Learn More By Reading Through Our Bankruptcy FAQs

Each day at FerrisWinder, PLLC, we work with people who are going through some of the most challenging moments of their lives. Credit card debts, past-due mortgage payments, medical expenses and numerous other types of debts can add up to an unbearable burden.

We understand the struggles facing hardworking people, and families in Richmond and across Virginia. As attorneys, we want to provide you, our client, with the information and legal resources that can help you manage and eliminate your debts as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

To help you get started, we've listed some of the most common questions we hear pertaining to bankruptcy followed by general answers. To gather information tailored to your specific needs, we encourage you to review our pages explaining various aspects of bankruptcy and to call us at 804-767-6848 to schedule a consultation.

What is bankruptcy?

  • Bankruptcy is a process under federal law that allows debtors who owe more money than they can pay to either eliminate their debts or work out a payment plan to pay a portion (or all) of their debts over time.

Will bankruptcy stop all the harassing phone calls and mails from bill collectors?

  • Yes! An automatic stay will take effect when you file your case. It will stop the creditor harassment.

Will bankruptcy stop a wage garnishment from a lawsuit over an unsecured debt?

  • Yes. The automatic stay will stop the wage garnishment.

How long will bankruptcy remain on my credit report?

  • Bankruptcy may be reported for up to ten years however many of our clients report an almost immediate increase in their credit scores and find that they are soon approved for new auto and other loans, and that some of the major housing lenders will even approve them for new home purchases approximately one year after receiving a discharge.

What does secured debt and unsecured debt mean?

  • Secured debt is debt that allows a creditor to make a claim on an asset (i.e. home, real property or car). Unsecured debt is held by creditors that have no claim to your assets (i.e. credit cards).

What happens if I file and discover another debt after filing?

  • Your lawyer can amend your case to include any additional debts you may find after the case is filed.

What happens when one spouse files without the other spouse?

  • You need to discuss this carefully with your attorney. The spouse who does not file may end up being responsible for some of the debts.

Can I be held responsible for a debt that I co-signed?

  • Yes. You can be held responsible for any debt that you signed and agreed that says you would pay in the event that someone else failed to make the payments (co-signed).

Can all debts be discharged?

  • No. There are certain debts like student loans, government loans, back taxes and other debts that cannot be discharged.

Will I lose my social security payments if I file?

  • No.

Am I going to lose my personal property if I file for bankruptcy?

  • There are exemptions, both state and federal, that allow you to keep a certain amount of personal property. Your attorney will explain how these exemptions apply to people who file for bankruptcy in your state.

Can I pick which debts to put in the bankruptcy?

  • No. You must include all of your debts.

When will I get my discharge?

  • Generally a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge is received 60 days after the 341 meeting, or first meeting of creditors. In Chapter 13, your discharge will be sent to you once you have completed the payments under the Chapter 13 plan.

Do you have to include all debts?

  • "Include" is definitely NOT a legal term of art in bankruptcy, so you will probably hear many myths about what debts have to be "included." While federal law requires that you disclose all debts, you can often KEEP collateral with secured debts, such as houses and cars, in many situations. Always be candid with your lawyer about all of your debts and their status, as we can often find a legal solution to meet your objectives.
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