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Bankruptcy Basics

Learn the basics about how bankruptcy works and how it can give you a fresh start by eliminating your debt.

Bankruptcy is a powerful tool that allows you to eliminate debts you have no hope of ever paying pay off. If you’re wondering whether bankruptcy is the right debt relief solution for you, you’ve come to the right place! Here you will learn what bankruptcy is, how it can help you get a fresh start, and what the process is like.

Looking to learn the basics about how bankruptcy can relieve your debt? This page is your home base for resources to help you get your fresh start.

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Can I File for Bankruptcy Online?

Written by Attorney John CobleLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 12, 2022

When you're hit by a sudden financial shock and need a fresh start, you naturally ask — can I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy online? In this article, we’ll explain the different options for filing for bankruptcy online and the pros and cons of each.

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What is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 14, 2020

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that provides relief for folks who make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7. At its core, it’s a reorganization that allows the filer to pay as much as their budget can handle instead of trying to keep up with each creditors’ minimum monthly payments.

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What Is Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 12, 2021

Bankruptcy is a legal tool to obtain debt relief and get a fresh start. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are the most common types. This article explores consumer bankruptcy basics, the different types of bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy process overall.

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How Long Does A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Take?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 21, 2022

Once filed, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes about 4 - 6 months to complete. The bankruptcy discharge is granted 3 - 4 months after filing in most cases. 

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What Is the 341 Meeting of Creditors?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney John Coble
Updated April 29, 2022

The 341 meeting of creditors is a required meeting between a bankruptcy filer, the bankruptcy trustee, and sometimes creditors. It's an informal hearing held in a meeting room, not a courtroom. No judge is present. The main purpose of the meeting is for the trustee to verify the bankruptcy filer's identity and the information in their bankruptcy forms. Creditors can also attend and ask questions, but this isn't common in Chapter 7 cases.

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What Are The Different Types Of Bankruptcies?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 29, 2021

Bankruptcy has helped millions of Americans relieve their debt burden and get a fresh start. There are different types of bankruptcies, so it's important to know the differences and similarities.

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Getting Financial Aid During and After a Bankruptcy (Guide)

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 1, 2021

Filing bankruptcy does not prevent you from getting federal student loans or other types of federal financial aid. While some federal loans do require that you have good credit (which may take a little while to build after filing bankruptcy), others don’t depend on creditworthiness. Instead, they look at your financial need based on your current financial situation. 

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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 2, 2021

You can file more than one bankruptcy in a lifetime. How many times depends on how long it's been since your last bankruptcy case and what type of bankruptcy you filed. We'll break it down for you.

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How Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 28, 2021

Filing bankruptcy does not ruin your credit forever! If you need debt relief but are worried about how a bankruptcy affects your credit rating, this article is for you.

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What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 7, 2020

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy case that can be filed by individuals, married couples, and businesses. It’s the most common type of bankruptcy and provides the fastest form of debt relief. Continue reading to learn more about how Chapter 7 bankruptcy works and what everyone filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy should know.

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Should I File for Bankruptcy for Credit Card Debt?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated October 1, 2021

Credit card debt can prevent you from paying your day-to-day living expenses. By filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you can get rid of credit card debt while protecting your property. But to qualify for Chapter 7, your income needs to be below the average median income in your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy and Tax Refunds

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 30, 2020

It's pretty well-known that tax debts typically can't be discharged in bankruptcy. But what if you're getting a refund? This article answers some of the frequently asked questions about tax refunds and bankruptcy.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms Explained

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

The Chapter 7 forms packet consists of a voluntary petition, schedules, and statements. The term “petition” is often used to describe the set of forms individuals filing for bankruptcy submit to the court. Here's a walk through of all of them.

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What Is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 13, 2021

The bankruptcy trustee doesn’t represent the filer and they don’t represent any specific creditor. They review the filer's forms and conduct the creditors' meeting.

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What Is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 13, 2021

The bankruptcy trustee doesn’t represent the filer and they don’t represent any specific creditor. They review the filer's forms and conduct the creditors' meeting.

