Will Bankruptcy Show Up On My Credit Report?

Will Bankruptcy Show Up On My Credit Report

Bankruptcy may help relieve your debt obligations, but it will impact your credit for years. Bankruptcy is a special legal proceeding you can use to reorganize or get rid of your debt, depending on your financial situation. Bankruptcy can be helpful if you’re overwhelmed with financial commitments, but it could also negatively affect your credit. A bankruptcy will generally stay on your reports for up to 10 years from the date you file. The good news is your credit can gradually heal if you take the right steps.

How bankruptcy appears on your credit reports

Bankruptcy is a type of public record that can be listed on your credit reports. As long as it’s listed on your reports, the bankruptcy may negatively impact your credit. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may stay on your reports for 10 years from the date you file. A discharged Chapter 13 bankruptcy typically stays on your reports for seven years from the date you file, but it could remain for up to 10 years if you don’t meet certain conditions. Both types have the same impact on your credit scores. However, it’s possible that a future lender could view one type more favorably than the other. This type of public record may lower your scores significantly. If your credit was healthy before the bankruptcy, it may be hit harder than someone with poor credit. Ultimately, how a bankruptcy affects credit can vary, partially because of the different factors that make up each person’s credit.

How accounts appear on your credit reports

Before filing for bankruptcy, you probably had bills you struggled to keep up with credit cards, medical debt and more. When you include those accounts in a bankruptcy filing, they’ll still be reported on your credit reports. Accounts discharged in bankruptcy can be reported as “discharged” or “included in bankruptcy” with a zero balance. Even though you owe $0 for them, they’ll still appear on your reports. If you apply for credit, lenders may see this note when they check your reports, and they may deny your application. But here’s that good news we promised: Accounts included in a bankruptcy filing won’t be reported as “unpaid” or “past due” anymore, and you may feel relief without those financial burdens. Your credit scores will eventually start rebounding with those positive effects. That’s assuming, of course, you use credit responsibly from here on out.

Credit recovery post-bankruptcy

After filing bankruptcy, you can work to build your credit again but it won’t be instantaneous. Start by making a list of the debts included in your bankruptcy, and check them on your credit reports. After they’re discharged, it may take about two months for the accounts to be updated on your reports. They should be labeled “included in bankruptcy”, “discharged” or similar language. Check your reports every few months for errors. Make sure to check that the negative marks are removed in a timely fashion. In the meantime, consider building credit with a secured credit card. Only take out lines of credit you can afford, and pay back debt as agreed. After several years’ worth of responsible credit behavior, your credit scores can improve. “If someone walks the straight and narrow after bankruptcy,” “it would be possible their scores would be higher now than prior to the bankruptcy.”

How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay on Your Record?

Although a bankruptcy filing remains on your credit report for up to a decade, the effect on your credit diminishes over time until it drops off your report completely. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the classic bankruptcy measure for people who have defaulted (that is, failed to pay) their loans. This form of bankruptcy forgives most debts, including:
• Credit card debt
• Medical bills
• Personal loans
Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays as a negative mark on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing. The bankruptcy also can cause your credit score to drop by as much as 200 points or more. Any debts that were wiped away by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be included on your credit report. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must first pass a means test that assesses your income and assets-to-debt ratio. Often, property, cars and other valuables might have to be liquidated in order to pay back as much of the debt as possible but some day-to-day essentials you own might be exempt under the law, such as your house or computers you use for work. Chapter 7 bankruptcy (unfortunately) doesn’t apply to student loans, taxes, criminal fines, alimony or child support. There are some consequences you can’t escape.

How long does Chapter 13 stay on your credit?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as “wage earners bankruptcy,” is for people who earn too much to qualify for Chapter 7 but not enough to meet creditors’ immediate payment requirements. As with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will torpedo your credit score, and the filing will remain on your credit report for seven years. If you need to apply for another loan during that time, you’ll need to file a motion and obtain the court’s permission first. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court creates a payment plan for you to repay your debt over the span of three to five years. After that span of time, any remaining debts are wiped clean meaning that your creditors may not get the full amount you owe them. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to repay some of your debt while still holding on to your assets, including cars, jewelry and property.

Can you get bankruptcy off your report faster?

What’s interesting is that there’s no minimum amount of time before bankruptcy can be removed from your credit report; 10 years is only the maximum. So get a free credit score and credit report and look really closely for mistakes. If you find any errors with your personal information, debts, creditors, timelines or other information, file a dispute with the credit bureau. Any entries related to your bankruptcy must appear on your credit report correctly, and mistakes could force a credit bureau to remove the bankruptcy from your report. Bankruptcies automatically fall off your credit report after the designated amount of time. If you notice that a bankruptcy doesn’t come off your credit report after the expiration date, you should file a dispute with the credit bureaus.

How Are Delinquent Accounts Reported on Credit Reports?

People who file for either type of bankruptcy may have accounts which have been delinquent for several months or even longer. The individual delinquent accounts are deleted seven years from the original delinquency date. The delinquency date is the date the account first became delinquent. Filing for either kind of bankruptcy does not alter the original delinquency date nor does it extend the time the account remains on the credit report.

In most instances, since the account was delinquent before it was included in the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is likely to be deleted before the bankruptcy public record.

How Bankruptcy Affects Your Credit

Filing for bankruptcy makes it challenging to receive credit cards or lower interest rates because lenders will consider you risky. These consequences could occur immediately, affecting any short-term needs such as getting affordable interest rates or approval from prime lenders. Rebuilding your credit as soon as possible is paramount. One way to increase your credit score is to pay all your bills on time each month, creating and sticking to a budget and not incurring more debt. You should also avoid overuse of credit cards and failing to pay balances in full each month. Having a good credit score gives consumers access to more types of loans and lower interest rates, which helps them pay off their debts sooner.

New Bankruptcy Laws

The bankruptcy law changed in 2005, making it more difficult for individuals to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have all their unsecured debt discharged. Government-backed and private student loans are rarely included in either type of bankruptcy. The “not dischargeable” rule also applies for court-ordered alimony, court-ordered child support, reaffirmed debt, federal tax liens for taxes owed to the U.S. government, government fines or penalties and court fines and penalties.

