Bankruptcy Basics

Want to learn the basics of how to file for bankruptcy? We will walk you through what you need to know about your bankruptcy forms, court, and trustee.

Can bankruptcy take your 401k or IRA?

Retirement accounts are almost always protected in a bankruptcy case. If you are considering filing, it’s best to keep your retirement assets where they are. Unless you can fully pay off all of your debts, taking money out of your retirement accounts to keep up usually only prolongs the inevitable.

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What Goes into a Credit Score?

Your credit score is a combination of different factors such as payment history, types of credit, debt, and credit history that tell lenders who you are as a borrower. Being hands on about your credit score can help you take small steps toward a strong financial future.

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Will Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment is a tool used by creditors to collect their debts through the court. Filing for bankruptcy will not only temporarily solve your wage garnishment problems, but potentially eradicate them altogether.

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How To Deal With The Stress Of Bankruptcy

The stress leading up to bankruptcy can often be overwhelming and difficult to mange. Many people struggle with the emotional toll of being in a lot of debt. Luckily, you’re not alone and bankruptcy is a great way to get relief after difficult times.

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Can I File For Bankruptcy After Moving To A New State?

Moving generally only impacts the property that you’re able to protect during your bankruptcy process. If you're moving to a new state, or have recently moved, you’ll need to know which bankruptcy property exemptions now apply to you.

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Can bankruptcy help with payday loans?

Filing for Chapter 7 triggers the Automatic Stay which prevents the payday loan company from trying to collect the debt. If it is later discharged, you are no longer obligated to pay it back.

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Do I have to pay the $335 filing fee?

We made [this tool](https://upsolve.typeform.com/to/Rz4BYW "this tool") to help you figure out if you qualify for a fee waiver, so that you don’t have to pay the $335 filing fee that the court charges and the fees for Course 1 and Course 2.

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What is some research on the benefits of bankruptcy?

If you’re interested in the research around how bankruptcy helps low-income Americans, here are seven articles you should reach. The articles discuss how bankruptcy improves credit scores, employment outcomes, and future earnings. They also mention how bankruptcy stops wage garnishment and serves as a lifeline for people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

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What should I do if I don't remember who I owe in my bankruptcy?

On your bankruptcy forms, you’re asked by the court to list the names and addresses of all the creditors to whom you owe money. You’re also asked to list the amount you owe, the time period during which you got the debt, and other information about each creditor. It can be easy to drop out of the bankruptcy process during this step, as it is hard to remember who you owe--much less the addresses and amounts. How can you make sure this challenge does not stop you from a successful bankruptcy?

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How can I get debt collectors to stop calling me?

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can tell bill collectors that your filed, and they must stop calling you under the law.

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What are the alternatives to Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

If you decide that Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t right for you, you have several alternatives.

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The trustee asked me if I used a bankruptcy petition preparer. What should I say?

Upsolve is not a bankruptcy petition preparer. Bankruptcy petition preparer's charge you for being able to use your service. Upsolve charges you nothing. 

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The trustee asked me if I got help. What should I say?

It's always important to be totally truthful with your trustee. You can mention that you received help from Upsolve, but it's important that you indicate Upsolve is a nonprofit that did not charge you anything. 

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How do I find out who my trustee is?

You find out who your trustee is after you file your bankruptcy paperwork. You'll either learn right away from the court who your trustee is, or you'll get mail a few days later with your trustee's information.  

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Where can I take the second course, or the debtor education course?

You can only take the second course after you file for bankruptcy and receive your case number. If you've done this, go back to Upsolve.org and login to get directions. 

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Where can I watch the 341 prep meeting to prepare?

Log back into Upsolve and finish Course 2. When you're done, you'll see the prep video. You can also watch it on [Youtube](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75R88nkJrfA&t=2s "youtube"). 

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I filed for bankruptcy in the past. Can I file again?

If you successfully filed for bankruptcy, you cannot file again for 8 years.  If you filed for bankruptcy, but your case was not successful, you can file again within 8 years. 

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Where can I find my case number?

You can find your case number on your paperwork that you get back from the court after you file for bankruptcy. 

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When is the trustee meeting, also called my 341 meeting?

Your trustee meeting will take place between 21 and 40 days after you file for bankruptcy. 

