The law office of Milly Whatley, P.C. provides the following answers to questions we frequently encounter as we help people in Bend, throughout Deschutes County and across central Oregon in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies and more. We hope this information is helpful to you. If you have other questions or need assistance in filing for bankruptcy, please contact Milly Whatley, P.C. to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
If I have filed bankruptcy before, can I file again?
You may file for a second Chapter 7 eight years after filing the first. You may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy four years after filing a Chapter 7.
How can I get my creditors to stop calling me?
Creditors are not permitted to call individuals who are represented by legal counsel. Once you have retained Milly Whatley to represent you, creditors are required to communicate with us, not you. Harassing phone calls must cease when you tell your creditors you have retained an attorney. Also, when you file your bankruptcy petition, the court will issue an automatic stay, putting an immediate halt to all debt collection efforts, including lawsuits and garnishments.
What happens if I get sued?
You should seek legal advice immediately. A bankruptcy will stop a lawsuit and prevent the creditor from getting a judgment against you. If the creditor gets a judgment, collection efforts must stop when the bankruptcy is filed. Until the bankruptcy is filed, however, the creditor may be able to garnish your wages or bank accounts. A judgment also creates a lien on any real estate you own. It may or may not be possible to eliminate the lien in bankruptcy.
Will I have to appear in court?
It is rare for people who file Chapter 7 or 13 to go to court or see a judge. A “Meeting of Creditors” at which a bankruptcy trustee presides is usually the only required appearance. Creditors rarely appear, and for most bankruptcy filers the meeting consists of 5 to 10 minutes of questioning by the trustee regarding your assets. You do not have to explain why you cannot pay your bills.
Can I keep my car? My home?
If you file Chapter 7, you may be able to exempt a certain amount of equity in your home or car; depending upon your equity and the value of these assets, they may be safe from the bankruptcy trustee. Also, there are other actions you can take to retain certain property. If you file Chapter 13, your assets will not be taken or sold in bankruptcy, and you can even save your home from foreclosure if you are in default.
We understand how important it is to protect your assets, which is why we do more than just file your bankruptcy, but also advise you on how to manage your property prior to filing.
Who will know about my bankruptcy?
When the case is filed in Bankruptcy Court, notifications are sent by the court to all creditors, co-debtors, your case trustee, the United States Trustee, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Oregon Department of Revenue. The case is a matter of public record and anyone who wants to look at the court record may do so. The Meeting of Creditors (your meeting with your case trustee) is open to the public but creditors rarely attend and there is press coverage only in the most unusual and high profile cases.
There is no requirement that notice of your bankruptcy be published in a newspaper. If, however, a newspaper chooses to print bankruptcy notices, you cannot stop it from doing so.
Can I repay my doctor and my vet?
After filing bankruptcy you my voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay.
Are all debts dischargeable in bankruptcy?
No. Domestic support obligations are never dischargeable.
Most tax debt is not dischargeable. Income tax debt may be dischargeable depending on how old the debt is and when you filed your return.
Student loan debt is rarely dischargeable. You must prevail in a lawsuit in the Bankruptcy Court (separate from your bankruptcy), and the legal standards are very difficult to meet.
Certain other debts (such as debts arising from fraud or malicious injury to another) are not dischargeable if challenged by the creditor.
Marital property settlements are dischargeable in Chapter 13 bankruptcy but not in Chapter 7.
Will I lose my job?
It is against the law for your employer to fire you because you filed for bankruptcy.
Does my spouse have to file bankruptcy if I file?
No. You can file alone. Keep in mind that your spouse will remain liable for the debt on any joint accounts.
What effect will my bankruptcy have on a co-signer, such as the person who co-signed my truck loan?
In Chapter 7 the creditor can pursue the co-signer if payments are not being made. In Chapter 13 it is sometimes possible to protect the co-signer by paying the debt through the Chapter 13 plan.
Your bankruptcy cannot be reported on your co-signer’s credit reports, although delinquencies can be reported. If payments are being made by either you or the co-signer, there will be no adverse consequences.
Can the bankruptcy trustee garnish my bank account?
A garnishment of your wages or bank account is a collection tool used by creditors who obtain a judgment against you. Filing for bankruptcy actually stops a garnishment, and some garnishments are dischargeable by the bankruptcy court. Cash in a bank account may be exempt from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, depending upon the amount of money and source of funds on deposit. If it is not exempt, you will be able to pay the non-exempt money to the trustee in reasonable payments rather than suffer an unexpected garnishment. In Chapter 13, you make a regular monthly payment to the bankruptcy trustee but your bank account will not be garnished.
What will happen to my credit score?
Bankruptcies remain on your credit report for ten years after discharge. During that time, your credit score will be negatively impacted by the bankruptcy. However, that does not mean that you cannot obtain credit. In fact, there are steps you can take immediately after -or even during – a bankruptcy to begin rebuilding credit and obtaining loans.
What is a reaffirmation agreement?
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between you and a creditor that a debt will survive the bankruptcy. The most commonly reaffirmed debts are vehicle loans. The agreement is that you get to keep the collateral (the vehicle) and the creditor will get paid, usually according to the original terms of the loan. The reaffirmation agreement must be signed by you and the creditor, and filed with the court.