What Documents Do You Need to File Bankruptcy?

Before filing for bankruptcy, consumers should collect several financial documents including:
• Tax Returns
• Bank Statements
• Paycheck Stubs
• Debt Statements
If you discharged debts in bankruptcy, here’s how they should (and should not) be listed on your credit report. In short, yes. Not only will a bankruptcy filing remain on your credit report for seven to ten years, but you can expect information about the debts discharged (forgiven) in bankruptcy to continue to appear on your credit report, too.

Reporting Debts as Discharged in Bankruptcy

While it might be daunting to think about a bankruptcy filing showing up on your credit report for ten years, it might not be as bad as you think. A bankruptcy discharge can help you clean up debt much faster than you’d be able to do yourself. For instance, instead of a delinquent or unpaid debt lingering on your report for years, it will show as being discharged as part of your bankruptcy. In fact, creditors won’t be able to report your debt in a variety of ways that could cause your credit to suffer, such as allowing the obligation to show as:
• currently owed or active
• late or delinquent or outstanding
• charged off
• having a balance due, or
• converted to a new type of debt (re-aged or given new account numbers, for example).

Such reporting labels are often the reason creditors deny applicants credit. In some cases, applicants must pay off such debt as a condition of loan approval. Instead, when you pull your report, each qualifying debt should be reported as:

• having a zero balance, and
• discharged, “included in bankruptcy,” or similar language.
Unfortunately, some creditors don’t update information to the credit reporting agencies. This tactic could be a way to get you to pay up, even though you no longer legally owe the debt. If your credit report shows an improperly labeled discharged debt, you’ll want to take steps to correct the problem.

Checking Credit Report Accuracy after Bankruptcy

You’re entitled to get a free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) each year. That should allow enough time for creditors to report the bankruptcy information. Thoroughly review each listed debt for accuracy. Also watch out for unfamiliar creditor names or debts, as they might be discharged debts that were bought and sold to a third party, but are not accurately reflected as having been discharged. To make changes, follow the instructions under the “Correcting Misreported Discharged Debt” heading. You’ll want to claim each of the remaining two credit reports at three-month intervals. Each time, check to see if the credit report reflects the previously requested changes, and, take steps to correct any remaining inaccurate information. This approach should allow you to clean up your credit report at no cost to you.

Correcting Misreported Discharged Debt

Disputing errors is relatively straightforward. You’ll do so by using the online procedure provided by each of the three major credit reporting agencies. A creditor who repeatedly refuses to report your discharged debt properly might be in violation of the bankruptcy discharge injunction prohibiting creditors from trying to collect on discharged debts. If you take steps to remedy the misreporting, and the creditor (or collector or debt buyer) refuses to fix the error, talk to a bankruptcy attorney. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the law that requires consumer reporting agencies (also called credit bureaus) to maintain an accurate file of your credit information. Creditors who report your information to the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) must also be truthful and accurate. The FCRA tells CRAs and your creditors what they can report and how long it can legally show up on your credit report.

How Much Will My Credit Improve Once My Bankruptcy Falls Off?

Bankruptcies fall off personal credit reports after 10 years, after which time a damaged credit score can begin to improve. There’s no way to determine exactly how much your credit score will improve after bankruptcy, because it depends entirely on the decisions you make after the 10-year period. By actively working to improve your credit score, it’s possible to raise it out of the “high-risk” category and eventually into the 700’s or higher, to a maximum score of 850. Rebuilding a credit score requires patience and consistent financial responsibility.

What You Can Expect

After a bankruptcy, you can expect your credit score to be well below 640. Credit scores can range anywhere from 300 to 850, with anything above 700 considered “low risk.” To begin the process of improving your credit score, check your credit report after the bankruptcy falls off. The closer to 300 it is, the more work you will have to do to approach 700. Actively work to boost your score for six months, and then assess how much it has improved. Use that figure to guide your expectations for future improvement. For example, if you find that your score increased 30 points after six months of diligent debt management, you might set a goal of increasing it another 30 points in the next six months. This can give you a target towards which to work, although the exact improvement in any given period is never guaranteed.

Manage Bill Payments

Never miss a bill payment including utilities, rent, mortgage, credit cards or any recurring obligations. Consistently paying bills on time can keep your credit score from temporarily dropping as you work to build it back up. Set up automatic bill payments whenever possible to avoid the risk of forgetting a due date. Create a spreadsheet or chart to regularly track your upcoming payments, and pay bills a few days early whenever possible. Work with your past creditors to establish affordable payment plans for any debts that were not removed by the bankruptcy, such as student loans.

Rebuild Good Debt

Maintain one credit card and one store credit account, but only if you can afford to make the payments. Do not use any form of debt to finance luxury goods or leisure and entertainment products. Do not allow your credit accounts to exceed 30 percent of their total limits at any given time and make larger than minimum monthly payments if possible. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actively using your credit is essential to rebuilding your credit score after a bankruptcy. Establishing a record of responsible borrowing is one of the most important factors in boosting your credit score.

Check Your Credit Report

Check your credit report every few months to be aware of the factors influencing your credit score. Compare each entry in the report to your own financial records to ensure that debt balances and account histories are accurate. Dispute any inaccurate or fraudulent listings in your report as quickly as possible to avoid negative impacts. Personally contact any companies that have legitimately listed defaults or missed payments, and work with them to establish repayment plans to avoid further negative reports.

Work With Your New Creditors

If you ever have to miss a debt payment due to unforeseen financial hardship, contact your creditor long before your next due date. Work with the creditor to establish a future payment arrangement, and ask a service representative or manager to note your account with a “promise to pay.” Specifically request that the creditor not report the missed payment to credit bureaus, and check your credit reports after a few weeks to ensure that it did not.

