Bankruptcy does not discharge all debts, but, it discharges many types of debts.  There are actually different discharges that are granted for different types of debts.  If you use a petition preparer or computer form, will you properly plan so you can retain the maximum amount of assets.   Some debts that are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are not dischargeable in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Debts that are incurred as a result of earnings, such as income taxes are often dischargeable, but, only after a period of time.  The big rule regarding income taxes is that if you fail to file the tax return, the debt is non-dischargeable.  If you let the IRS or the State Tax Commission file the return for you, the amounts owed are treated as if you never filed a tax return.

Always meet with an attorney about what debts are dischargeable and tell the attorney about all the debts that you have.  Most of the time, a debt that is not listed in a bankruptcy will not be discharged.  Again, there are exceptions to that rule and you may be able to discharge the debts if you tell your attorney about the debt.

A bankruptcy form or a petition preparer is not qualified to give you advice.  You need to see an attorney so you can find out the truth.  Using some form or fill in the blank program causes many persons to lose money or assets that they should not have lost.

Exemptions and how to use them may also protect your property.  If you cannot find the money to hire an attorney, you should not file bankruptcy.  In South Carolina, wage garnishment is a very rare thing as most creditors are not allowed to garnish wages.   If you are so broke that you cannot afford an attorney, then, you probably cannot afford to keep the very items you are trying to protect and make the payments that you will still need to pay to keep the property you are trying to keep.

Once you file a bankruptcy, it may be too late to save an asset or a debt that could have been discharged may not be discharged.   If you are too broke to hire competent help such as an attorney, they you probably should wait to file bankruptcy.

Finally, be very careful about using a national computer program or person who does not file petitions in the district you will be filing in.  Bankruptcy is very different in each district that you file in.   What is acceptable or expected in one district varies wildly.   Some districts are debtor friendly, some neutral and some hostile to debtors.   The fact is that if you run into a problem in your case, if you do not have an attorney, you will have to give in to the Trustee and/or Creditor or have to hire an attorney to try and fix what should not have been occurring in the first place.

Using a petition preparer or computer program is like hiring a regular doctor to do open heart surgery.  The doctor might be able to get you through the surgery or may not be able to handle the job.  It is a little late to find out if you are going to have a problem after the surgery starts or you have filed bankruptcy.


About Nathan Davis, Esquire

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Nathan Davis has been practicing law for many years. Mr. Davis has a wide variety of experiences having practiced domestic relations, criminal law, social security law having also practiced collection law in the past. This knowledge is helpful when someone needs to restart their financial life. The practice is now primarily bankruptcy and debtor representation work, but, Mr. Davis continues to also practice real estate law, trusts and estates and a general litigation practice. I believe that the most important part of representation is trying to leave you better off when the case is finished than when you started. Although I will do as my client directs, I will always tell you if I think that you are making a mistake. Bankruptcy is about a "fresh start". If you do not make changes in what you are doing, you will be doing what you are doing now in the future. There is no shame in bankruptcy or other steps that you may take to start your life over. Too often, people worry more about things than about themselves, their family or their future.
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