Too often, people make their financial decisions based on drug store logic or what a relative told them about their personal experience. There are many different misconceptions flying around out there when it comes to what is and what is not allowed when you file a petition for bankruptcy protection. The Bankruptcy Code and cases that interpret it and policy involved are very complex and every situation is different. Just because something was true for one does not mean it will be true for another. It is always a good idea to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who has likely seen your personal situation before, or at least something close to it.
Here are some common misconceptions about bankruptcy that we have seen over the years in our offices. Note the links to our blogs and podcasts with more information.
● Everyone in the neighborhood will find out about you filed for bankruptcy protection. Unless you go around telling all your neighbors that you filed for bankruptcy, most of them will never know. Larger cities often do not have enough room or work force to publish all of the bankruptcies filed because there are so many in a larger city.
● You will never be able to get credit ever again. This is far from the truth. In fact, many people start establishing good credit right after their bankruptcy or even during it by using a secured credit card, for example. In many cases, your credit score will rise when you no longer have so much outstanding debt, but know that the bankruptcy will be on your credit report.
● All your debts will go away when you file for bankruptcy. The easy lawyer’s answer is, “Not necessarily.” There are certain debts like student loans and child support obligations and generally, you cannot discharge these in bankruptcy. There are also debts that are reorganized when you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
● You will lose your home and your car when you file for bankruptcy. Do you want to lose your home? You can if you would like but in most cases, involving bankruptcy people have already spent the equity in their home. There are certain amounts of equity in a home that you get to keep as an exemption. You may also keep assets for which you make payments, such as a car, by reaffirming the debt. If that car is not worth a certain amount, you may be able to keep it under an exemption.
● The boss is going to fire you Monday morning when he finds out you filed for bankruptcy. No way! If she or he does, you may find yourself in quite an actionable position because there are federal laws protecting employees for being fired for filing for bankruptcy and their economic status generally.
● You cannot file for bankruptcy unless you are broke. Also not true. You will have to pay filing fees and attorney fees so you must be able to at least pay those. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of cash allowed by law. If you do not pass the means test for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the total discharge, you can file for Chapter 13, which is helpful for higher income earners.
● You will never be able to buy another new home if you file for bankruptcy. Actually, many say you can finance a new home and sign a mortgage within 4 years of a bankruptcy, which again varies by location and individual circumstance. With less debt, it makes sense to save money for a larger down payment. In the meantime, renting a home is a common option and is rather painless if you do have to move.
Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.