For many, bankruptcy is a last resort. If you’re considering filing, know the financial and credit implications. Your credit will show a public record of bankruptcy for up to 10 years, and discharged accounts will get a negative mark. You can lessen the effects on your credit by responsibly using credit going forward and making sure your credit reports accurately reflect your situation.

Bankruptcy Attorney Free Consultation

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. We want to help you with a chapter 7, chapter 11, chapter 12 or chapter 13 bankruptcy in Utah. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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The truth is, if you qualify, you can file for either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While a Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes debt into a repayment plan, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will eliminate all of your debt (with a few exceptions). Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules determine who qualifies, how to file, and what debt is eligible for discharge.  To know if you qualify and if all of your debt will be erased, you need to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer in Utah who can help you.

Draper Bankruptcy Lawyer

Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Income criteria established by bankruptcy law determine which debtors may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to qualify under income guidelines, a filer’s income must be equal to or fall below the median income in the filer’s state. Every state has different income guidelines. A filer that falls within a state’s income criteria may file for Chapter 7.

However, if the filer’s income is above the state’s median, the bankruptcy court will require the filer to take a “means test” in order to establish eligibility for Chapter 7. The means test prevents filers with the ability to repay creditors from discharging debt. The means test assesses the filer’s debt and income from the preceding six months. If the debtor has a certain amount of income leftover every month after paying creditors, the debtor will fail the means test. Although the debtor is ineligible for Chapter 7, Chapter 13 is an option. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the debtor to repay creditors in a five-year repayment plan.

Who is Ineligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, a debtor is ineligible under the following circumstances:

  • A previous debt was discharged within the past eight years under Chapter 7;
  • A previous debt was discharged within the past six years under Chapter 13;
  • Their income, expenses and debt would allow for a Chapter 13 filing;
  • The debtor attempted to defraud creditors or the bankruptcy court; or
  • The debtor failed to attend credit counseling.

How to File for Chapter 7

A debtor must attend credit counseling prior to filing for Chapter 7. Upon completion of credit-counseling with an agency approved by the United States Trustee, the debtor can file for bankruptcy with a local bankruptcy court. There is a cost associated with filing. Check with the Trustee’s Office to learn the exact amount. A debtor is required to provide information about income, debt, expenditures, creditor holdings of secured and unsecured debt, the sale of prior property, and a list of exempt property. Exempt property is property that Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules allow a debtor to keep. Each state has its own guidelines, but exempt property typically includes clothing, furniture, and cars.

The Bankruptcy Automatic Stay

Once a debtor files for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will issue an automatic stay, or an “Order for Relief.” An automatic stay protects a debtor from a creditor’s attempt to collect on a debt during the bankruptcy process. In effect, all collection activities, including any pending lawsuits, must cease. An automatic stay will prevent wage garnishment, filing of liens, and the seizure of a debtor’s property such as a house, a car, or a bank account. If the bankruptcy court dismisses a case, the automatic stay also terminates and the creditor may commence collection activities.

What Does the Trustee Do?

The bankruptcy court appoints a trustee for each bankruptcy case. The trustee is responsible for overseeing the case to ensure that the debtor files the appropriate documents. The trustee must also determine whether the sale of nonexempt property will produce enough income to pay creditors. If property is unlikely to generate substantial compensation in comparison with the time and effort needed to sell the property, the trustee will likely allow the debtor to keep the nonexempt property.

The 341 First Meeting of Creditors

After a debtor has completed and filed all of the necessary paperwork for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee will schedule a creditors meeting. At the meeting, the trustee will review the paperwork and gather any other necessary information. If a debtor fails to attend the meeting, the trustee may make a motion to dismiss the debtor’s case. Other reasons for dismissal by the trustee may include the debtor’s failure to provide a copy of income tax returns at least seven days before the creditors meeting or the failure to file a current income tax return.

In most cases, this creditors meeting is the only time the debtor will have to go to the courthouse.

If the trustee determines that you are in possession of nonexempt property, you may have to either give up the property or supply the trustee with money in the amount of the property’s value. Sometimes, though, if the property doesn’t have much value or would be too difficult for the trustee to sell, trustees will occasionally “abandon” the property, essentially allowing you to keep it despite the fact that it is nonexempt.

Getting a Discharge of Debt in Chapter 7

A few months after the creditors meeting, the bankruptcy court will hold a discharge hearing. A debtor’s unsecured debt, debt that is unsecured by property, is discharged. Secured debt, such as a car loan or a mortgage, receives different treatment. At the beginning of the bankruptcy process, the debtor selected to do one of the following: pay the creditor for the replacement value of the property, return the property to the creditor, or “reaffirm” or agree to new contract terms with the creditor.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, the debtor must repay some debt. The following debt remains after a bankruptcy discharge:

  • Child support
  • Tax debt, unless a debtor meets the criteria to discharge federal tax debt
  • Student loans, unless a bankruptcy court determines that undue hardship exists
  • Debt created by fraudulent means

Once a discharge of debt occurs, the creditor can no longer attempt to collect the expunged debt.

Generally speaking, creditors would rather work out a viable payment plan with their debtors than initiate legal action, which not only costs money, but can prolong the collections process. Nevertheless, it is possible to be sued for debt, especially if you fail to communicate with your creditor and miss multiple payments. You may be sued by a creditor even if you have offered to make small payments on your balance, but creditors typically do not sue debtors who are at least making a good faith effort to repay a debt.

What Should you Do If You’ve Been Sued?

Usually, the first indication that you are being sued comes when a constable or a process server hands you a summons and a complaint. The complaint describes the nature and dollar amount of the claims against you for unpaid debt, while the summons is a written notification that you are required to appear in court on a given date if you wish to defend yourself against the claim. If you simply ignore the complaint by not replying with a formal answer, your inaction may result in a default judgment against you.

We always advise people to speak with a lawyer right away and have them review the summons and complaint before you do anything else.

So, if you wish to defend against a creditor’s legal claim against you — even if you agree with the claim, but would rather work out a settlement — you should generally answer the complaint.