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Can I request a tax transcript from the IRS?

Yes. You can order your tax transcript if you do not have it by going to the [IRS website](https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript "irs website"). 

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I can’t find my pay stubs. What should I do?

First, you should contact your employer and try to get your pay stubs from them. If that's not possible, just indicate on our questionnaire that you cannot locate your pay stubs and tell us why. It is okay to tell us that you're paid in cash. Always be truthful. 

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How do I know if my fee is waived?

For the $335 court fee, you'll get a notice in the mail that tells you if your fee is waived.

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Should I answer my summons?

If you have yet to begin filing bankruptcy you may choose to answer the complaint. A summons can certainly lead to more drastic legal actions when not handled properly. You have a certain amount of time to answer the summons and if you fail to answer it could result in a default judgment.  

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I have a DUI. Can I still file for bankruptcy?

A chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot discharge or wipe out fines or penalties that are owed to the government. So filing bankruptcy under either chapter will not get rid of a fine imposed in a DUI/DWI prosecution.

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How much money is considered a gift?

The bankruptcy system doesn’t care about relatively modest gifts, and most people considering bankruptcy only have the ability to make modest gifts. Specifically, the bankruptcy forms ask whether you gave gifts with a total value of more than $600 per person within the two years before you filed for bankruptcy.

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Does bankruptcy stop foreclosure?

A bankruptcy filing does immediately stop the foreclosure process. Lenders can't foreclose or even try to collect debt until permitted to do so by the court. But a Chapter 7 bankruptcy only delays foreclosure.

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Are parking tickets dischargeable under Chapter 7?

No. Parking tickets and speeding tickets cannot be erased in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. You would therefore still be responsible for the payment of the tickets after your other debts are discharged in your Chapter 7 case.  

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If I tell the trustee I forgot to list a creditor will she reschedule my 341?

In most cases, no.  Although you can mention it during the 341 meeting. Trustees are usually concerned with assets that can be distributed to creditors, more than debts.

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What does "out of pocket insurance" mean?

Out-of-pocket insurance means private insurance. Medicare, Medicaid, or your state insurance plan if automatically deducted from your paycheck is not considered out-of-pocket insurance.

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Will Bankruptcy Affect My Immigration Status?

Probably not. But for more details [read this](https://www.bankruptcytruth.com/learning-center/legal-updates/333-bankruptcy-and-immigration-status/ "read this").

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What is a sole proprietor?

A *sole proprietor* is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself. See definition [here](https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/sole-proprietorships "here").

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I'm on SSI. How much does bankruptcy cost?

If the only income you get each month is from SSI, bankruptcy is 100% free for you to file. Upsolve is totally free for you to use, and the court does not charge you any money for the filing fee. 

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Can I erase judgments in bankruptcy?

Read [this article](https://upsolve.org/learn/can-i-erase-debt-from-judgments/ "this article") we wrote about erasing judgments in bankruptcy.

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I missed my 341 Meeting! What should I do now?

If you miss your scheduled 341 Meeting it is imperative that you speak with your assigned trustee ASAP and reschedule!

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Will bankruptcy affect my citizenship application?

Usually not, but this is a complicated question. We recommend reading [this article](https://www.bankruptcytruth.com/learning-center/legal-updates/333-bankruptcy-and-immigration-status/ "this article") to learn more.

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What to do if I have a "Certificate of Notice" that says "undeliverable" next to creditors?

When you file bankruptcy, the court sends a document called the "Official Form 309A Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case -- No Proof of Claim" to the creditors you listed on your bankruptcy paperwork. This form gives each creditor important information about your case and tells them what they need to do if they have a reasonable objection to your bankruptcy.

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How long does the bankruptcy process take?

In total, it takes __3 to 6 months__ to officially erase your debts. The most important part is preparing your bankruptcy forms. Most Upsolve users do that in under 5 days through our online service.

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Will my landlord be notified that I filed for bankruptcy?

It depends. If you are on a month-to-month rental agreement, then the landlord doesn't have to know that you filed. 

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A creditor is suing me. What should I do?

When you file your bankruptcy paperwork, you will need to mention this lawsuit. Don't worry - our system will ask you all of the relevant questions, so as long as you have your case information available when you get to that section, you should be good to go.

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How will bankruptcy impact my student financial aid?

