Virginia Bankruptcy Lawyer Answers your FAQs
Questions before filing:
What is Bankruptcy?
- Bankruptcy is a legal method of eliminating debt and providing a way to get a “fresh start.” In many cases, bankruptcy means the elimination of the debt that you owe to your creditors. There are two main types of bankruptcy for consumer debts: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Will filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors calling or garnishing me?
- Yes. When you file bankruptcy, federal law imposes an “automatic stay” which prevents your creditors from taking any action against you in order to collect debts, including court judgments and tax debts while the bankruptcy case is pending. For example, if one of your creditors has taken you to court over a debt, the bankruptcy filing will stop the lawsuit. Any wage garnishments will also stop.
May I file bankruptcy jointly with my spouse?
- Yes. A husband and wife may file a joint petition, but they are not forced to file jointly. If a joint petition is filed, only one petition is filed and only one filing fee is charged.
Should I feel ashamed to file bankruptcy?
- There is a lot to think about before filing bankruptcy, however feeling ashamed should not be among them. Bankruptcy no longer seems to have the stigma attached to it that it once did. This could be one of the reasons that the number of filings has been dramatically increasing over the last several years. Long term, you have to do what’s best for you and your future financial situation.
How much does it cost to meet with you?
- The initial consultation is free. At that time our bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with your best options and advise you as to how to proceed if you choose to file bankruptcy.
What documents should I bring with me to my first consultation?
- You should bring your last two years of tax returns (State and Federal); proof of income information (such as pay stubs, retirement benefits, rental income), and evidence of child support payments and alimony, if applicable. You should also bring your bills or a list of all of your creditors (with mailing addresses), both secured and unsecured, account numbers, and the amount owing to each. This Includes your mortgage, installment loan, and automobile payment books or stubs, if applicable. If necessary, our lawyers can order a credit report for you to get a more detailed list of creditors.
Do I have to pay my bills during the bankruptcy?
- For the most part, the answer is no. For specific property (usually secured), such as your mortgage and your vehicle loan that you plan on keeping, you should continue to make payments. Also, for expenses such as rent and utilities you should keep making payments. You should stop making payments on other old debts incurred before the bankruptcy, such as credit cards.
How long does a bankruptcy take?
- For a typical Chapter 7 case, the discharge of your debts usually takes about 3 ½ months. A Chapter 13 takes from 3 to 5 years, depending upon the length of your Plan.
Does bankruptcy ruin my credit?
- The record of filing bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. However, by making payments on time after your bankruptcy you can rapidly improve your credit rating. You may be able to purchase a home within 1 to 3 years of filing bankruptcy.
As a matter of fact, in many cases filing bankruptcy may actually help your credit rating because discharging your debts greatly improves your debt-to-income ratio, which is a major factor creditors look at when judging your “creditworthiness”.
Will I have to give up any of my property to my creditors?
- Most filers get all or most of their debts discharged (wiped-out) without giving up any of their own property. This is because federal as well as state laws provide exemptions for your property. Exempted property is property such as household goods and personal belongings, which you are allowed to keep despite your bankruptcy.
Do I have to list all of my assets in my case?
- Yes. You are under penalty of perjury when you fill out your bankruptcy petition. Knowingly and fraudulently hiding your assets from the bankruptcy court is a federal offense and the court has the power to deny you a discharge.
What is term life insurance vs. whole life insurance?
- With term insurance, you’re covered only during the life of the policy (20-year term, 30-year term, etc.), so long as you’re paying the premiums. It has no cash value while you are alive.
Whole life insurance, meanwhile, is designed to cover you for your entire life. These policies charge you a fixed premium each year, one that’s typically higher than term insurance. While part of the premium covers what term insurance would cost, the surplus resides in an account that pays interest and accumulates a cash value. You are able to borrow from this account depending on the amount you have accumulated. This amount is referred to as the “cash surrender value.” If you have this type of policy, we will need to know what the cash surrender value is at the time you file your case, so please provide that to us in writing.
Do I have to list all of my debts in my case? What about my mortgage and vehicle note?
- Yes. You must list all debts, including any debts that you intend to keep paying. This includes debts you owe to your family and friends. It also includes your mortgage and vehicle loans. Failing to disclose your creditors can result in you still owing that debt even after receiving your bankruptcy discharge or the denial of your discharge.