You and/or the cosigner of your loan or account will be listed as the defendant(s). The complaint will describe why the creditor is suing and how much money it is seeking in damages (typically the amount owed, plus interest and any applicable penalties). You will have about 20 days to answer the complaint, depending on the state in which the claim was filed. You may have to pay a filing fee to the court when submitting your answer to the complaint, but low income defendants may qualify for a waiver.

Whatever you don, don’t go it alone.  It’s like doing brain surgery on yourself.  The outcome will not likely be very good.

Your answer typically will include an admission or denial of the claim, any legal defenses, potential counterclaims, and your signature. If you have income that is exempt from garnishment, such as Social Security payments, it may be included in the answer, as well.

Defenses to a Lawsuit

If you plan to defend a claim against you, an attorney can help you decide which defenses make the most sense. Since many consumer contracts include a provision for settling disputes through arbitration, the lawsuit may not even be valid. Also, the claim must be filed within the statute of limitations in your state (usually two or three years, but as long as six years in some states). Additionally, some states have different statutes of limitations for debt-related lawsuits.

A creditor suing you for an unpaid debt also must be able to document ownership of the debt. Creditors frequently sell debts to other entities, which are then considered “debt collectors” for legal purposes. They must be able to produce documentation of the debt in order to sue you, a requirement that does not apply to the original creditor. Therefore, you should request verification of the debt in writing once you are contacted by a debt collector (which may be another financial institution). If it cannot provide written verification, it may not collect from you.

Also, creditors are required by law to attach a copy of the account or written contract to the complaint, or else explain in the complaint why it is not attached. If the creditor or collector cannot produce the proper documentation, you may ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Can Bankruptcy Fix a Judgment?

A judgment is really just a piece of paper signed by a judge that says you owe a debt. For example, in the event you can’t pay a credit card on time, the bank has no immediate recourse. They can call and write, but they cannot immediately attach your personal assets in satisfaction of what you owe.

Can Bankruptcy Fix a Judgment

A judgment is a legal determination that you owe a debt

Once a judgment has been obtained, the game changes. A creditor then has the green light to use the legal system to try to attach your personal property or garnish your wages (if your state’s laws permit garnishment) in satisfaction of the debt.

How do creditors obtain a judgment?

In order to obtain a judgment, a creditor will usually be required to file a lawsuit seeking payment of past due debts. In the credit card scenario, most borrowers fail to respond to the lawsuit, which allows the bank to win by default. If the borrower never files an answer to the creditor’s complaint, the court will assume the debt is valid and automatically enter judgment for the creditor. Although the process can seem complicated, judgments don’t come falling out of the sky. You must receive notice of a creditor lawsuit in order for a judgment to be entered against you. When a creditor files suit, they must notify you by delivering a summons and a copy of the complaint to your home.  The summons will tell you how long you have to respond before a default judgment will be entered against you. If you receive court documents in the mail that you do not understand, it is always best to pick up the phone and call an attorney to make sure that your rights are protected. Creditors are typically more difficult to negotiate with once they have obtained a judgment because their ability to collect is strengthened.

A judgment puts the public on notice that you owe money

A judgment is a matter of public record, often recorded in the county records where you live. One of the truly unfortunate aspects of the recordation of a judgment, is the fact that it will appear on your credit under the “public records” section of the report. Judgments and bankruptcies will both appear under this section of your credit report and both can do significant damage to your FICO score. In addition to telling the story of your financial history, the judgment tells the world that you owe a debt and that your creditors can look to your personal assets in satisfaction. Notice I say “look to your personal assets.” Unless you have property that is considered nonexempt under your state’s exemption laws, even the creditor armed with a judgment will not be able to take anything from you. Debtors who have no property that is vulnerable to creditors are known as judgment proof.

How long do judgments last?

Although this is a function of state law, most recorded judgments last for a period of 10 years, and creditors are often given the opportunity to seek renewal of the judgment prior to its expiration. This means that although you may be broke today, if you win the lottery tomorrow, your creditor can still enforce its judgment against your winnings.

Does bankruptcy eliminate a judgment?

Filing for bankruptcy will discharge your personal liability for debts, including debts that are owed to judgment creditors. However, if a judgment creditor has placed a lien on your property, filing for bankruptcy will not, in and of itself, remove the lien. While the lien cannot attach to property that you acquire after bankruptcy, it can remain as an encumbrance on property that you owned prior to filing for bankruptcy, such as real estate. In some cases, your bankruptcy lawyer may be able to petition the court to have liens that impair an exemption avoided, but judgments are sticky. The best strategy is to take action before they attach.

Next Steps for Bankruptcy Help

Creditors use judgments to step up their efforts in collecting a debt. Prior to a judgment being entered against you, you will likely receive collection letters, phone calls and eventually a summons in a lawsuit. It is important to take action when you receive documents in the mail that you do not understand, working with an attorney sooner rather than later, can help you protect your credit as well as your assets.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

How Often Can You File Bankruptcy

While you can file bankruptcy as many times as you like, you can only receive a discharge every so often – usually 8 years from the date you filed your last case and got a discharge. It’s always a good idea to have a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer to check on the specifics in your situation – because the truth is – it depends – and the laws also change from time to time. Wiping away debts and getting a fresh start through the bankruptcy discharge is the primary goal of most debtors. The question then is not really “how often can you file for bankruptcy?” as much as it is “how often can you receive a discharge of debts through bankruptcy?”

This post will review what you need to know about Chapter 7 and 11 discharges, previous Chapter 12 and 13 bankruptcy discharges, what happens when your discharge is revoked, and when you will need a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

How to Get a Discharge in the First Place

Most debt can be discharged in a personal bankruptcy case, with the exception of student loans and tax debt. So long as you qualify for the bankruptcy chapter under which you file, most consumer bankruptcies filed with the help of an attorney are discharged — and you’ll pay pennies on the dollar for your debt.

