Required by 527(a)(1) & 342(b)(1) & 342(b)(2) & 527(a)(2)
When You File Bankruptcy
You can choose the kind of bankruptcy that best meets your needs (provided you meet certain qualifications):
Chapter 7 – A trustee is appointed to take over your property. Any property of value will be sold or turned into money to pay your creditors. You may be able to keep some personal items and possibly real estate depending on the law of the State where you live and applicable federal laws. A filing fee of $306.00, plus the cost of required credit counseling and debtor education courses.
Chapter 13 – You can usually keep your property, but you must earn wages or have some other source of regular income and you must agree to pay part of your income to your creditors. The court must approve your repayment plan and your budget. A trustee is appointed and will collect the payments from you, pay your creditors, and make sure you live up to the terms of your repayment plan. Filing fee of $281.00, plus the cost of required credit counseling and debtor education courses.
Chapter 12 – Like chapter 13, but it is only for family farmers and family fishermen.
Chapter 11 – This is used mostly by businesses. In chapter 11, you may continue to operate your business, but your creditors and the court must approve a plan to repay your debts. There is no trustee unless the judge decides that one is necessary; if a trustee is appointed, the trustee takes control of your business and property.
If you have already filed bankruptcy under chapter 7 or 13, you may be able to change your case to another chapter.
Your bankruptcy may be reported on your credit record for as long as ten years. It can affect your ability to receive credit in the future.
What Is a Bankruptcy Discharge and How Does It Operate?
One of the reasons people file bankruptcy is to get a “discharge.” A discharge is a court order which states that you do not have to pay most of your debts. Some debts cannot be discharged. For example, you cannot discharge debts for–
- most taxes;
- child support;
- most student loans;
- court fines and criminal restitution; and
- personal injury caused by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.
The discharge only applies to debts that arose before the date you filed. Also, if the judge finds that you received money or property by fraud, that debt may not be discharged.
It is important to list all your property and debts in your bankruptcy schedules. If you do not list a debt, for example, it is possible the debt will not be discharged. The judge can also deny your discharge if you do something dishonest in connection with your bankruptcy case, such as destroy or hide property, falsify records, or lie, or if you disobey a court order.
You can only receive a chapter 7 discharge once every eight years. Other rules may apply if you previously received a discharge in a chapter 13 case. No one can make you pay a debt that has been discharged, but you can voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay. You do not have to sign a reaffirmation agreement (see below) or any other kind of document to do this.
Some creditors hold a secured claim (for example, the bank that holds the mortgage on your house or the loan company that has a lien on your car). You do not have to pay a secured claim if the debt is discharged, but the creditor can still take the property.
What Is a Reaffirmation Agreement?
Even if a debt can be discharged, you may have special reasons why you want to promise to pay it. For example, you may want to work out a plan with the bank to keep your car. To promise to pay that debt, you must sign and file a reaffirmation agreement with the court. Reaffirmation agreements are under special rules and are voluntary. They are not required by bankruptcy law or by any other law. Reaffirmation agreements
- must be voluntary;
- must not place too heavy a burden on you or your family;
- must be in your best interest; and
- can be canceled anytime before the court issues your discharge or within 60 days after the agreement is filed with the court, whichever gives you the most time.
If you are an individual and you are not represented by an attorney, the court must hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the reaffirmation agreement. The agreement will not be legally binding until the court approves it.
If you reaffirm a debt and then fail to pay it, you owe the debt the same as though there was no bankruptcy. The debt will not be discharged and the creditor can take action to recover any property on which it has a lien or mortgage. The creditor can also take legal action to recover a judgment against you.
Services Available from Credit Counseling Agencies – taken from the Federal Trade Commission website:
Reputable credit counseling organizations employ counselors who are certified and trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Those organizations that are nonprofit have a legal obligation to provide education and counseling. Organizations that advertise credit counseling often arrange for consumers to pay debts through a debt management plan (DMP). In a DMP, you deposit money each month with a credit counseling organization. The organization uses these deposits to pay your credit card bills, student loans, medical bills, or other unsecured debts according to a payment schedule they’ve worked out with you and your creditors. Creditors may agree to lower interest rates or waive certain fees if you are repaying through a DMP.
The FTC has found that some organizations that offer DMPs have deceived and defrauded consumers, and recommends that consumers check their bills to make sure that the organization fulfills its promises. If you are paying through a DMP, contact your creditors and confirm that they have accepted the proposed plan before you send any payments to the organization handling your DMP.
Consequences of not revealing all requested information – Information required under 342(b)(2)
(A) a person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury in connection with a case under this title shall be subject to fine, imprisonment, or both; and
(B) all information supplied by a debtor in connection with a case under this title is subject to examination by the Attorney General.
The following disclosures are required by § 527(a)(2), which advises an assisted person that:
(A) all information that the assisted person is required to provide with a petition and thereafter during a case under this title is required to be complete, accurate, and truthful;
(B) all assets and all liabilities are required to be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence the case, and the replacement value of each asset as defined in § 506 must be stated in those documents where requested after reasonable inquiry to establish such value;
(C) current monthly income, the amounts specified in section 707(b)(2), and, in a case under Chapter 13 of this title, disposable income (determined in accordance with § 707(b)(2)) are required to be stated after reasonable inquiry; and
(D) information that an assisted person provides during his or her case may be audited pursuant to this title, and failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the case under this title or other sanction, including a criminal sanction.
IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE BANKRUPTCY LAWS AFFECT YOU, YOU MAY NEED LEGAL ADVICE. THE TRUSTEE AND JUDGE IN YOUR CASE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING YOU LEGAL ADVICE.
Separate Disclosure Required by Section 527 of the Bankruptcy Code as Amended
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES FROM AN ATTORNEY
(Note: This form is mandated by statute. It may or may not correctly explain the law.)
If you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, you can represent yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you, or you can get help in some localities from a bankruptcy petition preparer who is not an attorney. THE LAW REQUIRES AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER TO GIVE YOU A WRITTEN CONTRACT SPECIFYING WHAT THE ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER WILL DO FOR YOU AND HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. Ask to see the contract before you hire anyone.
The following information explains what must be done in a routine bankruptcy case to help you evaluate how much service you need. Before filing a bankruptcy case, either you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code and decide which form of relief is most likely to be beneficial for you. Be sure you understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations. To file a bankruptcy case, documents (Petition, Schedules, Statement of Financial Affairs, and in some cases a Statement of Intention) must be prepared correctly and filed with the bankruptcy court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court. Once your case starts, you must attend the required first meeting of creditors, where you may be questioned by a court official called a “trustee” and by creditors.
If you choose to file a Chapter 7 case, you may be asked by a creditor to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming your debts.
If you choose to file a Chapter 13 case, in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over 3 to 5 years, you may also want help preparing your Chapter 13 plan and with the confirmation hearing on your plan, which will be before a bankruptcy judge.
If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you should consult someone familiar with that type of relief.
Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court, but only lawyers, not bankruptcy petition preparers, can give you legal advice.