Does filing for bankruptcy protection stop creditors from calling me or contacting me directly?
Yes, immediately. As soon as we file your bankruptcy, your creditors are prohibited from contacting you. They may only contact King & King. Once they have been notified of your filing, creditors are prohibited from contacting you at home, at work, or by cell phone.
How quickly is my bankruptcy filed?
King & King is set up to file your case very quickly when you need protection from your creditors the most. We file cases electronically via the Bankruptcy Court’s online system. Most cases are filed the same day the client comes to the office for their appointment.
What does bankruptcy do to my credit?
Bankruptcies can ultimately improve your credit because you will either eliminate all of your debt with Chapter 7 or consolidate and reduce your debt with a Chapter 13. This may make you more credit-worthy to a lender because they know that you don’t have many other creditors to pay back as well as them. Many clients report a big jump in their credit score a year or two after receiving a bankruptcy discharge. Some clients have reported having credit scores in the 700s within two years of finishing their bankruptcy.
When can I start rebuilding my credit?
You can begin rebuilding your credit immediately after receiving a bankruptcy discharge. You should start small, like getting one credit card with a very low limit and paying it off on time every month. But there is no waiting period: you can start rebuilding your credit immediately!
Can I keep my home, car, and other possessions?
Yes. Bankruptcy is designed to give the debtor a fresh start, and part of the fresh start is being able to get rid of your debt without losing what you own. Most Chapter 7 clients can keep their home and car. Chapter 13 is designed to protect your property when you get behind on payments, so Chapter 13 clients can certainly keep their homes and cars. There is a common misconception that people in bankruptcy are not allowed to hold onto their property, but that is usually untrue. King & King works with its clients to do everything it can to protect the clients’ property.
How soon can I buy a house after bankruptcy?
Mortgage companies seem to want a bankruptcy discharge and a year or two of good credit before discussing loaning you the money for a mortgage. Many King & King clients have been able to buy a home within a year or two after finishing with their bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does NOT ruin your chances to own a home in the near future.
How much does bankruptcy cost?
King & King’s fees are very competitive in the Atlanta bankruptcy attorney market. Payment plans and arrangements to pay filing fees in installments are also available.
What about debt consolidation companies? Should I try that route before filing bankruptcy?
It depends on your situation and on the consolidation company, but usually not. Frequently, debt consolidation plans are phony deals that enrich the company at your expense. At the end of the day, your credit will probably be just as bad as or worse than if you had filed bankruptcy, but you will still be in debt. Occasionally clients tell us that debt consolidation companies were able to help them, but mostly they tell us they feel ripped off, that the debt consolidation plan was unhelpful and that they wish they had gone ahead and filed for bankruptcy.
How long will it take to get a case number?
King & King is set up to file cases electronically via the United States Bankruptcy Court’s ECF/PACER program, so most clients are able to get a case number and start feeling the benefits of bankruptcy the same day they come to their first office visit.
Does my spouse have to file?
Married people are allowed to file joint cases and often it is in their benefit to do so. However, your spouse is not required to file in order for you to file.
What is a "lien strip?"
If you have a first and second mortgage on your primary residence, and your house is worth less than the amount owed on the first mortgage, you may qualify to “lien strip” the second mortgage. In other words, you might be able to qualify to eliminate your second mortgage altogether and never have to pay it back.
Do I need to be behind on my bills to qualify for bankruptcy?
No. Even if you are current with payment arrangements with your creditors or current on car or mortgage payments, a bankruptcy may be very beneficial to you. You do not need to be behind on your bills to qualify.
What is a "cram down?"
Cram down is a great benefit to many Chapter 13 clients. If you purchased your car more than 910 days prior to filing Chapter 13, you may be able to reduce what you pay the car creditor to the value of the car. This is often much less than what you actually owe the creditor. For example, if you bought your car three years ago and you still owe $20,000 on it, but it is now worth only $10,000, you only pay the creditor back $10,000 plus interest. Also, for most clients we can cram down (lower) the interest rate on their loan to a rate much lower than what the creditor originally charged them. You do not have to have purchased your car more than 910 days ago to qualify to cram down the interest rate. It can be done on more recent purchases. You can also cram down some personal property like furniture or jewelry that you financed a year or more ago.
Do I need an attorney to file for bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy law is a maze of very complex laws, rules, and regulations. A knowledgeable and experienced Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer will make sure that your bankruptcy is filed quickly and correctly. In addition, mortgage companies and other creditors hire teams of aggressive lawyers to fight bankruptcy cases. A bankruptcy attorney representing you is in a better position to negotiate on your behalf.