Your bankruptcy discharge can be denied, however, if you do any of the following:

  1. Attempt to defraud: If you transfer, move, or conceal property, you’re in big trouble. Make sure to talk about all transfers before your bankruptcy filing with your bankruptcy attorney.
  2. Conceal or destroy information:This also goes along with failing to keep information on your financial situation in the first place. Keep all records on your finances in a safe and organized place.
  3. Lie: A no-brainer, but, any sort of false statement made underpenalty of perjurymay not only land you back in court, but in jail.
  4. “Lose” assets: This is when you can’t explain any sort of loss or deficiency in assets.
  5. Refuse to comply with a court order: Similar to lying, disobeying the court is a bad idea.
  6. Fail to take an instructional course: When you file for bankruptcy, you must take two instructional courses in finances. One is about credit counseling, while the other is about financial management. These courses are mandatory under the federal law that governs bankruptcy.

If you follow the rules of bankruptcy and don’t commit any of the above offenses, your bankruptcy should be in the clear.

Frequency of Bankruptcy Discharges for Chapter 7, 11, 12, 13

But what happens when you need to file bankruptcy again?

Once you have already filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will deny a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 case if you already received a discharge in your previous Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 case if it was filed within the last eight years. In simple terms, you can obtain a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge every eight years. The eight-year time period starts to run from the date your previous case was filed.

The bankruptcy court will also deny a Chapter 7 discharge if the debtor has previously received a discharge in a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 case filed within the last six years unless the debtor meets fairly strict requirements regarding the amount of debt she paid back in her Chapter 13 case. Similarly, a debtor is ineligible for a second discharge under Chapter 13 if he or she received a prior discharge in a Chapter 7, 11, or 12 case filed within four years of the current case or in a Chapter 13 case filed within two years of the current case.

Your Bankruptcy Discharge Can Be Revoked

Additionally, bankruptcy courts may revoke a discharge under certain circumstances. For example, a trustee, creditor, or the U.S. trustee may request that the court revoke the debtor’s discharge in a Chapter 7 case based on allegations that the debtor obtained the discharge fraudulently, like if you concealed property or failed to keep adequate records.

Typically, a request to revoke the debtor’s discharge must be filed within one year of the discharge or, in some cases, before the date that the case is closed. The court will decide whether such allegations are true and, if so, whether to revoke the discharge.

Complaints Seeking Revocation of Discharge Will Require Retaining Counsel

Keep in mind that the mere filing of an adversary proceeding (a lawsuit filed in the bankruptcy court) seeking to revoke the discharge will require hiring an attorney to answer the allegations of improper conduct. If these allegations are not addressed in a timely fashion, the debtor will lose their discharge by default.

The possibility that a bankruptcy discharge can be revoked highlights the importance of full disclosure to your bankruptcy attorney. You must inform your bankruptcy attorney of all assets and debts in order to ensure that your discharge is not subsequently challenged.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Gift or Loan Prior to Bankruptcy

When you’re struggling with debt, it’s natural to turn to friends and family for help. They know you and they trust you, making it simpler and easier to seek financial aid from them than from a bank. If your financial difficulties continue and you decide to file for bankruptcy protection, what happens to the friends and family members from whom you borrowed?

Gift or Loan Prior to Bankruptcy

Did you sign a promissory note?

The first question when considering money borrowed from family members is whether or not the debtor signed a promissory note. If you signed a promissory note, the money you received will be formally treated as a loan. A promissory note must include information identifying the borrower and the lender. It should specify the amount, the repayment terms, and what will happen if you don’t pay.

If there’s no note, that money may be treated as a gift. While you may feel bound to honor your word to Mom and Dad, the court wants a legal promissory note to mark a loan. Without the formal paperwork, it’s just a gift.

Loans in Bankruptcy: How They Work

If you have signed a promissory note, you’ll need to list the lender as a creditor on your bankruptcy schedules. They’re legally entitled to repayment the same way every other creditor is. They’ll also be treated just like any other creditor.

Most consumers file bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation of your debts. You’ll use state and federal exemptions to protect most, if not all, of your property and the remainder will be sold to pay creditors. All creditors get a proportionate payment, so if Mom and Dad represent 5% of your debts, they’ll get 5% of the proceeds.

Under Chapter 13, the court will take your disposable income for payment of creditors for 3 to 5 years. Your disposable income is determined by taking your actual income and subtracting state and national standards for living expenses. You’ll pay your disposable income to the court and they’ll distribute it proportionally among your creditors.

At the end of both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the remainder of your unsecured debts will be discharged, or legally forgiven. You’ll no longer officially owe anything. You may, of course, choose to repay your friends and family on your own after the bankruptcy process.

Gifts in Bankruptcy: How They Work

If there’s no promissory note to mark your loan from friends or family, that money is considered a gift. You’ll have to disclose the gift on your bankruptcy schedules. If you’re the one who gave the gift, you’ll also have to disclose that on your bankruptcy schedules if it’s over a certain dollar amount, depending on the state in which you file.

Cash Gift in Chapter 7

What happens to a gift in bankruptcy depends on the timing. If you received the gift before you filed, the court will take it into account when determining what you can pay. If you received the gift after you filed for Chapter 7, the gift won’t be included in your bankruptcy proceeding.

Cash Gift in Chapter 13

If you received the gift during the Chapter 13 process, the answer is uncertain. If the gift happens before you file, you may be expected to pay more to your creditors. If you receive the gift between the date that you filed your case and the date that your repayment plan is confirmed by the court (that can take several months), the trustee in charge of your case may argue that you now have more disposable income and can pay more. If you receive the gift after confirmation of your payment plan, you’re more likely to be able to keep the gift without increasing your payments.

Note that if you’ve given any significant gifts before filing for bankruptcy, the trustee may be able to claw that money back. The court wants to avoid fraudulent transfers — ways of getting money out of the bankruptcy estate in order to keep it safe from creditors. That doesn’t have to be your intention in giving the gift; just giving cash to someone for a holiday or special occasion is enough to trigger a clawback. You may also trigger a clawback if you repay a loan from a friend or family member (with or without a promissory note) before you file for bankruptcy. That’s called a “preferential payment,” meaning that you chose to repay one creditor over another.

