Media

Our Office

4295 Buford Drive, Suite B1
Buford, GA 30518
Directions

 

Call us today at 678-541-6770 for a free consultation

 

We are conveniently located close to the Mall of Georgia on Buford Drive(GA Hwy 20).
 

Join Us

Bankruptcy F.A.Qs

Bankruptcy and Debts Overview

 

   What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is the legal method for a debtor to discharge or relieve debt. Bankruptcy is a way for people or a business who owe more money than they can pay to either work out a plan to repay the money over time or to have their debt wiped out. While no debtor is guaranteed a total discharge, most debtors who file for bankruptcy are given such relief. One of the primary purposes of bankruptcy is to relieve the honest debtor from the weight of oppressive indebtedness and to provide the debtor with a fresh start.  While the debtor is either working out a plan or the trustee is gathering the available assets to sell, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. The Bankruptcy Code regulates what Chapter you may/must file under, what bills can be eliminated, how long payments may be extended, what possessions you may keep, and all other details concerning the bankruptcy.

   What is the Bankruptcy Code?

The Bankruptcy Code refers to Title 11 of the United States Code. (11 U.S.C. ? 101-1330) Federal Law governs bankruptcy, but Georgia state laws govern what property you are allowed to exempt (keep) in a bankruptcy case.

      Who can file for bankruptcy?

Any person, partnership, corporation or business trust may file bankruptcy. In addition, charitable or social organizations may also file for bankruptcy. United States citizenship is not a requirement for filing bankruptcy, but you must have a Social Security number.
 
   Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

Federal law does not require you to have an attorney. You are allowed to file on your own without an attorney. However, without the assistance of an attorney, it is extremely difficult to do so successfully. Hiring a competent attorney is highly recommended.

 How much does it cost to file Bankruptcy?

The Clerk of the Bankruptcy court is required to charge a filing fee of $299 for each Chapter 7 case, and $274 for each Chapter 13 case.  In addition, you are required to complete a mandatory credit counseling course before you can file any bankruptcy case.  The providers of these courses decide how much to charge for their services, but most of them currently seem to charge around $30.00.  Most of our clients elect to complete this course at www.PersonalFinanceEducation.com but you can obtain a list of all approved providers of this course by going to this website:  http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/CC_Files/CC_Approved_Agencies_...
Our attorney’s fees vary depending on which type of case you file, but we make every attempt to make this an affordable option for our clients.  Payment plans may be available in some circumstances.
 
   What if I am married?

   If you are married, you may file a joint petition with your spouse. A joint petition is the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual`s spouse. In order to qualify for a joint petition, you must be married on the date that the joint petition is filed. Unmarried persons, corporations and partnerships must each file a separate case. If you are an individual and have a business, you may not file a single petition for yourself and your business; each must be a separate bankruptcy case.  Also note that because federal law does not yet recognize same-sex marriages, even those same-sex couples who legally married in one of the states/jurisdictions which allow that will not be able to file a joint petition.

    Will I lose my house, car, and other personal property?

   Not necessarily.  Georgia’s laws determine which items or property are exempt from being taken away. For example, in Georgia you’re allowed to exempt personal items such as furniture and clothing up to a maximum of $5,000 (or $10,000 for a married couple filing jointly). In addition, other kinds of property are exempt up to a limit. These exemption limits mean that any equity that you have in the property above the limit is not exempt. The Bankruptcy Court can take the property and sell it, pay off any creditors, give to you the exemption amount, and keep the rest for other creditors.

   Does my divorce decree protect me if my ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy and she has listed me as a co-signer on a Schedule D?

   If you are contractually bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the community property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. If you find out that your ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy, you should seek legal advice to find out your possible obligations.

    Will filing bankruptcy effect my credit rating?

 Yes.  However, most individuals are able to rebuild their credit within a few years. If you are currently contemplating bankruptcy, then it is likely that your current credit rating has already been effected. A discharge of your current debt may provide the opportunity to rebuild your credit with steady, regular payments on a new account.

