Preparing for your 341 meeting during the COVID-19 emergency

On April 1, 2020 the U.S. Trustee Program, extended its requirement that all 341 meetings be conducted telephonically or other alternative means through May 10, 2020. This means that trustees are relieved from the requirement to conduct these meetings in person. Learn more about what to expect in your case.

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Filing your pro se bankruptcy forms during the COVID 19 Outbreak

Although most courts are closed to the public, you can still file your bankruptcy case by submitting your forms. In person filing has been suspended at most courts for the time being and each court has established its own specific filing procedures. This article is intended to provide you with a general overview of how the COVID-19 outbreak impacts your options for filing your bankruptcy forms. To find instructions for your court, visit your court’s website. Please be sure to closely follow the instructions provided by the court on how to file your bankruptcy forms. 

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What relief can I expect now that Congress has passed the CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by the president last week provides emergency relief in a variety of forms. What follows is not intended to be a comprehensive list but rather a general overview of the types of relief made available by the Act most likely to benefit our users.

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What are the New Jersey Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Every state has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions. There is also a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions contained in the United States Bankruptcy Code. Several states, including New Jersey, allow residents to choose between taking the New Jersey bankruptcy exemptions and the federal exemptions. It’s important to note that you have to pick one set of exemptions and stick to it, you can’t pick and choose from both New Jersey exemptions and federal, rather go with the set that gives you the most protection. If you decide to go with the state exemptions you can also use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions as a supplement, so long as you meet the qualifications.

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What are the Idaho Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Every state has its own set of exemptions for bankruptcy cases. There is also a set of federal exemptions that are listed in the United States Bankruptcy Code. Each state gets to decide if they want to offer the federal bankruptcy exemptions as an alternative choice to their state exemptions. Idaho has opted out of the federal exemptions, which means that residents in Idaho are limited to using Idaho state exemptions in any bankruptcy case. Filers in Idaho can, however, supplement the state exemptions with the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions that protect benefits like federal laws protecting social security benefits from garnishment.

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What are the Nebraska Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Every state has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions under state laws. There is also a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions which can be found in the United States Bankruptcy Code. Some states allow their residents to choose between the state and federal exemptions. Nebraska, however, does not offer the choice to its residents. If you have lived in Nebraska for at least the last two years and you are filing for bankruptcy, you are limited to using the Nebraska state exemptions, but you can supplement those with any federal nonbankruptcy exemptions that apply. These additional exemptions are available whether or not you are in a bankruptcy case.

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A Message for Users Who Generated Their Forms from March 15, 2020 to March 31, 2020

We just sent this message to all Upsolve users who have recently generated their completed forms but have not filed them yet. If you have generated your forms and are planning to file them, please read on. IMPORTANT UPDATE for Upsolve Users on Dealing with $1200 Stimulus Check During Bankruptcy!

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Is my stimulus money at risk if I file bankruptcy before I get the funds?

In a word, yes. The funds you’re expecting will be an asset of your bankruptcy estate. There is nothing in the CARES Act, the relief bill that created the stimulus, that suggests otherwise. This means the only way to protect the money is through a wildcard exemption.

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I lost most or all of my income due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Should I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

As we all navigate the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting global pandemic, the single biggest impact being felt by every-day Americans is the loss or significant reduction of household income. With so much uncertainty about so many things surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak, many are stressed and worried about their finances and trying to plan ahead. This article will explore whether bankruptcy can give you the relief you’re looking for and what to keep in mind when it comes to timing.

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What to do if your income decreases after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy

If you’re a few months into your case, then you don’t have to do anything. If it changed shortly after your case was filed, wait for the creditors’ meeting and let the trustee know during the meeting that your income has changed. Depending on how much it changed, they may say don’t worry about it or request that you file updated forms.

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What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy case that can be filed by individuals, married couples, and business entities. It’s the most common type of bankruptcy and provides the fastest form of debt relief. Further, even though it is a “liquidation” bankruptcy that provides for the sale of property to pay creditors, most individual Chapter 7 cases (more than 90%!) don’t require the filer to give up any of their belongings. Continue reading to learn more about how Chapter 7 bankruptcy works and learn more about what everyone filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy should know.

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What are the New York Bankruptcy Exemptions?

New York does allow consumers filing bankruptcy to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. The Bankruptcy Code has implemented rules that require consumers to either choose either the federal or state exemptions meaning, they can’t use both at the same time. Moreover, you will need to have lived in New York for at least 730 days (two years) to be able to use the New York exemptions. Congress implemented this rule to stop people from gaming the system and moving to a different state just to be able to use more generous exemptions.

