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FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT BANKRUPTCY

Note: This is not legal advice, but instead practical information that applies to the majority of cases. Please do not rely upon this information without a consultation with a qualified attorney.

Can you ease my mind about filing? Is filing bankruptcy moral?
Deciding to file bankruptcy can be a difficult and personal decision, but the need to be relieved from overwhelming debt has existed throughout history. There is a significant historical religious, and legal basis for filing bankruptcy.  
United States Constitution
Our Founding Fathers recognized the importance of bankruptcy in times of need. In fact, the right to file Bankruptcy is a Constitutional right given to us in the original United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4).

Modern bankruptcy law is based on general biblical principles. The Bible states:
"Every seven years we will let our fields rest, and we will cancel all debts." - Nehemiah 10:31b
"Every seven years you must announce, 'The LORD says loans do not need to be paid back.' Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you can no longer ask for payment." - Deuteronomy 15:1-2
"At the end of every seventh year, you must cancel your debts. This is how it must be done. Creditors must cancel the loans they have made to their fellow Israelites. They must not demand payment from their neighbors or relatives, for the LORD's time of release has arrived." - Deuteronomy 15:1-2

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
Chapter 7 - You can discharge (eliminate) most or all of your debts, but you can keep the debts that you wish to keep, like houses and cars. You will not lose your house, car, or other valuable property, as long as you are not behind on the payments and do not have too much equity in the property.
Chapter 13 - You can consolidate all of your creditors, except your future mortgage payments, into one affordable monthly payment. The Chapter 13 payment includes: your car/truck payments, missed house payments, and all other bills like back taxes, credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills.

What are the other types of bankruptcy?
Most people who consider bankruptcy need to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.  There are other types of bankruptcy that are for specific situations, such as Chapter 9 – for Cities and Counties only, Chapter 11 - a type of reorganization for businesses or for people with too much debt or too many assets to do a Chapter 13, Chapter 12 – for Farmers only, and Chapter 15 – for International cases only.

Which chapter is best for me?
Deciding which chapter to file is one of the most important decisions in your case and depends upon many factors. Mr. Rampley will help you with this decision by telling you the pros and cons of each in your individual situation.

Will bankruptcy cause me to lose my house or car?
Probably not, though a lot of people decide to give up a house or car to not be burdened by the future payments.

How long do bankruptcy cases last?
Chapter 7 – 4 months
Chapter 13 - 3-5 years

How often can I file for bankruptcy?
You can file Chapter 13 at any time, but what most people are worried about is getting a discharge, which is what wipes out debt. Here are the times allowed between discharges:
Chapter 7 followed by Chapter 7 = 8 Years (Based on the dates the cases are filed)
Chapter 13 followed by Chapter 7 = 6 Years (Based on the dates the cases are filed)
Chapter 7 followed by Chapter 13 = 4 Years (Based on the dates the cases are filed)
Chapter 13 followed by Chapter 13 = 2 Years (Based on the dates the cases are filed)

Can my employer fire me for filing bankruptcy?
No, it is against federal law to fire someone for filing bankruptcy.

What happens if I lose my job during Chapter 13?
If you can afford it, then you can continue paying the payments out of unemployment benefits. Many times people decide to convert their cases to Chapter 7 if they lose their jobs.

If I file 13 can I convert it to a 7 later?
Yes, as long as you are eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge. However, if you start in a Chapter 13 and convert to a Chapter 7 very soon after filing (and my fees are not paid in the Chapter 13), then my fees are usually $1,550. That is $350 more than if you started in Chapter 7 in the first place!
When will the garnishment stop?
We can usually get garnishments stopped within 1-2 weeks. If the creditor refuses to stop the garnishment promptly then we have the right to sue them to make them stop.
Will I get any garnishment money back? Money garnished before filing – no, it belongs to the creditor. Money garnished after filing –yes, but if it is only 1-2 weeks of garnishment then it is usually not worth suing over.

If I give up my car in bankruptcy can they sue me for the difference?
No, as long as your case completes and discharges as planned.

