Take the First Step towards Freedom
Our bankruptcy attorneys, Phillip Shell and Tonya Whipple, provide comprehensive bankruptcy representation for clients statewide throughout Utah. They offer appointments during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.) and  may also be available for evening and weekend appointments upon request. Our office is conveniently located near the Murray Central Trax Station. 
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Answers from experienced Salt Lake City attorneys

Our attorneys have gathered these answers to the most common questions our clients ask about bankruptcy. We hope the information below is helpful. If you need further information about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, give us a call to arrange a free consultation. Our friendly bankruptcy attorneys will answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Should I file for bankruptcy?

If you cannot meet your basic needs and still make all of your debt payments, bankruptcy may be the solution. An attorney experienced in bankruptcy law can help you determine the option that best suits your particular situation. For consumers, Chapter 7 relieves most, but not necessarily all, of your debt. Chapter 13 allows you to pay off some or all of your debts through a structured repayment plan. The best way to determine whether it's the right time to file for bankruptcy protection is to meet with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys for a thorough review of your situation.

What will happen to my credit if I file?

Bankruptcies remain on credit reports between seven and 10 years. According to the credit scoring formula, events that happened in the recent past are weighed far more heavily against you than events that happened years ago. This means your score may dip in the short term if you file for bankruptcy, but you can build your credit back by managing accounts wisely in the future. Of course, deciding to declare bankruptcy is a serious decision that should only be taken with a full understanding of your options and their consequences.

Why should I use an attorney instead of using self-help forms?

The petition and accompanying schedules are complex, so we highly recommend that you hire an attorney to prepare your paperwork. An experienced attorney knows the red-flag issues and takes care to prepare your documents carefully. Your documents must be signed under oath, must list all assets, the value of each asset, and the amount of each debt. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer takes care of these details for you.

What debts does bankruptcy not cover?

Bankruptcy does not necessarily relieve you of all debts. Even if you receive a discharge of all unsecured debts, the following debts are not discharged, and you are still responsible for them:

  • Past-due family support obligations, including alimony and child support
  • Drunk-driving judgments
  • Criminal fines
  • Criminal restitution
  • Debts incurred by fraud or intentional wrongdoing
  • Back taxes less than 3 years old
  • Student loans
  • Purchases of more than $550 for luxury goods made within 90 days of filing
What happens to my home mortgage during bankruptcy proceedings?

Filing a bankruptcy petition stops foreclosure proceedings, so long as you file your petition before the foreclosure sale. If you can continue making regular mortgage payments, you can cure the past-due payments over the course of a Chapter 13 repayment plan, even if the lender does not want to work with you.

Does filing for bankruptcy stop calls from creditors and collection agencies?

When you file for bankruptcy protection, the filing invokes an "automatic stay." The automatic stay stops all collection activities. It will take a few days for all creditors to be notified. In the meantime, if creditors call, you can give them your case number or attorney's name and ask that they not call anymore.

If a creditor still tries to collect directly from you after that, you should immediately notify your attorney. If the creditor continues to harass you despite notice of your bankruptcy, you may be entitled to take legal action.

How soon can garnishments be stopped?

Garnishments should stop immediately upon filing a bankruptcy case. Notify your payroll department of your bankruptcy case number. You may also need to provide a copy of your petition, but ask your attorney first.

My car was recently repossessed. Can I get it back?

If you file under Chapter 7, you may be able to get your car back, but a bankruptcy judge will probably require you to pay the repossession and storage fees up front, along with showing proof of insurance. You will also have to catch up on the missed payments in order to reaffirm the debt. It may not be feasible for you to pay these when you are already in a bankruptcy situation.

On the other hand, if you file under Chapter 13, the creditor must return the car if you ask for it. If the creditor refuses, then a turnover motion can be filed with the court to force the creditor to return the vehicle. These protections last only until confirmation of the Chapter 13 plan. The plan must provide for making the past-due vehicle payments, along with payment of the regular monthly payments.

What do I need to bring to my first meeting with my attorney?

Bringing some basic financial information to our initial consultation gives us a head start in determining which type of bankruptcy you can file. Some of the factors we consider in determining whether bankruptcy law allows you to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 are:

  • Whether you own or rent your home
  • If you own your home, the approximate value of your home and amount of the mortgage
  • Whether you own any other real estate, and if so, its approximate value and associated debt
  • Whether you own vehicles, and if so, their approximate value and associated debt
  • The approximate value of all your personal property, including bank accounts, and any associated debt
  • Whether you have a regular source of income, and if so, how much and how often