Q: What is the Meeting of Creditors and do I have to go?
A: A Meeting of Creditors is required by the Bankruptcy Code for all persons
seeking relief. It is an informal meeting between the Debtor and the Trustee
to determine the Debtor’s compliance with the requirements of the
bankruptcy code as well as confirm the assets and liabilities of the Debtor.
Q: Will a Trustee take my tax refund if I file for bankruptcy?
A: That’s going to depend on the amount of refund and timing of
filing. To have analysis, please
Q: What is this Confirmation Hearing in a Chapter 13 case?
A: Confirmation is the formal hearing where the court examines the Chapter
13 plan and the plan hopefully is accepted and becomes binding on all
creditors in the case. Confirmation hearings generally do not require
the Debtor to appear and may, in some cases, be waived by the Trustee
if the Plan is sufficiently solid.
Q: Do I have to pay my homeowner’s association dues, if I file for
A: Yes. Any arrears that you may have accrued go away but the continuing
obligation to pay homeowner’s dues is not erased by a bankruptcy
case. In years past, Debtors could discharge and reject the homeowner’s
dues obligation but Congress took away that loophole in 2005. In some
states, not only do the homeowner’s dues create a personal responsibility
against the homeowner but they also may become a lien on real property.
This is the case in New Jersey.
Q: Does my bankruptcy affect my spouse?
A: Generally no, however, joint debts might cause additional complications.
This is a question that requires individual analysis on a case by case basis.
Q: Why would I be asked for my spouse’s income and expenses?
A: The reason that the bankruptcy trustees will demand this information
is because the Trustee wants to ascertain the complete household income
and total expenses affecting the Debtor. It is often in your best interest
to put in spousal expenses because every dollar the spouse spends for
their own benefit and not for the household can make the means test easier to pass.
Q: What happens if I file for bankruptcy and suddenly inherit something?
A: This is a thorny issue for any bankruptcy practitioner. The bankruptcy
estate includes any property acquired by the Debtor by reason of inheritance,
divorce settlement or life insurance payout within 180 days after the
filing of the petition. If you inherit anything within that time frame,
it belongs to the bankruptcy estate and you should speak to your attorney
as soon as possible.
Q. How do I know if I can file for bankruptcy?
A. Bankruptcy, like ice cream, comes in several different “flavors”.
For individuals, there are considerations such as your income, your interests
in real estate, insurance policies, and other assets that may affect what
kind of bankruptcy you need, Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter 11 or Chapter
12. Businesses have different issues, most importantly – whether
they intend to stay in business or shut down. The first task of any lawyer
in bankruptcy cases is to have a detailed and careful discussion with
a client to determine what will be in the client’s best interest
and provide the most effective debt relief possible.
Q. I have a car, a house, and other things. Will I lose everything in a
A. This is going to depend on what flavor of bankruptcy you are working
with. In Chapter 7, the equity in your property will determine if you
get to keep it. In Chapter 13, you can keep most things, but sometimes
certain luxury items that you still owe money on may have to go in order
to help you restructure your life. Nevertheless, in most cases people
keep all or almost all of their possessions.