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In 1934, the US Supreme Court ruled that bankruptcy was designed to give a debtor a "fresh start", allowing the debtor a new opportunity in life free from their previous financial burdens. Almost 100 years later, thanks in part to aggressive lobbying and marketing by greedy creditors, the word bankruptcy has lost it's redemptive message. Even in today's digital age, when information is just a click away, there are still a lot of misconceptions regarding filing bankruptcy here in Texas.
Yes, filing for bankruptcy is a big decision that comes with some financial consequences. However, in the hundreds of bankruptcy cases our firm has filed on behalf of our clients, not one person has ever told us they've felt worse off financially after filing. To the contrary, the feedback we've received has been overwhelmingly grateful that the lawsuits, judgments, and mountains of debt our clients were facing are now behind them.
Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy here in Texas doesn't have to be a scary or embarrassing situation. Our lawyers have extensive experience with the local bankruptcy trustees, and we've made the process as quick and efficient as possible. A simple phone call is usually all we need to assess your case, determine if you qualify, and even offer helpful advice on if bankruptcy is the best solution for you. If you find yourself overwhelmed with concern about how to handle your debt related issues, please don't wait... The attorneys of Johnson & Bryan are available to step in on your behalf and help secure the fresh start to which you are entitled.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal procedure that allows you to erase, or discharge, most unsecured debts. Unsecured debts are typically accounts like credit cards, medical or hospital bills and personal loans and lines of credit. Almost all of these types of debt get discharged in bankruptcy. The exception to this is child support and most student loans. These debts are usually not eligible to be discharged. The other common form of debt is secured debt. Secured debt is typically something like your home mortgage or auto loan. These types of debt usually survive the bankruptcy process and, if you intend to keep them, you should continue to make your regular payment.
Once we have spoken and determine bankruptcy is the best option in your case, we take over the process for you. We quickly complete the necessary paperwork and file the bankruptcy on your behalf. Your creditors are notified immediately and all debt collection efforts against you must cease! That's right, one of the many benefits of filing bankruptcy here in Texas is that the harassing phone calls and letters must stop. Even more important, filing bankruptcy freezes any current lawsuits filed by your creditors. Usually most creditors will simply abandon their lawsuits, since they will no longer be able to collect on the debt.
The next step will be the "Meeting of the Creditors". This meeting is an opportunity for your creditors and the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case to ask you questions regarding your filing. The meeting is not held in front of a Judge. It is conducted informally in a small, private room. In 99% of the cases we've handled, no creditors even bother to show up. Generally, this is the only time you will have to attend any meetings or have any contact with the bankruptcy court. One of our attorneys will attend the meeting with you and answer any questions you may have.
After that, the court will review and process the filings, and you can typically expect to receive your discharge 60 days after the meeting of the creditors. The whole process from initial filing to discharge usually takes about 4 months. The discharge results in a permanent order prohibiting your creditors from taking any form of collection action on the discharged debts, including legal action or communication, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.
The Texas Property Code and the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions provide protections for various types of assets. Specifically, these exemptions protect your house, cars, household furnishings, clothes, furniture, jewelry and most retirement and pension plans. These exempt assets are protected and no one can take them. The trustee assigned to your case does have the right to sell any "non-exempt" property. However, in the majority of our Chapter 7 cases, ALL property is exempt.
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas is complex. There is extensive paperwork and procedures that must be followed, and mistakes can be very costly. Your entire case can be dismissed on a technicality, and you will end up exactly where you started... still owing on all your debt. Your creditor can also challenge your petition, and if you have to fight your case before the Judge, you'll want us by your side. While we certainly encourage our clients to save as much money as possible, your bankruptcy filing is not the time to start cutting corners. We've made our fees simple and affordable so everyone can get the help they need. Furthermore, we are available to you at all times for advice or consultation, and can help you make informed decisions about the best way to handle your debt issues. We want you to be successful in this process and receive your fresh start...give us a call and let us get to work on your behalf.
Whew! That's a lot to take in. We know you may still have questions, so here's a list of some other common questions regarding filing bankruptcy: