Frequently Asked QuestionsCOVID-19
Can we still file cases with the stay-at-home order?
Absolutely! The bankruptcy courts have been using electronic filing for almost two decades, and have now made it even easier to file remotely. We can conduct all of our meetings by phone and Zoom to better serve you, if you prefer.
How can I pay for a bankruptcy now that I lost my job?
There are many options here, including use of tax refunds or stimulus checks, unemployment income or back payments, help from family members, and even the use of funds held in retirement plans if necessary, as the CARES Act modified some of the restrictions on the use of retirement accounts.
If I file, will I lose my stimulus check?
As far as we know, you will not lose it. If you have already received it, we will help you figure out the best use of the funds prior to filing the case. If you have not received it yet, the U.S. Trustee’s office has published guidelines suggesting that trustees in bankruptcy should not be seeking to take possession of these funds
With courts closed, can my creditors garnish, foreclose, evict, or repo?
For now, Governor Kelly has substantially restricted the ability of creditors to file foreclosures or evictions. However, this is temporary. Moreover, creditors can still repossess vehicles without restrictions. Additionally, courts remain open electronically and are issuing garnishments as and when requested. It is important that you do not rely on the courts being closed to protect yourself from creditor activities.
If I file, will I lose my unemployment back pay?
Your right to receive unemployment is an exempt asset. If you are expecting to file a bankruptcy case, by the time you are able to gather all of the information and we prepare your case, you will probably already be receiving your regular weekly amounts.
I have lost income- what will happen to my Ch. 13 plan?
One of the nice things about a chapter 13 is that we can modify the plan when circumstances change. In fact, if your situation has been severely affected by COVID-19, we may be able to modify and extend your bankruptcy plan beyond the normal 5 years. If you haven’t already contacted January or Lori about getting some information about this, please do so. Right now, we’re anticipating filing modifications in May, hopefully when we know more what our future situation is going to be.
When will I get my stimulus?
For direct deposit, it should have been received already. For paper checks, it may take several months. You can go to IRS.gov to check the status of your stimulus if you have copies of your 2018 and 2019 tax returns.
What happens if we get a second relief package?
There is simply no way to know, because we don’t know what it would include. However, if it looks like the existing stimulus program, the trustees will probably not pursue it. More importantly, if you file a bankruptcy before a new stimulus bill is passed, any additional funds would be yours to keep.
Will the trustee want my tax refunds, even if I’ve lost my job due to Coronavirus?
If you’re in a chapter 7 case that was filed, then the tax refund is not your property, and the portion owed to the bankruptcy estate must be paid, or you will lose your discharge. If you’re in a chapter 13, there may be some flexibility in turning over the money now versus paying it into the bankruptcy plan over time. Either way though, the money is property of the “bankruptcy estate”.
How do I get info on garnishments or lawsuits with the courts closed?
Magic! Seriously though, we may be able to help our clients look up some information. Otherwise, the local courts are open, but operating with reduced staff – it may be a longer waiting time to try to get help from them.