I have compiled some frequently asked questions about consumer filings. Read below for the question and its answer.
There are two basic types of bankruptcy for consumers--chapter 7 and chapter 13.
I will prepare a bankruptcy petition and schedules for you. After I file the petition and your schedules, a trustee will be appointed. The trustee will ask you questions under oath at a "Section 341" meeting. I will represent you at the 341 meeting. The trustee has the right to make you turn over property which is not "exempt." The trustee will usually let you know at the 341 meeting whether or not she will ask you to turn over any assets. I will advise you about what property may have to be turned over during our initial consultation. Most cases are "no asset" cases in which nothing has to be turned over.
The chapter 7 discharge covers most of your debts. However, debts for child support and alimony, most taxes, court fines and restitution, most student loans, and several other types of claims are not covered. I will advise you about the exceptions during the initial consultation.
I will prepare a bankruptcy petition, schedules and a chapter 13 plan. You will attend a Section 341 meeting. The chapter 13 plan will pay off all or a portion of your debts over a period of 3-5 years.
This depends on many factors which I will discuss with you.
The general advantages to a chapter 7 are:
- Generally faster
- Attorney fees are less
- Removed from your credit report more quickly
The general advantages to a chapter 13 are:
- May cure past due home mortgage payments
- Taxes may be paid without interest
- Additional protection is provided for codebtors (e.g. a family member cosigned a loan for you).
- Provides a way for you to pay your creditors back (from a small percentage to 100% of what is owed).
Each case is different and depends on your debt amount, the number and type of creditors, and the nature of the property you own. I can provide an initial fee quote after a brief phone discussion. I will then send you a questionnaire and a draft copy of my standard fee agreement. After I have reviewed your questionnaire I will provide a firm fee quote. The fee amount will then be incorporated into written fee agreement. The written fee agreement explains what matters are not covered by the base fee.
You must pay a filing fee to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Chapter 7 - $299
Chapter 13 - $274
In exceptional circumstances, I will file a bankruptcy at no charge (other than the filing fee and costs) as a public service. If you have no means of paying for an attorney, you may qualify for Legal Services. Their contact information is listed below.
Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc., DBA Interim Legal Services Provider
211 West 19th Street, Suite 201
Cheyenne, WY 82001
1-877-432-9955 (toll free)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act governs the activities of bill collectors. Among other things, there are limitations on the times when they contact you and where they contact you. You have the right to recover damages for violations of the Act. Please go to the FTC web page to find out more details. If you wish to address any abuses, be sure to document (make a written record) of the person's name who is calling you, who they are representing, and the date and time of the call.
There is some protection provided by the bankruptcy law. I will explain this at the initial consultation.
In the majority of cases--no. However, you must attend a "Section 341" meeting. Your trustee--not the bankruptcy judge--presides at the meeting. You will be put under oath and questioned at the meeting. You must answer all questions truthfully. Usually creditors do not attend but they have the right to question you at the meeting. Most meetings last 5-10 minutes. If you file a chapter 13 or your financial affairs are complicated, the meeting may last longer. If you fail to attend the meeting, your case will be dismissed. I will represent you at your 341 meeting. At the initial consultation, I should be able to give you a good idea of the possibility that an appearance before the bankruptcy court will be necessary.