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Frequently Asked Questions

Bankruptcy Law Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person who can not pay his or her bills can get a fresh financial start. The right to file for bankruptcy is provided by federal law, and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal court. Filing bankruptcy immediately stops all of your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until your debts are sorted out according to the law. Go Back To Top

What Can Bankruptcy Do for Me?

  • Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts. This is called a “discharge” of debts. It is designed to give you a fresh financial start.
  • Stop foreclosure on your house or mobile home and allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments. (Bankruptcy does not, however, automatically eliminate mortgages and other liens on your property without payment.)
  • Prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed.
  • Stop wage garnishment, debt collection harassment, and similar creditor actions to collect a debt.
  • Restore or prevent termination of utility service.
  • Allow you to challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise trying to collect more than you really owe. Go Back To Top

What Bankruptcy Can Not Do!

Bankruptcy can not cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to:

  • Eliminate certain rights of “secured” creditors. A creditor is “secured” if it has taken a mortgage or other lien on property as collateral for a loan. Common examples are car loans and home mortgages. You can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay any additional money on the debt if you decide to give back the property. But you generally can not keep secured property unless you continue to pay the debt.
  • Discharge types of debts singled out by the bankruptcy law for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, most student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines, and most taxes.
  • Protect cosigners on your debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, and the consumer discharges the loan in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the loan.
  • Discharge debts that arise after bankruptcy has been filed. Go Back To Top

What Different Types of Bankruptcy Cases Should I Consider?

  • Chapter 7 is known as “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation.” It requires an individual to give up property which is not “exempt” under the law, so the property can be sold to pay creditors. Generally, those who file chapter 7 keep all of their property except property which is very valuable or which is subject to a lien which they can not avoid or afford to pay.
  • Chapter 11, known as “reorganization,” is used by businesses and a few individuals whose debts are very large.
  • Chapter 13 is a type of “reorganization” used by individuals to pay all or a portion of their debts over a period of years using their current income. Most people filing bankruptcy will want to file under either chapter 7 or chapter 13. Either type of case may be filed individually or by a married couple filing jointly. Go Back To Top

Can I Own Anything After Bankruptcy?

Yes! Many people believe they can not own anything for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy. This is not true. You can keep your exempt property and anything you obtain after the bankruptcy is filed. However, if you receive an inheritance, a property settlement, or life insurance benefits within 180 days after filing for bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors if the property or money is not exempt. Go Back To Top

Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out All My Debts?

Yes, with some exceptions. Bankruptcy will not normally wipe out:

  • Money owed for child support or alimony
  • Most fines and penalties owed to government agencies
  • Most taxes and debts incurred to pay taxes which can not be discharged
  • Student loans unless you can prove to the court that repaying them will be an "undue hardship"
  • Debts not listed on your bankruptcy petition
  • Loans you got by knowingly giving false information to a creditor, who reasonably relied on it in making you the loan
  • Debts resulting from "willful and malicious" harm
  • Debts incurred by driving while intoxicated
  • Mortgages and other liens which are not paid in the bankruptcy case (but bankruptcy will wipe out your obligation to pay any additional money if the property is sold by the creditor). Go Back To Top

What Else Must I Do to Complete My Case?

After your case is filed, you must complete an approved course in personal finances. This course will take approximately two hours to complete. Many of the course providers give you a choice to take the course in-person at a designated location, over the Internet usually by watching a video, or over the telephone. Go Back To Top

What Else Should I Know?

Utility services - Public utilities, such as the electric company, can not refuse or cut off service because you have filed for bankruptcy. However, the utility can require a deposit for future service and you do have to pay bills which arise after bankruptcy is filed.

Discrimination - An employer or government agency can not discriminate against you because you have filed for bankruptcy. Government agencies and private entities involved in student loan programs also can not discriminate against you based on a bankruptcy filing.

Driver’s license - If you lost your license solely because you couldn’t pay court-ordered damages caused in an accident, bankruptcy will allow you to get your license back.

Co-signers - If someone has co-signed a loan with you and you file for bankruptcy, the co-signer may have to pay your debt. If you file a chapter 13, you may be able to protect co-signers, depending upon the terms of your chapter 13 plan. Go Back To Top

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Kennesaw, Georgia 30144

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