If I file bankruptcy and I give my car up, how long do I get to keep it?
Usually, 6-12 weeks depending on the creditor. The creditor must either get our permission to repossess the vehicle or get the judge’s permission. Once the bankruptcy judge gives the creditor permission to repossess the vehicle, it can be repossessed at any time without warning.

How long can I stay in the house if I give it up in the bankruptcy?
Usually at least 3-4 months. If there is a pending foreclosure when we file your case, then the foreclosure will be stopped. The mortgage lender must: (1) File a “motion for relief from stay” in the bankruptcy court to start the foreclosure over (2) Send out a certified letter telling you that they are going to start a new foreclosure (3) Run an ad in the paper for the 4 weeks before the foreclosure date (4) File for eviction after the foreclosure - after the foreclosure the lender still has to get the magistrate judge to grant an eviction before they can make you leave.

Can I file bankruptcy on back taxes?
Yes, generally you can discharge (wipe out) taxes if the tax returns have been filed for over 2 years and the taxes are over 3 years old (based on the day they were due, including any extensions). You can never discharge sales taxes and payroll taxes. If the taxes are “too new” to discharge, they can be paid through Chapter 13 and the penalties and interest will stop. If there is a tax lien, the debt will be treated as a secured debt.
Will the Trustee take my tax refunds?
Chapter 7 – We can usually protect a tax refund up to $5,000 per person.
Chapter 13 - We are able to protect tax refunds in most cases.
Can I file bankruptcy on back child support?
Child Support can not be discharged, but arrearages can be paid in a Chapter 13 plan. Please ask Mr. Rampley if you have specific questions.

What do I do if I they don’t take my Chapter 13 payment out of my check?
Let us know immediately and bring the money to my office by check or money order.
What are the odds my case will work?
One of the best things about bankruptcy is that it is very predictable as long as you tell us about all of your property and all of your income. Here are some specifics about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13:
Chapter 7 – Very high chance the case will work (over 99.9%) as long as you have not received a Chapter 7 discharge in the past eight years or a Chapter 13 discharge in the past six years.
Chapter 13 - Very high chance the case will work as long as you can make the payments. (We get over 90% of cases approved). Your case should go as planned as long as you:
1.)   Make the Plan Payments. The number one reason that cases do not work is that the payments are not made!
2.)   Pay the $103 Filing Fee installments. The second reason that cases get dismissed is that people forget to pay the filing fee installments. The court will dismiss your case 10 days after the due date if an installment is not paid.
3.)   Show up for court.
Can my house payment be added in the Chapter 13 payment?
Back house payments – yes, they are part of the Chapter 13 payment. Future house payments - no (unless you owe less than 5 years on your mortgage).

Will my bankruptcy affect my spouse’s bills or property?
No, if you have separate bills and property.
Possibly, if you have joint bills or property (please ask Mr. Rampley).

Will my bankruptcy affect my co-debtor?
Chapter 7- Your co-debtor will still owe the debt unless they file bankruptcy too.
Chapter 13- You are able to pay for co-signed debt in the Chapter 13 and your co-debtor will be safe as long as you pay contract interest on that debt.

Can I file along with another person?
Only legally married couples can file a joint case. If you owe joint debts with someone who is not your spouse, then you can still each file separate cases.

If I file Chapter 13 can they still repossess my car?
No. The law forbids it.
If I file Chapter 13 can they still foreclose on my house?
No, not as long as you make your future house payments. The payments you are behind on when you file the case will be paid through your Chapter 13 plan.

GETTING STARTED WITH A BANKRUPTCY CASE
Why do I have to fill out all of this paperwork if I am paying Mr. Rampley to handle my case?
Good question! Bankruptcy attorneys are often asked why the client has to do “all this paperwork” if they are paying an attorney to handle the case for them. The short answer is that the Attorney and the Client have different jobs. The Client is the ONLY one who knows all the facts, so they have to supply the facts to the lawyer (that is what the paperwork is for). The lawyer then takes the facts given to him by the Client, analyzes them and examines how they fit in the law, advises the Client on the wisest course to follow, prepares the facts in the official forms for court, gets the Client ready for court, and then represents the Client in court.
How will my creditors know that I filed?
Within 1 day of the case being filed the court mails out a notice to everyone involved in the case – Mr. Rampley, the Debtors, the Trustee, and the Creditors.

