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Jack I Hyatt

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy in Maryland 

What is bankruptcy?

Can bankruptcy help tax matters? 

Can co-signers be protected? 

Can bankruptcy stop creditor harassment?

Can home foreclorure be prevented?

Can monthly payments be reduced?

How will my credit be affected?

What about lawsuits and judgments?

Can I protecy my property from reposession?

What are the advantages of bankruptcy?

How long do I have to wait to rebuild my credit?

How would I know if chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for my situation?

What is bankruptcy?

Information on Filing Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is a legal procedure designed both to protect an individual or business that can't meet its financial obligations and to protect the creditors involved. To begin the process, proper papers must be filed.

There are specific chapters of the federal bankruptcy law. Proceedings under Chapter 7 (known as straight bankruptcy) involve taking most of the borrower's property. The court appoints a trustee to sell off the assets and distribute the cash among the creditors. Proceedings under Chapter 13 (known as wage earner's bankruptcy) involve the borrower proposing a plan for repaying a portion of the debt in installments from the borrower's income. Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Act is generally used by corporations and not by consumer debtors. Its proceedings are expensive and complex. Consumer debtors normally use Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Once the bankruptcy proceeding ends, the borrower is no longer liable. This occurs when the bankruptcy court enters a discharge order in a Chapter 7 case or the borrower has paid the debts due to the credit grantors according to a plan in a Chapter 11 or a Chapter 13 case. In legal terms, the court has discharged the borrower from the debts. The borrower then starts over again with a clean financial slate, but the record of the bankruptcy will remain on the borrower's credit record for up to ten years.
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Can bankruptcy help tax matters?

Taxes are debts to a government agency much like debts you might have to individuals and companies. They are different from other debts, however, because the governmental agencies collecting these taxes have greater power over you and your property than other creditors have.

Since the Bankruptcy Code provides for protection to anyone filing bankruptcy, these taxing authorities may have less ability to affect you and your property while you are under bankruptcy protection. The filing of a bankruptcy case may stop collection activity of governmental agencies for the collection of taxes owed. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide for level monthly payment of your tax obligation without additional interest or penalties. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can reduce or eliminate certain tax obligations that have been due and payable for more than three years.

Bankruptcy may be the best, or only, solution for extreme financial hardship. However, it should be utilized exclusively as a last resort since it has long lasting consequences. The record of a bankruptcy remains in your credit files in credit bureaus for as long as ten years. It is recommended to consult a financial expert before resorting to bankruptcy as a means of solving your economic troubles.
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Can co-signers be protected? 

If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the creditor can proceed against your co-signers, according to the terms of the debt agreement. However, if you file a Chapter 13 debt adjustment, a co-signer is protected if the following conditions are met. The debt must be a consumer debt. Also, the debt may not be incurred in the ordinary course of business, and the co-signer cannot benefit from the proceeds of the debt. As long as the debtor is making the required payments under the Chapter 13 plan, the creditor cannot act to collect from the co-signer. The purpose of this provision of Chapter 13 is to allow a debtor to repay the debt without the creditor approaching the co-signer for repayment.

In conclusion, if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your creditors have the right to immediately demand payment from your cosigners. If, on the other hand, you file a bankruptcy petition and a proposed payment plan under Chapter 13, your creditors cannot collect from your co-signers unless it becomes clear that the Chapter 13 plan will not pay the entire amount owed.

It is important to choose a qualified lawyer or financial adviser to set up your repayment plan. If you are unable to make your payments under Chapter 13, you may still file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, your creditors would then have the right to immediately demand payment from your cosigners.
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Can bankruptcy stop creditor harassment

There are several strategies for dealing with creditor harassment. First, be as honest as possible. If you explain why your account is in default, you may be able to persuade the creditor to allow you more time for payment or to make other arrangements for payment. But this is not always the case. Some creditors and collection agents are reasonable; others may rely on threats and intimidation.

A second method of stopping creditor harassment is to file for bankruptcy. Though bankruptcy can have long-lasting consequences, it may be the best solution in certain cases. In addition, filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will immediately stop creditor harassment.
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Can home foreclorure be prevented

If a person gets behind on his or her house payments, the creditor may call the loan in default, accelerate the debt, and begin foreclosure proceedings. When a debt is accelerated, the full balance of the note, not just the monthly payments, is due, in full, immediately. This is usually preceded by the creditor's refusal to accept monthly payments.

In the event a creditor begins foreclosure, you will receive a notice of the foreclosure proceeding. Unless the creditor is willing to accept payments to reinstate the loan, you will have to either pay the full balance remaining on the loan, or file bankruptcy for protection to stop the foreclosure. One additional option is to contact HUD for mortgage assistance. Sometimes creditors will agree to stop foreclosure while HUD is reviewing your file.