Can I keep any of my existing credit cards?
- Any credit card accounts that have a zero balance at the time of filing are not technically creditors and thus are not discharged in bankruptcy. Usually these creditors will allow you to keep your credit with them. However, some do not and the credit card company may close your account with it. This is based on their individual policies.
Will everyone find out that I filed?
- While bankruptcy filings are public record, most people will not find out unless you tell them or they check the public records. Therefore the only people who usually find out that you are in a bankruptcy are creditors whose debts you have listed on the petition or with whom you apply for credit.
Can I be fired for filing bankruptcy?
- No. If your employer finds out about your bankruptcy, it is against federal law to discriminate against someone for filing bankruptcy.
Can I be rejected for student loans for filing bankruptcy?
- No. It is against federal law to deny someone a student loan because they filed bankruptcy.
Questions after filing:
I filed my case, what happens next?
- The filing of your case imposes an “automatic stay” which prevents your creditors from taking any action to collect debts against you, including court judgments and tax debts during the bankruptcy. The Court through a mailed notice will notify your creditors. If your creditors contact you after the filing of the case, please document who called you and let your Alexandria bankruptcy attorney know right away. You will receive a Notice of §341 Meeting of Creditors in the mail shortly after filing which will provide you with your scheduled Court dates. If you don’t get anything within two weeks of filing, please contact our office.
Where do I go for the §341 Meeting of Creditors?
What happens if I can’t go to my §341 meeting?
- If there is a conflict or a legitimate reason you cannot attend, let us know as soon as you are aware of the issue. We can request a continuance, which are normally granted if there is a good reason.
What happens if I missed my §341 meeting?
- This is very serious and can lead to the dismissal of your case. Call our bankruptcy attorneys, as soon as you realize the problem and we will discuss your options.
Can I bring my cell phone to my §341 Meeting of Creditors?
- In Richmond, Charlottesville, Baltimore and the District of Columbia, you cannot bring your cell phone into your §341 Meeting because they are held in the Courthouse. Please leave it in your vehicle.
In Alexandria, Harrisonburg and Greenbelt you can bring it with you, but please turn if off to avoid any phone calls.
Where is the U.S. Bankruptcy Court located?
- IN VIRGINIA:
- Eastern District of Virginia – Alexandria Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
200 S. Washington St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
- Eastern District of Virginia – Richmond Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
701 E. Broad Street, Ste. 4000
Richmond, VA 23219
- Western District of Virginia – Harrisonburg Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
116 N. Main St., Rm. 223
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
- Western District of Virginia – Lynchburg/Charlottesville Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
111 Court St., Rm. 166
Lynchburg, VA 24504
- IN MARYLAND:
If you live in Allegany, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, or Washington Counties:
- United States Bankruptcy Court
6500 Cherrywood Lane
Greenbelt, MD 20770
If you live anywhere else in Maryland (e.g., Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, etc.):
- United States Bankruptcy Court
101 W. Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
- IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:
- United States Bankruptcy Court
333 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Can I bring my cell phone to the Bankruptcy Court?
- You cannot bring your cell phone into Court. Please leave it in your vehicle.
What should I do if I move during the life of the case?
- You must immediately notify us, your bankruptcy attorneys, so that we can update the bankruptcy court and the Trustee in writing of the new address. Most communications in bankruptcy are by mail, and if you fail to receive information mailed out by the court or the Trustee, the case may be dismissed or you may fail to receive your discharge.
I forgot to list some of my creditors, can I add them to my case?
- Yes, you can still add them. Contact us so that we, as your bankruptcy attorneys, can have you sign the necessary forms and pay the required Court costs.
If you are in a Chapter 13, you unfortunately cannot add creditors once the Court has confirmed your Plan.
My money has been garnished, how long will it be before it can be recovered?
- This depends on the specific case. Normally this can be resolved in no more than two weeks, but in some instances it can take longer. Some of this is out of our control, as it involves the creditor filing documents in State Court and the Judge signing the relevant documents.
What do I do if my creditors contact me after I file my case?
- Make sure you document who calls you and when. Let them know that you have filed bankruptcy and that our office represents you. Then let us know if they contact you again. This is a violation of the bankruptcy automatic stay and can have serious consequences for the creditor if they abuse the system.
