Other Bankruptcy Disclosures
As an €ś"assisted person" under the new bankruptcy law, you are required to:
1. Undergo credit counseling and obtain a Debtor Education Certificate from a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency approved in the State of Maryland. This Certificate must be obtained within 180 days of the date you commence a bankruptcy case.
2. Provide the replacement value of your assets. In some instances, this may be the yard sale value. In other instances, an appraisal of your assets may be required. We also have access to online services which value personal property, such as N.A.D.A. and Kelly Blue Book. If you own real property, you will be required to obtain an appraisal or a report of comparable value from a qualified real estate agency.
3. Determine the amount of your current monthly income and disposable income. Your current monthly income can be determined from pay stubs, tax returns, and other documentation, such as 1099 forms and pension statements. Your disposable income is determined by deducting regular monthly expenses, such as food, utilities, clothing, and transportation, from your net monthly income.
4. Complete a list of creditors and the amount owed to each. We will order and review your credit report, but you must also provide current addresses for all creditors. The best way to obtain this information is from each creditor's last billing statement. Alternatively, you can conduct an internet search or review applicable telephone directories.
5. Determine what property is exempt. You are entitled to $12,000.00 of exemptions per individual in property of any type. Some property, such as retirement accounts, is exempt regardless of dollar value. We will assist you in the determination of exempt property and how to value this property in accordance with the new bankruptcy laws.
THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES FROM AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER. YOU ARE NOTIFIED:
If you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, you can represent yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you, or you can get help in some localities from a bankruptcy petition preparer who is not an attorney. THE LAW REQUIRES AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER TO GIVE YOU A WRITTEN CONTRACT SPECIFYING WHAT THE ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER WILL DO FOR YOU AND HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. Ask to see the contract before you hire anyone.
The following information helps you understand what must be done in a routine bankruptcy case to help you evaluate how much service you need. Although bankruptcy can be complex, many cases are routine.
Before filing a bankruptcy case, either you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy code and which form of relief is most likely to be beneficial for you. Be sure you understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations. To file a bankruptcy case, documents called a Petition, Schedules, and Statement of Financial Affairs, as well as in some cases a Statement of Intention need to be prepared correctly and filed with the bankruptcy court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court. Once your case starts, you will have to attend the required first meeting of creditors where you may be questioned by a court official called a trustee's€ť and by creditors.
If you choose to file a chapter 7 case, you may be asked by a creditor to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming your debts.
If you choose to file a chapter 13 case in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over 3 to 5 years, you may also want help with preparing your chapter 13 plan and with the confirmation hearing on your plan which will be before a bankruptcy judge.
If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than chapter 7 or 13, you will want to find out what should be done from someone familiar with that type of relief.
Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court, but only attorneys, not bankruptcy petition preparers, can give you legal advice.
YOU ARE NOTIFIED:
1. All information that you are required to provide with a petition and thereafter during a case under the Bankruptcy Code is required to be complete, accurate, and truthful.
2. All assets and liabilities are required to be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence the case. Some places in the Bankruptcy Code require that you list the replacement value of each asset. This must be the replacement value of the property at the date of the filing of the petition, without deducting the costs of sale or marketing, established after a reasonable inquiry. For property acquired for personal, family, or household use, replacement value means the price a retail merchant would charge for property of that kind, considering the age and condition of the property.
3. The following information, which appear on Official Form 22, Statement of Current Monthly Income, are required to be stated after reasonable inquiry: current income, the amounts specified in section 707(b)(2), and, in a case under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, disposable income (determined in accordance with section 707(b)(2)).
4. Information that you provide during your case may be audited pursuant to provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the case under this title or other sanction, including criminal sanctions.
BANKRUPTCY LAW IS A FEDERAL LAW. THIS SHEET GIVES YOU SOME GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN A BANKRUPTCY CASE. THE INFORMATION HERE IS NOT COMPLETE. YOU MAY NEED LEGAL ADVICE.