When can I tell my creditors that I filed bankruptcy?
After your case is filed with the court and you have received a case number.
Should I pay my creditors while I am waiting to file a case? Each case is different, but here are some guidelines:
If the loan goes too far overdue the title pawn company will automatically own your car and we cannot get it back!
Car Payments – Generally car creditors only seek to repo once the loan becomes 2-3 months behind.
All Other Creditors – Generally no.

Why do you have to have 6-7 months paystubs?
The law requires that we fill out and verify the “means test” which is based on your last six months of income. Without the paystubs, we cannot calculate the required number.

Can I add my spouse's bills if he/she is not filing with me?
No.

Can I add student loans to my case?
Chapter 7- It is almost impossible to discharge (wipe out) student loans in Chapter 7. They must be an "undue hardship."
Chapter 13- Student loans can be paid through your plan but most people who have student loans with high balances choose to defer them until the case is over.

How long will it be until I get a case number?
As soon as we file the case with the court you will automatically be assigned a case number.

How long does it take to get a case filed with the court?
As long as you have brought us everything we need, our average case processing time is 2 weeks unless your case is difficult or unusual.

Can I make payments on a Chapter 7?
Yes, you can make payments in any amount, but we do not work on your case until the entire fee is paid.
Do I have to list ALL of my bills?
Yes.

Do you run a credit report?
Yes. We also recommend that you run a credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Many creditors do not report to collection bureaus and therefore will NOT be listed on your credit report. Please do your best to collect the information on your creditors. List everyone you owe! Even if you do not know how much you owe them!

We are a married couple and we are both filing. Do we both have to come to the filing appointment?
Yes. You CANNOT sign the papers for your spouse.

Why do I need my spouse’s pay stubs if they are not filing?
Because the law requires that we file a budget for your entire the household, including your spouse’s income and expenses.

If they repossess my car when can I get it back?
As long as the bankruptcy is filed before the car is sold and you have full coverage insurance, then we can usually get the car back in less than a week. However, if the creditor refuses to return it, we have to file suit and it may take several months.

Does the plan payment have to come out of my paycheck?
Yes, unless you can afford to pay the full filing fee plus two monthly payments down.

Why does everyone I owe child support to have to get notice of my bankruptcy? I am not behind on my support and I don’t want my ex-wife to know that I need to file bankruptcy!
You have to list them because the law demands it! The new laws REQUIRE that we notify any and all child support creditors. Your case cannot be approved if you do not list your child support creditors, even if one is your nasty old ex-wife (or ex-husband)!

ABOUT COURT

Where is the court?
The Federal Courthouse in Rome, Georgia - if you live in Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield Counties.

When will court be?
About 5-6 weeks from the time that a case is filed and you get a case number. You will have many weeks’ notice so that you can ask for time off from work.

Can you set court around my work schedule?
No, the court and Trustees set the court schedule.

What if I have to miss court because of an emergency?
The 341 meeting can usually be rescheduled at least once with no problem.

Who is the Trustee?
There are 4 key people in a bankruptcy case:
(1) The Debtor – The person who files for bankruptcy.
(2) The Trustee – The person who is appointed by the government to review your case and to interview you in court.
(3) The Creditors – The people/companies that you owe.
(4) The Judge – The Judge only gets involved in cases if there is a dispute between the Debtors, the Trustee, or the Creditors. Most people who file bankruptcy never meet the judge!

If both Spouses file a joint case do they both have to go to court?
Yes. If both spouses file the case together then you both have to go court.

