Click here > CRF for a FREE CREDIT REPORT FORM
Click here > CL for our Chapter 7 CHECKLIST FORM
Link to the MAINE BANKRUPTCY COURT Web Site:
Link to Wikipedia article on BANKRUPTCY IN THE UNITED STATES
Note: This link provides an historical and informal perspective on bankruptcy relief in the United States. It is not intended as legal advice.
LINK to the Maine Bureau of CONSUMER CREDIT PROTECTION
The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection oversees many aspects of the consumer finance industry, including non-bank mortgage lenders, debt collectors, loan brokers, retail creditors, money transmitters, credit reporting agencies and non-bank ATMs. The office administers state credit-related statutes and protects consumers by conducting compliance examinations, responding to consumer complaints, issuing licenses and providing consumer education and outreach.
Link to the Maine EXEMPT PROPERTY Statute
The point of bankruptcy is to alleviate the burden of un-payable debt in a manner that is fair to you and your creditors. The law allows you to get on with your life and take care of your day-today responsibilities - taking care of yourself and your family, going to work, maintaining a roof over your head, or living in dignity in your retirement years without the fear of “going without” on a limited income. Both society and the debtor benefit from the bankruptcy system which brings stability to peoples lives, removes financial stress from families, and allows people to “start fresh” as contributing members of their communities. Most people who file bankruptcy do so because of medical bills, loss or reduction of employment and/or on account of divorce.
To that end, certain property is protected or “exempt” from collection unless you have waived an exemption by placing otherwise exempt property up as collateral for a secured loan. The list of exempt property is located in the Maine Statutes at the above LINK. You should seek legal advise in interpreting this statute. It is provided here for educational purposes only.
LINK to the CONSUMER PAGE of Pine Tree Legal Assistance
CHAPTER SEVEN BANKRUPTCIES
Court Fees: The Bankruptcy Court Filing fee is $306, unless you qualify for a low income fee waiver.
Legal Fees: Our legal fees are set for each individual case. When you call us, Sarah will discuss the facts of your case with you and give you an estimate of our legal fees for filing a Ch 7 Bankruptcy. Call us at 207-762-2244. There is no charge for calling us.
NOTICE: We cannot and DO NOT represent you unless we have met with you in person and signed a retainer agreement.
What to Bring to your Bankruptcy Consultation
____ A PRE-BANKRUPTCY SCREENING Certificate from Money Management International CALL 1-877-895-2227. There may be a small fee for the certificate charged by the agency.
___ Your CREDIT REPORT FREE Online at annualcreditreport.com or by phone at 1-877-322-8228. (Do NOT ask for your credit score; you will be charged a fee). Or use the above LINK form to request your credit report by mail.
____ FILL OUT THE CHECKLIST attached above. Please take the time to gather ALL the information requested.
____ The NAMES & ADDRESSES of EVERYONE you owe debts to. Bring a copy of your most recent bills from each creditor. YES, even your mortgage company, phone company and car loan. We will tell you what your options are. Most people do keep their cars and houses, but those debts still need to be listed.
____ YOUR LAST 2 years FEDERAL & STATE TAX RETURNS.
____ YOUR LAST TOWN REAL ESTATE TAX BILL showing the value of your house. (if you own A HOUSE) _____A copy of any appraisals.
____ at least 6 MONTHS OF WAGE & INCOME PAY STUBS.
____ Your most RECENT BANK STATEMENTS
____ Your Home and Car Insurance “Declarations” page.
____ You must tell us when you last used your credit cards.
____ If you have any debts assigned to you in a Divorce Judgment- we need a copy of the Divorce Judgment
For Persons who are considering filing Bankruptcy
Do NOT use your credit cards or run up more debt if you are even thinking of filing bankruptcy.
Do NOT make big payments on bills without seeking advice from a lawyer FIRST
Do NOT sell or give away anything without seeking advice from a lawyer FIRST
Do NOT cash out any accounts or retirement funds without seeking advice from a lawyer FIRST.
Do NOT get a second mortgage on your house to pay down credit card debt without getting advice from a lawyer FIRST.
NOTE: generally student loans, child & spousal support are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Some taxes may be dischargeable.
Seek legal advice about your particular case.