Where do I send my mortgage and vehicle payments?
- Send them to the address on your mortgage statement or vehicle loan statement unless you get something from the creditor giving you an alternate bankruptcy payment address. Keep proof of all of the payments that you make.
My mortgage and/or vehicle statements have stopped coming, what happened?
- This sometimes happens after a bankruptcy case is filed, but that does not mean payments are not due. Keep making payments to the correct address and include your account number with the payment. Keep proof of all of the payments that you make. You can also make a written request to the creditor that they resume sending you the statements.
I have automatic payments set up for my mortgage and/or vehicle note, will these continue?
- No, most of the time this will stop once you file your case. You need to make the payments directly yourself if this happens. Keep proof of all payments that you make.
My mortgage company and vehicle creditor won’t accept payments, what do I do?
- Contact our office immediately. This usually means that you have fallen behind on your payments and they are no longer willing to accept partial payments. We are often able to work something out with the creditor permitting you can resume making payments and get caught up, but the sooner you contact us, the easier it is for us to help you.
What is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy. This Chapter is also called liquidation bankruptcy. Most consumer or business debts are dischargeable (i.e., may be eliminated) under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You will be able to stop creditor calls, lawsuits, and garnishments. You can use the Chapter 7 to get a fresh start with your finances. Click here for more information.
Who is eligible?
- You are eligible to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy IF…1. YOU MEET INCOME REQUIREMENTS
Your household’s average income for the last six months is less than the median income for a household of the same size in your locale.- OR -Your household’s average income for the last six months is greater than the median income for a household your same size in your locale, but you have special exceptions.AND2. YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED A BANKRUPTCY DISCHARGE WITHIN PRIOR TIME LIMITATIONS
You have never filed before- OR -You have not received a discharge under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in the last 8 years- OR -You have not received a discharge under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in the last 6 years.
What happens when I file for Chapter 7?
- A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case typically lasts about 3 ½ months. Once a case is filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court, it is assigned a case number and a Chapter 7 Trustee. For a simple timeline, click here.
Will I have to go to Court?
- Between 30-45 days after filing, you will have to attend a hearing called a 341 Meeting of Creditors. Despite the name, creditors very rarely appear at the 341 Meeting of Creditors. Typically, during the 341 Meeting of Creditors you meet your Chapter 7 Trustee and he/she asks you questions about your finances and property. The Trustee determines whether you have any assets that cannot be protected by law which can be used to pay your creditors.
Will filing a Chapter 7 stop my foreclosure?
- If you are behind on your mortgage payments, the Bankruptcy Court will postpone the foreclosure until your case is discharged or until your creditor/mortgage holder files a Motion for Relief from Stay. If the Court grants your creditor/mortgage holder’s Motion for Relief from Stay, the Bankruptcy protection over your property will be removed and the lender may proceed to foreclosure.
If you are looking to save your property and stay in your home, you may consider filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will not provide long-term assistance to cure any mortgage default.
Will I lose my car when my Chapter 7 case is filed?
- Generally, while your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case is pending, your lender may not repossess your vehicle—if you remain current on your car payments and maintain automobile insurance. If you are behind on your car payment, your lender may file a Motion for Relief from Stay. If the Court grants the lender’s Motion for Relief from Stay, the Bankruptcy protection over your vehicle will be removed and the lender may repossess the vehicle.
Will I lose any of my personal possessions or belongings?
- Most state laws allow you to protect your personal possessions. In most instances, your personal property, including household items, wearing apparel, and automobiles can be fully protected. Depending on the classification, most retirement savings plans are fully protected. Other investment accounts may be fully protected, depending on their balances.
Do I have to list all my creditors?
- You must list all creditors except accounts with zero balance. If you no longer owe individuals or companies money, they are not creditors.
Are some of my debts not discharged in Chapter 7?
- Some kinds of debts are non-dischargeable, i.e. you will remain obligated to repay them even after you complete your personal bankruptcy. Some examples of non-dischargeable debts are certain State and Federal taxes, court fines, child support and student loans. Click here for more information.
How often can I get a Chapter 7 discharge?
- You can get a discharge if it has been 8 years since you last filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy where you received a discharge, OR if it has been 6 years since you last filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where you received a discharge (unless you paid back at least 70% of your debts in the Chapter 13 and you made your best effort to pay back as much as you could afford).
