A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Why choose Rob and the Robert Russell Law Office?
We understand your situation - just ask our clients. You don't have a lot of money or energy. You just want to know that when you spend your valuable time and energy with us that we will actually help you RESOLVE your situation. We will. We have a PROVEN track record of helping clients in a 'calming, effective and understanding' manner. We will give you information and advice so that you regain CONTROL and move forward. PLUS we help you rebuild and maintain your finances for the FUTURE if you do file bankruptcy. We OFFER PAYMENT PLANS. Also, I am a local Vancouver WA bankruptcy attorney / lawyer; Vancouver and Clark County is my community and home; I want to help you through this and beyond.
Do we offer payment plans for attorney fees?
Absolutely. We don't expect that you both need to file bankruptcy and have a lot of extra money to pay towards fees. We offer payment plans. Ask your attorney for the details.
How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
The attorney fees for 7 and 13 are quite different. Chapter 7: A simple case might be $750 to $1,200. More complex cases might cost more. WE OFFER PAYMENT PLANS. That means that if we are not paid in full prior to filing, you can set up voluntary payments on the balance that fit your budget. Chapter 13: The court sets the attorney fee. The big question is often how much is required to be paid up front before your file. We often require ONLY $450 up front. Chapter 7 and 13 have filing fees: Chapter 7 - $335; Chapter 13 - $310.
Can bankruptcy stop foreclosure on my home?
Absolutely. Filing a bankruptcy will stop/stay a foreclosure. A Chapter 13 will give you 36-60 months to get caught up. You can even pursue a mortgage loan modification after you file. Also, in Chapter 13 you can remove some second mortgages. Chapter 7 will provide at least temporary protection. Other options also exist.
Who is eligible to file for Chapter 7 relief?
Generally, everyone experiencing a financial hardship is eligible for Chapter 7 relief unless: (a) in the last 8 years you have already filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge, (b) in the last 6 years you have already filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and received a discharge (unless you paid 70% of your unsecured claims in that case in which case, you don't have to wait 6 years), or (c) you make 'too much money' and/or granting you a discharge would be "not fair" and an "abuse" of the bankruptcy system.
Who is eligible to file for Chapter 13 relief?
Real people (not corporations or LLCs) can file for Chapter 13 relief as long as they have a little money left over after paying basic living expenses (not including debts). And, NO, you don't have to pay all your debts in 13. Debt limit qualifications also exist.
Is there a way to file a bankruptcy for free?
The Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program offers free legal services including bankruptcy for qualifying low income individuals. www.CCVLP.org. You can even qualify to not pay the filing fee.
When does a bankruptcy protect me from my creditors?
Generally, you are protected immediately upon filing by the "automatic stay". That means collection calls, garnishments, civil lawsuits, foreclosures, etc are stopped/''stayed'' when you file. If you have had one or more previous bankruptcy cases pending in the last year, then it gets a little trickier, but protection is still available. If you have not had a bankruptcy in the last year, then the general rule applies - you are protected upon filing.
How long does a Chapter 7 bankruptcy take?
Chapter 7 takes about 3 month. You have a 341 Meeting about 30 days after you file. Your "Discharge Order' follows 60 days after that.
How long does a Chapter 13 bankruptcy take?
Chapter 13 takes 36-60 months unless you pay off all claims of creditor before then.
What do I get from a bankruptcy discharge?
Generally, obtaining a “discharge” is a major reason why people file Chapter 7 or 13. A “Discharge Order” is an Order of the Bankruptcy Court that, when entered, releases a debtor from the personal obligation to repay the debtor's dischargeable debts. The “Discharge Order” also orders creditors to forever discontinue attempts to collect on a debt that has been discharged.
What types of debts are not discharged in bankruptcy?
The basic rule is that ALL debts are discharged unless they fall into one of the several exceptions found in 11 USC § 523 (Chapter 7) and 11 USC § 1328 (Chapter 13). Debts not discharged include, but are not limited to: Child support/spousal maintenance. Debts from Intentional injury of another. Certain Taxes. Government fines and penalties. Student loans.
What assets can I protect and keep in bankruptcy?
Generally, debtors in 98% of cases do not lose a single thing. Assets that can be protected under federal bankruptcy law can be found in 11 USC § 522. Assets that can be protected under Washington state law can be found, in part, under RCW 6.15.010. Our client rarely lose anything, ever. If you happen to have $200K equity in your home, then the equity can be protected in a Chapter 13.
Will I ever be able to buy a house after filing bankruptcy?
Most mortgage lenders tell us that after 2-5 years, bankruptcy doesn't hurt your chances of buying a home. However, you will have to check with various lenders to find out their specific policies. Different lenders have different rules. Read more.
How does filing bankruptcy impact my credit?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically noted on your credit report for 10 years. The debts discharged in your bankruptcy should be noted on your credit report as “zero balance due” and/or “included in bankruptcy.” However, filing bankruptcy does NOT mean that your credit is “ruined” for 10 years. If you really need to file for bankruptcy protection, it usually means that not filing could lead to lawsuits, judgments,. garnishments and other things that would negatively impact your credit and life for a period far longer than 10 years. For instance, in Washington, judgments are good for ten years and can be renewed under certain circumstances for another ten years. So, if you "need" to file, filing is better than not filing.
Who will know that I filed bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a matter of public record. However, generally, it is not publicized beyond notice to your creditors and co-debtors. Employers and websites/newspapers are NOT generally notified of the bankruptcy.
Is bankruptcy immoral or the 'easy way' out?
No. The thought to even consider filing comes after trying to pay your debts. We know this. If there is a way to avoid filing, we'll tell you. Further, bankruptcy is a legal remedy made available by the United States’ Constitution for honest but unfortunate debtors that need a break. You should not be forced into virtual life-long slavery to your creditors because you had a medical emergency, loss of employment, or even made bad financial decisions.