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Bankruptcy Credit Counseling & Financial Management Courses

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated January 5, 2021

If you’re filing bankruptcy to wipe away your debt you’ll need to take two educational courses. A credit counseling course before filing your case and a financial management course after filing.

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What is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law GradLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 1, 2020

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be an intimidating and daunting process. Especially if it's not something you've ever dealt with before, you may not know where to begin or how it ends. Here is an overview of what to expect as you prepare for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and what happens after your case has been filed with the bankruptcy court. 

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How Long Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Take?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated April 6, 2022

Chapter 13 bankruptcy typically takes three to five years. During that time, you’ll be on a repayment plan to repay some or a portion of your debts. There are a few factors that will determine how long your Chapter 13 repayment plan will last, including your income. At the end of a successful Chapter 13 plan, the remainder of your dischargeable debts will be erased.

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What Can Go Wrong at the Meeting of Creditors?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated May 25, 2022

Not much can truly go wrong at the meeting of creditors. To avoid any potential issues, make sure to bring approved documents to prove your identity and Social Security number, read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet, and review your bankruptcy petition so you can answer any questions the trustee may have about your case. If someone from the U.S. Trustee's office or a creditor's attorney shows up to ask questions, try to stay calm and just answer their questions truthfully.

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How to tell if you have property that is not protected by an exemption

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 10, 2020

Schedule A/B lists everything you own. Schedule C lists all everything you own that is protected by an exemption. Here is how you can tell what’s protected by an exemption by looking at your Schedule C, complete with an example to illustrate what it means when something is only partially exempt.

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Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions Explained

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 31, 2022

The laws that protect your property from creditors are called exemptions. The exemptions listed in the Bankruptcy Code are called federal bankruptcy exemptions.

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Reaffirmation Agreements

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated August 17, 2020

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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5 Important Bankruptcy Questions (and Answers!)

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

If you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy, you have questions. We’ll answer the most common bankruptcy questions for you right here so you can decide whether you want to take the next step in the bankruptcy process or explore other debt-relief options that might interest you.

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What are the Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 6, 2021

If you're a debtor filing for bankruptcy and you live in Florida, you'll be using the Florida bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property.

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Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated October 1, 2021

Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be quite similar to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But it's also really different. Learn how each type of bankruptcy can provide you with debt relief.

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What are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Rules?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 23, 2020

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules are not as difficult to understand as you might believe, but there’s quite a few of them. Keep reading to get a basic understanding of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules and ensure a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

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What To Do If You Don’t Remember Everyone You Owe Money?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated November 21, 2020

If you're overwhelmed by debt collectors and collection agencies calling you to collect a debt, it can seem as though you'll never be able to remember who they all are. But, it's important to give the bankruptcy court a list of all of your creditors, so here are some steps you can take to make sure you didn't miss anyone.

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How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock MorelLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 29, 2021

Bankruptcy costs include court filing fees, credit counseling course fees, and if you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, attorney fees. The total cost will largely depend on your financial situation, the complexity of your case, and whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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4 things you should know about the bankruptcy court system

Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz
Updated August 9, 2020

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

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Low Cost Bankruptcy: Do Good Options Exist?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated November 30, 2020

Filing for bankruptcy can get expensive. Apart from finding an affordable bankruptcy attorney, there are ways to file at low cost.

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Requirements for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

Deciding to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy should involve a review of everything that is required to successfully get a bankruptcy discharge after the bankruptcy filing. What follows is an overview of the requirements to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the requirements to getting your Chapter 7 discharge.

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Low Income Bankruptcy: Find the Option for You

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated October 14, 2020

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

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Should I be Embarrassed About Filing for Bankruptcy?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law GradLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

Should I be embarrassed by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing? We'll let you know how you should think about your discharge of your debts.

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How Do I Find an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 21, 2022

While you don’t have to hire a lawyer to file a bankruptcy case, you may want legal assistance. If so, there are several resources you can use to find an affordable bankruptcy attorney, including your state bar association’s website, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, or a local legal aid organization. Many bankruptcy lawyers also offer a free consultation for prospective clients. You can get free legal advice during the consultation and learn more about the lawyer’s fees and options for paying them.