Who is the Chapter 7 Trustee?
- A Chapter 7 Trustee is a person appointed by the United States Trustee’s office to review your case and determine if you have any assets that can be liquidated to repay some of your debts. You must always cooperate fully and promptly with the Chapter 7 Trustee.
Can a Chapter 7 case be converted to Chapter 13?
- Yes. A pending Chapter 7 case can be converted to Chapter 13 at any time at the request of the debtor, if the case has not been previously converted to Chapter 7 from Chapter 13 and the debtor is eligible for Chapter 7.
When do I have to complete my second class (Financial Management) by?
- This class needs to be completed within 60 days of the original date of your §341 Meeting of Creditors. Failure to complete it and provide it to our office within that time period will result in the closure of your case without getting your discharge. Please complete the class as soon as possible to avoid any issues or additional costs.
What do I need to bring to my §341 Meeting of Creditors?
- In most cases, you have provided our office with the Court-required documents prior to your Court date. All you need to bring to this meeting is your government–issued photo ID, proof of Social Security number (Social Security card, recent W-2 form, etc.) and your bank statements for all of your bank accounts showing the balance in the accounts on the date that you filed your case. There may be additional documents requested that are specific to your case. If you have any additional questions about what to bring, please contact our bankruptcy attorneys.
You will also need to read the U.S. Trustee information sheet prior to your meeting. Please click here to find the sheet in the language you require.
I just went to my §341 Meeting of Creditors, when will I get my discharge?
- You should receive your discharge about 70 days after your meeting of creditors. You will receive it in the mail from the Court barring any issues in your case. If it has been longer than that, call our office and we will look into it for you.
I have voluntary payments set up with some of my creditors, what should I do with them?
- You must contact them and stop the payments immediately (other than your mortgage and vehicle note, if you are keeping them). Voluntary payments may continue if you do not stop them yourself, and the creditor is not obligated to refund you the money if you send it voluntarily.
I have a title loan lien on my vehicle, what do I do to keep it?
- You have put your vehicle up as collateral in order to get this loan. Therefore, the vehicle secures the loan. The payments need to be made in a timely manner until the loan is paid in full if you want to keep the vehicle. Please contact our bankruptcy attorneys to discuss if this is in your best interest.
What is a reaffirmation agreement?
- A reaffirmation is an agreement presented to the Court whereby you promise to keep paying on the debt that you are reaffirming. The debt is not discharged by your bankruptcy. These agreements are voluntary, must not place a heavy burden on you or your family, and must be in your best interest. They can be cancelled anytime before your discharge is entered or within 60 days from when the agreement is filed with the Court, whichever gives you the most time. They must be filed prior to your discharge being entered to be valid. Please contact our office if you want to reaffirm a debt so that we can discuss whether that is in your best interest.
Do I have to reaffirm my vehicle note to be able to keep my vehicle?
- No, these agreements are voluntary. However, certain vehicle creditors (Ford Motor Credit, Chrysler, Suntrust, TD Bank, BB&T, etc.) require this to be done in order for you to keep your vehicle. Other vehicle creditors are more flexible and allow you to keep your vehicle so long as you are current on your payments and it remains insured. You need to contact our office to discuss this matter.
Do I have to reaffirm my mortgage to be able to keep my house?
- No, this requirement only relates to personal property, like vehicles. It does not apply to mortgages. Mortgage reaffirmations are very rare and are not advised.
Can I return my vehicle to my vehicle creditor after I file Chapter 7? What will happen?
- Yes, you can return your vehicle after filing, even if you initially intended to keep it. So long as you did not reaffirm the debt, the debt will be discharged and you will not be left owing anything.
What happens if I surrender my house?
- Your mortgage company will be notified when you file your case and will begin the foreclosure process. It is a good idea to keep up with your property insurance until the property goes to foreclosure.
If you have a homeowners’ or condo association, you are liable for any dues owed on the property from the time when the case is filed until when the property goes to foreclosure and the deed is no longer in your name. You are liable for any property taxes on the same property until the deed is no longer in your name. This may take some time due to the current market conditions. You should keep paying at least your association dues until this happens to prevent owing large amounts later.
What do I need to do if I want to short sell my real estate?