The court wants to ensure that all creditors are treated equally in the bankruptcy process, so that payment to Mom and Dad is going to get pulled.

Legal Documentation is Best Practice

Your family and friends are there to help you in times of need and you’re there to help them. Unfortunately, the legal system doesn’t care about familial or friendship bonds. The bankruptcy courts want to see formal legal documentation of your financial situation. So, whether you’re borrowing from or lending to someone close to you, consider creating a proper promissory note.

You can download templates online for free and it can save you a lot of trouble in the bankruptcy court. It’s also a good idea to have a formal note for the sake of your relationship with the other party. You can discuss the terms in advance and have a real plan in place for repayment. You won’t be left wondering if Cousin Eddie ever really meant to pay you back that $1,000 or if he’s just taking advantage of you.

If you’re struggling with debt and considering bankruptcy, speak to a local bankruptcy attorney. Bring all your financial documents and be sure to discuss any financial arrangements with friends or family members, whether or not they’re formally recorded in a promissory note. Your attorney can help you determine what will happen to those financial arrangements in the bankruptcy process and can work with you to decide on the best way to deal with your debts.

Free Consultation with a Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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How Bad is Bankruptcy For Your Credit?

What stops people from filing for bankruptcy? Ask a bankruptcy lawyer and you’ll get different answers. Is it fear, pride or a belief that declaring bankruptcy is in some way unethical? If you stopped and asked 10 people on the street for the number one reason not to file bankruptcy, most would mention damage to their credit.

How Bad is Bankruptcy For Your Credit

Bankruptcy in Utah

There is a common public perception that playing the “bankruptcy card” creates a ripple effect that reaches every aspect of your life in a negative way. After all, bankruptcy does show up on your credit report for 10 years and no one wants to start a job interview by discussing a past chapter 7 case. Filing for bankruptcy certainly won’t make it easier to rent an apartment or lock in a good rate on a mortgage. However, it won’t disqualify you from future credit either.

The Toothpaste is Already Out of the Tube

To be sure, filing bankruptcy is not something that is to be entered into lightly, however, there is more than a hint of irony in the reasons people commonly give for not filing bankruptcy. Perhaps the most commonly cited: that bankruptcy will ruin your credit (and by extension your life). Unfortunately, bad credit is a scenario that has already unfolded for a good number of people who find themselves in financial distress. For many people, the biggest reason not to file bankruptcy (damage to credit) has already happened by the time the thought of bankruptcy pops in their head. Maybe a series of financial missteps or the loss of a job have caused charge-offs, liens, foreclosures, missed payments and a whole host of other negative credit events to appear on your credit score, is a bankruptcy really going to make much of a difference?  Sure, bankruptcy will add another negative mark on your credit report, and you’d like to avoid it if possible, but in the long run it may actually give you greater access to credit. Taking your unsecured debts to zero and using the momentum to start over will help you build a stronger credit score. Waiting around with the phone off the hook won’t.

Bankruptcy vs. Other Negative Credit Events

Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, whereas a foreclosure will usually stay on your credit report for 7 years. However, don’t assume that foreclosure is preferable to bankruptcy simply because it stays on your credit for a shorter period of time. Many credit counselors report foreclosure as having twice the negative impact on your credit score as a bankruptcy. According to Ray Hooper, Education and Housing Director for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas:

“A foreclosure is very serious to mortgage lenders. They’re going look at a foreclosure more seriously than they will a bankruptcy that doesn’t include the house.”

According to FICO estimates, bankruptcy will cause a reduction in the filer’s FICO score of between 130-240 points, whereas a foreclosure, deed in lieu or short sale will cause a reduction in the 85-160 range.

Public Records and Bankruptcy

Tax liens, judgments and bankruptcies are all listed under the “Public Records” section of your credit report. Any reported Public Record will damage you credit, however it’s important to understand that bankruptcy filings don’t have their own section on a credit report. They are lumped in with other government initiated events. If you’ve already had a tax lien or judgment reported on your credit, the negative impact of a bankruptcy will be decreased and the benefits of filing may outweigh the additional credit damage.

Even missing payments on credit card accounts can drop a credit score by 75 points or more. The point is not to make light of the seriousness of a bankruptcy filing, but merely to point out that, viewed in light of a series of negative credit events, bankruptcy becomes more and more attractive when a consumer’s debts have spiraled out of control.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Decided to File Bankruptcy

If you’re in the middle of a short sale or just about to do one, you probably have a lot of questions. What is the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure? And what happens if you might file bankruptcy, as well?

The benefit of continuing with a short sale after you’ve decided to file for bankruptcy will hinge on the type of bankruptcy you plan on filing.

Decided to File Bankruptcy

Short Sale and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you have decided to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and are currently trying to sell a home via short sale, there is usually no reason to continue with the short sale. The purpose of a short sale is to relieve the borrower’s obligation to pay the difference between the sale price of the home and the mortgage amount when the property is “underwater” or worth less than what is owed.

Bankruptcy gives the borrower the option of surrendering the property back to the bank with no continuing obligation under the mortgage and no corresponding tax liability for the forgiveness of debt (usually a taxable event). In essence, surrendering a home in bankruptcy allows the borrower to simply give back the keys and walk away, leaving the purpose behind the short sale moot.

Bottom line: If you are going to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, why deal with the stress of negotiating a short sale? However, if you still live in an area where homes are severely underwater and there is a backlog of foreclosures, it could make sense to go through with a short sale to get title out of your name. When a home is surrendered via bankruptcy, the bank still must foreclose to remove the owner’s obligation for HOA dues, etc.

Short Sale and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

The analysis of a short sale bankruptcy is slightly different in a Chapter 13 setting. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the debtor to surrender a home, as well; however, any remaining deficiency judgment after foreclosure will be paid out as unsecured debt through the Chapter 13 plan.