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What are the Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Although some states in the country allow people to choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions, this option is not available if you are filing bankruptcy in Ohio. Ohio, like many other states, has its own bankruptcy exemptions. If you’ve lived in Ohio for at least 2 years when filing your case, you have to use the Ohio bankruptcy exemptions and can’t use federal exemptions Note that one great advantage of using state bankruptcy exemptions in Ohio is that you will have an additional list of bankruptcy exemptions that might be available to you. So, while you have to use Ohio bankruptcy exemptions if you file a bankruptcy in the state, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions as well. These exemptions protect certain qualifying property, like federal and military retirement benefits.

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What are the Wisconsin Bankruptcy Exemptions?

You will find a list of available exemptions in the federal Bankruptcy Code, or you may instead decide to use exemptions available under Wisconsin law. However, keep in mind that each state has the option of “opting out” of this scheme. Bankruptcy filers in an opt-out state may only use their state exemptions and not use the federal exemptions. As Wisconsin hasn’t opted out of the choice between state exemptions and federal exemptions, Wisconsinites who file bankruptcy can choose between federal bankruptcy exemptions or state exemptions. Actually, you will be happy to know that Wisconsin is one of the few US states that allows filers this choice, and this is a real advantage if you are filing Chapter 7 in the state. However, keep in mind that you are not allowed to cherry-pick exemptions from both lists; you can select only one set of exemptions. If you’re using Wisconsin law to exempt your property, you can also use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, if applicable. This also means that if you’re filing for bankruptcy in the state, you should review both sets of exemptions and then choose what scheme can best protect your property. Hiring an attorney can be helpful in this respect.

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What are the Michigan Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Michigan, you will probably have come across the terms federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions. Many states in the US allow people to choose between the federal exemptions and state exemptions while others don’t. Michigan allows residents to choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions. This is why you have more flexibility. However, keep in mind that you can’t protect property by using both sets of exemptions. You’ll have to pick the system that works best for you. A bankruptcy attorney can help you decide which exemptions are best for you. If you decide to use Michigan exemptions, then the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions will also be available to you. Spouses in Michigan who file a joint bankruptcy may double most, but not all, of the exemption amounts on the state exemption list. For example, Michigan spouses are restricted to one homestead exemption.

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What are the Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Exempt property, such as a car or trade implements, is free of the claims of your creditors and can’t be taken by your trustee to be liquidated. Laws in Virginia determine the types as well as the amount of exempt property. While the U.S. Bankruptcy Code applies in almost the same way throughout the country, there is one important exception you should be aware of; and that is the ability to protect your assets through bankruptcy exemptions. In many instances, the federal laws govern the bankruptcy process exclusively, but, in the context of bankruptcy exemptions, federal law allows each state to determine whether they would like to use the bankruptcy exemptions delineated under the federal law or create and use their own. Each state in the US has the choice of applying the federal bankruptcy exemptions or using their own list of asset values that will be protected or exempt from creditors in bankruptcy. While some states in the country allow people to choose between exemptions drafted by state lawmakers and federal exemptions, residents of Virginia who file for bankruptcy can only use the state exemptions expressly provided for in the state law. In Virginia, you are not permitted to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can use Virginia’s state exemptions and, if applicable, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

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The COVID-19 Corona Virus and your bankruptcy case: Frequently Asked Questions

The Bankruptcy Court has been closely monitoring and following recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health officials, and preparedness guidelines from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and is releasing updates almost daily. This article provides some guidance for frequently asked questions.

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What to do if you have to get something notarized for your bankruptcy case

While it’s not common in bankruptcy cases, there are occasions when a filer may be required to submit a document with a notarized signature. When a signature is notarized, the notary public has confirmed the identity of the person signing the document and made sure that the person is signing the document voluntarily. 

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Why it can make sense to wait to file bankruptcy if your tax refund was taken by a student loan lender

There are not many creditors that can withhold, or set off, your tax refund before it ever hits your bank account. The most common instance of this is when the IRS keeps your refund and applies it to a prior year's balance owed. But that's not the only time this can happen. Another reason for the federal government to withhold all or a portion of your tax refund is if you're in default with federal student loans. Since student loans aren't automatically discharged in bankruptcy, this can be a blessing in disguise. However, timing matters, and depending on when your tax refund was taken by the government, you may be better off waiting a bit to file your bankruptcy case.

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What can go wrong at the meeting of creditors?

The meeting of creditors is the one time everyone filing for bankruptcy has to go to court to answer questions from their trustee. Naturally, it’s often the most stress inducing part of the entire case for the filer. Let’s take a look at what to expect at your creditors’ meeting, and, importantly, some of the things that can go wrong at the meeting (and how to avoid them).

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Telephonic Hearings in Bankruptcy Court

A hearing is an appearance in court where one or more parties to the case show up in the courtroom to present something to the judge. A telephonic hearing is exactly what the name suggests: a court hearing that takes place over the telephone.

