Common Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Questions and Answers

*This Chapter 7 Bankruptcy FAQ is provided for informational purposes related to filing chapter 7 bankruptcy and should not be taken as actual legal advice.

Q: If I decide to retain Symmes Law Group, PLLC in a chapter 7 Bankruptcy what does my fee cover? 

A: A bankruptcy lawyer with Symmes Law Group will prepare and file your bankruptcy petition with the court, answer your questions and attend your 341 trustee meeting with you. The trustee meeting is most likely the only time you have to go to court.

Q: What does it cost to file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A: A flat fee will be quoted to you during your free initial consultation depending on the facts of your case. There is a court filing fee of $335, credit counseling fee of $25-$50, and a credit report fee of $36-$72 which is an additional cost to the flat fee legal fee that we quote you. The legal and credit report fees are due prior to us filing your case, however $235 of the court filing fee may be paid in installments with the bankruptcy court post filing. You may also choose to retain us by putting $100 down and make payments towards filing your bankruptcy which will stop creditors from harassing you, however we cannot file your case until the full fee is paid.

Q: Who qualifies for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A: To determine whether or not you qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy we must look to see if your household income is below the state Washington state median income for your household size, and whether you have filed bankruptcy in the last 8 years. Additionally, there may be several other factors to consider which we can go over during your free consultation.

Q: Which debts are dischargeable?

A: The most common debts such as credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, and payday loans are usually dischargeable. Student Loans, taxes incurred within the last three years, alimony, child support, debts from illegal activity, and any account in which you charged $600 or more in the last 90 days prior to filing are all not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Q: How much of my personal belongings can I keep when I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A: In most cases you will be allowed to retain all of your personal goods including vehicles and a personal residence with up to $125,000 in equity. A bankruptcy attorney with Symmes Law Group will assess your situation and determine whether the federal or state bankruptcy exemptions should be applied to your case so that you get the max protection you are allowed by law.

Q: When and where do I have to go to court?

A: In most cases you will only be required to go to court one time to meet with a trustee who will question you about your bankruptcy petition. This meeting usually occurs in about 4 weeks from your bankruptcy filing date. The meeting will be held in the jurisdiction for which you live. In Seattle, the bankruptcy court is located at 700 Stewart St., Seattle, WA 98101.

Q: Can I file my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case in Washington State?

A:  You may file your chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Washington State if you have lived in Washington state for the greater part of the last 180 days.

Q: How long until my debts are completely discharged after filing bankruptcy?A: Generally the entire chapter 7 bankruptcy process takes about 90 days from the date of filing. You will be notified by mail of your discharge. After you file your case you will have the protection of the automatic stay which forbids creditors from collecting on debts without court approval.

Q: If my wages are being garnished, can a chapter 7 bankruptcy stop the garnishment?A: Yes, a chapter 7 bankruptcy will stop your garnishment after a bankruptcy lawyer files your case and notifies your employer.  If your wages have been garnished within 90 days of your case filing, you may be able to get those funds back after your case is filed.

Q: Will a chapter 7 bankruptcy stop a foreclosure on my home?

A: Filing chapter 7 bankruptcy may only delay the foreclosure process and in most cases does not allow a debtor to catch up on missed payments. A secured creditor may file a motion for relief from the automatic stay and continue the foreclosure action when the motion is approved or after you have received your discharge.

Q: How often can a person file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A: A debtor may file for chapter 7 bankruptcy every 8 years and receive a discharge. A debtor may file a chapter 13 bankruptcy and receive a discharge of their debts after may be  after 4 years from the filing date of a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Q: Is there a minimum debt that I should have to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy?

A: There is no set amount that a debtor must have in order to file bankruptcy, however this office likes to see at least $10,000 in debt in order to avoid any bankruptcy abuse actions from the trustees office. If you feel that you can repay your debt in the future then it is possible that debt settlement may be a better route for you.

Q: Can I keep my bank accounts or credit account that I like open?

A: In chapter 7 bankruptcy you cannot choose which debts you would like to include, and which debts you would not like to include. You must include all debt or no debt, there is no in between. Whether a bank or credit card company wishes to keep you as a customer is up to them. You will need to call them to find out what will happen if you file bankruptcy.

Q: How long does a bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

A: A chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for a period of 10 years. After you file bankruptcy you may immediately start rebuilding your credit through obtaining higher interest rate credit cards, secured credit cards and prepaid credit cards.

Q: What is the bankruptcy means test?

A: The means test in a chapter 7 bankruptcy comes into play when a household is above the median income for the state in which they are filing in. If a debtor can justify that they truly have no excess income in which to put into a chapter 13 repayment plan, then the means test may come into play to help qualify the debtor for a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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