Let us explain. Even though the property is being surrendered, the bank is still obligated to foreclose to clear title. The foreclosure process will result in a sale of the property. If the sale price is less than what is owed on the mortgage, a deficiency judgment results. Subject to state law, outside of bankruptcy, the borrower would be personally liable for the entire amount of the judgment. Generally, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate all unsecured debt including deficiencies after a foreclosure.

By contrast, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the deficiency between the foreclosure sale price and mortgage amount will be paid out as unsecured debt, at far less than 100%. Because the debtor will still be responsible to pay some of his or her unsecured debt through the plan, a short sale that slashes this debt before bankruptcy remains beneficial. Therefore, if a borrower can negotiate a short sale prior to filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, she will reduce her plan payment by reducing her unsecured debt.

Bottom line on Chapter 13 and short sales: Completing a short sale before this chapter of bankruptcy has the potential to lower your plan payments.

Before You File Bankruptcy Talk to a Bankruptcy Lawyer

It is always wise to consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions, whether they be related to a short sale or foreclosure as it concerns your bankruptcy petition. Filing for bankruptcy can be complex, so you’ll want the assistance of a qualified attorney to guide you through the legal process and ensure you fill out all the paperwork correctly and disclose all your assets.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Credit Card Debt in Bankruptcy

Credit Card Debt in Bankruptcy

In an economy where housing problems dominate the headlines, high interest credit cards still remain one of the largest issues consumers face in their fight for financial health. It should come as no surprise to learn then, that credit card debt is still one of the primary reasons consumers are forced to file for bankruptcy. When a credit card account has been delinquent for more than 180 days, banks will charge off what is owed as “bad debt” and sell the account to a debt collector who will call, harass and even sue if the past due balances are high enough. Mounting pressure from debt collectors pushes many consumers through the front door of a bankruptcy office because chapter 7 protection is widely perceived as the fastest and best way to get out from under unmanageable credit card debt. While it is true that filing for bankruptcy can help discharge credit card bills, there are some basics that every consumer needs to know before relying on bankruptcy as a debt relief measure.

In this post we will give you the basics so that you can evaluate whether bankruptcy is a good solution to your credit card problems. Please also be sure to browse the related posts section of this page for additional information.

Credit Card Debt is Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

That’s the number one rule when it comes to unsecured debts like credit cards debts and medical bills, they are dischargeable in bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, all of your unsecured debts are eliminated, meaning you do not legally owe these bills any longer. Credit card companies who choose to pursue you for old, discharged debts will do so in violation of the law and will be subject to sanctions by the bankruptcy court. Furthermore, unlike debts that are forgiven through private negotiation with a lender, there is no tax liability for debts that are discharged in bankruptcy.

Your Credit Reports Should Show ZERO Balances on Your Credit Cards After Bankruptcy

This is an area where consumers get tripped up. After bankruptcy, The credit card companies are required to report discharged debt as having a ZERO balance. It is often necessary to check your credit report and confirm its accuracy after your case closes.

Fraud Will Prevent Credit Card Debt From Being Discharged

While the general rule is that credit card debt is easily eliminated by filing for bankruptcy, fraudulent activity can jeopardize your entire bankruptcy discharge. Using credit cards for luxury purchases prior to bankruptcy creates a presumption of fraud which can be difficult to overcome. Don’t use credit cards after meeting with a bankruptcy attorney unless you’ve decided not to file. The bottom line is any use of credit cards with the intention of not paying the debt back is fraudulent. The bankruptcy code protects debtors who behave in good faith and punish debtors who to try to game the system. For more information see: Using Credit Cards Before Bankruptcy is a Big No No!

Can You Keep a Credit Card Out of Your Bankruptcy?

All debts including credit card debts, must be disclosed in your bankruptcy petition. This means that you cannot keep any credit card that has a balance “out of your bankruptcy”, it must be disclosed and will be discharged along with the rest of your unsecured debts. Credit cards with zero balances do not create a debt obligation and are therefore not required to be disclosed in a bankruptcy filing. For more information see: Can I Keep a Credit Card Out of Bankruptcy?

Will I be Able to Get a Credit Card After Bankruptcy?

Believe it or not yes. Creditor companies often send debtors offers for credit cards after they filed for bankruptcy knowing that it will be 8 years before they can file for bankruptcy again. Additionally, bankruptcy will illuminate all of your unsecured debt making your debt to income ratio more attractive to lenders who see that you now have the ability to take on new debt. This is not to say that filing for bankruptcy is good for your credit, because it is not. However, consumers emerging from bankruptcy commonly receive offers for cards in the mail very soon after their bankruptcy case has closed. For more information see: Can You Keep a Credit Card After Filing for Bankruptcy?

Call a Utah Bankruptcy Attorney

The bottom line is that as long as you’re acting good faith credit card debt will be discharged in a bankruptcy filing. In fact, one of the main reasons why consumers are forced into bankruptcy is high-interest credit card debt. If you’re facing credit card bills that have spiraled out-of-control, it is never a bad idea to meet with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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My Credit Card Company Is Suing Me

You’ve received a summons and complaint, your credit card company has filed a lawsuit. What to do now? Should you file for bankruptcy?

My Credit Card Company Is Suing Me

First, understand that credit card debt is a type of unsecured debt, meaning that if you can’t make payments, your credit card company cannot come after your personal property right away. In order to come after your assets, they must first sue and obtain a judgment, which is a court document stating a valid debt is owed and which gives the creditor the right to pursue assets of the debtor to satisfy it.

The extent to which a judgment creditor can pursue a consumer is a function of state law, with each state granting creditors slightly different options for pursuing judgments. Read on for what happens if a credit card company sues you, and how bankruptcy and debt settlement options may help.

When a Credit Card Company Sues You, They Want a Judgment

Why is my credit card company suing me? Because they want a judgment.

If the debt owed is valid (which it usually is), it is likely that the credit card company will be able to obtain a judgment for the full amount that is past due — although there are credit card lawsuit defenses that can be raised.

