Important Information about Bankruptcy
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: HOW MUCH DOES A TYPICAL BANKRUPTCY COST?
A: The court filing fee for a chapter 7 bankruptcy is now $335.00. The attorney fee at my firm starts at $750 for the typical bankruptcy. Your fee may be higher depending on your assets, your employment and the number of creditors.
Q: WHAT DOCUMENTS DO i NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN BANKRUPTCY?
A: You will need the following documents: Tax returns for the past two years, pay stubs or pay statement showing the current month and past six months, copy of title to any vehicles, deed to any home, pay off statement on any secured debts such as mortgage and car loan, all your creditors, collection notices and any lawsuits, pre-bankruptcy counseling course ( I recommend DebtorCC). Do not take this course certification until you are ready to file your bankruptcy. The reason being is that the certificate is only good for 180 days or roughly six months. If expired, you will have to take it again.
Q: HOW QUICKLY CAN YOU GET MY CASE FILED?
A: I have a "fast filing guarantee" which gets your case filed in record time. Once you have all your documents, have paid in full, and have reviewed and signed your bankruptcy petition, your case will be filed in three days or less. That's the guarantee. No extra charge, just a rock solid commitment to you and your case.
Q: ONCE MY CASE IS FILED; HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FINISH?
A: Once your case is filed by my office electronically, you will receive a notice in the mail from the bankruptcy court in about one week. The notice is give you the date/time and place of your meeting. In Rochester, you go to the Federal Building at 100 State Street at the corner of State and Andrews. In Buffalo the meeting is at 300 Pearl Street, Olympic Towers across from the Hyatt Hotel. Here is link to the bankruptcy court if you need more information. Once you have your meeting with a trustee, the case remains open for approximately 3 months. Assuming that the trustee doesn't request any documentation or information from you and your creditors do not object to the discharge of your debts, the case will be closed.
Q: I FILED BANKRUPTCY BEFORE; CAN I FILE AGAIN AND I WOULD LIKE LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BASICS OF BANKRUPTCY?
A: If you filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy before, you have to wait eight (8) years to file a chapter 7 again. The time period runs from filing date to filing date. If you filed a chapter 13 and finished your payments and received a discharge or your case was dismissed for non payment or any other reason, you can file a chapter 7. Follow this link to learn more about bankruptcy basics by clicking on this link.
Chapter 13, Then Chapter 7
If your first discharge was granted under Chapter 13, you cannot receive a discharge under any Chapter 7 case that is filed within six years from the date that the Chapter 13 was filed. The only exceptions to the six-year waiting period are:
- if you paid all unsecured creditors in full in the Chapter 13, or
- if you paid at least 70% of the claims in the Chapter 13 and the plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort.
Chapter 7, Then Chapter 13
If your first discharge was granted under Chapter 7, you cannot receive a discharge under any Chapter 13 case that is filed within four years from the date that the Chapter 7 was filed.
This can get tricky if you file your second case (the Chapter 13) between four and eight years after the Chapter 7 case and the court does not confirm your Chapter 13 plan. Normally, if your Chapter 13 plan is not confirmed, you could convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, in this situation, the rules for successive Chapter 7 discharges would kick in, preventing you from getting a discharge in the converted case. In this case, it might make sense to simply dismiss the Chapter 13 case.
Q: WHAT IS THE MEANS TEST AND WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO ME?
A: The means testing is way the system determines whether you qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy or you "have the ability to pay your creditors something back" under a chapter 13. This link to the US trustee's website will give you all the means test information. Chart of median income by state . The income "threshold" or maximum increases as per your family size. For example, one person can earn up to $46,295.00. That number increases to $83,942 for a family of four. Six months of your pay advices are used for the means test. An average monthly amount is derived and then average out for the year. If you are above the median income for your family size then there is a presumption that you can pay your creditor's back something in a chapter 13 case.
Q: CAN I FILE BANKRUPTCY MYSELF WITHOUT A LAWYER?
A: You absolutely positively can file your case without a lawyer. However, there are many obstacles that you have to be aware of and avoid falling into a pit. If you know how to install a sink or dishwasher, why pay someone to do it? If you think that you can send couple hours researching the bankruptcy laws and filling out the forms, then you should do it. However, in my opinion you are better off paying an attorney to file your case and getting his or her expertise in the area. If you want to try and file your own case, there is a link to the necessary forms that need to be filed. Bankruptcy forms.
I have filed over 1,200 cases in the Buffalo and Rochester area. I have appeared in all the bankruptcy courts in WNY including Mayville, Watkins Glenn, Niagara Falls, Batvia and of course, Buffalo and Rochester.
Q: i AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE TRUSTEE TAKING MY ASSETS?
A: In 2008, Governer Patterson sign new bankruptcy legislation that allowed a debtor to select the Federal bankruptcy exemptions in lieu of the New York State exemptions. The legislation also increased amount of equity a debtor can protect in a home. This is called a "homestead exemption" and the debtor must reside in the home.
Which exemptions should you choose, state or federal? Basically if you have more then $22,975 in homestead equity, then the New York State exemptions are better. NYS allows up to $75,000 in home equity that can be protected from your creditors. Alternatively, if you have no home or less then $22,975 in home equity, then the federal bankruptcy exemptions are best. One reason is that the federal exemptions give a debtor a "wildcard" exemption up to $11,500 depending on the amount of equity in a home.
Below are the exemptions:
NYS exemptions: Click here
Federal exemptions: Click here
Q: WITH ALL THE BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS OUT THERE, WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE YOU?
A: Good question. For starters, I have been in business for over 23 years. I have filed over 1,200 cases. I have been in all the bankruptcy court in WNY and have filed brief in federal district court that handles bankruptcy appeals. I know all the potential pitfulls. My fees are reasonable started at $750.00 for a chapter 7 and I can get your case filed fast. See my "fast filing guarantee" above. There are a lot of good bankruptcy attorneys in WNY area. Give me a call and discuss your case for free. I am fairly certain that after the call you will want me to handle your case.
Q: ARE INCOME TAXES DISCHARGED IN CHAPTER 7? HOW ABOUT CHAPTER 13?
A: Income taxes both state and federal are dischargeable in chapter 7 under certain circumstances. There is a common misunderstanding or myth that income taxes are not dischargeable under any circumstance. This is not the case. If the taxes are filed more then three years from the due date, then the taxes are dischargeable subject further to two year rule and 240 day rule. Confused yet? I think an example with help us out. Lets say the taxes were due 4/15/2011 but were not actually filed until 10/12/2011. Also assume that today's date is November 12, 2014. The assessment happened on 10/15/2011 and there were no offers of compromise or any amended returns filed or additional assessments. This tax is dischargeable because it meets the 3-2-240 day rule. Three years from when the return was due (not actually filed) was 10/15/2014. The return was also filed more then 2 years after the actual filing date. Finally there has not been any new assessments in the past 240 days.
This is one of the pitfulls that I spoke about above. If you don't know how they rules apply, then you can be stuck with tax debt. Consultation with an attorney could have determined that waiting some additional time before filing your case would have discharged your tax debt. Huge difference.