Law Office of Matthew C. Swanson, P.C.


(508) 857-5697




Top 10 Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions


  • Can I keep my house and my car?

    • Bankruptcy QuestionsAfter filing your bankruptcy, you may exempt certain items like a house and automobile.  Attorney Swanson will assist you with selecting the exemption scheme that best fits your needs.  Those with substantial equity in their home often take advantage of the state exemption scheme that boasts a $500,000.00 exemption of equity in real property.  Other clients may find that the federal exemptions are more beneficial to protect miscellaneous items.  In order to keep your home or vehicle, you will need to stay current on your payments.


  • What happens to my credit if I file for bankruptcy?

    • This is something that cannot be sugar-coated.  Bankruptcy will stay on your credit report up to 10 years.  Lenders or other creditors will see this as a severe blemish on your credit history and you could see an immediate drop on your credit scores.  For many people contemplating bankruptcy, your credit scores may already be tarnished.  Some lenders may look at you as a better credit risk after you have received a bankruptcy discharge – your debt-to-income ratio increases, they know you may not file another bankruptcy for 4-8 years (depending on the chapter), and you no longer have other creditors weighing you down.


  • Can I pick and choose which creditors and assets are to be included in the bankruptcy?

    • No.  Every creditor and all of your assets need to be included and disclosed in your bankruptcy petition.  Intentional failure to disclose assets or liabilities of any kind in a bankruptcy case may be grounds for denial or revocation of a bankruptcy discharge.  This is a federal criminal offense punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a $5,000.00 fine (per offense).


  • If the bankruptcy stopped the foreclosure, can they still take me house?

    • When you file your bankruptcy you receive an “automatic stay” on court actions, such as foreclosure and sheriff’s sales.  A creditor can still go into court and ask the bankruptcy judge for a “relief from stay”.  If the relief from stay is granted, the creditor can proceed with the court action to foreclosure.  Creditors can only ask for a relief from stay if you are delinquent with your mortgage payments prior to the filing or after the filing AND you are not filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy addressing the past-due mortgage payments.


  • If I am married, does my wife or husband need to file as well?

    • No.  The decision to file individually or jointly depends on your situation.  Be aware that if only one person files and you have joint debt, the other party will be responsible for the entire amount of the debt.


  •  What debts are not discharged in bankruptcy?

    • The following debts are non-dischargeable.  Please be aware that this only a partial list.
        • Alimony, maintenance, and child support obligations;
        • Student loans (except in extreme hardship cases);
        • Fines, penalties, and criminal restitution;
        • Most taxes;
        • Secured debts (personal liability for secured debts are dischargeable, however, the secured creditor will seek to take back the secured item);
        • Debts incurred after the filing of bankruptcy;
        • Debts incurred as a result of intentional injury to a person or property


  • Can my employer fire me for filing bankruptcy?

    • No. U.S.C. Sec. 525 prohibits any employer from discriminating against you because you filed bankruptcy.   If the employee looks for another job after filing for bankruptcy, however, a potential employer can use the bankruptcy filing as a factor (not the sole factor) in deciding whether to employ that individual


  • Is is better to file a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy?

    • The answer depends on your financial situation.  There are benefits for each type depending on a variety of factors.  Only an experienced attorney can guide you towards the bankruptcy that is right for you.


  • Will my friends and family know that I filed bankruptcy?

    • It is important to know that bankruptcy filings are public record.  It is highly unlikely that your friends or family would ever find out that you filed a bankruptcy unless they were actively searching in various trade publications (Banker and Tradesman) or have access to the bankruptcy courts.


  • How long does it take to get my credit back?

    • Rebuilding credit depends on how aggressively you try and get back on track.  You can facilitate the process by being proactive – monitoring your credit reports to make sure they are accurate and updated, using secured credit responsibly, and avoiding more unsecured debt.  In many situations it is possible to obtain a mortgage at a prevailing interest rate only 2 years after receiving a bankruptcy discharge.


  • Should I reaffirm my secured debt?

    • In most circumstances in Massachusetts, I would not suggest signing a reaffirmation agreement.  For more information, please click here.


Let the Law Office of Matthew C. Swanson Help You Today

If you are contemplating bankruptcy and have bankruptcy questions, you can’t afford to pass up a free consultation about filing with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Contact Attorney Swanson today.

The Law Office of Matthew C. Swanson services all of Plymouth County, Bristol County, Norfolk County, and Barnstable County.

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Matthew was highly recommended to me by a number of mutual professional contacts and for good reason. Having just gone through a divorce and in the process of short-selling the jointly owned home with my ex-husband, I had the additional stress of needing to file personal bankruptcy. Matthew was great to work with: very personable and was able to explain the process in layman's terms so I could understand everything that was going to happen. Not only did Matthew make a very stressful process easier, he was able to complete and file all necessary paperwork in time for my ex-husband and I to close the then pending short-sale.


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