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Do I Qualify for Bankruptcy?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 10, 2020

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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Bankruptcy Filings in America - 2017

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

Bankruptcy Filings in America continue to be an effective way for many people to obtain debt relief. Congress enacted the to allow Americans to file for bankruptcy relief. help people who have suffered a financial crisis that they cannot overcome without assistance. Upsolve helps individuals file bankruptcy cases to resolve their debt problems. You can file a bankruptcy case to obtain the debt relief you need.

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What Is an Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated August 12, 2020

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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Will Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lower My Credit Score?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated August 27, 2021

Most people who have low credit scores and file for bankruptcy actually see their credit scores improve.

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What is bankruptcy fraud?

Written by Attorney Kassandra KuehlLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 18, 2020

Bankruptcy fraud is a broad term that describes a variety of actions that filers sometimes take to get an unfair advantage. Depending on what form that fraud takes, it’s considered a crime and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a (non-dischargeable) fine of up to $250,000. This article will explore some common types of bankruptcy fraud.

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Will bankruptcy stop a levy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated August 11, 2020

If creditors are threatening to levy your bank account, you may be worried about how you are going to pay your bills and living expenses if a creditor takes your money. Let’s go over some important information about levies and ways you can stop a levy.

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Should I File Bankruptcy Before Getting Married?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 9, 2022

If you’re planning to get married and you also need to deal with debt, you’re probably wondering when to file bankruptcy and how it will affect your spouse. There are pros and cons to filing for bankruptcy before marriage as well as filing after marriage. If you want to start your marriage with a clean financial slate and you qualify for Chapter 7, that’s a relatively quick way to achieve that goal. If you already have joint debts with your spouse-to-be, you may want to file after you get married to take advantage of more generous exemptions.

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Keeping a Checking Account During Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated March 21, 2022

In most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, nothing happens to the filer's bank account. As long as the money in your account is protected by an exemption, your bankruptcy filing won’t affect it.

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What is an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated March 10, 2022

An emergency bankruptcy filing is when you file only the minimum required forms to get a bankruptcy case going. It helps you file your case quickly. Emergency filings are helpful if you need to stop serious collection measures like repossession, foreclosure, or wage garnishment. Once you file an emergency bankruptcy case, you need to complete the remaining paperwork within 14 days or you risk having your case dismissed.

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Can I File for Bankruptcy After a Lawsuit?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated October 1, 2021

Absolutely. Whether you’ve just been served with a lawsuit or already had a judgment entered against you, filing for bankruptcy protection can bring relief.

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How to add a creditor after filing my forms?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated January 20, 2022

What follows is a step by step guide on how to add a creditor after filing bankruptcy. The process for this is often very specific and differs from district to district, but there are some things that are the same across the board. If you're an Upsolve user, you can use the case editor and the self-service amendment feature to update your forms.

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What does it mean to surrender your car in bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 8, 2020

If you surrender your car as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your car debt is erased by the bankruptcy discharge.

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Should I Choose Federal or State Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated April 19, 2022

The exemptions you choose will play a big role in determining how much of your stuff the trustee can sell to repay your creditors. Most Upsolve users select the federal exemptions, but the choice that's right for you will depend on your answers to two questions.

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What is an "Official Form 309A -- No Proof of Claim?"

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated August 7, 2020

The court sends this document to the creditors you listed on your bankruptcy paperwork when you file. It 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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What Happens to the Automatic Stay if My Bankruptcy Case Is Dismissed?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 17, 2022

If your bankruptcy case gets dismissed, your debts won’t be discharged and the automatic stay goes away. Without the protection of the automatic stay, debt collectors and creditors can resume collection activities. If your case is dismissed, you can file a new case or file a motion to reinstate your previous case. If this happens, there may be limits to the automatic stay.

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How do I file my bankruptcy forms by mail?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

We recommend bringing your bankruptcy forms to your local bankruptcy court to file in person. If you can't do that, you can mail the forms. 

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If I surrender my vehicle, will I be responsible for any balance owed?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

No. Even if the car is sold for much less than what you owe on the loan, your personal liability to pay the loan is discharged.

