Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions
Our Tulsa bankruptcy attorneys have compiled a list of our clients’ most commonly asked questions and provided answers below. We hope you find this information helpful as you are looking for solutions to secure your financial future.
When should I consider filing bankruptcy?
If any of the following apply to you or your family, you should consider bankruptcy:
- Your paycheck is being garnished;
- Your vehicle has been repossessed;
- You are getting harassing phone calls from debt collectors;
- You have one or more “payday” or signature loans;
- You have multiple credit card accounts with high balances;
- You are behind 30 days on more than one of your bills;
- You have high medical, doctor, and hospital bills;
- You have been sued or have lawsuits pending against you;
- You owe federal income taxes that you are unable to pay;
- You do not have any savings and are borrowing from family and friends;
- Your mortgage lender has threatened foreclosure or foreclosure proceedings are already underway.
Filing for bankruptcy is a serious consideration. Our top Tulsa bankruptcy lawyers can review your situation, help you understand your options, determine if bankruptcy is even the best option for you, and guide you through the bankruptcy process should you decide to file.
Why do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy in Oklahoma by yourself is a recipe for disaster. Do you know the Oklahoma median income for your county of residence? Do you know how to apply the means test to your income? Do you have a CM/ECF with log-in credentials for filing in federal bankruptcy court? Why add undue stress to an already difficult situation? Seek professional guidance from our bankruptcy law firm.
Can I keep my house in bankruptcy?
Oklahoma has one of the best homestead exemptions in the United States. Generally, filers of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy keep their homes. If your primary residence is in a city, town, or village, and sits on one acre or less, the exemption for the equity in your home is unlimited as long as less than 25 percent of the home is used for business purposes. If your property is not in a city, town, or village and is on less than 160 acres of land, the exemption for the equity in your home is unlimited as long as less than 25 percent of the home is used for business purposes. There are also limits that require you to have lived in Oklahoma for a specified period of time to claim the exemption. If this applies to you, it can be discussed during the initial consultation.
Can I keep my car in bankruptcy?
Oklahoma allows a $7,500 equity exemption in one automobile. If you still owe a lender for your car or cars, and are current on the loan payments, it is unlikely that a trustee would seize the car or cars, because they are usually not worth more than what is owed (and frequently are worth much less than what is owed). You will be required to sign a reaffirmation agreement with the lender to keep the car or cars. If you are not current on your car payments, you may lose the car or cars. However, the car payment can also be included in a Chapter 13 payment plan.
Can I keep my guns in bankruptcy?
Oklahoma bankruptcy exemption laws allow you to keep $2,000.00 worth of guns, whether that is one gun or five guns. Guns should be taken to a gun store or a gun dealer to determine their current value. Bankruptcy trustees love to seize guns in excess of $2,000.00 and sell them for the benefit of creditors. For example, if you own a Glock Model 23 valued at $600.00, a Colt AR-15 valued at $1,400.00, and a Benelli collector’s edition shotgun valued at $2,000.00, you are allowed to either keep the Glock and the Colt AR-15 (combined value $2,000.00), but not the Benelli collector’s edition shotgun ($2,000.00 value), OR you are allowed to keep the Benelli collector’s edition shotgun ($2,000.00 value) but not the Glock and the Colt AR-15 (combined value $2,000.00). Either way, $2,000.00 worth of guns will have to be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee for eventual sale.
What debts can I include in my bankruptcy?
All of your debts must be listed in the bankruptcy petition. All debts means exactly that, ALL debts. You must list loans you received from a family member or a friend. You must list all of your credit card accounts, even if you are not behind on all of them. You must list your home mortgage and your car loans, even if you plan to keep your home and your car. You must list your medical debts and your student loan debts. Again, every debt you owe must be listed, even if the debt is not dischargeable and even if you plan to reaffirm that debt.
What debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy?
Student loans, luxury goods acquired 90 days before filing bankruptcy, credit card debt acquired 90 days before filing, child support, alimony, fines, costs, and restitution in criminal cases, debts from willful and malicious injury to another person or property, debts for death or personal injury caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, debts incurred by fraud (obtaining a loan knowing you cannot pay), certain unpaid taxes like Social Security taxes and withholding taxes, sales taxes, tax liens (however some federal, state, and local income taxes may be eligible for discharge if you have filed tax returns and the taxes date back several years), debts acquired after the bankruptcy petition is filed, and debts you fail to list in your bankruptcy filing.
What is the automatic stay?
The automatic stay is a federal injunction that immediately stops collection efforts by creditors against the debtor(s). The stay applies to every court in every jurisdiction. The stay prohibits collection attempts on all secured and unsecured debts acquired before the filing. The stay can stop or suspend foreclosure proceedings, vehicle repossessions, setoffs, garnishments, civil litigation proceedings, student loan collections, and even IRS collection efforts. Once your case is filed, the bankruptcy court clerk will send written notice to all of the creditors listed in your petition within 48 hours of filing. Keep in my mind that it may take up to a week for every one of your creditors to receive notice as mail delivery times vary.
Will I have to go to court?
Everyone who files for bankruptcy must appear at what is called a Meeting of Creditors in the federal courthouse conducted by the bankruptcy trustee (don’t worry, creditors almost never show to this meeting). The trustee will verify your identity by looking at your official state-issued ID and your Social Security card. You are placed under oath to testify about the accuracy of the information in your bankruptcy documents. Most of our clients only have to appear at this meeting and never have to appear in front of a judge.
Can I own anything after bankruptcy?
Yes! Many people mistakenly believe they cannot own anything after filing for bankruptcy. This is simply not true. You are able to keep all of your exempt property and anything you acquire filing for bankruptcy. However, if you receive an inheritance, property settlement, or life insurance proceeds within six months after you filed, that money or property may have to be turned over to the trustee to be paid to your creditors if there is not an exemption that can be applied.
More questions? Call the Henson Law Firm today!
Schedule a FREE initial consultation to get your questions answered and find out how we can help secure a stronger financial future for you and your family.
*We are a debt relief law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
*We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.