1.If I file a Chapter 7, will I be able to keep my home, car and possessions?

If, after meeting with an attorney at Kaplan Law Firm, LLC, it is determined that you do not have an equity position in your home that exceeds the Illinois statutory exemptions, you will be able to keep your home in a Chapter 7, as long as you continue to be current on your monthly mortgage payments.

2.If I file a Chapter 7, will I be able to keep my car?

Yes, as long as you continue to have full coverage car insurance and make your monthly car payment on time, and your equity does not exceed the Illinois exemptions.

3.What if after I file my Chapter 7, I discover that I need to add a creditor?

You may add creditors at any time prior to the discharge order being entered in your case, however there will usually be a fee for doing so, depending on when you need to add the creditor to your case, and court costs charged by the Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office.

4.Do I have to list all of my bills?

YES. Under the Bankruptcy Code, you are required to list ALL of your creditors (bills), whether you wish to pay them or not.

5.When do I receive my discharge?

You will generally receive your discharge 3-4 months after your meeting of creditors. The whole point of filing a Chapter 7 is to get what is known as your “discharge”. The discharge is the court order that says that all of the debts that you have listed in your Chapter 7 are discharged, that you are no longer legally responsible for them and that you are entitled to a fresh start.

6.If there is a mistake on my credit report, what should I do?

You can correct errors on your credit report by sending a letter to the Credit Bureau (certified mail), with a description of the error, and a request to correct the error. The Credit Bureau must correct your report within 30 days or explain why the report is correct. You are entitled to place a written statement as part of your file. The Federal Trade Commission regulates all 3 credit bureaus. The record of bankruptcy filing remains in the credit bureau for 10 years.

If you have problems with your credit report write to:

The Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

The addresses for the three Credit Bureaus are:

Information Center
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(888) 997-2493

P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX
(888) 397-3742

Customer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064
(800) 888-4213

7.How often can I file a Chapter 7?

You may file a Chapter 7 once every 8 years. However, if you find yourself in financial trouble after you get your Chapter 7 discharge, you may be eligible to file a Chapter 13. Our office can represent you in your Chapter 13 as well. (Refer to Learning Center Link for more info on Chapter 13).

8. What is a discharge?

A discharge is a court order that says you do not have to repay your debts, but there are a number of exceptions. Debts which may not be discharged in your Chapter 7 case include, most taxes, child support, alimony, and student loans; court ordered fines and restitution; debts obtained through fraud or deception; and personal injury debts caused by driving while intoxicated or taking drugs. Your discharge may be denied entirely if you destroy or conceal property; destroy, conceal or falsify records; or make a false oath. Creditors can not ask you to pay any debts which have been discharged. You can only receive a Chapter 7 discharge once every 8 years.

9. What is a reaffirmation agreement?

After you file your petition, a creditor may ask you to reaffirm a certain debt or you may seek to do so on your own. Reaffirming a debt means that you sign and file with the court a legally enforceable document, which states that you promise to repay all or a portion of the debt that may otherwise have been discharged in your bankruptcy case. Reaffirmation agreements must generally be filed with the court within 60 days after the first meeting of creditors.

10. Do I need to pay attorneys fees up front when filing bankruptcy?

Most attorneys in the Chicago area require payment of their fees before filing. At Kaplan Law Firm, LLC, we understand that people seeking Bankruptcy relief are experiencing financial difficulty and can’t pay their bills let alone an attorney for help. In most cases, if you are working, or have sufficient income to cover your fixed living expenses, we can work out a reasonable installment payment plan for fees. You will not have to wait until attorneys fees are paid before filing your case.

11. Do the new Bankruptcy Laws make it tougher to file?

Just before the new bankruptcy law went into effect October 2005, there were a number of reports in the media that really didn’t tell the full story about bankruptcy reform, and left consumers with the impression that bankruptcy would be difficult or impossible for them to file. However, a recent study showed that the vast majority of consumers who filed bankruptcy under the old law would still have been able to file under the new law.

The fact is that the bankruptcy system is still firmly in place to allow people who are in trouble financially to get a fresh start. Sometimes, this is achieved through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy where most debts are discharged, and sometimes this is achieved through a Chapter 13 repayment plan, where part or all of your debts are repaid with future earnings over a 3 to 5 year period. One of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys can examine your financial situation and discuss alternatives with you, and determine whether you are eligible to file and under which Chapter.

12. Can’t I file a bankruptcy myself?

Filing bankruptcy on your own can be a disastrous move. You may unknowingly submit incomplete information, you may miss a deadline, you may not claim all property as exempt to which you are entitled, or you may attempt to file under the wrong chapter. As a result of not completely adhering to or understanding the law and procedures, your case could be dismissed without debts being discharged.

Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the process to make it as painless as possible for you, and help you achieve the desired goal: to get back on your feet again while protecting your property, wherever possible.

While the new law is not likely to change whether or not you are able to file, it does make the process more complex. Under the new law there is much more information for you and your attorney to discuss and disclose in court documents, more deadlines to keep track of, and new provisions regarding eligibility for bankruptcy. Your attorney may need to obtain a recent credit report for you and other paperwork to verify your debts, income and property. As a result of the increased complexity and work required by the attorney, legal fees will naturally be higher. But the fee you pay is money well spent.

After all, most creditors will have attorneys representing them who know the system and the rules- don’t you want a lawyer on your side to protect your rights?

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