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I might be moving to a new state. Should I wait to file until after I move?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

If you plan to move out of state within the next three months, it is usually better to wait to file unless your 341 meeting would occur before your move.

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What do I list as my address if I lived overseas 3 years ago?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

Questions about your addresses on your bankruptcy forms are used to determine one of two things: 1. Which state you are eligible to file bankruptcy in and 2. Which state's exemptions you can use to protect your assets.

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Why doesn't my car appear on my exemptions list?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

There are a few reasons that your car(s) might not be listed on your exemptions list.

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What is an asset in bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 16, 2020

Everything you own is an asset. Whether your property is valuable enough to turn your case into an asset bankruptcy depends on what bankruptcy exemptions you can use to protect your property.

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If I file for bankruptcy, will it hurt my co-signer’s credit score?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law GradLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 30, 2021

No. A co-signer’s social security number will not be involved, and the bankruptcy does not go on their credit.

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How can I surrender my car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law GradLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 12, 2022

"Surrendering" your car means that you give it back to the lender that gave you the loan to purchase it. If you surrender your car as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, any debt that you owe on it will be eliminated when you receive your bankruptcy discharge.

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I want to redeem my car. When do I do it?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

"Redeeming" your car means that you buy it from the lender that you financed it with for the fair market value of the car, paid to the lender in one lump sum. The rest of your loan is discharged.

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What Is Community Debt?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 18, 2021

Community debt is any debt that you or your spouse incur while married or any debt for which you and your spouse are co-signers. There are 10 community property states where spouses or legal partners may have community debt. This article outlines the 10 community property states and how having community debt may affect your bankruptcy filing.

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

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

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 Keep the Money if I Win a Lawsuit After Filing?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated January 26, 2022

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your state's exemption law will determine whether you can keep the money from a lawsuit. Be prepared to give it up unless your state exemption law specifically says that you can keep the award.

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How Much Money Is Considered a Gift?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated January 26, 2022

The bankruptcy forms ask whether you gave gifts with a total value of more than $600 per person in the two years before you filed for bankruptcy.

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If a Creditor Was Charged Off, Do I Still Need To List Them?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated April 19, 2022

Just because a creditor has charged off a debt doesn't mean that you don’t owe it anymore. That's why you'll still need to list the creditor on your bankruptcy forms. Having a debt charged off only means that the creditor has decided the debt is uncollectible for accounting purposes.

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Should I use a law firm or file for myself?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

This is up to you to decide. If you can afford $1000+ for an attorney, they are often a good investment. If you cannot, our team at Upsolve would love to guide you through your filing at every step of the way. 

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I receive money from social security. Can I file for bankruptcy?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

Definitely. Getting money from social security does not disqualify you from filing for bankruptcy with Upsolve. You should take our online screener to see if you meet our either criteria. 

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What is some research on the benefits of bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated August 10, 2020

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 if I'm afraid to file for bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

Many people in the United States are afraid to file for bankruptcy because they do not understand that most people who file are financially better off in the long run. After filing, most people see their debt erased and their credit scores improved. If their wages are garnished due to judgments, bankruptcy stops wage garnishment. Bankruptcy also improves employment outcomes.

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

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 2, 2021

Yes, you can file bankruptcy after moving, but it may get a little more complicated. 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. In this article, we will discuss the timing issues and other factors that may accompany a recent relocation. 

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How To Deal With The Stress Of Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 30, 2020

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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I’m a 1099 Contractor. How is My Bankruptcy Different?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated August 7, 2020

Much of the bankruptcy process is the same for people who are a full-time employee and people who are contractors. However, there are a few differences. When your income is not regular or easily predicted, you must demonstrate that you are eligible to file and ensure that it makes sense to file when you do.

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What To Do If A Creditor Violates The Automatic Stay

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

The automatic stay goes into effect as soon as your bankruptcy petition has been filed with the court and a case-number assigned to your case. The automatic stay prohibits creditors from trying to collect a debt from you. Creditors and their attorneys know that the bankruptcy court can order them to pay sanctions to the bankruptcy filer if they violate the automatic stay.