The beginning of a bankruptcy case, if before the foreclosure sale date, will stop the foreclosure sale from taking place. Under a Chapter 13 plan, you can make regular monthly payments and be given a reasonable period of time to bring your loan payments up to date to save your property.

Bankruptcy may be the best solution for extreme financial hardship. However, it should be used as a last resort, since it can have long- lasting consequences in relation to your credit.

For more information on foreclosures, consult with an attorney experienced in bankruptcy law.
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Can monthly payments be reduced

If you have unmanageable debt and file a Chapter 7 straight bankruptcy, you will not be required to repay your debts. This affords you a clean slate with which to approach future obligations. Those electing to repay their debts under Chapter 13 must first determine their expected future monthly income or take-home pay. All types of income can be considered, such as wages, commissions, child support, spousal support, social security, workers compensation, unemployment, disability benefits, retirement, and dividends, so long as they constitute regular income.

After determining income, an amount should be set aside to provide for normal living expenses. The amount of income remaining after providing for living expenses is the maximum amount available for debt payments. If you cannot repay your debts in full over three to five years, you may be eligible for a partial repayment plan, or a "best efforts" plan. According to the "best efforts" plan, the idea is to repay as much as you can afford. At the end of the plan, any unpaid plan debts will be discharged. In any event, Chapter 13 almost always reduces your payments to an amount you can afford.
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How will my credit be affected? 

How your credit will be affected by filing either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 debt reorganization petition depends on a number of individual factors. One is your credit status today. If your credit is perfect, bankruptcy will have a negative affect on your credit. If your credit is substantially impaired, now or in the near future, filing bankruptcy may be one of the best things you can do to improve your credit. There are two main reasons for this:

After filing bankruptcy you are debt free, making your ability to repay any new credit better after bankruptcy than before, simply because you have no other debts to pay after declaring bankruptcy. You can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy only once every six years
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What about lawsuits and judgments?

The filing of either a Chapter 7 straight bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt adjustment immediately stops any lawsuits from being filed or judgments being taken against you. If a law suit is pending at the time of such filing, it can go no further. If a judgment has been taken, its enforcement can go no further.

If a creditor has a judgment and is garnishing your wages, the garnishment can be stopped. Filing for Chapter 7 straight bankruptcy may relieve you of the obligation to pay the judgment. In a Chapter 13 debt adjustment, you may be able to satisfy the judgment over a period not to exceed five years. If the judgment has placed a lien on your home, that lien can be removed if it interferes with your homestead. If lawsuits or judgments are a threat or reality, the protection afforded under the bankruptcy laws may be an appropriate solution for you.
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Can I protecy my property from reposession?

Repossession is the power of the creditor to take back goods because of the buyer's failure to meet the loan payments. 

There are two types of loans: secured and unsecured. A secured loan is one that requires you to pledge something as collateral. For example, if you purchase a car, the creditor will usually require you to put up the car as collateral. On the other hand, an unsecured loan, does not require collateral. Using a credit card is usually an unsecured loan. If you default on an unsecured loan, the creditor's only recourse, after the letters and the collection agency efforts fail, is to sue. But if you default on a secured loan, the creditor can repossess the collateral and sell it.

If the money from the sale isn't enough to pay off the loan, the creditor can sue you for the balance of the loan. If you fall behind in your loan, you should contact your creditors as quickly as possible and attempt to work out a voluntary repayment plan. Bankruptcy may be able to cancel the debt, or it may give the opportunity to stop the repossession. However, bankruptcy should be used in only the most serious circumstances since it can affect your credit for up to ten years. If your property has already been repossessed, some states give you the opportunity to have your property returned by paying all outstanding loan charges, fees, and costs.
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What are the advantages of bankruptcy?

Once discharged through bankruptcy your debts are erased; in other words you are no longer responsible for paying them. 12. What about my credit?

The fact is that when lenders or other creditors review your credit report they rank bankruptcy as the worst.
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How long do I have to wait to rebuild my credit? 

You can rebuild your credit immediately with a secured loan or credit card. In fact you can even obtain these items while going through the bankruptcy process. 14. How long does it take before my debt are discharged?

Chapter 7 takes between 3 to 8 months; 

Chapter 11 can take from just under a year to many years; 

Chapter 13 can take several months while trying to get your repayment plan approved. However, the actual discharge is not final until you've met the payment plan requirements which takes from 36 to 60 months to complete.