- Please contact our office immediately if you want to do this while you are in your bankruptcy. You will need court authorization to proceed with this.
What are the effects on my credit report?
- Depending on your income and re-established credit history, you may qualify for new credit cards and/or loans within months after you receive your discharge. Many lenders offer loans specifically for previous Bankruptcy filers. In fact, in many cases filing bankruptcy may actually help your credit score because discharging your debts greatly improves your debt-to-income ratio, which is a major factor creditors look at in judging your “creditworthiness”.
How much do you charge to file a Chapter 7?
- The court filing fee is $306 for either a single or a joint case. Our legal fee for handling the Chapter 7 case is in addition to the filing fee. The rates are usually set on a flat-fee basis, and are very reasonable for the services provided. Fees are normally set after the initial consultation, which is free. Fees are based on the complexity of the case, as well as other relevant factors. All of the fees must be paid in full prior to filing the case, but installment payments are accepted to allow you more flexibility. We are also willing to assist you in setting up automated installment payments if you so desire.
What is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
- Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you propose a 3 to 5 year repayment Plan to your creditors. This offers to pay off some percentage of your debts from your future income. The amount to be repaid is determined by several factors including your disposable income, what types of debts you have and the value of your non-exempt assets, if any. To file under this Chapter, you must have a “regular and stable source of income” and have some disposable income available each month. Click here for more information.
When is a Chapter 13 a better alternative than a Chapter 7?
- There are several situations where a Chapter 13 is preferable to a Chapter 7. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is normally filed if you are behind on your mortgage or vehicle payments and are trying to avoid foreclosure or repossession. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to make up your overdue payments over time and to reinstate the original agreement. Chapter 13 also works if you have too much income to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or have the kind of debt that is non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 (e.g. certain taxes, support obligations or fines). Also, if you have valuable property that cannot be exempted (i.e., protected) and you want to keep it, a Chapter 13 may be a better option. Click here for more information.
However, for the vast majority of individuals who simply want to eliminate their heavy debt burden without paying any of it back, Chapter 7 provides the most attractive choice.
How often can I file Chapter 13?
- You can get a discharge in a Chapter 13 so long as you have not received a Chapter 7 discharge within 4 years of filing your new case; OR you have not received a Chapter 13 discharge within 2 years of filing your new case. However, you can file a Chapter 13 case even if you cannot get a discharge (such as in cases where you want to pay mortgage or vehicle arrears).
If your prior Chapter 13 case was dismissed, you need to discuss this matter with us to determine when you are able to file again.
How does filing a Chapter 13 affect foreclosure sales, repossessions or collection proceedings?
- The filing of a Chapter 13 automatically stays (i.e., stops) all foreclosures, repossession, lawsuits, attachments, garnishments and other actions by creditors against you or your property. Soon after the case is filed, the court will mail a notice to all your creditors of the filing. Certain creditors may be notified sooner, if necessary. Normally, creditors cannot proceed against you during the entire course of the Chapter 13 case.
What will it cost to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
- The court filing fee is $281 for either a single or a joint (i.e., both husband and wife filing together) case. Our legal fee for handling the Chapter 13 case is in addition to the filing fee. The rates are usually set on a flat-fee basis, and are very reasonable for the services provided. Fees are normally set after the initial consultation, which is free. Fees are based on where you will be filing, complexity of the case, as well as other relevant factors. Usually a portion of the fee must be paid in full prior to filing the case, with the balance to be paid though your Chapter 13 Plan. We are also willing to assist clients in setting up automated installment payments if you so desire.
How is Chapter 13 different from a debt consolidation service?
- In a Chapter 13, the bankruptcy court can help you in ways that debt consolidation services cannot. For example, the court can prohibit creditors from foreclosing on the your property, force unsecured creditors to accept a Chapter 13 Plan that pays only a percentage of their claims, and discharge you from the unpaid portions of debts. Unlike with debt consolidation, the forgiveness of this debt does not have tax consequences to you. The bankruptcy code forces all of your creditors to be a part of your bankruptcy, unlike a debt consolidation where only some of your creditors may choose to participate, leaving others to collect against you. Additionally, interest on debts does not normally accrue during the Chapter 13 process (except for student loans), which can save you significant amounts of money.
What debts may be paid under a Chapter 13 Plan?
