Bankruptcy Information & Questions Answered
There is a lot of confusing and misleading bankruptcy information out there, whether it be found online or from the advice of someone you know, and the Law Office of Andrew Harris has the experience and knowledge you need to help you take control of your financial future. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about bankruptcy:
I have already filed a bankruptcy, can I file again?
Probably yes. If your previous case was a chapter 7 case you need to wait 8 years from the date the previous case was filed to file another chapter 7. It does not matter when you got your discharge or when the case closed, it only matters when your last case was filed. If your previous case was a chapter 13 you need to wait 4 years to file a new chapter 7 case and 2 years to file a new chapter 13 case.
Can I stop a garnishment?
Yes, almost all garnishments can be stopped except for child support or spousal support obligations. Some creditors that hold claims that will not be discharged like student loans can start garnishment again as soon as your discharge is entered.
Can I stop a foreclosure on my home?
In Oregon this may be the most often asked question, and the answer is Yes. Usually, the best way to do this is to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy and propose a payment plan to pay off your past-due house payments (the arrears). In many cases you will have up to 5 years to do this. This means that even if you owe a fairly large amount of past-due payments your chapter 13 payment could be relatively small and affordable. If a chapter 13 is not right for you, and you choose to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the foreclosure will be delayed while an “automatic stay” is in place, and you will have some extra time to catch up on any arrears. However, in a chapter 7, you need to make all your house payments prior to the eventual foreclosure date, both the arrears and current monthly payments, in order to keep the house.
Can I SELL my stuff before I file?
Maybe, it depends on what you are selling, to whom you are selling it to and how much money you receive. The main thing you need to be aware of is that you cannot sell something for a lot less than it is worth. For example, if you own a classic car worth $20,000 you cannot sell it to your brother or friend for a dollar or even for $10,000. This is called a fraudulent conveyance and a bankruptcy trustee can sue the person you “sold” it to in order to recover the property. Generally, if you sell something for a fair price and keep good records to show where the money was spent, there is no law that states you cannot sell the property before bankruptcy. However, I always advise clients to not sell anything without first consulting with their lawyer.
Can I GIVE AWAY my stuff before I file?
Maybe, but probably not. Just like with a sale for less than fair market value, giving something away will probably be considered a fraudulent conveyance and a bankruptcy trustee could recover the property. However, if the property is worth very little money, it may not be worth it for the trustee to go after the property. I always advise clients to not dispose of anything without first consulting with their lawyer so they avoid any problems.
Can I buy a car before I file?
There is nothing in the bankruptcy laws that prohibit you from borrowing money prior to filing a bankruptcy as long as YOU INTEND TO PAY IT BACK. If you borrow money and do not intend to pay it back, it would be considered fraud. The bankruptcy code prohibits attorneys from advising anyone to incur debt in contemplation of bankruptcy. If you do decide to buy a car before you file your bankruptcy you may be required to reaffirm the debt in order to keep the vehicle.
Can I leave a creditor off my schedules?
No, you are required to list all debts. Even debts that you want to keep paying. The bankruptcy court does not allow you to pick and choose your preference among creditors. Secured debts need to be listed and the collateral either "reaffirmed" or surrendered, and all unsecured debts must also be listed. In fact, just because a debt is not listed on a bankruptcy schedule does not mean it is not included in the bankruptcy. In many cases even unlisted debts are discharged.
Can I pay someone back after bankruptcy?
Absolutely, there is no prohibition against paying a debt back after you file. You can voluntarily pay back anyone you like. However, the creditor cannot demand payment once the debt has been discharged.
Can I pay you with a credit card?
It would be fraud to borrow money on your credit cards to pay for your attorney. However, debit cards may be accepted via in-office merchant processing. And, a family member or friend can pay your fees with their own credit card.
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