How long until my credit gets back to the point where I might hope to get a regular credit card or mortgage? 

Rebuilding credit depends on how aggressively you try to get back on track, but don't figure less than 1-3 years. Remember, you can always get a secured credit card or a mortgage with a low loan to value (LTV) and high interest rate, sometimes even still in the middle of a bankruptcy.
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How would I know if chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for my situation?

If you have very few assets with no property and your assets can be exempted then Chapter 7 may be right for you as long as you have no other obligations such as court ordered alimony, child support payments, criminal restitution, non-dischargeable taxes, or student loans. (list of non-dischargeable items) Many national creditors prefer that you file Chapter 7 if they cannot recover at least 50 cents on the dollar.

Which bankruptcy chapter is the least expensive? Chapter 7 is the least expensive because you do not have to pay off the debts. The next least expensive is Chapter 13 where you repay about 10 cents on the dollBankruptcy Myths Busted

The average American knows very little about bankruptcy. Most people probably are aware of bankruptcy’s ability to dissolve debt and give the debtor a fresh start. Some of the information you might have heard is correct, but some is not. The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the most common bankruptcy myths.

1. Even if I file for bankruptcy creditors will still harass me and my family. This is absolutely false. Bankruptcy law provides for an automatic stay. Simply, as soon as you file for bankruptcy a hold is put on all your outstanding debts and any creditor attempts to collect those debts. The law prohibits a debtor to attempt to collect, possess, or even contact the debtor in regard to the debt. If a creditor does not follow the rules, the debtor may have an action in the form of punitive damages. Basically, punitive damages are meant to punish a creditor for not following the procedures set out in the bankruptcy code. Whether a debtor has a cause of action against a creditor should be left to an attorney to answer. However what you need to know is this; once you file for bankruptcy, creditors must leave you alone or suffer the consequences.

2. If I file for bankruptcy it may cause more family troubles than I already have, maybe even divorce. This is also false. There are two ways a debtor can file for bankruptcy voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary filing is done by the debtor. The debtor talks to an attorney or files a petition pro se and gets the bankruptcy process started. In an involuntary bankruptcy, the creditor forces the debtor into bankruptcy often times unwanted by the debtor. Voluntary filing is the result of a family discussing their options with each other and possibly an attorney and making an informed decision on the merits. Divorce is often associated with a bankruptcy with the latter filing. Voluntarily filing for bankruptcy gives the debtor a chance to set his terms and allows the debtor a free choice for the bankruptcy.

3. If I file for bankruptcy the trustee will seize all of my assets and sell them to settle my debts with creditors. Again this is false. While it is one of the duties of a trustee to sell assets in the estate, the trustee cannot necessarily reach all of your assets. There are many factors that must be examined before this happens. The type of bankruptcy as a lot to do with how much the trustee can seize. For example, a chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy. Simply, the debtor keeps the majority if not all of his assets, and forms a repayment plan to satisfy interested creditors. Even in a chapter 7 filing the debtor gets to keep many assets. These are called non-exempt assets. The debtor’s house, car, clothing, furniture, life insurance, etc. are all non-exempt assets. These are just a few of the main assets. An attorney will be able to arm you with the information you need to keep even more personal property a debtor thought possible.

4. If I file for bankruptcy now, I will never be able to file again. Surprise, this too is false. Filing for bankruptcy does not make you ineligible to file again. Without going into too much detail, just know the bankruptcy code allows a debtor to file for bankruptcy more than once. There are a few things different most importantly possibility of discharge, however you can file for bankruptcy again if you already have filed.

5. If I file for bankruptcy I will never get credit again. This is simply false. If this were true then nobody would file for bankruptcy. Americans depend on credit and this is no different than a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy. Several banks now offer credit on a secured basis to potentially risky customers. The debtor would put up a small amount of money so as to secure payment in the future. Once the debtor proves his ability to pay, credit limits get higher. As little as two years after a chapter 7, a debtor is eligible for mortgage loans on terms equal to someone who has not gone through bankruptcy. Creditors look more to a debtors stability, as opposed to the fact you filed for bankruptcy.

ar, followed by Chapter 11.

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"There is No Substitute For Experience."

JACK I. HYATT 
Bankruptcy Attorney  
Attorney Profile: 
Former Assistant State's Attorney
Admitted To Practice Before:
The U.S. Supreme Court
All Maryland Courts
Federal District Court
Member:
Maryland State Bar Association 
Baltimore City Bar Association 
Baltimore County Bar Association 
University of Baltimore 
A.A. B.S. J.D. 
Honorable Discharge U.S. Army 


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