WHEN YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY:
You can choose the kind of bankruptcy that best meets your needs (provided you meet certain qualifications):
Chapter 7 â€“ A trustee is appointed to take over your property. Any property of value will be sold or turned into money to pay your creditors. You may be able to keep some personal items and possibly real estate depending on the law of the State where you live and applicable federal laws.
Chapter 13 â€“ You can usually keep your property, but you must earn wages or have some other source of regular income and you must agree to pay part of your income to your creditors. The court must approve your repayment plan and your budget. A trustee is appointed and will collect the payments from you, pay your creditors, and make sure you live up to the terms of your repayment plan.
Chapter 12 â€“ Like chapter 13, but it is only for family farmers and family fishermen.
Chapter 11 â€“ This is used mostly by businesses. In chapter 11, you may continue to operate your business, but your creditors and the court must approve a plan to repay your debts. There is no trustee unless the judge decides that one is necessary; if a trustee is appointed, the trustee takes control of your business and property.
If you have already filed bankruptcy under chapter 7, you may be able to change your case to another chapter.
Your bankruptcy may be reported on your credit record for as long as ten years. It can affect your ability to receive credit in the future.
WHAT IS A BANKRUPTCY DISCHARGE AND HOW DOES IT OPERATE?
One of the reasons people file bankruptcy is to get a 'discharge'€ť A discharge is a court order which states that you do not have to pay most of your debts. Some debts cannot be discharged. For example, you cannot discharge debts forâ€“
- most taxes;
- child support;
- most student loans;
- court fines and criminal restitution; and
- personal injury caused by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.
The discharge only applies to debts that arose before the date you filed. Also, if the judge finds that you received money or property by fraud, that debt may not be discharged.
It is important to list all your property and debts in your bankruptcy schedules. If you do not list a debt, for example, it is possible the debt will not be discharged. The judge can also deny your discharge if you do something dishonest in connection with your bankruptcy case, such as destroy or hide property, falsify records, or lie, or if you disobey a court order.
You can only receive a chapter 7 discharge once every eight years. Other rules may apply if you previously received a discharge in a chapter 13 case. No one can make you pay a debt that has been discharged, but you can voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay. You do not have to sign a reaffirmation agreement (see below) or any other kind of document to do this.
Some creditors hold a secured claim (for example, the bank that holds the mortgage on your house or the loan company that has a lien on your car). You do not have to pay a secured claim if the debt is discharged, but the creditor can still take the property.
WHAT IS A REAFFIRMATION AGREEMENT?
Even if a debt can be discharged, you may have special reasons why you want to promise to pay it. For example, you may want to work out a plan with the bank to keep your car. To promise to pay that debt, you must sign and file a reaffirmation agreement with the court. Reaffirmation agreements are under special rules and are voluntary. They are not required by bankruptcy law or by any other law. Reaffirmation agreementsâ€“
- must be voluntary;
- must not place too heavy a burden on you or your family;
- must be in your best interest; and
- can be canceled anytime before the court issues your discharge or within 60 days after the agreement is filed with the court, whichever gives you the most time.
If you are an individual and you are not represented by an attorney, the court must hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the reaffirmation agreement. The agreement will not be legally binding until the court approves it.
If you reaffirm a debt and then fail to pay it, you owe the debt the same as though there was no bankruptcy. The debt will not be discharged and the creditor can take action to recover any property on which it has a lien or mortgage. The creditor can also take legal action to recover a judgment against you.
IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE BANKRUPTCY LAWS AFFECT YOU, YOU MAY NEED LEGAL ADVICE. THE TRUSTEE IN YOUR CASE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING YOU LEGAL ADVICE.
NOTICE TO INDIVIDUAL CONSUMER DEBTOR UNDER Â§ 342(b)
OF THE BANKRUPTCY CODE
In accordance with Â§ 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, this notice: (1) Describes briefly the services available from credit counseling services; (2) Describes briefly the purposes, benefits and costs of the four types of bankruptcy proceedings you may commence; and (3) Informs you about bankruptcy crimes and notifies you that the Attorney General may examine all information you supply in connection with a bankruptcy case. You are cautioned that bankruptcy law is complicated and not easily described. Thus, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney to learn of your rights and responsibilities should you decide to file a petition. Court employees cannot give you legal advice.