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Why Is the Trustee Asking Creditors To File a Proof of Claim?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 17, 2022

If your bankruptcy trustee is asking your creditors to file a proof of claim, it’s likely because the trustee discovered non-exempt assets in your case. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases. But if you have non-exempt property or assets, the trustee can liquidate or sell them. The funds from the sale are then used to repay your creditors at least part of what you owe. If a creditor wants to recover money through the liquidation process, they have to file paperwork called a proof of claim.

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I am planning to get married soon after I file. Will my bankruptcy affect my spouse?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

Usually your individual bankruptcy will not affect your new spouse. If you are filing for a Chapter 7, is can be helpful to wait until after you receive your discharge to get married just in case.

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Car Co-Owner vs. Co-Signer: What’s the difference?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 30, 2021

A co-signer on a car loan is obligated to pay the loan if the other person defaults on their payment obligation while a co-owner of a car has an ownership interest in the vehicle itself. This article explains how to properly disclose these relationships in your bankruptcy forms.

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My case was dismissed. When can I refile a new case or reopen my case?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated December 30, 2020

As soon as a bankruptcy case is dismissed, the automatic stay ends and collections can resume. You can either reinstate your case or file a new bankruptcy one.

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If I received a discharge, when can I refile?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 30, 2020

If your bankruptcy was fully discharged, you can refile bankruptcy after a certain amount of time has passed. If you file before the time limit is up, you will not be entitled to have your debts discharged.

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Is a bankruptcy discharge public record?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated October 2, 2021

There are a few, limited ways that your bankruptcy becomes public record.This alone shouldn't stop you from choosing to file for bankruptcy.

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Does Bankruptcy Affect My Social Security Income?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated February 22, 2022

Social security income does not count on the means test. Any social security funds you have will be protected by an exemption as long as they're not commingled.

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Will Bankruptcy Affect My Citizenship Application?

Written by Your Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 24, 2022

Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or not, you’re allowed to file bankruptcy if you reside in the U.S. Bankruptcy law doesn’t require filers to be U.S. citizens. If you aren’t a citizen, you may worry that filing bankruptcy can lead to deportation or having your immigration application denied. Luckily, that’s not the case. Neither the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) nor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) consider bankruptcy cases when reviewing residency applications.

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How to File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated November 12, 2021

There's nothing that says you have to hire a lawyer to get bankruptcy relief. You can file bankruptcy without a lawyer either by yourself or with the help of a legal aid organization.

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Will My Employer Find Out About My Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated August 11, 2020

Your employer will most likely not find out about your bankruptcy case when you file.

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Can I File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy if I am Unemployed?

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated July 22, 2020

You do not have to be employed to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but you do have to have the capability to make monthly payments to your trustee.

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Bankruptcy Case Dismissals & How To Avoid Them

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 20, 2020

Many worry that their case won’t be accepted if they file bankruptcy without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. Even though it’s scary to think that this may happen, it doesn’t really work that way. You are allowed to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. And, as long as you follow the bankruptcy court’s instructions and complete all required steps, the risk of having your case dismissed is actually pretty low.

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Can You File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Online Yourself?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 25, 2022

Though there are online services that claim they can help you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy by yourself, the success rate for people who file Chapter 13 without a lawyer is low. That’s because Chapter 13 cases include multiple types of debts and a repayment plan that can last from three to five years. It's not uncommon for filers to experience issues or changes while their Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is open, and it can be difficult to deal with those without legal help.

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Does Bankruptcy Affect My Disability Benefits?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Find out whether you can keep your social security disability benefits during your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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I got my Chapter 7 discharge! Now what?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated October 1, 2021

Monitor your credit report, stick to a budget, live within your means, rebuild your credit and live your life with a fresh start!

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Can I Leave Debts Out of My Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated March 10, 2022

You need to list all your assets and debts when you file your bankruptcy. Leaving debts out of your bankruptcy filing will mess up your income and expense calculations. It can also be grounds for criminal charges for bankruptcy fraud.

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What To Do If Creditors Are Calling After A Bankruptcy Filing

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

Find out what to do if a creditor keeps contacting you even after your bankruptcy has been filed.