   How long will a bankruptcy show on my credit reports?

The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. section 605, is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report after ten years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. Other bad credit information is removed after seven years. The larger credit reporting agencies belong to an organization called the Associated Credit Bureaus. The policy of the Associated Credit Bureaus is to remove Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 cases from the credit report after seven years to encourage debtors to file under these Chapters.

   Can I file for bankruptcy every few years?

No. Once a discharge is granted, a debtor who filed under Chapter 7 is prohibited from filing for another Chapter 7 for 8 years.  These time limits vary, though, depending on which Chapter you filed under previously.  An attorney in our office will happily discuss these issues with you and advise you whether you are eligible to receive a discharge right now and, if so, under which Chapter you may proceed.

 

Types of Bankruptcy

 

   What Chapter should I file under?

Your particular circumstances will determine the best Chapter for you to file under. The decision whether to file a bankruptcy and under what Chapter is an extremely important decision and should be made only with competent legal advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney after a review of all of the relevant facts concerning your case.

   What is a Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 is the reorganization Chapter available to businesses and individuals that have substantial assets and/or income to restructure and repay their debts. Creditors vote on whether to accept or reject a plan of reorganization that must be approved by the court. Our office does not handle Chapter 11 cases, but we would be happy to refer you to another attorney if you believe that you need to proceed in that manner.

 

 What is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 is the debt repayment Chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed $360,475 in unsecured debts and $1,081,400 in secured debts, including individuals who operate businesses as sole proprietorships. It is not available to corporations or partnerships. Chapter 13 generally permits individuals to keep their property by repaying creditors out of their future income. Each Chapter 13 debtor proposes a repayment plan that must be approved by the court. The amounts set forth in the plan must be paid to the Chapter 13 trustee who distributes the funds to your creditors. Many debts that cannot be discharged can still be paid over time in a Chapter 13 plan. After completion of payments under the plan, Chapter 13 debtors receive a discharge of most debts.

   What should I do if I cannot make my Chapter 13 payment?

First, contact our office by phone and by letter advising of the problem and whether it is temporary or permanent. If it is a temporary problem and the payments can be made up, the debtor should advise us of the time and manner in which the debtor will make up the payments. Significant changes in the debtor’s circumstances may require that the plan be formally modified. If the problem is permanent and the debtor is no longer able to make payments to the plan, the Trustee will request that the case be dismissed or converted to another Chapter. The determination of whether to modify, dismiss or convert a case requires the same kind of analysis as is needed for the initial decision whether to file bankruptcy and under what Chapter. Therefore, the debtor should seek counsel from a qualified bankruptcy attorney before attempting to make such a decision. If the debtor delays making a voluntary decision and cannot make the plan payments, the court may dismiss the case.

   What is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

   Chapter 7 is the liquidation Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 cases are commonly referred to as “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation” cases, and may be filed by an individual, corporation, or a partnership. Under Chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to collect and sell all property that is not exempt and to use any proceeds to pay creditors. In the case of an individual, the debtor is allowed to claim certain property as exempt. In exchange for this, the debtor gets a discharge, which means that the debtor does not have to pay certain types of debts. Corporations and partnerships do not receive discharges. Consequently, any individuals legally liable for the partnership’s or corporation’s debts will remain liable. Therefore, individual bankruptcies may be required as well as the corporation or partnership bankruptcy.

   What is a Chapter 12 bankruptcy?

Chapter 12 offers bankruptcy relief to those who qualify as family farmers. There are debt limitations for Chapter 12, and a certain portion of the debtor's income must come from the operation of a farming business. Family farmers must propose a plan to repay their creditors over a period of time from future income and the court must approve it. Plan payments are made through a Chapter 12 trustee who also monitors the debtor`s farming operations while the case is pending.

   What is a Chapter 9 bankruptcy?

   Chapter 9 is only for municipalities and governmental units, such as schools, water districts, some utility companies and other similar organizations.

