Robert B. Harris, Attorney at Law
Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Attorney
Frequently Asked Questions:
This is just a summary of some of the more common questions people have in regards to consumer debt relief. If you don't find the answer you need here, give me a call!
You can also look to my Facebook page for additional information:
If I file bankruptcy, can I keep my house or my car?
Yes! Bankruptcy was designed to relieve an HONEST DEBTOR of burdensome debt and leave them with the assets essential to building a FRESH START. Statutes, called exemptions, define what assets are necessary for a debtor's FRESH START and they usually place a dollar value maximum on the defined assets. There are exemptions to protect your house and car. As long as the value of your car, or the equity you have in your car or home does not exceed the exemption limits, you keep them!
There are some creditors I want to keep paying, can I leave them out of my bankruptcy?
No. You must list every creditor you have in your bankruptcy petition. If there is a debt you want to continue to pay on, such as your home mortgage, your vehicle loan, your favorite store charge card, or a family member, you should discuss the the ramifications of continuing to pay these creditors after bankruptcy with your attorney.
Is someone going to come to my house to look at my assets?
Generally, no. As I stated above, bankruptcy is for the HONEST DEBTOR. Each debtor has to disclose all of their assets and they must do a reasonable investigation to determine the fair market value of those assets. As long a
a debtor does that investigation, then they should not worry about an inspection of their home or their assets after filing bankruptcy. Red flags include listing your home at a fair market value of $300,000.00, but you only disclose $1,000.00 of household goods and furnishings; or, you list your source of income as a carpenter, but do not disclose any tools as assets.
How will filing bankruptcy protect me?
As soon as you file a bankruptcy petition, the AUTOMATIC STAY provisions of the Bankruptcy Code go into effect. The automatic stay prevents your creditors from collecting debts you incurred prior to the bankruptcy filing. Therefore, the stay prevents your wages from being garnished, your bank account from being levied, your utilities from being shut off, it stops your creditors from calling you and from sending you collection notices. The automatic stay is the most fundamental protection the Bankruptcy Code offers. It is designed to give you the breathing space you need to start getting your life back together. However, the automatic stay does not stop criminal proceedings or the collection of child support or maintenance obligations.
I don't want to file bankruptcy, do I have other debt relief options?
Yes! Bankruptcy is not meant to be a cure-all for every debtor. Bankruptcy alternatives include repayment plans arranged between you and a creditor; a Wisconsin Chapter 128 which is managed by a court-appointed trustee; lump sum settlements for less than the full balance; or, if your circumstances allow it, doing nothing. There are numerous factual considerations before choosing a debt relief option, bankruptcy or otherwise. You should consult with an attorney before choosing any form of debt relief.
Call me today!