- Any debts, whether they are secured or unsecured. Even debts that are non-dischargeable, e.g., student loans, alimony or child support, may be paid under a Chapter 13 Plan.
Must all of my debts be paid in full under a Chapter 13 Plan?
- Yes and no. Priority debts, (e.g., alimony, child support and certain taxes) and fully secured debts (e.g., mortgage arrears) must be paid in full under a Chapter 13 Plan. However, only an amount that the debtor can reasonably afford must be paid on most unsecured debts. The unpaid balances of your unsecured debts that are not paid in full under a Chapter 13 Plan are discharged when the Plan is completed.
How much of my income must be paid to the Chapter 13 Trustee under the Chapter 13 Plan?
- All of your household’s disposable income (this includes a portion of your spouse’s income) for a 3 to 5 year period must be paid to the Chapter 13 Trustee. Disposable income is income received by the debtor and his or her spouse over and above what is needed to pay for necessary monthly expenses for the household. Our office will help you come-up with an affordable Plan that resolves your situation.
How long does a Chapter 13 Plan last?
- A Chapter 13 Plan must last for at least three years, unless all debts can be paid off in full in less time. If necessary, a Chapter 13 Plan can last as long as five years.
How are cosigned or guaranteed debts handled in Chapter 13?
- If a cosigned or guaranteed consumer debt is being paid in full under a Chapter 13 Plan, the creditor may not collect the debts from the cosigner or guarantor. However, if a consumer debt is not being paid in full under the Plan, the creditor may seek court permission to collect the unpaid portion of the debt from the cosigner or guarantor. A consumer debt is a non-business debt. Creditors may collect business debts from cosigners or guarantors even if the debts are to be paid in full under the debtor’s Plan.
Must all unsecured creditors be treated alike in the Chapter 13 Plan?
- No. If there is a reasonable basis for doing so, unsecured debts can be divided into separate classes and treated differently. As such, it may be possible to pay certain unsecured creditors in full, while paying little to nothing to others. Usually this is done if there is a co-debtor on the debt owed.
Who is the Chapter 13 Trustee?
- A Chapter 13 Trustee is a person appointed by the United States Trustee’s office to collect your payments, send these funds to your creditors as set out in the debtor’s Plan, and administer your Chapter 13 case until it concludes. You must always cooperate fully and promptly with the Chapter 13 Trustee.
When must I begin making payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee?
- Payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee must begin within 30 days after your case is filed with the court, and the Plan must be filed with the court within 14 days after the case is filed.
Where do I mail my Plan payments?
- A: Please send to the addresses below based on who your Trustee is. Make sure to write your case number on your checks or money orders.INVIRGINIA(Alexandria, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Richmond):
- Thomas Gorman (for Alexandria)
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 1553
Memphis, TN 38101-1553
- Herbert Beskin (for Charlottesville and Harrisonburg)
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 1961
Memphis, TN 38101-1961
- Carl Bates (for Richmond)
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 1433
Memphis, TN 38101-1433
- Robert Hyman (for Richmond)
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 983
Memphis, TN 38101-0983IN MARYLAND:
- Timothy Branigan
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 480
Memphis, TN 38101-0480
- Ellen W. Cosby
Chapter 13 Trustee
P.O. Box 1838
Memphis, TN 38101-1838
- Nancy Spencer Grigsby
Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 853
Memphis, TN 38101-0853IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:
- Cynthia Niklas
Chapter 13 Trustee
4545 42nd Street, NW, Suite 211
Washington DC 20016-4623
What do I need to bring to my §341 Meeting of Creditors?
- In most cases, you have provided our office with the Court-required documents prior to your Court date. Unless we tell you otherwise, all you need to bring to this meeting is your government–issued photo ID, proof of Social Security number (Social Security card, recent W-2 form, etc.) and your bank statements for all of your bank accounts showing the balance in the accounts on the date that you filed your case. There may be additional documents requested that are specific to your case. If you have any additional questions about what to bring, please contact our DC bankruptcy lawyers.
What do I need to do to keep my house or my vehicle? When do I start making the payments again?
- In order to keep your house and your vehicle, you must stay current with your loan payments. Your payments are due the very next date that a payment comes due under your contract following the date on which you filed your bankruptcy case.