   What is a Discharge?

The discharge order is issued by the court and permanently prohibits creditors from taking action to collect dischargeable debts against the debtor personally; this does not prevent secured creditors from seizing collateral if payments are not kept up, or other creditors from pursuing property of the estate. Some debts are not dischargeable, and others may be found to be non-dischargeable depending on particular circumstances.
 

   What debts are dischargeable?

 11 U.S.C. section 523 lists exceptions to discharge. In general, all other debts not listed there are dischargeable. Some debts listed in 11 U.S.C. section 523, such as those based on fraudulent conduct, embezzlement or willful and malicious injury to another, may be discharged unless a Complaint to deny discharge of that debt is timely filed with the bankruptcy court. Ordinarily, these Complaints must be filed within sixty (60) days of the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Additionally, debts that were not listed on your bankruptcy schedules or that were incurred after you filed bankruptcy are generally not discharged. Denial of a discharge goes to the debtor’s entire proceeding, while determination of non-dischargeability goes to a particular debt only. A request for denial of discharge may be granted when the debtor has defrauded a creditor, concealed property of the estate, made a false oath, presented or used a false claim, refused to obey any lawful order of the court and other reasons contained in the Bankruptcy Code. A non-dischargeability of a debt excepts a particular debt from the discharge. This means that if the debt is determined to be non-dischargeable the debtor is still obligated to pay that creditor.

   What is a "priority" debt?

 Priority debt is a debt entitled to priority in payment in a bankruptcy case. A general listing of priority debts is given in 11 U.S.C. section 507 of the Bankruptcy Code. Examples of priority debts are some taxes, wage claims of employees, debts related to goods and services provided to a debtor’s estate during the pendency of a bankruptcy case. In addition, alimony, maintenance or support of a spouse, former spouse, or child is considered a priority debt. If you have questions deciding which of your debts are entitled to priority status, you should consult an attorney.

   Can Chapter 7 bankruptcy help me with taxes that I owe?

 Entire books have been written just on this subject.  The best answer we can give you without meeting with you in person is that bankruptcy MAY be able to help you.  In general, though, there are five rules that govern the discharge of taxes in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.  To be eligible for discharge, ALL FIVE of these rules must be met:
1. The three-year rule:  The tax year in question must be over three years old, dated from the most recent date the tax return was due to be filed; The three-year period is computed from the most recent date the tax return is due for the tax year (typically April 15 of the year following the tax year) including any more recent due date resulting from a taxpayer's filed extension. Time is tolled for various circumstances.
2. The two-year rule:  The tax return must have actually been filed more than two years before the bankruptcy; a substitute for return does not count, except in some very limited circumstances.  However, even where no tax return was filed the tax may still be dischargeable in Chapter 13.
3. The 240-day rule:  The tax in question must have been assessed for more than 240 days prior to the bankruptcy (plus any period of time during which an offer in compromise was pending, plus 30 days). This period may be tolled by an offer-in-compromise;
4. The non-fraudulent return rule:  The tax return for the tax year in question must have been non-fraudulent;
5. The non-tax evasion rule:  The taxpayer must not have been guilty of a willful attempt to evade or defeat the tax.

    What is a “secured” debt?

 A secured debt is a debt that is backed by property. A creditor whose debt is secured has a right to take property to satisfy a secured debt. For example, most homes are burdened by a secured debt. This means that the lender has the right to take the home if the borrower fails to make payments on the loan. Most people who buy new cars give the lender a security interest in the car. This means that the debt is a secured debt and that the lender can take the car if the borrower fails to make payments on the car loan.


   What is an “unsecured” debt?

A debt is unsecured if you have simply promised to pay someone a sum of money at a particular time, and you have not pledged any real or personal property as collateral for that debt. Typically, all credit cards are an unsecured debt, as are medical bills and student loans.

   What are “exemptions” and how do I claim them?

