FAQs

1. WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY?

Bankruptcy Law is federal law provided for in the U.S. Constitution and based upon statutes passed by the U.S. Congress. Bankruptcy Law is our country's answer to the debtors prisons that existed in England when our country was formed. Bankruptcy law allows a person who cannot afford to pay his or her debts to get a fresh financial start without going to jail.

2. CAN I STILL FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY AFTER THE NEW LAW?

Yes. In October, 2005 the new bankruptcy law came into effect. It was passed by politicians who had received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the credit card companies. It was intended to make it much harder for normal working people to file for bankruptcy. Luckily, the lobbyists the credit card companies hired to write the law did not really understand the complex nature of consumer bankruptcy law. The law that was passed, though it does make filing for bankruptcy more cumbersome, did not have the intended effect. In fact, in many cases the relief available under the new law is broader and better than under the old law.

3. WILL BANKRUPTCY STOP CREDITOR HARASSMENT?

Yes. Once a bankruptcy case is filed, the creditors cannot call you, write to you, foreclose upon your property, or sue you without first obtaining authority to do so from the Bankruptcy Court. Also, the filing of a bankruptcy case stops any lawsuit or foreclosure action which is already in progress but not completed. If creditors continue to contact you after they are notified of your bankruptcy case, the Court is authorized to punish them for harassing you.

4. WILL I HAVE TO PAY TO MEET WITH MR. SIGMON TO SEE IF I SHOULD FILE?

No, the initial consultation with Mr. Sigmon for consumer bankruptcy cases is always free.

5. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WHEN I CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT?

We will set you up an appointment to meet with Mr. Sigmon. We will also send you an Information Sheet which you will need to fill out completely for the appointment. At the appointment, Mr. Sigmon will use the Information Sheet to see who you owe, how much you owe and other relevant information. He will then discuss your financial situation with you and advise you of the various alternatives you may have. He will let you decide what alternative you wish to pursue.

6. WILL I LOSE MY PROPERTY WHEN I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?

Hopefully, no. One of Mr. Sigmon's main goals will be to assist you in obtaining a fresh financial start without losing property. If any of your property is in jeopardy, he will so advise you and give you recommendations of how to attempt to protect that property.

7. IF I MEET WITH MR. SIGMON, DO I HAVE TO FILE BANKRUPTCY?

No, the choice is yours. Also, bankruptcy is not the right step for every person. Mr. Sigmon will fully explain both the positive and negative aspects of filing a bankruptcy case. Over the years, Mr. Sigmon has advised many people not to file for various reasons.

8. IS THERE MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF BANKRUPTCY?

Yes, there are four. There are Chapters 11 and 12 which are hardly ever filed by individuals in the Gaston County area. Chapter 11 is generally for corporations or individuals who owe very large amounts (millions of dollars) of debts. Chapter 12 is for family farmers and fishermen. Individuals in this area generally file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is often referred to as "straight bankruptcy" and Chapter 13 is referred to as a "wage earner plan." At your appointment Mr. Sigmon will discuss each of these chapters with you and he will tell you the positive and negative effects of filing either chapter based upon your particular situation.

9. CAN I FILE BANKRUPTCY WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF A LAWYER?

Yes, but that is not a wise decision. Bankruptcy Law is a very complicated area and is full of serious and dangerous traps for anyone who is not experienced. Persons who file for themselves often lose property they would not have lost with the proper advice. To file bankruptcy for yourself is like trying to do self surgery. It just doesn't work.

10. WHAT DOES IT COST TO FILE BANKRUPTCY?

The Bankruptcy Court charges a filing fee of $306.00 for a Chapter 7 case and $281.00 for a Chapter 13 case regardless of whether the bankruptcy case is filed by just one person or by a husband and wife jointly. When you meet with Mr. Sigmon, he will fully explain the attorneys fees involved in filing either a Chapter 7 or 13 case and how those fees are paid. The attorney's fees involved depend upon how complex your case may be. Mr. Sigmon always tries to keep his fees reasonable. Bankruptcy Law is like many other complex services. You get what you pay for. Mr. Sigmon has devoted his whole career to helping people with debt problems. He charges what is necessary to run his office and make a living. The last thing he wants to do is add unnecessary financial burdens to people who are already struggling.

11. WILL I HAVE TO GO TO COURT IF I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?

Yes. You will have to go at least once for what is called the "meeting of creditors". Most of the time this meeting is short and fairly informal. The Judge is prohibited by law from being present at this meeting. Mr. Sigmon will be representing you at this meeting.

12. WILL BANKRUPTCY HURT MY CREDIT?

Yes. Credit agencies can generally keep bankruptcy filings on record for seven years. However, if you are already behind on your payments to creditors, your credit record may already be hurt so that filing the bankruptcy case may not make matters any worse. Though the bankruptcy filing hurts your credit record, that does not mean that filing the bankruptcy case will prohibit you from obtaining loans in the future. You will probably be able to borrow money, but at a higher interest rate than someone with "perfect" credit.

13. WILL MY EMPLOYER OR FRIENDS FIND OUT THAT I HAVE FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY?

Generally no unless you owe them money.

14. MUST I LIST EVERYONE I OWE IN MY BANKRUPTCY PETITION?

Definitely, yes. To fail to list a creditor can cause you to lose the benefits of your bankruptcy case and, in extreme cases, can be considered a federal crime.

15. MUST I LIST ALL MY PROPERTY IN MY BANKRUPTCY PETITION?

Definitely, yes. Failure to do so may cause you to lose the benefits of your bankruptcy case and is a federal crime punishable by fines or even imprisonment.

16. WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER HIRING MR. SIGMON AS MY BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY?

The only types of law Mr. Sigmon has practiced over the past 34  years are bankruptcy and consumer protection law. He is the most qualified and experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney in Gaston County and the surrounding areas. Experience is the key attribute of an effective attorney. Mr. Sigmon has been involved in thousands of bankruptcy cases over the years. Before you hire any attorney for a bankruptcy case, ask him or her how long he or she has practiced bankruptcy law, what percentage of his or her practice is devoted to bankruptcy law, and whether or not he or she is certified as a specialist in Consumer Bankruptcy Law by the North Carolina State Bar. No other attorney in the Gaston County area can match Mr. Sigmon's answers to these questions. Please remember that the attorney with the biggest Yellow Page advertisements or the cheapest fees is almost never the most qualified and experienced attorney to represent you. Often, being represented by a less qualified attorney will cost you more in the long run. Ask around in the community, especially other attorneys, and they will tell you that Mr. Sigmon is a trustworthy, experienced bankruptcy attorney who will protect your best interest.