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What does it mean that my debts have been discharged?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 2, 2021

A discharge order that tells your creditors they are forever prohibited from asking you to pay your pre-bankruptcy debts ever again.

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How Does Bankruptcy Affect a Car Lease?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated April 6, 2022

A car lease isn’t the same as a car loan. A lease is a contract to use a car for a period of time. It’s not considered a debt when you file bankruptcy. If you have a car lease and file Chapter 7, you can continue with the lease if your payments are current. Otherwise, you can give the car back and walk away from the lease. If you file Chapter 13, you’ll have more options for keeping the car, which we’ll explore in this article.

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Can I fire my bankruptcy lawyer?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated October 20, 2020

In this article we will explore what you should consider to make an informed decision about whether and when to find a new bankruptcy lawyer.

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What Is Equity?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated May 4, 2022

Your equity in a house or car (the dollar value that belongs to you, not the lender) is the current value of the property minus the amount you still owe on it. When you file bankruptcy, exemptions protect the equity you have in certain assets.

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Filing for Bankruptcy

Written by Rohan Pavuluri
Updated July 22, 2020

Although filing for bankruptcy can be a difficult decision to make, it is also a solution that will release you from crippling debt. Learn everything you need to know here before you get started.

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Who Pays for Bankruptcies?

Written by Rohan Pavuluri
Updated July 22, 2020

When individuals find themselves in debt, bankruptcy can be a solution that gives you a fresh start. But when someone files for bankruptcy, who pays for it? Learn more here.

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What Does It Mean That a Bankruptcy Is Public Record?

Written by Attorney John Coble, Your Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 21, 2022

Bankruptcy cases are processed through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is part of the federal court system. Like all other court documents, your bankruptcy petition becomes a public record. This means any member of the public can access the information on your bankruptcy forms either through PACER or by going to the courthouse.

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What Happens If I Declare Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 3, 2022

Overview of what to expect after declaring bankruptcy, including types of bankruptcy, the immediate debt relief benefits of filing bankruptcy, and important information about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

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Does The Government Pay for Bankruptcies?

Written by Your Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 30, 2022

People filing for bankruptcy are struggling to pay their debts. Find out what type of costs to expect for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and who pays for it if you can’t.

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Verification of Creditor Matrix Explained

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Learn about the verification of creditor matrix.

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Using a Fee Waiver for Free Bankruptcy Credit Counseling

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 18, 2021

Everyone who wants to file for bankruptcy has to take a credit counseling course before they can do so. While there is a small cost associated with this requirement, it is possible to take the required course for free by requesting a fee waiver.

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What Does a Bankruptcy Discharge Do?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated May 17, 2022

A bankruptcy discharge is a court order that wipes out certain debts like credit card debts and medical bills. Once you receive a discharge, you're no longer legally obligated to repay the debts that were discharged. Some debts, like those that are secured by collateral, can only be discharged if you give up the collateral. In Chapter 7 cases, dischargeable debts will be eliminated in a matter of months. In Chapter 13 cases, the filers must complete their 3-5 year payment plan before their dischargeable debts are eliminated.

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Tips For Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 25, 2020

In this article, we'll explore whether you need an attorney to file bankruptcy, how you can make sure you hire the bankruptcy attorney that is right for you, and what kind of resources are available to find a bankruptcy lawyer near you. Learn how to choose the right bankrutpcy lawyer for your situation based on what matters most!

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Can I File Bankruptcy Even Though I’m Unemployed?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 22, 2022

If you’re unemployed and your only source of income is unemployment benefits, you can still file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need a steady source of income, and unemployment benefits aren’t likely enough to cover the requirements for Chapter 13. While it’s possible and common for people to file Chapter 7 while unemployed, you’ll want to consider the timing of your case.

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What Is A Co-Debtor and How Does My Bankruptcy Affect Them?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 28, 2021

When you file bankruptcy, your co-signers will remain responsible for paying the debt that they co-signed for that is discharged in your bankruptcy. As long as they continue to pay the debt, your bankruptcy will not affect their credit.

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What Is A Co-Debtor and How Does My Bankruptcy Affect Them?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 28, 2021

When you file bankruptcy, your co-signers will remain responsible for paying the debt that they co-signed for that is discharged in your bankruptcy. As long as they continue to pay the debt, your bankruptcy will not affect their credit.