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Reaffirmation Agreements

People who file bankruptcy are often concerned about what's going to happen to their car. Signing a reaffirmation agreement is one option that lets you keep your car and continue making the payments, but it's not the only option and might not be the best option in your situation. Read on to learn about how reaffirmations work and factors to consider when deciding whether to sign a reaffirmation agreement.

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What are the Illinois Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you have done a bit of research on bankruptcy cases in Illinois or exempt property, you will probably have come across the terms federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions. Many states in the US allow people to choose between the federal exemptions and state exemptions. However, you don’t have that option in Illinois. In Illinois, you are not permitted to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions if you’ve lived in the state for at least 2 years when you file bankruptcy. Fortunately, Illinois has generous bankruptcy exemptions that can protect your property.

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What are the Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you live in Texas, you are lucky. It is one of the best states in the US in which to file bankruptcy. Here is why you will benefit from filing bankruptcy in Texas. Some US states, including Texas, allow filers to choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and the state exemptions. However, it has to be one or the other—if you opt for the Texas state exemptions, you cannot cherry-pick specific exemptions off the federal bankruptcy exemptions, and vice versa.

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What are the Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you have done some research on bankruptcy cases or exempt property, you will probably have come across the terms federal bankruptcy exemptions and state exemptions. Although the federal Bankruptcy Code has a list of bankruptcy exemptions, these exemptions aren’t available in Florida. In Florida, you are not permitted to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Florida residents have to use the state exemptions. Also, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions contained in the federal law if you have any assets covered by them.

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What are the California Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you are a California resident, you can’t protect your possessions, like bank deposits and commercial vehicles, under the Bankruptcy Code’s exemptions. So, Californians filing bankruptcy have to use California exemption law. Some states permit filers to choose between a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions and the state exemption system. However, California isn’t one of them. California is called an “opt-out” state, which means federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available to filers in the state.

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Bankruptcy Statistics

The bankruptcy statistics in this article will provide a high-level view of consumer bankruptcy filings around the country, bankruptcy rates from state to state, the types of bankruptcy cases most often filed, and the financial problems that trigger bankruptcy filings.

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How to get debt relief without risking your safety

Filing for bankruptcy protection can be a powerful step towards not only financial freedom, but freedom from financial oppression. It is possible to get this relief without risking your or your children’s safety. This article is all about making sure that your abuser can’t use the bankruptcy court system to further victimize you. 

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How to get debt relief through personal bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process to reorganize or eliminate - or discharge - someone’s obligation to pay all or some of their debts. The Bankruptcy Code provides both protections for filers and a system to treat creditors fairly under the law. Personal bankruptcy is a case filed by an individual (or married couple) to get relief from debt. This article will provide an overview of the two different types of personal bankruptcy and how each can provide you with a fresh start.

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Filing bankruptcy after a divorce

It’s not at all uncommon for either or both spouses to file for bankruptcy following a divorce. It could be that issues in the marriage led to financial problems. Or perhaps financial strains added to marital issues. Either way, the two often go hand-in-hand. If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy after a divorce, there are several things you should keep in mind.

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Spending money before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy

While it seems strange, sometimes folks in need of bankruptcy relief have money that they need to spend before their case can be filed to maximize their fresh start by getting set up in the best possible way. Even if you don’t have a bunch of money to spend before filing your case, it’s important to know what to avoid in the months leading up to your filing, so you don’t inadvertently make your case more complicated than it needs to be.

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Tax Credits and Bankruptcy

Tax credits reduce the total tax owed by the individual or family claiming the credit. Many low-income families have all or a portion of such a tax credit refunded to them once their tax return is filed and their eligibility to claim the credit confirmed by the Internal Revenue Service. This article will review some of the most commonly used tax credits available to low-income individuals and how these credits are treated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?

Yes, you can file bankruptcy without your spouse. A variety of factors play a role in determining whether filing bankruptcy with or without your spouse makes the most sense for you. This article will explore some of these considerations, then provide you with an overview of how to file bankruptcy without your spouse.

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Why filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy while getting a divorce is probably a bad idea

Unfortunately, divorce and bankruptcy can go hand-in-hand at times, so it’s important to know how a divorce affects a bankruptcy case. If you’re considering divorcing your spouse and are thinking about addressing your debts through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, continue reading.

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Everything you need to know about the new Upsolve Local

Upsolve Local, launched in 2020, is a product that allows bankruptcy attorneys to be matched with high-intent consumers who want to file for bankruptcy. If you’re considering becoming a member of the Upsolve Local community of law firms and lawyers, keep reading to find out more. 