11 U.S.C. section 522(b) allows an individual debtor to exempt real, personal, or intangible property from the property of the estate. State law protects exempt assets from distribution to your creditors. Typically, exempt assets include vehicles up to a certain dollar amount, the equity in your home up to a certain amount, and tools of the trade. Exemptions are claimed on Schedule C of your Voluntary Petition.  As with all schedules, it is important to fully complete and provide all the information requested. If no one objects to the exemptions you have listed within the time frame specified by the bankruptcy court, these assets will not be a part of your bankruptcy estate and will not be used to pay creditors through your bankruptcy case. Deciding which assets are exempt and how and if you can protect these assets from your creditors can be one of the more important and difficult aspects of your bankruptcy case. It is extremely important to consult an attorney regarding the issue of exempt assets.

   What is a “Plan” and do I need one?

 The Plan is a document that sets out how a Chapter 13 Debtor will repay creditors. The Plan divides creditors into specific classes. It specifies the treatment of claims for each class of creditor and provides a means for the Plan’s implementation.  It is a very complex document which binds you and your creditors to act in certain ways, so it should only be filed after careful thought and review.  We highly recommend that you consult with an attorney before filing any Chapter 13 Plan.  Creditors are given an opportunity to object to the repayment plan which you propose. If no objection is filed by creditors or the trustee, the plan may be confirmed as filed. Once the plan is confirmed, the trustee will distribute the proceeds of the debtor’s plan payments to creditors until the debtor completes the plan or the court dismisses or converts the case. Upon completion of the Chapter 13 plan, the court will issue a discharge order IF the debtor is eligible to receive a discharge; the trustee will prepare a final report, and the case will be closed.

 

Getting Ready to File Your Case


   What documents do I need to start a bankruptcy?

 A representative from our office will discuss this with you in detail, and will ensure that all of the required forms are filed with the court.  To get started, though, we will need you to provide copies of ALL of the following documents to us:

1.    Your tax returns for the preceding 3 years (or transcripts of those tax returns).  Request transcripts by calling 1-800-829-1040, or order by mail using IRS Form 4506T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).   Allow two weeks for delivery.
2.    ALL of your pay stubs (or other proof of income if you're self-employed or unemployed) for the past six months;
3.    Current credit reports; (call to get them for free: Experion: 888-397-3742; TransUnion: 800-8884213; Equifax: 800-685-1111);
4.    Any other documentation of payments which you have received in the last 180 days;
5.    Deeds to any real estate in your name;
6.    Statements showing balances owed on mortgages/cars, etc.;
7.    Tax liens or any other judgments;
8.    UCC-1 security and financing agreements;
9.    Notices of levy, garnishment or repossession;
10.    Notices from any tax collection agency;
11.    Leases or rental agreements;
12.    Purchase-money security interests (loan agreements) for vehicles or personal property;
13.    Life, health, vehicle and other insurance policies;
14.    Wills and pending probate papers where you will inherit;
15.    Partnership agreements, other evidence of interests in business;
16.    Petitions and schedules for any prior bankruptcy within the last 8 years;
17.    Lawsuits and judgments against you or filed by you against anyone else;
18.    Written appraisals (if any) for home, valuable personal property, vehicles;
19.    Bills of any kind with balances still owed;
20.    Notice of foreclosure, eviction notice, etc.;
21.    Letters from law firms or collection agencies who have contacted you regarding debts;
22.    A COPY of your social security card and driver's license (or other government-issued photo identification);
23.  A copy of your most recent property tax bill for your home, if you own or are buying one.

   Can I ask questions of the Clerk at the Bankruptcy Court?

 Yes, BUT just know that Title 28 of the United States Code prohibits any member of the Clerk’s office staff from giving any advice that may be considered legal in nature.

    What services can a bankruptcy petition preparer provide?

