I need help filing Bankruptcy in Texas!

A lot of people associate the word "Bankruptcy" with something bad...

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.

Common Bankruptcy Myths:
The Process
The Judge will come over and go through all my stuff
False Stamp
Your Property
I will lose my home and vehicles if I file bankruptcy
False Stamp
Your Credit
My credit score will be way worse than it is now
False Stamp
Your Future
I'll never be able to get a credit card or loan again
False Stamp
Let's talk about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy...

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.

So how does the bankruptcy process work?

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.

What about my home? my cars? all my stuff?

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.

Why do I need a lawyer? Can't I just file this myself?

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:

What about my credit rating?

We have found that in a majority of our cases, our clients credit is already severely affected by the time they contact us. If you are considering bankruptcy, chances are you are already behind on your payments. Filing bankruptcy will temporarily lower your credit score. Someone that has spotless credit and a very high credit score could expect a huge drop in their score. On the other hand, someone with many late or negative items will usually see only a modest drop in their score. The positive side is that bankruptcy will afford you a fresh start and the ability to reestablish your credit. Starting from the moment you file, you can start rebuilding your credit profile. Generally speaking, within 2 years of filing bankruptcy and receiving a successful discharge you can expect your credit to be rebuilt to what's considered an average credit score.

I still owe money on my house and car. Can I keep them?

Yes, but you must be current on the loan in order to keep the property. You must also continue to make payments when due, and the payment will remain the same. If you are not current on your house or car loan, there are still options available to keep the property. This is something we can discuss when we meet.

Should I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy is deeply personal to some, and not a decision to be made lightly. We've tried to provide some resources on this webpage to help you make an informed decision, but the best advice is to contact us and discuss your case. We will gladly discuss your options and come up with a plan to help resolve your debt issues. Generally speaking, here are some signs that might indicate a need to file:
- You’ve lost your job and dipped into retirement savings.
- You’ve fallen behind on credit card payments.
- You are unable to save any money after making ends meet.
- You are experiencing stress-related health issues due to your current financial situation.
- You used some credit cards to pay off other credit cards.
- Creditors are calling you at home and work.
- Law firms are sending you threatening letters.

Can bankruptcy help with a lawsuit filed against me?

Yes, filing a bankruptcy will immediately stop lawsuits filed against you. Filing a suggestion of bankruptcy in the court of your lawsuit will stop any further proceedings until the outcome of the bankruptcy is resolved. It's also possible that the creditor will stop pursuing the lawsuit since bankruptcy will mean they can no longer collect.

I have a judgment or bank account garnishment. Will bankruptcy help me with this?

If the underlying debt of the original judgment is dischargeable in bankruptcy, then yes, filing a bankruptcy will prevent the creditor from collecting on the judgment or garnishing your bank account. However, please note that the record of the judgment will still exist, and there are exceptions to this that a creditor can challenge. If you currently have a judgment or account garnishment, please get in touch with us first before filing to discuss your best options.

Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?

Technically, yes. However, Texas is what’s called a “community property” state. That means that one spouse may be liable for any debts incurred by the other spouse. If only one spouse were to file bankruptcy, the other may still be liable for debts after the bankruptcy is over. Generally, if you have been married for a long time, it is a good idea to file jointly with your spouse.

Can I choose which debts to list in my bankruptcy filing?

No, you cannot pick and choose which debts to list in your bankruptcy petition. You must list all of your debts, including credit cards and debts you owe to friends and family members. Intentionally leaving a debt off your bankruptcy petition is against the law. When you sign a bankruptcy petition, you are certifying under penalty of perjury that all of your assets and debts are listed. During the meeting of the creditors, you will also be asked under oath if all of your debts have been listed on the petition. Even though you have to list a particular debt, there is nothing in the law that prevents you from voluntarily repaying the debt after it has been discharged. In fact, with secured debts, such as mortgages and car loans, you can choose to reaffirm the debt in order to keep the property.
Video Presentation

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