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Common Questions About Filing For Bankruptcy,

Please feel free to call us with any of your specific questions.

1. What Is Bankruptcy?

2. Will I Have To Give Up Any Of My Property Like My House Or My Car In Bankruptcy?

3. Will Bankruptcy Ruin My Credit?

4. Will Filing Bankruptcy Stop My Creditors From Taking Legal Action?

5. What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

6. What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

7. When Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy A Better Alternative To Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

8. Will Everyone Find Out About My Bankruptcy Or Will It Be In The Newspaper?

9. Do I Have To Pay My Bills During The Bankruptcy?

10. How Long Does A Typical Bankruptcy Take?

11. Can I Be Fired For Filing  Bankruptcy?

12. How Quickly Will My Creditors Get Notice Of My Bankruptcy?

13. I Heard That The Bankruptcy Laws Have Changed, Can I Still File For Bankruptcy?

14. Who can file a bankruptcy?

15. I don’t have any excuse why I’m in debt. Can I file bankruptcy if I didn’t use my cards wisely?

16. Is my house protected?  Will I have to sell or give up my house?

17. I have a lien on my house.  Can I do anything about it in bankruptcy?

18. I have filed bankruptcy before, can I file bankruptcy again?

19. I have student loans, can bankruptcy help me?


1. What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal method of eliminating and discharging debts or providing a method of controlling debts for debt-oppressed people and businesses.  It allows people to get a fresh, new start in life.  In many cases, bankruptcy means eliminating the debts you owe to your creditors and receiving protection from the Bankruptcy Court against your creditors.  Primarily, there are two forms of personal bankruptcy available for consumers, Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

2. Will I Have To Give Up Any Of My Property?

The vast majority of people who file for bankruptcy get all or most of their debts discharged (wiped out) without having to give up any of their personal property or real estate.  Both the Federal and State laws provide bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property such as the home you live in, household goods and furnishings, automobiles, jewelry, cash, bank accounts and personal belongings which you may keep when you file for bankruptcy.  Essentially, bankruptcy is designed to give you a fresh, new start in life without taking everything you own away from you.

3. Will Bankruptcy Ruin My Credit?

Although the bankruptcy filing will technically appear on your credit for 7 to 10 years, by making payments on time after your bankruptcy you can begin rebuilding your credit very soon afterwards.  Most people have bad credit when they file for bankruptcy and the bankruptcy ironically may actually help because eliminating your debts greatly improves your debt to income ratio which is a major factor credit card companies and lenders use in determining your credit worthiness.  In fact, most clients report receiving new credit cards and automobile loans within weeks after the discharge and are able to buy homes relatively soon afterwards.  By all accounts, bankruptcy does not have the stigma attached to it that it once did and it allows you to move forward with your life.

4. Will Filing Bankruptcy Stop My Creditors From Taking Action?

Yes, when you file bankruptcy the Federal Law imposes an "automatic stay" which is similar to a restraining order against your creditors and immediately stops your creditors from starting or continuing any legal action to collect debts from you.  This includes court judgments, lawsuits, foreclosures, automobile repossessions and wage attachments against you.   

5. What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as "straight bankruptcy" and is the most common form of bankruptcy filed by consumers.  In the majority of cases it is used by individuals who have debts that they are unable to pay, whether it is credit cards, medical bills, loans, etc., and whose assets are fully protected.  Commonly, people are allowed to discharge their unsecured debts and keep their home, automobile, possessions and bank accounts.

6. What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the debtor proposes a 3 to 5 year repayment plan to the creditors offering to pay all or part of their debts from the debtor's future income.  The monthly amount to be paid back is usually determined by the debtor's monthly disposable income after all reasonable living expenses.  To file under Chapter 13 bankruptcy you must usually have a regular source of income and some disposable income.

7. When Is A Chapter 13 A Better Alternative To Chapter 7?

There are several situations where a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better alternative to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Commonly, people file Chapter 13 bankruptcy when they are behind on their mortgage or when they are behind on a mortgage and they are trying to avoid foreclosure to save their home.  A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy allows you to catch up on the overdue payments over time and reinstate the original loan agreement.  Also, a Chapter 13 is normally used for people who have too much income to file a Chapter 7 or have the kind of debt that is not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (for example: child support and certain taxes).  You should schedule a free consultation to see which alternative is best for you.

