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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, Bankruptcy Terminology

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Questions About Basic Bankruptcy Court Process

Who is eligible to file for bankruptcy?

Anyone who lives or owns property in the United States can file a bankruptcy case, unless a court has prohibited them from filing (abusive, repeat-filers). There are restrictions on time between filings. Which bankruptcy court to file in is all about convenience, but it should be where you have resided for at least 91 days. Ask attorney for details.

Do I have to be a US Citizen to file ?

No. You do not have to be a US Citizen, resident, visa holder or documented. You are not required to have a social security number. You must NOT use a FALSE social security number. You must be able to prove your identity by government-issued documents.

How long do I need to live here before filing?

There is no minimum residency requirement. However, the district where you have resided for at least 91 days or where you have your main asset or a place of business is a proper place to file. Consult lawyer for details.

Is there a class I have to take before I file?

There is a presentation you must complete prior to filing, similar to a survey. There are no wrong answers. You will not receive a grade. You cannot fail, but you must finish. Usually it takes less than an hour. Your attorney can refer to you the most economical survey provider.

How often can you file?

You are eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge only once every eight years. Chapter 13 discharge is unavailable if you received a Chapter 7 discharge within the previous four years, or a Chapter 13 discharge within the previous two years. You can file repeated Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 reorganization cases, but eligibility for discharge will be affected by prior discharge and protection can be limited in repeated filings.

Do I have to have a lawyer?

No. You do not have to be represented by an attorney to file a bankruptcy. The Court does not have to provide an attorney for you and court employees are restricted from giving legal advice. Most reorganization cases filed without an attorney fail (according to US Bankruptcy Court filing statistics).

Can I use a paralegal instead of attorney?

Yes. You may use a non-attorney legal document preparer to file bankruptcy. In Arizona, only legal document preparers certified by the Arizona Supreme Court can legally prepare bankruptcy papers for compensation. Any money paid to non-attorneys has to be disclosed. Paralegals cannot represent you in court and they are restricted from giving legal advice.

Is there a minimum debt for bankruptcy?

No. There is no minimum. But there are maximums for Chapter 13.

What does pro se mean ?

Pro se is Latin that translates “for itself” (on its own behalf). If you file your bankruptcy without an attorney, you are “proceeding pro se” (for yourself, on your own behalf).

What is medical bankruptcy?

Medical bankruptcy is a misleading expression, referring to a bankruptcy that deals only with medical debt. There is no such proceeding known as "medical bankruptcy". Medical debts can be discharged in bankruptcy.

Can I eliminate student loans?

Yes. However, discharging student loans in bankruptcy requires special procedures in addition to the basic bankruptcy proceeding itself. Not everyone qualifies to eliminate student loans. Many restrictions apply. Eliminating student loans without an attorney is extremely rare and highly unlikely due to the complexity of federal court rules.

What debts are not eliminated in bankruptcy?

Child support and alimony, Student loans (unless you qualify), certain Taxes, Criminal Fines, Court Cost and Restitution. A few other narrow exceptions apply. Ask your attorney if you have doubts.

Can the court deny my bankruptcy?

Yes. The court can deny you a discharge of debt if you fail to make required disclosures and perform your duties as a debtor. The Trustee and any creditor may object to your discharge as well. Your attorney can spot situations that are likely to threaten your bankruptcy discharge ahead of time in order to avoid problems.

Past-due tax returns, can that be a problem?

You must eventually file at least the last four years' tax returns or the case may be thrown out. As your attorney, we can't give you tax advice, but we can send you in the right direction to get past due tax returns prepared and filed quickly and inexpensively.

Does my spouse have to file with me?

No. If you are married, you must identify your current spouse and any other spouse during the past eight years, and declare your spouse's income and property. Your attorney will advise you about potential side-effects for your husband or wife who does not file with you.

How much does it cost?

Our pre-qualifying attorney evaluation by phone is absolutely free for personal cases. Flat fees are available. Save hundreds with our internet service options. At Anthony Clark and Associates, your attorney is always just a phone call or email away and we will always reply immediately or within minutes.

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