These FAQs provide general descriptions of the bankruptcy process. There are exceptions to every rule, so none of the information below should be considered statement of law, legal advice, or applicable in all cases. The only way for this Firm to become your lawyer is for the Firm to have a fully executed retainer agreement and a retainer on hand.
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is the legal process of discharging or reorganizing your debts.
How do I know if I am a good candidate for bankruptcy?
Nearly every person or business is eligible to file for bankruptcy. The best way to determine if you are a good candidate for bankruptcy is to call our office. What are the different types of bankruptcy? How do I know which one I should file?
There are two primary types of bankruptcy, 1) a liquidation and 2) a reorganization. Call the Firm to discuss your situation because each person or business is different. Individuals may file for chapter 7, chapter 11, or chapter 13 bankruptcy. A business may qualify for chapter 7 or chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Can I change from one chapter of bankruptcy to another?
Yes, but it depends on the circumstances of your particular case.
Does it cost anything to consult with an attorney about whether I qualify to file for bankruptcy?
The Markham Law Firm, LLC does not charge for an initial phone consultation for individuals or businesses.
How do I know which state to file bankruptcy in?
Your state of residency is important, so if you have recently moved you should mention that during your initial consultation. If your business must file it can file it the state where it was incorporated or where it has its principal place of business.
How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
The cost of a bankruptcy depends on your particular situation. The Firm will use the initial consultation to determine how much your case will cost.
I can’t afford to file for bankruptcy. What should I do?
There are programs that can put you in touch with a pro bono lawyer, however those programs require income verification. Your income must be below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. If you are interested in learning more you can contact the South Carolina Bar though its pro bono website or by phone at (803) 799-6653.
If I file bankruptcy will I lose my home? My car? My personal belongings? Are there any assets that survive the bankruptcy process intact?
These asset questions are the main reason you need to hire a bankruptcy attorney. South Carolina has statutory exemptions which protect some of your assets from creditors. For consumers one of the primary jobs of a bankruptcy lawyer is helping you properly exempt your assets. Filing for bankruptcy does not necessarily mean you will lose your assets. A portion of your assets will be protected using those exemptions. If you are concerned about losing certain assets, bring them up during your consultation with our Firm.
How does the bankruptcy process work? Do I have to go to court?
Our Firm will guide you through the process. Typically, for an individual there will be at least one in person office meeting, and one court appearance for the first meeting of creditors. Business bankruptcies are very fact specific if you are concerned about timing that is something that can be discussed during your initial consultation.
How long does it take?
Typical chapter 7 cases are completed approximately 120 days from filing. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, most of the client work is done in the first 120 days . Because the plan requires the client to contribute income into the plan a client will make payments for the next three to five years. Business cases are very fact specific, if you are concerned about timing bring that up during your initial consultation.
What information will the attorney helping me need?
To make the initial consultation efficient, you should be prepared to provide your monthly household income before and after tax, your total debts and to whom you owe them, and your major assets and their value. It is also helpful to fill out this client questionnaire so the Firm will have your information handy for the call.
I am married – do we both have to file for bankruptcy?
No. One spouse may file for bankruptcy. During the initial consultation you should be prepared to talk about both spouses’ finances. In some cases it will be advantageous to file jointly.
What is an automatic stay?
The automatic stay is perhaps the most important protection provided by filing for bankruptcy. It is an order entered on the first day of the case which prohibits collection efforts against the debtor. This single order effectively stops all collections calls or litigation while you are in bankruptcy. The automatic stay has penalties for violations so creditors, once informed of the bankruptcy, are to cease collection calls immediately.
Are there alternatives to bankruptcy?
Yes, a significant portion of the work done by the Markham Law Firm, LLC are non-bankruptcy workouts. These workouts can succeed, but typically make the most sense for businesses and high wealth individuals.
Someone who owes me money has filed for bankruptcy. What do I need to do? Why should I have legal representation?
You need to call an attorney. As a creditor your rights are not automatically protected in the bankruptcy process. To protect your claims you will need to take action. An attorney can best advise you on what, if any action is necessary. Know that time is of the essence with regards to preserving your claims in the bankruptcy. Contact the Firm as soon as possible to make sure that you do not miss important deadlines in the bankruptcy process.
Can you file my bankruptcy if I do not live in Charleston?
Yes, the Firm can file your bankruptcy anywhere in South Carolina. There are three courts: Charleston, Columbia, and Spartanburg. Your case will be assigned to the court closest to your county of residence. All cases are filed electronically using the electronic case filing system established by the federal courts.