This is not because the credit card companies have a team of star litigators on the payroll. No, it’s because debtors usually do nothing when faced with a lawsuit. It is a rare debtor that will file an answer to a complaint to dispute even a valid debt. This allows the credit card company to win the lawsuit by default.

Why is this important?

As mentioned above, the judgment is the court’s determination that the debt is due. In most states, obtaining this validation of the debt from the court system is a condition that must be met before the credit card company can attempt to change its position from unsecured creditor to secured creditor. In other words, they sue to obtain a judgment, which allows them to come after your property or income in satisfaction of the debt.

The judgment will be recorded in the county where you live. From there, the credit card company can go forward with a bank levy or wage garnishment. Your credit card company may even put a lien on your real estate.

What will bankruptcy do in a credit card lawsuit?

Bankruptcy (either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) puts a stop to any collection proceedings, including lawsuits, through the power of the automatic stay. Your creditors will be notified of the stay, so any wage garnishments or foreclosure actions also will stop.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy also can eliminate the personal liability associated with the judgment, which will clear your obligation to pay the debts. However, be aware that once a judgment attaches as a lien on your property, it will be harder to get rid of. For this reason, it is not a good idea to wait too long to act once a collections proceeding has been initiated against you.

You will not be able to sell the property until the lien is paid or removed, and in some cases, the creditor may sell the property to pay the lien. If the property is exempt (e.g., your house or car), that lien can be removed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. Sec. 522(f).

This is not part of the ordinary bankruptcy procedure. While your bankruptcy is open, you must request your attorney to file a Complaint to Avoid Lien, such as this example in Utah; there is typically an extra charge for such an action.

Should I do debt settlement or bankruptcy?

In some cases, being sued by a credit card company can be a positive thing as you or your attorney can call the firm on the other side of the suit and negotiate a large reduction in the balance you owe. Often, debt settlement negotiation can help the debtor avoid bankruptcy as well as an unpleasant judgment.

However, debt settlement is an industry wrought with scams. Most companies require you go further in default while saving up to pay off creditors. While you save, creditors can take action. There also may be tax consequences associated with debt settlement.

The bottom line is this: if you’ve been sued by a credit card company, call an attorney right away to explore your options. Ignoring the lawsuit will only play into the hands of your creditors — which is exactly what the credit card company is banking on.

Free Consultation with Utah Bankruptcy Lawyers

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Can Your Bankruptcy Be Denied?

I’m often asked about bankruptcy denials because I’m a Bankruptcy Lawyer; and while there are certain debts that cannot be discharged in a personal bankruptcy case, or are very hard to discharge (such as student loan debt), there are a variety of circumstances under which a court can deny you your ENTIRE discharge. This means that you will still be liable on all of your debts, essentially leaving your bankruptcy ineffective.

Can Your Bankruptcy Be Denied

In addition, a discharge denial due to fraud still allows the trustee to administer non-exempt assets. This means that you could lose property to the trustee and still not receive debt relief. While such a finding is very serious, an open and honest debtor should have nothing to worry about. Normally the only way for a court to deny you a discharge is if you are either dishonest or you fail to follow court rules and requirements.

If the court finds you violated one of the following provisions, you will not receive a discharge of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and all of your debts will remain in place, and you won’t begin working to rebuild your credit. Here are six ways to lose your bankruptcy discharge:

Attempt to Defraud in Bankruptcy

One common ground for denying a discharge is when the debtor — with intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor — transfers, removes, destroys, mutilates, or conceals property within one year before the date of filing for bankruptcy or any time after the date of filing.

Although this sounds somewhat complicated, it is basically a rule that prohibits a debtor from giving away assets on the eve of bankruptcy. However, whether or not a court will find specific fraudulent “intent” necessary for a denial of discharge, is a highly fact-specific inquiry. As such, full disclosure to your bankruptcy attorney about all transfers or changes in property prior to or after the filing of bankruptcy is very important. If you are not completely honest, you run the risk that a court may deny you your discharge.

Concealing or Destroying Information in Bankruptcy

Your bankruptcy also can be denied if you conceal, destroy, falsify, mutilate, or fail to keep information regarding your financial condition. This would involve destroying records that could lead the trustee to property you haven’t disclosed or simply not being able to back up assertions about your finances contained in your bankruptcy schedules.

Lying in Your Bankruptcy Case

If you lie in connection with your case or make a false statement, your bankruptcy can be discharged. When you file for bankruptcy, you represent under penalty of perjury that everything contained in the filing is true and accurate. If it is later revealed that omissions were made, the trustee or a creditor can challenge your discharge. It is vitally important to be totally and completely truthful with your attorney and the court.

Loss of Assets in Bankruptcy

This is when you cannot satisfactorily explain a loss of assets or deficiency in assets. Be sure to note that under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most debtors keep their property — so your assets most likely will be protected.

Refusal to comply with the Trustee or a court order

This seems like a no-brainer, but if a debtor refuses to obey a lawful order of the court, they could be in trouble. And if your bankruptcy case is denied simply because you failed to comply with a simple court order, you’re going to keep getting those harassing creditor phone calls. Keep in mind that after a discharge, collectors who still call are violating federal law.

Failure to take instructional course

When you fail to complete an instructional course about personal financial management, you run the risk of getting your bankruptcy denied. Under U.S. Bankruptcy Code, two instructional courses must be taken. The first is a credit counseling requirement that must be fulfilled before you can begin your bankruptcy case. The second requirement is a financial management course that must be completed during your case and is a requirement for getting a discharge. Your attorney can advise you on the proper instructional course to take to meet this requirement, which could cost anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on where you file. Much cheaper than having your bankruptcy case denied and refiling all over again.

A Successful Bankruptcy Starts with Your Lawyer

While reading the possible ways a court may deny your discharge may worry you, you must remember that all of these grounds for denial can be avoided by your full, open, and honest communication with your attorney. Even if you think a court might find you in violation of one of the above acts, the law surrounding these provisions is highly litigated and fact-dependent. Only a qualified bankruptcy lawyer can tell you whether there is a possibility that you may be denied a discharge.

Free Consultation with Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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