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Frequently Asked Questions

Bay Area Bankruptcy FAQ's

Correct, reliable and up-to-date information is essential if you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy. Important questions about bankruptcy are answered below.

If you do not find the answer you are looking for in these FAQs, take a look at Bankruptcy Fast Facts, or browse the Bankruptcy Knowledge Base. If you still haven't found an answer, read the Complete Guide to Bankruptcy or Contact Us.

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You should find out the experience level of your prospective attorney. Ask how many bankruptcy cases they deal with a year and how long have they have practiced bankruptcy law. Additionally, they should be honest, efficient, and have a great reputation.

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Once someone decides to file for bankruptcy, there are several pitfalls they often fall into. Some decide they want to accumulate debt in hopes of having it restructured in bankruptcy. Others ignore their current situation and pay back family and friends or ignore lawsuits filed against them. Others make the mistake of trying to save money and represent themselves in bankruptcy. Some even aren’t completely honest about their financial situation with their lawyer. All are costly mistakes.

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The answer to this question primarily depends on whether or not you would like to keep your home. If you are fine with your home being sold to reconcile your debt with the mortgage company, Chapter 7 is probably the right choice for you. If you would like to remain in your home, then Chapter 13 is your desired filing status.

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There are numerous myths that people believe about bankruptcy. These include the belief that they will never be able to borrow money again; that both spouses in a marriage will have to file for bankruptcy; and that it is difficult to file for bankruptcy. Other people wrongly believe that filing for bankruptcy helps their credit rating or that they can only file for bankruptcy once.

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Qualifying for bankruptcy differs from state to state and is complicated to determine. A means test was recently established to determine who is qualified for what type of bankruptcy. Suffice to say, around 70 percent of people who file for bankruptcy qualifies.

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The two types of personal bankruptcy that individuals can file under are Chapter 7 bankruptcy, often called a liquidation plan, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, often called the debt restructuring plan.

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The benefits of filing for bankruptcy are numerous. First of all, bankruptcy restructures your debt, making it more manageable. Bankruptcy also offers peace of mind by eliminating the burden of dealing with creditors and the obligation to pay off debts. Moving forward, filing for bankruptcy helps you get a new start and equips you with useful financial skills.

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There are a number of options people have to avoid filing for bankruptcy. First, they can sell assets and restructure living expenses. Other options include home equity debt consolidation loans and credit counseling services. Additionally, they can proactively negotiate payment terms with their creditors.

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A bankruptcy legally can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. The first way to rebuild your credit is by making sure that all accounts are included in bankruptcy and don’t remain open. The primary way to build back your credit score is by attaining and using credit. Sometimes that means applying for secured credit cards, which are usually reserved for people with poor credit, but rebuilding your credit can also include car payments. However, be prepared to pay hefty interest on these loans.

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Some of the warning signs that you are accumulating too much debt include a lack of money in savings and paying only minimum payments on credit cards while continuing to make new purchases on those cards. Additionally, if you find yourself making late payments on bills or credit cards, bouncing checks or over-drafting your checking account, you are accumulating too much debt.