Bankruptcy petition preparers are permitted to provide services limited to the typing of forms. They may not advise you in any way. Further, bankruptcy law prohibits bankruptcy petition preparers from collecting or receiving any court fees connected with the filing of your case. Consequently, all court fees connected with the filing of your case, including the filing fee and miscellaneous administrative fees, must be paid directly by you to the court. The failure of any bankruptcy petition preparer to comply with the law should immediately be brought to the attention of any trustee appointed in your case and the local Office of the United States Trustee.

   What is a bankruptcy Trustee and who is the United States Trustee?

 In all Chapter 7, 12, 13 and in some Chapter 11 cases, a case Trustee is assigned. In Chapter 7 cases they are called Panel Trustees. In Chapter 12 and 13 cases they are called Standing Trustees. The Trustee’s job is to administer the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors get as much money as possible, and to run the first meeting of creditors, (also called the 341 meeting, because 11 U.S.C. section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the meeting be held). The trustee either collects and sells non-exempt estate property, as in the case of a Chapter 7, or collects and pays out money on a repayment plan, as in the case of a Chapter 13. The trustee can require that you provide, under penalty of perjury, information and documents, either before, after, or at the meeting. You should always cooperate with the trustee, since failure to cooperate with the trustee could be grounds to have your discharge denied. Trustees do not have to be lawyers. The court does not pay trustees. The United States Trustee appoints the trustees. The trustees report to the court, but their fees come out of the bankruptcy filing fees or as a percentage of the money distributed to creditors in the bankruptcy. The United States Trustee’s Office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is separate from the court. The United States Trustee’s Office is a watchdog agency, charged with monitoring all bankruptcies, appointing and supervising all trustees, and identifying fraud in bankruptcy cases. The United States Trustee’s Office cannot give you legal advice, but they can give you information about the status of a case, and you can contact them if you are having a problem with a trustee, or if you have evidence of any fraudulent activity. In monitoring cases, the United States Trustee reviews all bankruptcy petitions and pleadings filed in cases, and participates in many proceedings affecting the case. However, they do not administer the case, themselves. They can bring motions in the bankruptcy, such as ones to dismiss the case, or to deny the debtor’s discharge.

 

After The Bankruptcy Case Is Filed 

 

   I’ve filed for bankruptcy, now what?

As soon as your case is officially filed with the court you are granted an automatic stay. Creditors are legally prevented from attempting to collect on any debt owed to them by you. This means that creditors must stop all collection activity, including telephone calls, harassing letters, repossessions, foreclosures, lawsuits, and wage garnishments. Although the stay is automatic, creditors must be advised of the stay. The court issues a Notice to all creditors advising them of the filing of the bankruptcy. The creditors are informed of the case number; the existence of the automatic stay; the date set for the meeting of creditors; the deadlines for filing objections to the discharge of the debtor; and the deadlines for filing objections to the discharge of specific debts. They will receive that Notice in the mail approximately one week after the case is filed, and you will also receive a copy of that form in the mail.

   Do I have to complete a Debtor Education course, and how do I do that?

In order to receive a discharge of your debts in bankruptcy, you MUST complete a Debtor Education course.  We request that our clients complete this course within the first 30 days after we file their case, because failing to do so within the court-mandated deadlines WILL result in your case being closed without a discharge, which means that you will have gone through all of this for nothing.   Many of our clients fulfill this requirement by completing the course at the following website: http://www.daveramsey.com/debtor-education/home/
However, ou can obtain a list of all approved providers of this course by going to the following website:
http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/DE_Files/DE_Approved_Agencies_...

   What is a “Proof of Claim” and do I have to file one?

The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor’s claim is called a “Proof of Claim.” The proof of claim should include a copy of the obligation giving rise to the claim as well as evidence of the secured status of the debt (if the debt is secured). For purposes of obtaining your discharge, it may be important for you to file a claim on behalf of a creditor if that creditor should fail to do so. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, you (or in Chapter 7 and some 11 cases, the trustee) may file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor within thirty (30) days after the last day for filing claims.

   I disagree with a Proof of Claim filed by one of my creditors.  What can I do?