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What Is Non-Exempt Equity?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 25, 2022

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are exemptions to protect some of the equity you have in your assets, like a home, car, or household items. If the exemption for a certain item doesn’t cover all the equity you have in it, you have non-exempt equity. Depending on how much non-exempt you have, the bankruptcy trustee may liquidate (sell) the item and give the proceeds to your creditors.

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What is an Adversary Proceeding in Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 10, 2021

An adversary proceeding is like a lawsuit that takes place as part of the bankruptcy case. Adversary proceedings are generally the most complicated part of a bankruptcy proceeding, but they don't happen in every case.

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What is an Adversary Proceeding in Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 10, 2021

An adversary proceeding is like a lawsuit that takes place as part of the bankruptcy case. Adversary proceedings are generally the most complicated part of a bankruptcy proceeding, but they don't happen in every case.

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What is the presumption of abuse in bankruptcy? 

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 11, 2020

This article will explain what the presumption of abuse is and take a brief look at how it's possible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy even though there is a presumption of abuse.

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What Bills To Keep Paying After Filing Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 2, 2021

One of the biggest benefits of filing bankruptcy is the automatic stay that goes into effect as soon as the case is filed. It means that your creditors (those you owe a debt) are not allowed to keep asking you for money. But, just because you don’t have to pay your debts after filing bankruptcy, you’ll still have some expenses to pay going forward. This article will explore what kind of bills a person filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy has to pay even after their case is filed.

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Dealing with Returned or Undeliverable Mail from the Bankruptcy Court

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 6, 2020

If a creditor’s address is incorrect on the creditor matrix, the court’s notices to the creditor will be returned as undeliverable. You’ll either receive the returned mail (as you’re listed as the “sender” even though the court mailed the document) or a Notice of Undeliverable Mail from the court. Or both.

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What To Do If A Creditor’s Address Changed After Filing

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 4, 2020

If you notice that your creditor’s address has changed on a document/letter they sent to you regarding your bankruptcy, it’s likely that they’ve already provided their new/updated address to the court.

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What You Should Know About Bankruptcy And Luxury Items

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

A luxury item is something that is not reasonably necessary for your maintenance and support. It’s something you don’t need to live. Non-luxury items, on the other hand, are things you purchase to cover necessities for yourself and your dependents. Things like groceries, utilities, rent, and gas. The term luxury item includes both products and services that cost more than $725.

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Why does the bankruptcy court need my social security number? 

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Interestingly, there is nothing in the Bankruptcy Code itself that requires the filer to have a social security number. But, your social security number is how you obtain and maintain credit and how your tax filings and liabilities are tracked, so the bankruptcy court system uses it to keep track of bankruptcy cases. So, if you have a social security number, you have to provide it to the bankruptcy court.

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Why does the bankruptcy court need my social security number? 

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Interestingly, there is nothing in the Bankruptcy Code itself that requires the filer to have a social security number. But, your social security number is how you obtain and maintain credit and how your tax filings and liabilities are tracked, so the bankruptcy court system uses it to keep track of bankruptcy cases. So, if you have a social security number, you have to provide it to the bankruptcy court.

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Help, my 341 meeting is coming up and I can’t find my social security card!

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 30, 2020

Ideally, you’ll have located your social security card at the very beginning of the process and have everything ready to go by the time your creditors’ meeting rolls around. Of course, life doesn’t always go as planned. If you can’t find your social security card in time for the meeting, bring last year’s form W-2 from your employer or one of the other accepted alternatives.

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Discharge vs. Dismissal: What's the Difference?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

Many individuals filing bankruptcy for the first time are unsure of the terminology used by lawyers and the courts. Two words that frequently confuse first-time filers are “dismissed” and “discharged.” The purpose of this article is to explain the difference between the two and when lawyers and the court are most likely to use them when referring to your case.

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Is It Legal To File a Second Bankruptcy Case?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated April 6, 2022

You can file bankruptcy as many times as you need to, but you usually have to wait between filings. The waiting period depends on several factors, including whether the initial bankruptcy case was dismissed or discharged, what chapter you filed in the first case, and what chapter you plan to file in your second bankruptcy case.

