Chapter 7 is also known as “straight” bankruptcy, “fresh start” bankruptcy, and “liquidation” bankruptcy. It gives bankrupt individuals (“debtor”) a fresh start by discharging, or wiping-out, most unsecured debt. For example, some common debts that are wiped-out in a Chapter 7 are credit cards, medical bills, and deficiencies on repossessed vehicles. In addition, a bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability and prevents the creditors from taking any further action against the debtor or the debtor’s property to collect the debts.
Secured creditors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy are handled differently. If you want to stay in your home and/or keeping your car are important to you, you should stay current on your monthly payments. While a Chapter 7 discharge may eliminate your personal liability on a secured debt, it does not eliminate the lien that the lender has against your property. So when you become sufficiently delinquent, even after a Chapter 7 discharge, there is potential for secured creditors, such as your mortgage holder or car loan creditors, from foreclosing or repossessing that property.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is basically set up to force your creditors, whether a mortgage company, taxing authority or credit card company, to stop their debt collection efforts. The filing of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition forces your creditors to stop all collection efforts. This means that your mortgage company must stop foreclosure efforts, taxing authorities must stop garnishments or levies or other collection efforts, and credit card companies must stop any collection efforts, including phone calls, letters, lawsuits, and other forms of contact.
Once the bankruptcy is started with the filing of the petition, your case will be assigned to one of several Chapter 7 Trustees. Approximately 30-40 days after the bankruptcy is started, you MUST attend a meeting of creditors with the Chapter 7 Trustee assigned to your case. An attorney from our office will prepare you for what to expect at the meeting and also attend the meeting with you. You MUST attend this meeting (currently, being conducted via telephone or video conference) or your case will be dismissed.
For more information about how bankruptcy may help you, as well as bankruptcy alternatives, contact us for a free assessment.
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