For example, if your mortgage is due on the 1st of each month and you file your case on June 1st, your mortgage payment would be due on July 1st. If you file your case on June 30, your mortgage payment would be due on July 1st. Make sure you review your statement to make sure of the date your payments are due. Keep proof of all payments that you make.
What should I do if I start falling behind on my mortgage or vehicle payment after filing my case?
- Contact our office immediately. We may be able to work something out with your creditor. The earlier we know that you are in trouble, the more we may be able to do for you.
I received a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay? What is this and what do I do?
- Contact our office immediately. This means that one of your creditors believes that you have fallen behind on your payments and is seeking permission to collect against you, usually through a repossession or foreclosure. If you dispute what they claim in the Motion, gather up the proof of your payments, we will need this to resolve this for you.
Is my employer notified when I file a Chapter 13?
- In most cases, yes. The courts require you make payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee by means of a wage deduction against your income. However, if there are compelling reasons for not informing your employer, it may be possible to make other arrangements for the payments.
How long does it take before the Plan payments start coming out of my paycheck?
- This varies and depends on your payroll department. Remember that you are responsible for these payments until they start coming out of your paycheck. Make sure to review your paycheck each pay period. If the deduction has started, you don’t need to do anything else. If it has not started, send in half of the amount (if you are paid bi-weekly or semi-monhtly) or the whole amount (if you are paid monthly) you are supposed to pay each month. Repeat until you see the deduction start. This way you will avoid falling behind and avoid double-payments.
What should I do if I change jobs during the life of the case?
- You must immediately notify us so that we can update the bankruptcy court and the Chapter 13 Trustee in writing of the new employment information. Failure to notify the Trustee will lead to a default on your Plan payments to the Trustee, and the case may be dismissed. If your income has changed (increasing or decreasing), please provide us with 2 to 3 pay stubs so that we can review your budget and determine how to proceed.
Can a Chapter 13 case be converted to Chapter 7?
- Yes, so long as you are eligible for a Chapter 7. A pending Chapter 13 case can be converted to Chapter 7 at any time at your request. Please contact our office to discuss your options.
What happens if I am temporarily unable to make the Chapter 13 Plan payments?
- Contact our office immediately. If you are temporarily unemployed or otherwise unable to make the payments required under your Chapter 13 Plan, the Plan may possibly be modified to allow you to resume payments when you are able to do so. If it appears that your inability to make the required payments will continue for an extended period, the case may be dismissed or converted to Chapter 7. The earlier we know that you are in trouble, the more we are able to do for you.
What do I do if my income increases?
- Please notify us of any changes in income beyond a normal cost of living increase. The Court may need to be notified of this change in circumstance and your Plan may need to be adjusted accordingly.
Keep in mind that you must file your income tax returns every year and that you are required to provide the Chapter 13 Trustee with a copy of your tax returns every year that you are in the case–so the Trustee is going to see the change anyway. It is better to show them the change when it happens than to have them discover it months after the fact.
What do I need to do if I need to buy a vehicle while I am in bankruptcy?
- You need Court authorization to incur new credit while you are in your case. Contact us immediately if you need to buy a vehicle so we can instruct you in how to proceed. Court authorization is not guaranteed, but in most cases so long as you are current with your Plan payments, the new vehicle payment is reasonable and your budget shows that you can afford it without affecting your Plan, the Court will allow it.
What do I need to do if I want to sell or short sell my real estate?
- Please contact our office immediately if you want to do this while you are in your bankruptcy. You will need court authorization to proceed with this. Our bankruptcy lawyers will need a copy of the signed purchase/sale contract to provide to the Court, so have this ready for us.
What do I need to do if I have been approved for a mortgage loan modification?
- Please contact our office immediately if you want to do this while you are in your bankruptcy. You will need court authorization to proceed with this. We will need a copy of the signed, approved loan modification agreement to provide to the Court, so have this ready for us.
Do I have to turn-over my tax refunds to the Chapter 13 Trustee?
- Maybe. This is case specific, so please make sure to clarify this with your attorney so that you comply with the Trustee and the Court as necessary.
What if I decide to get out of my Chapter 13 case?
- You have the right to either dismiss a Chapter 13 case or convert it to Chapter 7 at any time for any reason. If you wish to do so, you should contact us for assistance in doing so.