In general, filing bankruptcy will only impact student loans that you take out after filing. Bankruptcy does not discharge the majority of student loans. Student loans and bankruptcy are a little complicated.

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How do I prepare for my hearing?

Your bankruptcy process will include at least one (the 341 meeting), and likely two (fee waiver) hearings. Here are some of the most common hearing types you might encounter along the way to your fresh start.

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I am being sued by a creditor and I have an upcoming court date. What should I do?

Most importantly, *__GO TO COURT!__* If you are scheduled to appear and do not show up, you will almost always lose the case. The rest depends on whether you will be able to finish your forms and file them before your court date or not.

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What happens in bankruptcy if I have a potential lawsuit for money?

This depends on whether you are suing someone else, or whether someone is suing you.

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What happens if I paid someone back in the year before bankruptcy?

First of all, kudos for being the kind of person who honors their debts and cares about maintaining relationships! When you are struggling with your finances, it can be difficult to pay the money you owe -- especially when you feel like you have to choose between paying back credit card companies and paying back the people you love.

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Can the trustee seize money that I received after I filed?

That depends on four things: 1. Whether the funds were an unexpected gift, 2. When you became entitled to receive those funds if they were not a gift, 3. Whether you reported them on your bankruptcy filing,  4. And whether you have remaining exemptions that can cover the funds.

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What does it mean to be "judgment proof?"

Being "judgment proof" means that you do not have anything for a creditor to collect if they sue you and win. As you can imagine, this means that they are not likely to sue you. __*It does not mean that they can't sue you*__, just that they probably won't be able to collect if they do decide to take you to court.

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How do I find out if I'm required to file taxes?

Federal Taxes: All taxpayers are eligible to claim a standard deduction from their [taxable income](https://www.irs.com/articles/what-is-taxable-income-2 "taxable income"). This amount is based on your filing status and household size.

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Will my family, who I live with for free, learn about my bankruptcy?

Probably not. In general, family members are not notified of your bankruptcy unless (1) you owe them money, (2) they are jointly liable for one of your debts, or (3) you have a continuing contract or lease with them.

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How to File Bankruptcy: A 10-Step Guide (2019)

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an important debt relief tool for Americans in severe financial distress from losing a job, getting injured, or getting divorced. Upsolve walks you through the steps on how to file for bankruptcy.

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Can I File for Bankruptcy After a Lawsuit?

Bankruptcy can help a lawsuit depending on the type of lawsuit you’re involved in. The most typical kind you might be facing is if a creditor has filed a civil suit against you for non-payment of a debt which may lead to the creditor garnishing your paycheck.

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What is an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing?

People seek an emergency bankruptcy filing when creditors are threatening to take immediate action to seize or sell assets. The emergency bankruptcy filing stops the creditor as soon as you file the main bankruptcy forms.

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Keeping a Checking Account During Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If your account is being garnished, the bankruptcy case should stop the garnishment. The garnishment should not start again if the debt is wiped out in the bankruptcy case. However, if the garnishment is for alimony, child support, or taxes, the bankruptcy won’t wipe out the debt and the garnishment continues.

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What is Bankruptcy Fraud?

Bankruptcy Fraud is not making a math mistake or accidentally omitting a debt or asset. It’s intentionally deceiving the court during the bankruptcy process.

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Will bankruptcy stop a levy?

In most cases, bankruptcy can help pause and then erase the debts that cause you to have a levy on your account.

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What is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case usually runs from filing to discharge. Overall, the process usually takes 3 to 6 months.

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Can I Get a Job, Housing, and Benefits if I File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Many people feel that the consequences of bankruptcy will extend to their life, work and income. However, the vast majority will keep their day-to-day lives intact without issue.

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How Bankruptcy Affects Credit Score

If you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s more likely that filing will help you repair your credit score, fast than if you didn’t take action.

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Will Chapter 7 bankruptcy lower my credit score?

According to the New York Federal Reserve, the credit scores of those who file for bankruptcy are higher than people in the same shoes who don't.

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Should I File for Bankruptcy after a Foreclosure?

Many people consider filing for bankruptcy after their homes are foreclosed. Bankruptcy can get rid of any remaining debt once you sell your home.

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What is an asset in bankruptcy?