What is court like?
The court you have to attend is called the “341 Meeting of Creditors.” The 341 meeting is a very fast interview by the Trustee and is only 5 minutes long on average.
Chapter 7 – The Trustee hears 6 cases every 30 minutes!
Chapter 13 – The Trustee hears 10 cases per hour!

Can someone come to court with me?
Yes, for moral support, but they cannot answer the Trustee’s questions for you (or even help you answer) unless you have a disability that prevents your being able to answer.

Will somebody be in court with me?
Yes, either Mr. Rampley or Annette Drennon (an attorney who helps Mr. Rampley with 341 meetings) will be there with you. The attorney’s job at a 341 Meeting is to get you oriented, sit with you while you are being interviewed by the Trustee, and to help you out if needed. 341 Meetings are important, but quite low key and do not have to be stressful.

Will my creditors be at the 341 Meeting?
Creditors have the right to attend the 341 Meeting, but most do not because nothing is decided at the 341 Meeting. It is just their opportunity to ask you questions under oath. Since very few debts are in dispute, there is usually no reason for them to pay someone to show up. Many times car creditors will show up just to ask for proof of insurance and to generally discuss the condition of the vehicle. They are usually very professional and respectful. They can only ask you questions, not bully you or be mean to you.

If no creditors show up for my 341 Meeting can they still fight my case?
Chapter 7 - Yes, but is very unlikely in Chapter 7. Usually,only credit card companies file objections to very recent charges or unusual charges and cash advances within the 6 months before the case is filed.
Chapter 13 - In Chapter 13, creditors will sometimes file “objections to confirmation” in order to get better treatment. Those objections are usually very easy to work out and the creditor files them in the court and does not even show up for the hearing.

LIFE AFTER BANKRUPTCY

How soon until I can take out new credit?
Chapter 7 – As soon as you want to, but most creditors will not lend to you until the case is over.
Chapter 13 – You cannot take out credit while the case is open unless we get court permission.

When can I buy a house?
The federal rule to be eligible for a federally backed home loan (FHA Loans, for example) is 2 years after your case closes. However, you must have sufficient income and re-establish good credit after bankruptcy to qualify.

When can I buy another car?
Chapter 7 – At any time, but most lenders will not lend until after the case is over (3-4 months).
Chapter 13 – At any time, but a request to get another car has to be approved by either the Court or the Trustee.

How long does bankruptcy stay on my credit?
7 – 10 years from the day the case is filed with the court. However, most people can have a 600-700 credit score within 2 years of filing bankruptcy!

What is the worst thing about credit after bankruptcy?
High interest! Believe it or not, most people can get credit after a bankruptcy. The main problem is very high interest for the first 1-2 years! We recommend only taking out small loans at most until about 2 years after bankruptcy.

If I win the lottery, receive an inheritance, or life insurance, do I have to report it?
Chapter 7 – Yes, if you get the rights to it before filing, or within 180 days of filing
Chapter 13 – Yes, if you get the rights to it before filing, or during the time your case is open.

What if I get divorced?
Chapter 7 – Your case will not be affected if you get divorced after filing your Chapter 7
Chapter 13 – You and your (ex) spouse will have to decide how to split up the payments

What happens if I pass away before the Chapter 13 ends?
Then your heirs can decide whether or not to proceed with your case.

Can I add more creditors after I file my case?
Yes. If you add all your additional creditors (on debts that are incurred before the case was filed) at one time, it will cost only $30. You cannot add new debts that are created or incurred after your case is filed (except in Chapter 13 you can sometimes add taxes that you incur while your case is open).

Note: This is not legal advice, but instead practical information that applies to the majority of cases. Please do not rely upon this information without a consultation with a qualified attorney. Prepared By Chris Rampley, Attorney at Law

Call Us Today At ♦ (706) 291-7060

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Rome

Chris Rampley

103 W 8th Ave

Rome, GA 30161
Phone: (706) 291-7060
Email: chrisrampleylaw@gmail.com

Cartersville

Chris Rampley

911 N Tennessee St
Cartersville,
GA 3012

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