1. Services Available from Credit Counseling Agencies
With limited exceptions, Â§ 109(h) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that all individual debtors who file for bankruptcy relief on or after October 17, 2005, receive a briefing that outlines the available opportunities for credit counseling and provides assistance in performing a budget analysis. The briefing must be given within 180 days before the bankruptcy filing. The briefing may be provided individually or in a group (including briefings conducted by telephone or on the Internet) and must be provided by a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency approved by the United States trustee or bankruptcy administrator. The clerk of the bankruptcy court has a list that you may consult of the approved budget and credit counseling agencies.
In addition, after filing a bankruptcy case, an individual debtor generally must complete a financial management instructional course before he or she can receive a discharge. The clerk also has a list of approved financial management instructional courses.
2. The Four Chapters of the Bankruptcy Code Available to Individual Consumer Debtors Chapter 7: Liquidation ($245 filing fee, $39 administrative fee, $15 trustee surcharge: Total Court Fee $299)
1. Chapter 7 is designed for debtors in financial difficulty who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Debtors whose debts are primarily consumer debts are subject to a "means test" designed to determine whether the case should be permitted to proceed under chapter 7. If your income is greater than the median income for your state of residence and family size, in some cases, creditors have the right to file a motion requesting that the court dismiss your case under Â§ 707(b) of the Code. It is up to the court to decide whether the case should be dismissed.
2. Under chapter 7, you may claim certain of your property as exempt under governing law. A trustee may have the right to take possession of and sell the remaining property that is not exempt and use the sale proceeds to pay your creditors.
3. The purpose of filing a chapter 7 case is to obtain a discharge of your existing debts. If, however, you are found to have committed certain kinds of improper conduct described in the Bankruptcy Code, the court may deny your discharge and, if it does, the purpose for which you filed the bankruptcy petition will be defeated.
4. Even if you receive a general discharge, some particular debts are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may still be responsible for most taxes and student loans; debts incurred to pay nondischargeable taxes; domestic support and property settlement obligations; most fines, penalties, forfeitures, and criminal restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; and debts for death or personal injury caused by operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Also, if a creditor can prove that a debt arose from fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or theft, or from a willful and malicious injury, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is not discharged.
Chapter 13: Repayment of All or Part of the Debts of an Individual with Regular Income ($235 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total Court Fee $274)
1. Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income who would like to pay all or part of their debts in installments over a period of time. You are only eligible for chapter 13 if your debts do not exceed certain dollar amounts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code.
2. Under chapter 13, you must file with the court a plan to repay your creditors all or part of the money that you owe them, using your future earnings. The period allowed by the court to repay your debts may be three years or five years, depending upon your income and other factors. The court must approve your plan before it can take effect.
3. After completing the payments under your plan, your debts are generally discharged except for domestic support obligations; most student loans; certain taxes; most criminal fines and restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; certain debts for acts that caused death or personal injury; and certain long term secured obligations.
1. Services Available from Credit Counseling AgenciesReorganization ($1000 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total Court Fee $1039)
Chapter 11 is designed for the reorganization of a business but is also available to consumer debtors. Its provisions are quite complicated, and any decision by an individual to file a chapter 11 petition should be reviewed with an attorney.
Chapter 12: Family Farmer or Fisherman ($200 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total Court Fee $239)
Chapter 12 is designed to permit family farmers and fishermen to repay their debts over a period of time from future earnings and is similar to chapter 13. The eligibility requirements are restrictive, limiting its use to those whose income arises primarily from a family-owned farm or commercial fishing operation.
3. Bankruptcy Crimes and Availability of Bankruptcy Papers to Law Enforcement Officials
A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury, either orally or in writing, in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both. All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to examination by the Attorney General acting through the Office of the United States Trustee, the Office of the United States Attorney, and other components and employees of the Department of Justice.
WARNING: Section 521(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that you promptly file detailed information regarding your creditors, assets, liabilities, income, expenses and general financial condition. Your bankruptcy case may be dismissed if this information is not filed with the court within the time deadlines set by the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, and the local rules of the court.