Bankruptcy FAQ

What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows a debtor who owes more money than he or she can repay, to either repay a portion of the money over time, or have the entire debt forgiven. Once bankruptcy is filed, creditors must stop all collection efforts against the Debtor during the bankruptcy, unless they get permission from the bankruptcy court to continue.
What is the difference between a chapter 7, 13 and 11?
In a Chapter 7, Debtors retain certain “exempt” property, while the non-exempt assets are sold by the trustee. The trustee will then distribute the funds to the creditors in accordance with Bankruptcy law. In most cases, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can be completed and a Debtor will have a discharge in as little as 3 months.Chapter 13 is for individuals, not businesses, with regular income who can repay a portion or all of their debt over an extended period of time. Chapter 13 may be appropriate for Debtors who seek to retain certain assets through a repayment plan. The repayment plan in Chapter 13 is generally for a period of between 36 and 60 months.

Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and certain individuals who do not qualify under Chapter 13, to reorganize without having to liquidate all assets. As in a Chapter 13, the Debtor is required to create a repayment plan. If the plan is accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, the Debtor will be able to reorganize his or her personal or business affairs.

What is a 341 meeting?
A 341 meeting is referred to as the “meeting of creditors.” All creditors are notified and can attend, but their attendance is not required. Debtors are required to attend the 341 meeting and the meeting is conducted by the trustee assigned to the case. The debtors are also required to testify under oath and answer questions by creditors and/or the trustee. This meeting is held approximately 40 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. Debtors must provide photo identification and proof of social security number to the trustee.
How does Bankruptcy affect my credit?
A Bankruptcy will be on your credit report for a maximum of ten years pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However in our experience it takes about 2 years to fully re-establish your credit. In addition, if you have been struggling to make you payments prior to filing bankruptcy it is likely you credit has already been significantly damaged and bankruptcy may be your best option for relief. Please contact the firm of Denoncourt & Warenyk for more information.
Will filing Bankruptcy affect my husband or wife?
If your husband or wife is not a Joint Debtor on any of your Debts, filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will not affect them. Please contact the firm of Denoncourt & Warenyk for more information and exceptions to this rule.
How much does filing Bankruptcy cost?
The filing fee for Chapter 7 is $299.00 and $274.00 for Chapter 13. As for attorney’s fees those vary from case to case, but usually range from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 for Chapter 7 and $3,000.00 to $3,500.00 for Chapter 13. In Chapter 13, the majority of the attorney’s fees can be paid thorough your plan.
Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
The short answer is no. However, in 2005 Congress made significant changes to the Bankruptcy laws which made filing and the bankruptcy process much more complicated. Be wary of companies and non-attorneys who offer low cost bankruptcy help. Only a licensed attorney can represent you in court and the cost of hiring an attorney will be small in relation to the amount of debt that will be discharged.
Will I lose all my belongings in bankruptcy?
In most cases, Florida law protects a debtor’s home, car and personal household items, such as clothing and furniture. Therefore, in most cases, a debtor is entitled to keep these items after bankruptcy. Again, it is important to consult a competent bankruptcy to discuss your rights prior to filing bankruptcy.
Will I lose my retirement accounts?
No, both Florida and Federal law allows the debtor to keep his or her pension, 401(k) or IRA.
Who will find out about my bankruptcy?
The only parties that will get notice of your bankruptcy are the I.R.S., the Bankruptcy Court, the Department of Revenue and your creditors. Your friends, family and employer will not be notified unless they are creditors. However, your bankruptcy is a public record, so anyone who specifically searches for this information using your name or pulls your credit report will likely find out you filed bankruptcy.
How long does bankruptcy take?
A chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes between 3 to 6 months. A chapter 13 takes between 36 and 60 months.
What is a discharge?
When a debt is discharged the Debtor is no longer personally liable for the discharged debt.
What debts are dischargeable?
Usually, all debts listed on the Debtor’s petition are dischargeable. However, some debts are not dischargeable. These debts include, but are not limited to debts arising from fraudulent actions, certain taxes and fines, debts from alimony, child support and arising out of a divorce decree, government guaranteed student loans, debts not listed on bankruptcy petition, and debts caused by willful and malicious injury to another. A complete list of non-dischargeable debts can be found in 11 U.S.C. 523.
How do I get started?
Contact the law firm of Denoncourt & Warenyk, P.A. for a free consultation.
Additional bankruptcy information
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida