about.

How Will a Bankruptcy Affect My Credit Score?

It is never known for sure how exactly a bankruptcy will affect your credit score because beginning scores can range. If you have a higher beginning credit score, you will usually lose more points than a person with a lower credit score. Regardless, most people’s credit scores will fall within the same range after a bankruptcy — usually, somewhere within the mid- to high-500 range.

A New Braunfels, TX Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help

Filing for bankruptcy can be a long and confusing process. There are many things you must consider before you file for bankruptcy and there are many questions that come along with the process. This is where a skilled Kerrville bankruptcy lawyer can be extremely helpful. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we can help answer all of your bankruptcy questions and we can also help you make the best decisions for your situation. Call our office today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/life-after-bankruptcy-1.aspx

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/after-bankruptcy.asp

Creditor Not Listed But Knows about Your Case

April 8th, 2019 at 7:00 am

Usually if you don’t list a debt, it doesn’t get discharged.  An exception is if the creditor still learns about your case, on time. 

 

Last week’s blog post was about the importance of listing all debts in a bankruptcy case to write them off. Debts “neither listed nor scheduled” in the bankruptcy documents are not discharged (legally written off). Section 523(a)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code.

Special Scenarios

This rule raises a number of practical questions. Here are some common situations:

  1. You don’t list a debt but the creditor finds out about your bankruptcy some other way.
  2. Your debt has been sold or assigned to a collection agency without your knowledge
  3. You don’t have good records of your debts and you may not know some of their names and addresses.

Today we address the first of these.

Creditor Knows About Your Bankruptcy Case

If you don’t list a debt it’s still covered by your bankruptcy case if that creditor knows about the case. The Bankruptcy Code says a debt is not discharged “unless such creditor had notice or actual knowledge of the case.”  Section 523(a)(3)(A) and (B)

This doesn’t mean that you can avoid listing a creditor on your debt schedules because you know it will find out about your case some other way.

First, what if the creditor doesn’t actually find out or claims that it didn’t? You could end up owing the debt. It’s much safer to list the debt in your bankruptcy documents.

Second, you are required to list all your debts. Bankruptcy is not just about you and that one creditor.  If you want the benefits of bankruptcy you must play by the rules, which include listing all your debts.

If you have any reason for not wanting to list a debt, talk with your bankruptcy lawyer. There is usually a workable solution to your concerns.

Must Know about Your Case “In Time”

There’s an important condition to this “notice or actual knowledge” exception. Your creditor needs to learn about your case in time to participate in it.

So what’s the deadline for your creditor to learn about your case if you don’t list its debt?

There are 3 possible different deadlines for 3 different kinds of cases.

1. Proof of Claim Deadline

First, some bankruptcy cases give creditors the opportunity to file a “proof of claim.” That’s a document a creditor files at bankruptcy court documenting what it believes you owe. In Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” cases creditors file proofs of claim to receive any money through your payment plan. In “straight bankruptcy” Chapter 7 “asset” cases creditors file proofs of claim to possibly share in the liquidation of any non-exempt (unprotected) assets. In these cases the bankruptcy court mails out a formal notice giving a strict deadline to file proofs of claim. 

In these cases your unlisted creditor must learn about your case in time to be able to file a proof of claim. Section 523(a)(3)(A).

2.  Creditor Objection Deadline

Second, sometimes a creditor has grounds to object to the discharge of its debt on the basis of your fraud or similar bad action in the incurring of the debt. This can happen in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case.  In all cases the bankruptcy court mails creditors a notice of the strict deadline to file an objection. 

In these cases your creditor must learn about your case in time to be able to file such an objection. Section 523(a)(3)(B).

3. Possibly No Deadline

Third, in other bankruptcy cases neither of the two situations above applies. In fact that covers most Chapter 7 cases. Most have no assets to distribute because everything the debtor owns is exempt, or protected. The case is a “no asset” case. With nothing to distribute, the court does not ask creditors to file proofs of claim. So there’s no deadline to do so. Also, most creditors have no grounds based on fraud or similar bad actions to object to the discharge of its debt. So any deadline to file such an objection doesn’t apply. So what’s the deadline for an unlisted creditor to learn about your case so that its debt is discharged?

In some parts of the country there is essentially no deadline in these kinds of cases. If you find out at any time about a debt you didn’t list in a “no asset” Chapter 7 case, you or your lawyer may be able to simply inform the creditor and the debt is covered in your case. The debt is then included in the discharge of debts that you received in your case. That may be true even if your case is already completed.

But because the statute does not directly address this situation, your local court may interpret it differently. You might still owe the debt because you didn’t give the creditor notice about your bankruptcy. Again, talk with your bankruptcy lawyer as soon as you learn about a debt that you forgot to include for advice about your specific options.

 

Call today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

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