8. Will Everyone Find Out About My Bankruptcy?

Not unless you tell them or they go out of their way to search the public records.  Bankruptcy filings are not normally published in the newspaper and therefore the only people who find out are the creditors whose debts you have listed on the petition.

9. Do I Have To Pay My Bills During The Bankruptcy?

For the most part, the answer is no.  For specific property (usually secured property) such as car loans and home loans that you plan to keep you should continue making the regular monthly payments on time.  Also, for day to day expenses like rent and utilities you should continue making the payments.  You should stop making payments on the other old debts incurred prior to the bankruptcy such as credit cards, medical bills and unsecured debts.

10 How Long Does A Bankruptcy Take?

For a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, about 90 days. The bankruptcy protection starts immediately as soon as the case is filed, a hearing is scheduled about 30 days later and you receive your discharge 60 days after the hearing and the case closes.  For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, anywhere from 3 to 5 years.

11. Can I Be Fired For Filing Bankruptcy?

No, if your employer finds out about your bankruptcy it is against federal law to discriminate against someone who has filed for bankruptcy relief.

12. How Quickly Will My Creditors Get Notice Of My Bankruptcy?

Usually within 10 days to 2 weeks of the filing the Bankruptcy Court Clerk mails out a notice to all of your creditors.  Until the creditors receive notice, you may tell your creditors that you have filed, give them the case number, the attorney's name and telephone number and they must stop contacting by telephone and by mail.  Usually, once the bankruptcy is filed, that is the last you will hear from the creditors.

13. I heard the bankruptcy laws have changed, can I still file for bankruptcy?

Yes!  Bankruptcy relief is still an available option and tool for most if not all people who are honest and overwhelmed by debts and or facing foreclosure.  The new laws are very complex and it is very important that you consult with a qualified, experienced and local bankruptcy lawyer.

14. Who can file bankruptcy?

Anyone who lives in or does business in the United States can file for bankruptcy relief.

15. I don't have any real excuse why I'm in debt, can I still file bankruptcy because I didn't use my credit wisely?

Yes you can still file bankruptcy.  Whether you were simply living beyond your means and the interest rates and minimum payments became overwhelming or if some unforeseen circumstances in your life caused your inability to pay you may still file for bankruptcy and get a fresh, new start in life. Life changing events such as the loss of a job or income, divorce, illness, child expenses, etc. causes financial distress and the bankruptcy laws are designed to help and relieve honest people from burdensome debts.

16. Is my house protected?  Will I have to sell or give up my house?

In Massachusetts, your primary residence (home) may be protected from your creditors by filing a Declaration of Homestead.  It is very important that you consult with a Massachusetts bankruptcy attorney before filing for bankruptcy to determine the status of your homestead exemption.  If you do not have a Declaration of Homestead on your property, we will draft one for you free of charge.

17. I have a lien on my house.  Can I do anything about it in bankruptcy?

Yes.  Generally, if a creditor files a judicial lien against your property for money owed and that property is exempt, you may avoid and eliminate a judicial lien.  However, not all liens may be avoided such as child support liens and tax liens. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can evaluate this for you.

18. I have filed bankruptcy before, can I file bankruptcy again?

Yes, you can file bankruptcy again. As long as it has been more than 4 years since your last bankruptcy filing (the date you filed bankruptcy, not the date it was concluded and discharged) you are entitled to the protection allowed under the bankruptcy laws and another fresh, new start in life. Even if it has been less than 4 years you still have options and can be protected against your creditors by the bankruptcy court.


Please feel free to call Attorney Anthony Bucacci or Attorney Robert Simonian any time with your specific bankruptcy questions or to schedule a free consultation.

We help people file bankruptcy in Massachusetts and particularly Southeastern Mass., including Fall River, Seekonk, Swansea, Somerset, Westport Point, Westport, Bedford, Assonet, Freetown, New Bedford, North Dartmouth, South Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Acushnet, Wareham, Taunton, Middleboro, Lakeville, Dighton, North Dighton, Raynham, Norton, Attleboro and North Attleboro Massachusetts.


For information about filing for bankruptcy in Rhode Island, please contact bankruptcy Attorney John Simonian at 401-941-4800, or www.law-ri.com.