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Bankruptcy FAQs

I went to the NACBA Conference in April of 2012. Important updates: Stern v. Marshall case – Bankruptcy Court will not decide state law claims which are noncore, not necessary to administer bankruptcy case.

I have two liens (mortgages) on my house. Can I get rid of second mortgage?
In a Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 payout plan, a second mortgage may be stripped off if the value on the house is less than the balance on the first mortgage.

If I was divorced and assessed counsel fees by the Court, can I discharge these in bankruptcy?
If they were assessed by the Court and are a domestic support obligation, they are not dischargeable.

Are the terms of a divorce settlement dischargeable in bankruptcy?
If an award is found to be a domestic support obligation, it is not dischargeable.

I have to include every debt in my bankruptcy? What if I want to keep my American Express or Visa card?
If there is a zero balance, it is not a debt. However, all debts must be disclosed in bankruptcy. The key to a successful bankruptcy is truthfulness.

Do I have to include my retirement account information in bankruptcy?
You have to include all information. Retirement accounts however are exempt in bankruptcy. They will not be touched unless improperly funded.

Can creditors call my family and my work if I owe money?
Collection agents and agencies are regulated by the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. This law is very specific and restricts debt collector’s activities. If they violate the law, which happens a lot, they can be penalized and have to pay monetary damages.

My house is in foreclosure and I even plan to leave before it is taken, do I have to obtain or maintain insurance on the property?
It is best to always be insured while you own the house. If someone breaks in and hurts himself, you can still have a problem post-bankruptcy. You are free of the obligation when you no longer own the house.

I am in foreclosure or default. Can I modify my mortgage?
The standard is if the principal interest, taxes and insurance on the modified loan total 31% of your income or less, you qualify. If you make too little or too much, the bank does not have to approve to modification.

If my house is in foreclosure and the bank will not work with me and loses my papers, but I qualify, what can I do?
The bankruptcy court now has a modification program. It is not guaranteed, but it is far more effective and efficient. Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. has successfully completed these modifications.

I was very financially well off and have very significant debt and have suffered losses in this economy. What can I do?
If you do not qualify for a Chapter 7 using the Means Test, you can file for Chapter 13, a repayment plan. If your secured debt is over $1,081,400 and your unsecured debt is over $360,475, you can file Chapter 11. Helfand and Associates can help to resolve your debt issues both large and small.

Can I keep my car in a bankruptcy?
The bankruptcy code provides you with a certain amount of equity in the car, which you can keep through the bankruptcy process. If your payments are current and insurance is current, you can retain your vehicle through the bankruptcy process, if you do not significantly exceed the exemption amount.

Can I discharge my student loans in bankruptcy?
Typically not. Most student loans are issued through the government and are priority debts, not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Other priority debts not dischargeable are alimony, child support, and fines resulting from debtor being intoxicated from alcohol, a drug or other substance.

Will I lose my house if I file for bankruptcy?
Under the bankruptcy code, you are entitled to keep an exempt amount in your home and if you do not have more than the exemption, you are current with your mortgage payments and can continue to pay same, you can typically keep your house.

How long will bankruptcy remain on my credit report?
Bankruptcy can be recorded on your credit report up to ten years.
When you need legal advice and guidance concerning divorce and family law, bankruptcy, workers’ compensation, a Municipal Court matter, or guardianship, we invite you to call our office at 973-539-1000 to explore how an attorney/client relationship with our firm can help you resolve your legal problem.

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