Figuring out what an asset is when filing for bankruptcy can be tricky. Learn what an asset is for your bankruptcy forms and the bankruptcy trustee.

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What Is an Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy?

The automatic stay stops the people and companies that you owe from trying to get their money. In most cases, the automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file your paperwork.

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5 Tips to Avoid Bankruptcy Dismissal

Avoid a Chapter 7 bankruptcy dismissal so that you can discharge all of your debts by following these directions.

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How to Stop Debt Collection Companies?

Do you want to stop debt collection companies? You may need to do more than to request that they stop contacting you.

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Can I Get an Automatic Stay with Bankruptcy?

This article provides an overview on an automatic stay, which stops your creditors from collecting debts, and how to get one using bankruptcy.

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Low Income Bankruptcy: Find the Option for You

There are special options available to low-income people filing for bankruptcy. Find out if one is right for you.

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What are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Income Limits?

This article outlines the income limits you need to know about if you're filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Where Can I Find Free Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Forms?

Filing for bankruptcy can seem confusing, and the paperwork itself can be daunting. Find the bankrutpcy forms for free.

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Bankruptcy Requirements for Chapter 7

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy has several requirements. Whether you're filing for bankruptcy on your own or with an attorney, you'll want to follow them.

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How long does Chapter 7 bankruptcy take?

How long does Chapter 7 bankruptcy take? Upsolve explains how long it takes to get a discharge from start to finish.

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What are bankruptcy exemptions?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep your property in your bankruptcy case. We explain how to save your property from your trustee.

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How to Get a Free Bankruptcy Consultation in New York?

Find a free Chapter 7 bankruptcy consultation in New York City. A bankruptcy attorney will help you decide between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

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Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy?

Do you qualify for bankruptcy? There are a lot of things to consider, and we try to break it down for you. At Upsolve, we provide free Chapter 7 bankruptcy services for those in need of a fresh start.

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What is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

The bankruptcy trustee is responsible for reviewing your case and conducting very important meetings. Understanding what they do will help you become even better prepared in your bankruptcy case.

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How to Stop Wage Garnishment in California with Bankruptcy?

Wage garnishment is a way for debt collectors to take money directly from your paycheck. In California, your income level and amount of debt you have can determine how much of your wages can be garnished.

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Finding Bankruptcy Paperwork for your Chapter 7 Case

Filing for bankruptcy can be complicated. This article gives tips on how to find the right paperwork to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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How to Stop Wage Garnishment with Bankruptcy in New York?

If you live in New York and your wages are being garnished, bankruptcy may be able to help you keep your paychecks and stop wage garnishment.

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What is Secured Debt in Bankruptcy?

When you get a loan by promising property as collateral to a creditor, you have a secured debt. A [Chapter 7 bankruptcy][1] can eliminate your obligation to pay a secured debt. But, bankruptcy can’t prevent creditors from taking any property you pledged if you default on your payments.

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Can Bankruptcy Erase Student Loans?

Millions of Americans are dealing with student loan debt. If you are looking for a way to erase your student loan debt then bankruptcy may be an option for you. This article details ways you can deal with your student loan debt.

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How Can You Eliminate Tax Debt to the IRS with Bankruptcy?

You may be able to eliminate debt that you owe to the IRS for taxes by filing for bankruptcy. Learn how filing for bankruptcy can help with your tax debt.

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Legal Aid Bankruptcy Resources in New York City

Free legal aid nonprofits provide pro bono assistance to people who cannot afford bankruptcy attorneys. See if there's a legal aid nonprofit in New York City that can help you.

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How Can I Stop My Wages From Being Garnished?

Wage garnishment is a common problem for millions of Americans. It can be deflating to have your wages garnished. But you do have options to protect yourself.

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What is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy consists of a debt repayment plan. Individuals and businesses can both file for Chapter 13.

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What are the Chapter 7 Income Limits?

Before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to make sure you're eligible. Check out Upsolve to see if you qualify - they're a nonprofit that helps low-income Americans get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost.

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How Do I Prepare for Bankruptcy?

It may be helpful to take these steps to prepare for filing for bankruptcy, whether you're working with a bankruptcy attorney or filing on your own online.

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What are Non-Dischargeable Debts in a Bankruptcy Filing?

