F.A.Q.'s on personal bankruptcy in Charleston, SC

QUESTION: How much does it cost to file for Bankruptcy and how will I be able to afford it?

ANSWER: The cost of bankruptcy depends on the complexity of your situation and the type of bankruptcy you need to file, whether it be chapter 7 bankruptcy, chapter 13 bankruptcy or chapter 11 bankruptcy. We pride ourselves in offering individualized attention to our clients while offering competitive fees. Most of our fees are flat fees meaning you will not typically owe any further fees after the retainer fee is paid. We are a small firm and we pride ourselves on knowing each of our clients on a personal level and guiding them through each stage of their case. As for payment, we do offer payment plans. We may tell clients to stop making payments to creditors, particularly unsecured creditors, after they have made the decision to file for bankruptcy. Clients are usually able to save for their retainer fee by using the money that was being used to make their minimum payments. When potential clients first come in, they are typically borrowing money from family to get by. We have found that family is more willing to pay for a client's retainer fees when they know this will be the last time they will need to lend money and that we will be working with the client on learning to live on a "no surprise budget" and therefore will not end up in this situation again in the future.

QUESTION: What property can I keep if I file bankruptcy?

ANSWER: In a bankruptcy, people have two (2) major goals: to hold on to as many assets as they can and to be discharged from their debt. As far as the assets they can maintain, in most cases people will have the option of retaining almost all their assets or property. There are, of course exceptions to this which would depend on different factors such as: a.) Do you want to keep the asset? b.) Do you need the asset? c.) If there is a lien on the asset such as you owe money on your home or car, are you up to date with payments and can you continue to make payments? d.) Is there equity in the asset? In other words, is the asset worth more than what you owe against it? e.) What portion of the equity can you protect?

QUESTION: Can I recover from bankruptcy and how long will it take?

SHORT ANSWER: Yes, most definitely. Normally three (3) years.

LONGER ANSWER: We set four (4) overall goals for our clients: 1.) Get out of the financial problems that you are in; 2.) How to stay out of financial problems; 3.) Have regular credit again as soon as possible; 4.) Have a vision for financial success in the future which we define as own your own home, be debt free, have money in the bank, be ready to retire. There are three (3) things you must do to achieve these goals. Conversely if you do not do these things, you will not achieve these goals. You need to have a clean credit report; have a full banking relationship with some bank you do not owe money; and learn to establish and live on a no surprise budget. The clients of the Campbell Law Firm understand that you will recover from the bankruptcy, normally within three (3) years and you will achieve financial success with some adjustment to that depending upon your age and personal circumstance, if you will commit to doing these three (3) things.

QUESTION: Who qualifies for bankruptcy?

ANSWER: Anyone who owes money could potentially file bankruptcy. Of course, bankruptcy should be avoided in every way possible. There are numerous options short of filing bankruptcy including going to Consumer Credit Counseling and workouts.

QUESTION: Will everyone find out that I filed for Bankruptcy?

ANSWER: Probably Not. Unless you’re a prominent person or a major corporation and the Bankruptcy filing is picked up by the mainstream media, the chances are good that the only people who will ever know that you filed for bankruptcy are your creditors and the people you personally tell. While your bankruptcy is a matter of public record, unless someone is specifically trying to track down information on you, there is very little chance that anyone will even know you filed Bankruptcy, as the information is difficult to find. Usually people do not go to the trouble of trying to find out who has filed Bankruptcy because, frankly, it is not very interesting information. In our experience, if someone (for whatever reason) finds out that you filed for Bankruptcy, he or she usually feels nothing but empathy and compassion for your situation. If he or she does not feel that way, he or she is probably not someone you would want to associate with or call a friend any way.

QUESTION: If I am married, does my spouse have to file for Bankruptcy?

No. If one spouse has most or all of the debt, the other spouse does not necessarily need to file Bankruptcy. You will need to make sure both spouses are not responsible for the debt. Three (3) ways to determine if you are responsible for a debt include (1) whether you have signing authority (if you do, you are most likely responsible for the debt) (2) whether the bill coming is in your name (if it is, you are most likely responsible for the debt) (3) whether the debt is on your credit report (if it is, you are most likely responsible for the debt). If you dispute a debt that is listed on your credit report, we will give you a guide to disputing your credit report.

In cases where both a husband and wife have a lot of debt, either individually or jointly, it makes sense and saves money for them to both file a joint case (but it is not required). It is the same price whether one or both spouses file for Bankruptcy. In the alternative, if you do not have joint debt, one spouse’s filing Bankruptcy will not affect the other spouse’s credit. You will still be responsible for paying the non-filing spouse’s debt if he/she decides not to file for Bankruptcy. 

QUESTION: Is there a Minimum Amount of Debt Required to File for Bankruptcy?

ANSWER: No. People with little or no income have filed for Bankruptcy with debt amounts that would be very manageable for those with higher income. There is no minimum amount of debt that you have to have. There is a maximum amount of debt you can have to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, which is $1,081,400 in secured debt (such as mortgages and car loans) or $360,475 in unsecured debt (such as credit cards and medical bills). However, there are no maximums for Chapters 7 or 11 Bankruptcy.

F.A.Q.'s on business bankruptcy

QUESTION: Will I be able to keep my business?

ANSWER: This will depend on numerous factors, of course, but the primary factors are: a.) Are you able to maintain what we call the must pay expenses: the expenses needed to keep the business operational including utilities, rent, payroll? b.) Are you able to create some income above the normal expenses in an amount that would be sufficient for us to make some reasonable proposal to your creditors? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then I think there is a good likelihood you will be able to keep your business although there is no absolute guarantee of that.

QUESTION: Will a business failure or will the filing of bankruptcy by the business have an effect on me?

ANSWER: Most probably, particularly where you have personally guaranteed the debt.

QUESTION: If I personally guarantee the debt, will the filing of bankruptcy by my business protect me?

ANSWER: Probably not. You will need to deal with your creditors and the creditors you have guaranteed in some other way such as filing personal bankruptcy. That is not to say that a bankruptcy by the company or an attempt to work out the debt of the company should not include some protection for the individual but that is a difficult way to proceed.