NOTICE: If you have a secured debt and you want to keep the property which secures that debt, YOU SHOULD KEEP MAKING YOUR PAYMENTS. For example, if you have a car loan or home mortgage and you want to keep your car and home you must keep making your payments to those particular creditors even though you want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
STATEMENT OF INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY RELIEF
Pursuant to the bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 the Office of the United States Trustee, United State Department of Justice has prepared this information sheet to help you understand some of the possible consequences of filing a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 of the
Bankruptcy Code. This information is intended to make you aware of
(1) the potential consequences of seeking a discharge in bankruptcy, including the effects on credit history;
(2) the effect of receiving a discharge of debts,
(3) the effect of reaffirming a debt; and
(4) your ability to file a petition under a different chapter of the Bankruptcy Code.
There are many other provisions of the Bankruptcy order that may affect your situation. This information sheet contains only general principles of law and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have questions or need further information as to how the bankruptcy laws apply to your specific case, you should consult with your lawyer.
WHAT IS A DlSCHARGE?
The filing of a Chapter 7 petition is designed to result in a discharge of most of the debts you listed on your bankruptcy schedules. A discharge is a court order that says you do not have to repay your debts, but there are a number of exceptions. Debts which may not be discharged in your chapter 7 case include, for example, most taxes, child support, alimony, and student loans; court-ordered fines and restitution; debts obtained through fraud or deception; and personal injury debts caused by driving while intoxicated or taking drugs. Your discharge may be denied entirely if you for example, destroy or conceal property; destroy, conceal or falsify records; or make a false oath. Creditors cannot ask you to pay any debts which have been discharged. You can only receive a Chapter 7 discharge once every six-years.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF A DISCHARGE?
The fact that you filed bankruptcy can appear on your credit report for as long as 10 years. Thus, filing a bankruptcy petition may affect your ability to obtain credit in the future. Also, you may not be excused from repaying any debts that were not listed on your bankruptcy schedules or that you incurred after you filed bankruptcy.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF REAFFRRMING A DEBT?
After you file your petition, a creditor may ask you to reaffirm a certain debt or you may seek to do so on your own. Reaffirming a debt means that you sign and file with the court a legally enforceable document, which states that you promise to repay all or a portion of the debt that may otherwise have been discharged in your bankruptcy case. Reaffirmation agreements must generally be filed with the court within 60 days after the first meeting of creditors,
Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law. You can voluntarily repay any debt instead of signing a reaffirmation agreement, but there may be valid reasons for wanting to reaffirm a particular debt.
Reaffirmation agreements must not impose an undue burden on you or your dependents and must be in your best interest. If you decide to sign a reaffirmation agreement, you may cancel it at any time before the court issues your discharge order or within sixty (60) days after the
reaffirmation agreement was filed with the court, whichever is later. If you reaffirm a debt and fail to make the payments required in the reaffirmation agreement, the creditor can take action against you to recover any property that was given as security for the loan and you may remain personally liable for any remaining debt.
OTHER BANKRUPTCY OPTIONS
You have a choice in deciding what chapter of the Bankruptcy Code will best suit your needs. Even if you have already filed for relief under chapter 7, you may be eligible to convert your case to a different chapter.
Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Under chapter 7, a Trustee is appointed to collect and sell, if economically feasible, all property you own that is not exempt from these actions.
Chapter 11 is the reorganization chapter most commonly used by businesses, but it is also available to individuals. Creditors vote on whether to accept or reject a plan, which also must be approved by the court. While the debtor normally remains in control of the assets, the court can )order the appointment of a trustee to take possession and control of the business.
Chapter 12 offers bankruptcy relief to those who qualify as family farmers. Family farmers must propose a plan to repay their creditors over a three-to-five year period and it must be approved by the court. Plan payments are made through a chapter 12 trustee, who also monitors the debtors' farming Operations during the pendency of the plan.
Finally, Chapter 13 generally permits individuals to keep their property by repaying creditors out of their future income. Each chapter 13 debtor writes a plan which must be approved by the bankruptcy count. The debtor must pay the chapter 13 trustee the amounts set forth in their plan debtors receive a discharge after they complete their chapter 13 repayment plan. Chapter 13 is only available to individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed $100,000, -$250,OOO in unsecured debts and $750,000 in secured debts).
AGAIN, PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR LAWYER IF YOU NEED FURTHER INFORMATION