You are entitled to object to any claim filed in your bankruptcy case if you believe the debt is not owed or if you believe the claim misrepresents the amount or kind of debt (e.g. secured or priority) which you owe. In some circumstances, an Objection to claim can be initiated by filing a motion in the bankruptcy court; in other circumstances, it must be initiated by filing an adversary proceeding (like a lawsuit in your bankruptcy case). If you anticipate objecting to claims, you should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible since the objection process can be complicated and time sensitive.

   What is the “Meeting of Creditors,” and do I have to go to it?

A meeting of creditors is the single hearing all debtors MUST attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. It is held outside the presence of the judge and usually occurs between twenty (20) and forty (40) days from the date the original petition is filed with the court. In Chapter 7, Chapter 12, and Chapter 13 cases, the trustee assigned by the court on behalf of the United States Trustee conducts the hearing. The hearing permits the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor face-to-face. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury concerning the debtor’s acts, conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition and any matter that may affect administration of the estate or the debtor’s right to discharge. Additionally, the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understands the positive and negative aspects of filing for bankruptcy. The hearing is referred to as the “Meeting of Creditors” because creditors are notified that they may attend and question the debtor about the location and disposition of assets and any other matter relevant to the administration of the case. However, creditors need not attend these hearings and, in general, are not considered to have waived any of their rights by failing to appear. The hearing may be continued if the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office is not satisfied with the information provided by the debtor. The trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office may also request that the bankruptcy case be dismissed if the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested at the hearing. The United States Trustee may also request that the debtor be ordered by the court to cooperate or be held in contempt of court for failing to cooperate.

 

   Where and when do I go to court for my Meeting of Creditors?

The date, time and location of your “Meeting of Creditors” appears on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors you received in the mail.  If you have lost your copy, please call our office and we will be happy to email you a copy.  Please note that any OTHER court hearings besides the Meeting of Creditors will usually be held at a different location, so check with your attorney before you go to court.  Generally, the location of your meeting is determined by what county you live in.  

ATHENS Division:  If you live in any of the following counties, your case will be assigned to the Athens division, and your meeting of creditors will be held at The Classic Center, 300 North Thomas Street, Athens, GA 30601:
Franklin, Hart, Elbert, Madison, Oglethorpe, Clarke, Oconee, Greene, Morgan, Walton.    
Directions to the Classic Center may be found at this website:
http://www.classiccenter.com/directions.php

ATLANTA Division:  If you live in any of the following counties, your case will be assigned to the Atlanta division, and your meeting of creditors will be held on the Third Floor of the Russell Federal Building at 75 Spring Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30303:  
Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Rockdale.
Directions to the Russell Federal Building may be found at this website: http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/geninfo/division/atlanta.html

GAINESVILLE Division:  If you live in any of the following counties, your case will be assigned to the Gainesville division, and your meeting of creditors will be held in Room G-18, United States Courthouse, 121 Spring Street, Gainesville, Georgia 30501:  
Banks, Barrow, Dawson, Fannin, Forsyth, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White  
Directions to the United States Courthouse in Gainesville may be found at this website:
http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/geninfo/division/gainesville.html

NEWNAN Division:  If you live in any of the following counties, your case will be assigned to the Newnan division, and your meeting of creditors will be held in the Hospitality Suite at the Comfort Inn, 590 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan, Georgia 30265:
Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Haralson, Heard, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup
Directions to the Comfort Inn in Newnan may be found at this website:
http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-newnan-georgia-GA294

ROME Division:  If you live in any of the following counties, your case will be assigned to the Rome division, and your meeting of creditors will be held at The Forum, Room 1-B, 2 Government Plaza, Rome, Georgia 30162:
Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker, Whitfield.  Directions to the Forum may be found at this website:
http://www.forumevents.org/Directions.htm

   What is an “Objection to Discharge” and what should I do if someone files one?

