Bankruptcy is a federal legal mechanism for individuals, families, and businesses to get most of their debts discharged (wiped out) or to repay debts over time under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcy attorney Robert Williamson has guided many debtor clients through the proceedings.
The bankruptcy process might seem intimidating, but an experienced bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the steps and reduce the stress and anxiety. The length of time between filing your bankruptcy petition and receiving the discharge order from the Bankruptcy Court judge varies because each individual debtor’s situation is unique.
Once you have signed a written agreement with your bankruptcy attorney, it is extremely important that you be honest when providing answers and papers. The Code prohibits discharging a bankruptcy petition if the debtor knowingly conceals or destroys property and recorded financial information, or provides false or fraudulent statements. No debt incurred through illegal means will be discharged in bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy court deals harshly with untruths. Recently, a realty TV star was sentenced to a prison term for fraud in connection with her bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy judge overseeing her case happened to be watching TV one night and wondered if she might be understating the income from her TV series.
In preparation for filing your bankruptcy petition, you must fill out several forms called “schedules” and complete a credit-counseling course administered by a U.S. Trustee-approved agency. The forms describe your (and your spouse’s, if you’re filing jointly) current income, expenses, debts, and property you now own, and money you earned, property you owned , and property you sold or gave away within the previous 2 years.
Once we have filed your bankruptcy petition, a Bankruptcy Court Judge will determine if you qualify for a filing under a chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. The Bankruptcy Court then will appoint a Trustee to oversee your case. The Trustee takes ownership of all your property to create an “estate in bankruptcy”. You have no control over the property and cannot spend or sell it. You do have control over any money you earn or property you acquire after the filing date of the bankruptcy petition.
The Trustee reviews your bankruptcy petition and verifies the information contained in it by examining outside documents like pay stubs, mortgage statements, and tax returns. The Trustee presents presents all documentation and circumstances of your case to the Bankruptcy Court Judge, who decides to issue a discharge order which will discharge, or wipe out, most of your debts. Some debts can never be wiped out: child support, most tax debts, and student loans. Other debts might not be wiped out because of fraud or non-dischargeability status.