Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions


Below you will find answers to the more typical consumer bankruptcy questions. Remember, each person’s situation is different. It is advisable to seek an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your specific situation. If you would like a free consultation to discuss your options, please call 503-352-3690.

Generally, no. However, you will be required to attend one hearing which occurs about one month after your case is filed. This is referred to as the “meeting of creditors.” You will be sworn in and asked some questions by a bankruptcy trustee. The questions are generally related to your assets, income, and the accuracy of your petition. Your attorney will be with you at this hearing. It is unusual for your creditors to attend this hearing. You must furnish your photo ID and proof of your social security number at this hearing, as well as some other documents related to your specific situation.

The most common types of consumer bankruptcies are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Other chapters include Chapter 9 (municipalities); Chapter 12 (family farmers), Chapter 11 (business reorganization) and Chapter 15 (cross-border). Most consumers choose to file for relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

No. There are specific exemptions that (if properly applied) will protect most assets. When the bankruptcy laws were reformed in October of 2005 the rules regarding which exemptions a person can use drastically changed. The rules are related to where you have lived in the recent past. It is important to know these rules so the proper exemptions are applied in your case. Because each person’s assets and situation are so different, it is important to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney who is familiar with the exemption laws. An experienced attorney can guide you through your best options if you have assets that are at risk of being lost in a bankruptcy.

Once a year you can get a free credit report from all three credit reporting agencies at If you do, make sure you are at a computer that can print these reports out. There may be a charge if you view the report and try to access it later.

Once the bankruptcy case is filed, creditors are barred from contacting you for collection purposes. This is referred to as the “automatic stay” which is very powerful and is designed to put an immediate stop to all collection activity.

Yes, all creditors must be listed, even if you want to keep a certain account. You may want to talk to an attorney about debts that are secured. There are special rules that apply to these debts, and you will have some options if you want to keep certain secured debt.

No, you may represent yourself in a bankruptcy proceeding. However, there are many potential pitfalls for the unwary. Bankruptcy laws are complex, and no matter how straight-forward you think your situation is, there are a number of technical problems that may arise during your bankruptcy. An experienced bankruptcy attorney is able to guide you through the process and ensure that all of the legal requirements are met in your case. Also, many times there are specific steps that you will want to take before a case is filed to put you in the best position. Like a lot of things, in bankruptcy timing can be everything. A good attorney will be able to tell you when the best time to file your case is.

No, you can be married and file a bankruptcy without your spouse filing. There may be some benefits to filing a joint bankruptcy, but sometimes it is better for only one spouse to file. An experienced attorney will be able to let you know when it would be beneficial for one, or both of you to file.

A typical Chapter 7 process takes about 3 to 4 months from the time of filing until the debts are discharged. A Chapter 13 is a longer bankruptcy because it is designed to restructure your debts and allow you to repay some, or all of your creditors based on what you can afford. Chapter 13 cases may vary in length, but typically are 36-60 month plans.

A bankruptcy Trustee is assigned to each bankruptcy that is filed. In Chapter 7 the Trustee may claim certain assets that are not protected, and liquidate those assets using the funds to pay the creditors some money. A Chapter 13 trustee is responsible for collecting a debtor’s Chapter 13 payments and distributing them to creditors during the plan. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 the trustees also are responsible for questioning each debtor at the meeting of creditors.

Although bankruptcy may legally be reported to your credit report for up to 10 years, you can start reestablishing your credit immediately. Remember that “credit” is your ability to borrow money. Lenders consider many factors while determining whether to loan you money, but most importantly, they consider your debt-to-income ratio. You are probably visiting this site because you already have more outstanding debt than you have the ability to pay. So, arguably, even if you have a nice score, you may not be a great credit risk to a lender.

Filing eliminates most, if not all of your debts, thereby reducing your debt-to-income ratio, potentially improving your ability to borrow money in the future. Some financial institutions actively solicit business from people who have filed. Lenders are in business to make money by lending you money and charging you interest. Lenders know that once you have filed, you will not be able to file again for a specific period of time (generally 4-8 years).

Many once bankrupt debtors purchase cars immediately upon receiving their discharge orders. Many lenders now have programs that provide for post-bankruptcy borrows to obtain home financing within a year or two after a discharge. Many of our clients even receive solicitations for unsecured credit cards almost immediately upon receiving their discharge. Pacific Bankruptcy just wants to advise you to be careful not to get back into the credit card “trap”.

Yes. Payday loans are not an exception: They are dischargeable in bankruptcy.