Frequently Asked Questions About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
How long does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy take?
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will generally take about 100 to 120 days.
How much does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cost?
Our firm charges a flat fee $995 for most consumer Chapter 7 Bankruptcies. Some more complex bankruptcies (including filing without your spouse, business debts/assets, or advanced exemption planning) may cost more; we also offer a discount in some limited circumstances. You are also required to pay a $335 court filing fee, which is available to pay in four installments of about $84 over a period of 120 days. You must also take two online classes, which cost $10-$15 each.
Does my spouse have to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy too?
We usually recommend that spouses file together. Idaho is a community property state, meaning that the debts belong equally to both of you if they are incurred during marriage, regardless of whose name is on the debt. The cost is the same, whether one person files alone or spouses file jointly at the same time. Sometimes there are good reasons to leave your spouse out of the Bankruptcy, but this is a complicated issue that we will want to discuss in detail so we can decide what strategy is best for you.
Do you accept payment plans?
Yes! We understand that coming up with the money to pay for bankruptcy can be difficult. That's why we offer no-interest payment plans of our legal fee. In addition, although we are not able to file your case until we have received full payment of our legal fee, we can help you arrange a post-filing installment agreement of the $335 Court Filing Fee. We always work with our clients on whatever payment plan works for best for you. And we'll start working for you even before then -- the initial consultation is always free.
Can my unmarried partner and I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy together?
No. We will have to file you separately, meaning you will both be required to pay the court filing fee. However, if your debts are similar, we will work with you on our legal fee.
Do I have to qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Yes. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy looks at your income over the last six months and then compares that to an average income for the area, called the "Means Test." Generally, we know from the beginning whether you qualify or not. If you are on the edge, we may be able to get you qualified through a comparison of your income to your expenses. And if you have had an unusually large influx of money over the last six months, waiting a few months until that income drops off the test period might help ensure that you qualify.
Will I lose my property when I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
The fact that your property is potentially at risk in a Chapter 7 (or "liquidation") bankruptcy is one of the reasons it is so critical to talk with an attorney. The law lets us protect, or "exempt" most of the property that the average person has, but only if this property is properly disclosed and the exemptions appropriately applied. If you have some unusual or especially valuable property, or property that you fail to exempt, it is possible that this property might be sold and used to pay your creditors. We will talk with you in detail about your property so that we can maximize your exemptions.
What happens to my home when I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Your house is obviously very important, as it is the biggest piece of property most people own. In Idaho, we are able to protect $100,000 of equity in your home. If your equity is not above that amount, you are current on your payments, and you remain current on your payments, we should be able to protect your home. If you are a homeowner contemplating Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, it is very important to consult an attorney to ensure that your home will be safe.
What happens to my cars when I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
We are generally able to protect one modest car per person filing bankruptcy. As with a home, it is important that you are current on your payments and remain current. If you own more vehicles, vehicles that are particularly valuable, vehicles that you have significant equity in, or vehicles that are not considered essential (such as camp trailers, ATVs, motorcycles, boats, aircraft, etc.) we would need to look carefully at your vehicles and discuss how to protect as many of them we can. It is possible that some of this property could be sold and used to pay your creditors.
Do I need to provide you a list of all my creditors?
The law requires that you disclose every one of your creditors, and this is the only way to ensure that those debts are discharged. We can help you pull your credit report, which is a good place to start. Prior to filing bankruptcy is also the time to pull out the pile of bills you may have been ignoring. We will do everything in our power to help you through the process, but ultimately you are the only one who knows your entire financial life.
Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy stop garnishments and lawsuits?
Yes. It is illegal for your ordinary creditors to attempt to collect your debts during bankruptcy. (There are some exceptions, such as taxes or child support). Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy therefore stops most wage/bank account garnishments and any unfinished lawsuits. Generally we are also able to discharge the underlying debt.
What is the process and what should i expect?
When you call, we will arrange a free consultation, either in-office or over the phone, whichever is most convenient for you. You will also have a free follow-up call with one of our attorneys to discuss legal and strategic issues in your case. When you are ready to file, we'll schedule you for an in person meeting of about a hour and a half to complete your petition.
After your bankruptcy petition is completed, we will schedule a signing meeting with you, which generally takes about an hour, to go over your petition in detail, prepare you for the Meeting of Creditors, and discuss rebuilding your credit post-bankruptcy.
For most people, the last step is the Meeting of Creditors, a short proceeding scheduled for three to six weeks after you file bankruptcy, where you will be asked questions by the Trustee and any creditors who choose to appear.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHAPTER 7 AND CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy "discharges," that is, wipes out, most kind of debt. The other most common type of consumer bankruptcy is Chapter 13, which sets up a payment plan for the repayment of your debts. D. Parker Law only offers Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but will discuss what Chapter is best for you. If Chapter 13 is a better fit for your situation, we will refer you to another office that specializes in Chapter 13.
Can you help me get my credit report?
Yes we can. Through a third party vendor, we can pull copies of your credit report from all three bureaus. The cost is $50 for an individual or $100 for a couple. This cost is in addition to the legal fee and filing fee. It can help streamline the process for you because your creditors then download directly into our bankruptcy preparation software. However, while we always encourage our clients to pull their credit reports, this is an entirely optional service. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year, and may want to take advantage of that by pulling your credit reports yourself through www.annualcreditreport.com
Can I pay for my bankruptcy with a Credit Card?
Not if it is your credit card. Any use of credit more than $600 in the 90 days prior to bankruptcy is preemptively fraudulent, and so we cannot accept your credit card. However, if a family member or friend is paying for your bankruptcy, we can accept their credit card. We are happy to accept cash or money order. Personal checks can also be used, but require a 14 day waiting period before we can file your case.
I live in Oregon. Can you handle my bankruptcy?
If you live in Malheur County, then yes. A cooperative agreement between the Federal courts of Idaho and Oregon allows your case to be filed in Idaho.
what counties do you serve?
We serve clients who have lived at least the last 91 days in Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley, and Washington Counties (and Malheur County, Oregon). If you live outside these counties, we will refer you to bankruptcy counsel more local to you for your needs.