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The Automatic Stay

The automatic stay in bankruptcy is what protects filers from creditor actions while their case is pending. The debt relief afforded by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy - the discharge - is not granted by the court until about 3 - 4 months after the filing date. The automatic stay makes sure that wage garnishments and repossessions or foreclosures are stopped in the meantime and give the filer immediate relief by stopping the never-ending phone calls from debt collectors. Let’s take a closer look at what the automatic stay in bankruptcy means for you.

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How Long After Filing Bankruptcy Can I Buy a House?

Many people are concerned that filing bankruptcy will prevent them from buying a house in the future. The truth is, filing bankruptcy doesn’t prevent you from buying a house. A bankruptcy filing can be your first step toward homeownership. Many real estate agents and mortgage brokers have relationships with bankruptcy attorneys. In some cases, you don’t even have to wait until your bankruptcy is over before buying a home.

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How Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Children?

If you’re a parent, your children are the most important parts of your life. You don’t want to do anything that could harm their futures. If you’re considering bankruptcy, you may be worried about the impact this will have on your children. The good news is that for those who need to file bankruptcy, the positive impact on your family will far outweigh any inconveniences. This guide examines the issues that could impact your minor children.

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How do I know whether the court approved my application for a fee waiver?

Anyone who earns less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines is eligible to apply for a fee waiver. But, that doesn’t automatically mean they will receive one. The court has full discretion on whether to grant a fee waiver application based on the information contained in the fee waiver application.

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Can I sell my car during bankruptcy?

Probably the most often asked question when it comes to filing for bankruptcy is if you can keep your car. While the answer to that question depends on several factors, sometimes the issue is the complete opposite and the question is whether you can sell your car during bankruptcy. Continue reading to learn what to expect if you’re considering selling your car during a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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What is a bankruptcy estate?

Whenever someone files for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy estate is automatically created. A bankruptcy estate consists of the property or assets that you own. What assets you get to keep because it’s protected depends on the bankruptcy exemptions that you can claim. In this article, we will review what a bankruptcy estate is and what that means for you.

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What should I do if I don't perfectly remember my expenses?

Do your best to estimate them and don't get too sidetracked by trying to be perfect. It can be tough to know exactly how much you’re spending on certain expenses. This is especially true if you have been cutting back on your regular living expenses while trying to stay afloat. This article explains some ways you can use to calculate your expenses for your bankruptcy forms.

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What is Upsolve's Contact Information?

As a small nonprofit we sadly don't have the resources to be able to provide phone or other live support. If you are a current user and need to get in touch with us, please please visit help.upsolve.org and use the "Submit a Request" feature in the top right corner to send us a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. If you have general questions about filing bankruptcy, feel free to visit our Learning Center any time to find out more about the process and what to expect.

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Is Upsolve the same as DebtorCC?

No, Upsolve is not the same as DebtorCC. Upsolve is a legal aid nonprofit that helps low-income Americans get Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief without an attorney. DebtorCC is a government approved credit counseling company that offers the required pre- and post-filing bankruptcy courses to folks in all 50 states.

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Disability and Bankruptcy

How disability affects a bankruptcy case depends on what you mean by "disability." There are three major categories of disability payments: social security disability, veteran's disability, and private disability. Private disability is purchased either by an individual or provided by their employer. Other than to mention that some states’ laws exempt private disability from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee, this article will not cover private disability. This article focuses on government disability in the form of Social Security Disability and Veterans’ Disability.

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What are the advantages of filing bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can do wonderful things for you and while many bankruptcies have some risk, others are so simple that you can file without having to pay for an attorney. Continue reading to learn more about the advantages of filing bankruptcy.

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How is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Discharge Different

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 are the types of bankruptcy consumers typically use to get rid of unsecured debt such as credit card debt. However, both types of bankruptcy have potentially important differences with respect to what types of debt get discharged. A discharge is the final order from the bankruptcy court eliminating the filer’s obligation to pay their debts. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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Store Cards and Bankruptcy

Issuing credit cards to their customers is a favorite and quite effective marketing technique used by many retail stores. It makes the customer feel special and come back to take advantage of the “deals” only available to card holders. Common examples include Best Buy, Kohl’s and Apple credit cards. This article explores how store credit cards are treated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Objection to Discharge

Although it doesn’t happen in most consumer cases, creditors have the ability to object to having their debt discharged. Some debts are not dischargeable by default. Others become non-dischargeable once a creditor objects and the court finds that cause exists to exclude a certain debt from being discharged. This article will explore why an unsecured creditor - like a credit card company or bank - would object to a discharge and how the process works.

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Can I keep using my credit cards until I file bankruptcy?

Once you’ve decided that you’ll be filing bankruptcy to deal with your debt, you should not continue to incur new debt. That includes making new charges on your credit card, or getting a new loan. 

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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