FAQs on Bankruptcy Law
- I keep hearing about recent changes to bankruptcy law. What is the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act?
- How do I know if bankruptcy is right for me?
- Am I going to lose everything I own?
- What should I bring with me to our first meeting?
- How will filing for bankruptcy help me keep my home?
- What is a 341 hearing?
- What are exempt assets?
- What are nondischargeable debts?
- Will filing for bankruptcy negatively impact my credit score?
- Do I really need to have an attorney help me file for bankruptcy?
Contact The Law Office of Kevin R. Hayes, LLC for a free consultation
The Law Office of Kevin R. Hayes, LLC offers free consultations during regular business hours and by appointment on evenings and weekends. Contact attorney Kevin Hayes’ Severna Park office online or at (410) 544-0506.
Kevin Hayes serves clients in Severna Park, Annapolis, Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Crofton, Pasadena, Odenton, Arnold, the Eastern Shore and all the surrounding areas of Maryland.
The Law Office of Kevin R. Hayes, LLC is a debt relief agency. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
I keep hearing about recent changes to bankruptcy law. What is the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act?
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) were passed in 2005 by the U.S. Congress. It resulted in numerous changes to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, most notably making it more difficult for consumers to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy as opposed to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The BAPCPA also:
- Instituted the means test to determine whether the debtor can file for Chapter 7
- Extended the waiting period required between filing for bankruptcy multiple times
- Required filers to attend credit counseling within 180 days of submitting their petitions
- Limited the protections offered under automatic stays for those who have previously filed bankruptcy
- Made debtors more responsible for informing creditors of their intent to file
- Reduced the amount of money a debtor can spend on luxury goods prior to filing
- Limited debtors' abilities to evade liens by filing for bankruptcy
- Decreased the rights of debtors regarding homestead exemptions
- Increased other exemption limitations
While filing for bankruptcy is a personal choice for each individual to make on his or her own, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy if:
- You cannot find a way to budget yourself out of debt within a few years
- You are receiving threatening letters and phone calls from collection agencies
- You are in danger of losing your home
- You have suffered a severe financial setback, such as losing your job or becoming severely ill
- You cannot pay more than the minimum amount owed on your credit card bills
No. While the BAPCPA did place additional limitations on exempt assets, a combination of state and federal laws allow debtors to keep a wide range of possessions.
You should bring all of your financial documents relating to your debts. This includes credit card statements, your most recent tax returns, a pay stub, and any spousal or child support payment information.
Filing a Chapter 13 will halt a foreclosure of your home. Chapter 13 is designed to reorganize and eliminate your debt without losing your home, car or other property. You must begin making regular monthly payments to the secured creditors to maintain ownership. In addition, the past due balances will be included in the Plan payment that will be determined by the Court, to be paid over three to five years.
A 341 hearing is a meeting where a debtor is questioned under oath about his or her assets. Creditors are allowed to attend if they wish but rarely do so. The 341 hearing typically takes place around 20 to 40 days after you file your petition.
Exempt assets are those you may be able to keep even if you file for bankruptcy. Examples of exempt assets include real, personal and intangible property such as:
- Health aids
- Most pensions and retirement benefits
- Personal property, including books and wedding rings
Nondischargeable debts are those that remain after your bankruptcy case is complete, meaning you still will be required to pay those debts. Some of the most common nondischargeable debts are:
- Student loans
- Alimony and child support
Unfortunately, the damage to your credit score is already done. Once you have any debt over three months (90 days) past due, a vehicle repossession or a home in foreclosure, your credit score has already been damaged.
On a long-term scale, filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and successfully meeting all requirements and repayment obligations are the first steps in rebuilding your credit score.
While Maryland law does not require you to hire an attorney to represent you during bankruptcy proceedings, it is strongly recommended you do so. Bankruptcy law is very complicated and one mistake can cause your ability to obtain a discharge to be put in jeopardy. It is extremely important that you hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney to guide you through the process.