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Can Attorney Fees Be Included in Bankruptcy?

Written by Your Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 24, 2022

If you owe attorney fees when you go to file your bankruptcy case, most will be treated as unsecured debt and discharged as part of your bankruptcy case. There are some exceptions to this, especially for attorney fees related to family court matters. Keep reading to learn more about how attorney fees are treated in bankruptcy.

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Filing bankruptcy while working in the gig economy

Written by Attorney Alexander Hernandez
Updated July 22, 2020

Are you part of the gig economy? Besides your regular job, are you also working with Uber, Lyft, Fiverr, or Task Rabbit? Even though you may be looking to make some extra money as a freelancer to pay down your credit card debt, that extra income could affect your bankruptcy case. Continue reading to learn how a bankruptcy case could be affected by income as a contract worker and what forms you’ll need to pay special attention to. 

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

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 4, 2020

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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Store Cards and Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

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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Disability and Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated March 7, 2022

If you receive disability benefits, they could affect your bankruptcy in two ways. First, they can impact your monthly income calculation on some of your bankruptcy paperwork. Second, if you have disability benefits in a bank account when you file, you may need to use exemptions to protect and keep these funds. This article covers when and how to report disability benefits as income, and how to deal with any lump-sum disability payments you have on hand when you file a bankruptcy case.

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What is a bankruptcy estate?

Written by Attorney Alexander Hernandez
Updated August 7, 2020

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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The Automatic Stay

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated August 11, 2020

The automatic stay makes sure that wage garnishments and repossessions or foreclosures are stopped 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 to get debt relief through personal bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated November 30, 2020

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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How to get debt relief through personal bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated November 30, 2020

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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How to get debt relief without risking your safety

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 7, 2020

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

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

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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Overview of the 7 Most Commonly Used Bankruptcy Exemptions

Written by Attorney John Coble
Updated March 31, 2022

Bankruptcy exemptions protect a filer’s property to ensure they're able to take full advantage of their fresh start. While the available exemptions vary depending on the state you live in, there are certain types of common bankruptcy exemptions that are generally found in all exemption schemes. This article gives an overview of the seven most common types of bankruptcy exemptions and how they protect the filer’s property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What Does Bankruptcy Mean?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 28, 2020

Bankruptcy is one of those words that everyone’s heard but many don’t really know what it means. Especially with so many high profile bankruptcies in the news these days, it can be hard to figure how bankruptcy can actually help a regular consumer. Let’s take a look at what bankruptcy means and how the different types of bankruptcy enable you to take back charge of your finances.

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What’s a set off and why does the court want to know about it?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 11, 2020

A set off is when a bank takes money out of your bank account because you defaulted on your payment obligations on a debt owed to that bank. Normally, creditors have to get a judgment before they can reach the funds in your checking or saving accounts, but there is an exception to that general rule: When you have a credit card or loan with your bank, the agreement (either the credit card agreement or the loan documents) will often give the bank the right to pay themselves directly out of your account in the event of a default. 

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What’s the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Alexander Hernandez
Updated August 26, 2020

If you’ve already tried everything to get out of debt and you’re still drowning, it’s normal to think that bankruptcy sounds almost too good to be true. After all, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate your debts in as little as 4 months. Not to mention that the vast majority of personal bankruptcy filings actually allow the filer to keep all of their belongings. As with everything in life, there are some downsides to filing bankruptcy. Let’s take a look at what they are so you can decide whether filing bankruptcy is the right debt relief solution for you.

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When to Declare Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney John Coble
Updated July 22, 2020

You have many options for debt relief. There are debt settlements, debt management plans, debt consolidations, and bankruptcy. Each option has pros and cons. The best choice for you will depend on your particular situation. Whether you should file bankruptcy and what type of bankruptcy to file is unique to your situation. Everyone's financial situation is different.

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Reorganizing Your Debt? Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Help!

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated April 1, 2022

Chapter 11 cases are mostly filed by businesses or people with significant assets and debts. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the most common chapters filed by individuals. Read on to learn more about the differences between Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

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