FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much does it cost to file for bankruptcy?


A chapter 13 and chapter 7 bankruptcy have different costs and fees. Both include hard costs such as filing fees, credit reports, credit counseling certificates, and homestead deed filing fees. These hard costs are fixed amounts determined by the courts and vendors providing those services, typically between $25 to $80 for everything except the bankruptcy court filing fees, which is $335 for a chapter 7 and $310 for a chapter 13 bankruptcy case. The attorney legal fees are vary depending on whether you file a chapter 13 or 7. The chapter 13 requires more attorney time and is more complex than a chapter 7 case. Local Bankruptcy Rule 2016-1(C) caps the attorney fees at $5,151 for a chapter 13; whereas, the chapter 7 legal fees can be between $800 to $2500, depending on how much time your case will take.




How can I afford to pay my attorney fees if I’m filing for bankruptcy?


If you are filing a chapter 13 case, most attorneys will allow a significant portion of the legal fees to be repaid through the chapter 13 plan over a period of 3 to 5 years. The attorney will perform most of the work before getting paid, taking a risk that they may not be paid for their work, if the case fails. This risk, in turn, gives the attorney a strong incentive to get your plan confirmed and help you obtain your discharge. If you are filing a Chapter 7, the legal fees are typically less since the attorney spends less time and work than a chapter 13 case. Although the legal fee is smaller, it must be paid prior to filing your chapter 7 case. Otherwise, the unpaid portion of their attorney fee would be included in the bankruptcy, restricting the attorney from collecting the remaining legal fee. Most attorneys will accept a payment plan and agree to be retained for a small amount such as a $100. The terms of your payment plan will vary depending on the law firm. A typical payment plan runs between 4 to 6 months. Your case will be filed once the legal fees and hard costs are paid in full.




How long does the bankruptcy last on my credit report?


A discharged chapter 7 case will stay on your credit report for 10 years.A discharged chapter 13 case will remain on your credit report for 7 years from the date of filing your case. If your bankruptcy case is dismissed, then it will remain on your credit report for 10 years, regardless of whether it was a chapter 7 or 13.




Will I lose my home after filing for bankruptcy?


If you are current on your mortgage payment, and there is little or no equity in your home, then you may usually keep your home.Please note that you must continue to make your regular mortgage payments. If you have received a foreclosure notice, you will need to come up with a plan to repay the mortgage delinquency.Filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop the foreclosure and allow you to repay the delinquency over a period of 3 to 5 years. If you have equity in your home, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you navigate through state exemption laws to analyze whether your home is at risk under a chapter 7 bankruptcy, or whether a chapter 13 may help protect your home.




Can I keep my car if I file for bankruptyc?


In most instances, you may keep your vehicle, as long as you are current on your car loan and do not have excess equity beyond state exemption laws. If you late on your car payments, then a chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to propose a plan to repay it.Depending on the length and type of the car loan and NADA value of your vehicle, you may be able to “cram down” the loan balance to the value of the car.




I want to file a chapter 7 but I already filed a case less than 8 years ago. Can I file another chapter 7 bankruptcy?


If you filed your prior chapter 7 case less than 8 years ago, and received a discharge, then you must wait 8 years before you can receive a discharge in another chapter 7 bankruptcy case.If your prior chapter 7 case was dismissed, then you may file another chapter 7, but you may want to seek legal advice to determine if the reason your case was dismissed would cause potential problems in your new bankruptcy case.




Can I convert my chapter 13 case into a chapter 7 case?


The date that you convert your case does not determine whether you can receive a discharge from a chapter 7 case.The eight-year waiting period between two chapter 7 cases runs from the date that the original chapter 7 case was filed, and the date that the chapter 13 case was filed.In other words, if you are not eligible for a chapter 7 case when you filed your chapter 13 case, then you are not eligible to receive a discharge through a chapter 7 case even if you wait to convert your case later in time.




What is the difference between a dismissal and a discharge?


A discharge wipes out your liabilities on most debts.There are exceptions that an experienced bankruptcy attorney can point out to you.The discharge is the goal for filing bankruptcy.You want a clean slate and fresh start from your creditors.Your credit should improve once you receive your discharge as the debts have been wiped away. A dismissal occurs when your case is not completed.Typical reasons include not filing the appropriate forms on time, missing deadlines, not attending your required hearings and court dates, and/or not making your plan payment in a chapter 13 case.If your case is dismissed, then your credit will not improve and the debts remain.Unforunately, you must make arrangements to repay the debts included in the bankruptcy since the case was dismissed and no discharge was received.





Stuart Law Firm is a federally designated Debt Relief Agency.
We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Stuart Law Firm, LLC

(804) 221-2162

8002 Discovery Drive, Suite 422, Henrico, VA  23229

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