DuPage County Bankruptcy Attorneys
Illinois Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The award-winning bankruptcy attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC answer questions clients frequently ask when seeking debt relief through bankruptcy. If you have an issue regarding personal or small business bankruptcy, contact our lawyers by calling 630-932-9100630-932-9100 today.
What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Often referred to as a “straight” or “liquidation” bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy. Individuals who file can keep a certain amount of exempt assets, have all dischargeable debts wiped clean, and receive a fresh financial start.
What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also referred to as “reorganization.” Individuals who want to repay a portion of their debts but need a lower and more manageable payment can often benefit from Chapter 13. If the court approves the proposed repayment plan, debts can be paid back over a three to five year period.
Do I qualify to file for bankruptcy under the newer, stricter laws?
Under the Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Act (BAPCPA), individuals are means tested to determine if they are eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you earn below the Illinois median income for a household of your size, you automatically qualify. If you earn above the state median income, you will need to prove that you have insufficient income to pay your creditors. If you are unable to show such proof, you will need to explore other options, such as Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
How much debt is required to file for bankruptcy?
No specific amount of debt is required to file for bankruptcy. Temporary financial troubles probably will not warrant bankruptcy action. In some situations, arrangements can be made with individual creditors to reduce your amount due. Because filing for bankruptcy affects finances significantly for several years, bankruptcy usually is reserved for serious debt problems after other remedies have been exhausted.
What is the filing fee for bankruptcy in Illinois?
Illinois filing fees are currently $335 for Chapter 7 and $281 for Chapter 13, which apply to either one person or a married couple. On occasion, the court allows filing fees to be paid in installments. Attorney fees are arranged with individual attorneys based on the hiring agreement.
Can I file for bankruptcy more than once?
Yes, but within the following time limitations:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Eight years from a previous Chapter 7 filing; six years from a prior Chapter 13 filing.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Four years from a previous Chapter 7 filing; two years from a prior Chapter 13 filing.
Can I file bankruptcy individually or do I have to file jointly with my spouse?
You can file either individually or jointly, depending on which option makes more sense for your specific circumstance. In cases when couples are considering bankruptcy and divorce at the same time, filing bankruptcy first can be beneficial in simplifying the divorce process. Other factors must be considered, however, such as individual vs. joint income and assets.
How much of my personal property will I be able to keep?
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are allowed to keep up to $15,000 in equity in your homestead, up to $2400 in equity in vehicles, up to $1500 in tools and professional items, most retirement and pension funds, household furnishings, clothing and most other personal affects. For married couples filing jointly, this exemption is doubled.
Do I have to go to court?
You usually do not have to go to court when filing for bankruptcy. You are required to attend a Creditors' Meeting (§341 meeting) with your lawyer, the trustee and any creditors who attend. The trustee asks questions about your financial situation and debt. The meeting is held approximately 40 days after filing the bankruptcy petition. However, if you decide to dispute a debt, you might have to appear before a judge for a hearing. Also, if complications arise, under certain circumstances you might have to appear in court, but you would receive notification from the court in that case.
How soon will creditors stop calling after I file for bankruptcy?
When bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means creditors and collection agencies must cease all collection attempts once they are aware of the bankruptcy. They usually receive notification several weeks after a bankruptcy petition has been filed. When you file a bankruptcy petition, the court notifies all creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules. If a lawsuit is pending, your lawyer should contact the creditor bringing suit immediately after filing. Also, you may inform creditors that you have filed for bankruptcy and provide them with your case number. The court may sanction creditors who continue collection after notification of bankruptcy.
Who will find out about my bankruptcy filing?
Your filing is entered into the bankruptcy court record system. Anyone searching this system can find your name listed. However, unless you are a public official, it is highly unlikely that anyone you know will actively search the public bankruptcy records.
How does my bankruptcy filing affect a co-signer?
Your co-signer on a loan may have to pay your debt if you file for bankruptcy.
Will I lose my house if I file for bankruptcy?
You may keep an exempt amount of equity in your home. If your equity does not exceed the exemption and you are current on your mortgage payments and can continue to pay them, you typically can keep your house. The automatic stay may also be able to prevent or at least delay a home foreclosure and allow you to work out an arrangement to keep your house.
Can I keep my car in a bankruptcy?
The Bankruptcy Code exempts a certain amount of equity in a vehicle. If your payments and insurance are current, you may retain your vehicle through the bankruptcy process if you do not significantly exceed the exemption amount.
How long will bankruptcy remain on my credit report?
Bankruptcy may remain on your credit report no longer than ten years, under provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, most individuals who file begin to receive credit offers within a year or two after the bankruptcy is discharged.
If I file for bankruptcy, can I discharge IRS tax debts?
Sometimes. In order to qualify, the tax debt must be at least three years old and not be a result of willful or fraudulent evasion. Other restrictions also apply.
If I file for bankruptcy, can I discharge my student loans?
Government-issued student loans are categorized as priority debts and are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Will I lose my job if I file for bankruptcy?
No. Federal law (11 U.S.C. Sec. 525) prohibits private employers from discriminating against individuals who have filed for bankruptcy.
How long does the bankruptcy process take?
After filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor is typically discharged within three to five months. With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the duration of the repayment plan is typically three to five years.
When you have exhausted all other means to settle your debts, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can provide valuable legal advice and guidance. Contact our office at 630-932-9100630-932-9100 to arrange an appointment. There is no charge for an initial consultation to explore your legal options. We have offices conveniently located in Lombard, Bloomingdale, Naperville, St. Charles, and Chicago. Evening and weekend appointments are available.