An objection to discharge or to the dischargeability of certain debts is considered a separate lawsuit (an adversary proceeding) within the bankruptcy and may result in a trial before the judge assigned to the case.  It is effectively an attempt to prevent you from eliminating the debt you owe to one or more creditors.  In a Chapter 7 case involving an individual debtor, the creditors generally have sixty (60) days from the first date set for the meeting of creditors to object to the discharge of the debtor and/or the dischargeability of a specific debt. If the deadline passes without any objections to the debtor’s discharge being filed, the court may issue the discharge order. If any objections to the dischargeability of specific debts are filed, they will be heard by the court, but will not delay the granting of a discharge with respect to other debts.  If anyone files an Objection to Discharge in your case, you should contact an attorney immediately, as there may be extremely adverse consequences if you fail to respond in a timely manner.

   What is a “Reaffirmation Agreement” and how does it work?

A Reaffirmation Agreement is an agreement by which a bankruptcy debtor becomes legally obligated to pay all or a portion of an otherwise dischargeable debt. Such an agreement must generally be filed within sixty (60) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. If the reaffirming debtor is not represented by an attorney, the debtor or creditor must file an application for approval of the agreement, along with a request for hearing. You must appear in person at the hearing. The judge will ask you questions to determine whether the reaffirmation agreement imposes an undue burden on you or your dependents and whether it is in your best interests. Since reaffirmed debts are not discharged, the bankruptcy court will normally only reaffirm secured debts where the collateral is important to your daily activities. Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law. You can voluntarily repay any debt instead of signing a reaffirmation agreement, but there may be valid reasons for wanting to reaffirm a particular debt. Since a reaffirmation agreement takes away some of the effectiveness of your discharge, legal counsel is advisable before agreeing to a reaffirmation. Even if you sign a Reaffirmation Agreement, you have a minimum of sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court to change your mind. If your discharge date is more than sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court, you have until your discharge date to change your mind. If you reaffirm a debt and fail to make the payments as agreed, the creditor can take action against you to recover any property that was given as security for the loan and you may remain personally liable for any remaining debt.

 

   What is “Redemption” and how does it work?

Redemption allows an individual debtor (not a partnership or a corporation) to keep tangible, personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use by paying the holder of a lien on the property only the amount of the allowed secured claim on the property, which typically means the value of the property. Otherwise, in order to retain the property, the debtor would have to pay the entire amount of the secured creditor’s debt, do a reaffirmation agreement and become legally obligated on the debt again. For example, if you owe $20,000 on your car, but the car is only worth $12,000, you may be allowed to buy it from the lienholder by paying them only the $12,000 that the car is worth.  The property redeemed must be claimed as exempt or abandoned. With redemption, a debtor can often get liens released on personal household possessions for much less than the underlying debt on those secured possessions. Unless the creditor consents to periodic payments, redemption must generally be made in one lump sum payment to the creditor.  Our office charges an additional attorney’s fee to file a Motion to Redeem property, which we will discuss with you before you elect to proceed.

   What does it mean if a case is dismissed?

A dismissal order ends the case. Upon dismissal the automatic stay ends and creditors may start to collect debts, unless a discharge is entered before the dismissal and is not revoked. An order of dismissal itself will not free the debtor from any debt. Often, a case is dismissed when the debtor fails to do something that is required (such as show up for the creditors’ meeting, answer the trustee’s questions honestly, produce books and records the trustee requests), or if it is in the best interests of the creditors. Unless the debtor appeals the order or seeks reconsideration of the order within ten (10) days after entry of the order, the Clerk will automatically close the case.

   What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?

If a creditor continues to attempt to collect a debt after the bankruptcy is filed in violation of the automatic stay, you should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy. In addition, you should provide them with the case name, number and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to try to collect, the debtor 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. Further, if the creditor is willfully violating the automatic stay, the court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and punish the creditor.

 

   Where can I get advice about bankruptcy?

   The best course of action is to schedule an appointment with an attorney who practices within the area of bankruptcy. Our attorneys provide an initial consultation for free. You should not rely exclusively on the information you get from a book or website (even this one) when it comes to such an important decision.