If you have non-dischargeable debts, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case will not get rid of the debt. However, a Chapter 7 case can get rid of other debts so that you can pay non-dischargeable debts. Most debts are eligible for a discharge in Chapter 7.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Rules

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules are not as difficult to understand as you might believe. Contact our office to discuss how we can help you file for bankruptcy relief. Our mission is to provide no cost bankruptcy services for low-income families.

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Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 11 Explained

If you are searching to find a solution to debt problems, we can help you choose between a Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you get rid of debts quickly for very little cost to you. You can get the fresh start you need with Upsolve’s assistance.

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Bankruptcy in Georgia

Bankruptcy in Georgia can help you get rid of unsecured debts. We'll walk you through special considerations for filing in Georgia.

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What is the Meeting of Creditors?

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you'll most likely never see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, you'll attend the meeting of creditors, a short but very important part of your Chapter 7 case.

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Can I Get Rid of my Medical Bills in Bankruptcy?

Medical bills are one of the most common causes of bankruptcy in America. Luckily, they can be discharged in a Chapter 7 case.

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Legal Terms That You Need to Know for Bankruptcy

Don’t let legal terms scare you away from the fresh start you need. Anyone can understand bankruptcy, no matter your education level. It can be confusing at first, but here at Upsolve, we break down the legal terms so that you don’t have to.

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Bankruptcy Counseling Courses: A Step-by-Step Guide

In order to begin your journey to a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must complete the Bankruptcy Counseling Courses.

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What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is designed to help struggling individuals and businesses restructure their finances. Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 11 reorganizes your debts, instead of liquidating them. Check out Upsolve for more information on how to get a fresh start with Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost.

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Every Type of Bankruptcy Explained

Bankruptcy has helped millions of Americans relieve their debt burden and get a fresh start. There are different types, so it's important to know the differences and similarities. Upsolve is a non-profit that helps low-income households relieve their debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. Get started today with Upsolve, or read to learn more about the other types of bankruptcy.

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What is a Bankruptcy Court?

The bankruptcy court oversees bankruptcy cases filed in the United States. The court maintains the records for all bankruptcy cases.

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Can I File For Bankruptcy Online?

If you cannot afford a bankruptcy lawyer, there are options for filing online at a lower cost. Try ESR in the Los Angeles area or head over to Upsolve.org

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How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost?

Filing for bankruptcy has a cost. But the cost of filing for bankruptcy is different, based on your financial situation. Learn the price of bankruptcy for you.

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What are the Pros and Cons of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy has its pros and cons. Read this article to figure out whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good fit for you.

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Why Chapter 13 Is Probably A Bad Idea

Chapter 13 can often leave you in worse financial shape. It costs more than Chapter 7 and your case is is less likely to be successful.

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Should I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you're in debt and you're thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to erase your debt, this article will help you make your decision.

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Do I Need Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation does not erase debt, but it can be helpful in reducing your interest rate on debt you owe.

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How Will Chapter 7 Affect My Employment?

You cannot be fired simply because you filed for bankruptcy. In fact, employers usually don’t learn about it and it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on your past filing history.

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What Happens After Filing for Bankruptcy?

After you file for bankruptcy at the bankruptcy court, you'll meet with a bankruptcy trustee and complete your debtor education course.

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What is Bankruptcy Legal Aid and Pro Bono?

Legal aid and pro bono attorneys can help you get through your bankruptcy filing. Find out how they work and why they exist.

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Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Many low-income debtors have to decide between filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This Upsolve guide will help you figure out which type of bankruptcy is best for you.

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How do I Rebuild my Credit After Bankruptcy?

Many people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to improve their credit scores after they file. Secured credit cards, secured loans, and staying on top of bills will help you improve your credit, sometimes by over a hundred points.

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What is Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a powerful tool that helps Americans erase their debt from credit cards, medical bills, judgments, personal loans, etc.

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Bankruptcy Information You Need to Know

Bankruptcy does not need to be a complicated process. Here's basic bankruptcy information that you need to know.

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Questions about bankruptcy?

Research and understand your options with our articles and guides.

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Questions about Upsolve?
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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) legal aid nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. We do this by combining the power of technology with pro bono attorneys. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have mission-driven funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and private charities.

To learn more, read our reviews from past clients, or read our press coverage.

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