FAQ

Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
How do I get copies of documents or certified copies?
How do I get a free copy of my credit report?
How do I remove inaccurate information from my credit report?
How do I obtain case information?
What do we do if someone in bankruptcy owes us money?
What does it mean when a case is dismissed?
What is a bankruptcy discharge?
What is a section 341(a) meeting of creditors?
What is the automatic stay?
What is the difference between chapters?
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
How do I file for bankruptcy and where can I obtain the forms to file a bankruptcy case?
Is there a charge for filing bankruptcy?
Who do I notify about a possible fraudulent filing?
How do I find out who the trustee is in a case?
How do I obtain a transcript?
How do I obtain the most recent version of a Chapter 13 plan?



Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case pro se, that is without the assistance of an attorney, it may be difficult to do so successfully. It is recommended that a person considering bankruptcy consult with a competent attorney prior to filing a case.

For information on free legal clinics in your area or lawyer referrals, contact the local bar association. Washington State Bar Association.

How do I get copies of documents or certified copies?
Copies of documents and certified copies are available at the Clerk's Office in either Spokane or Yakima. There is a cost of $.50 per page for photocopying a paper document. You may also access documents from the PACER system at a charge of $.10 per download. Contact the Clerk's Office for more information on obtaining copies of documents or certified copies by mail. How to request copies from the court.

How do I get a free copy of my credit report?
An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The reporting companies will not contact you by phone or e-mail. The reports are available on-line at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp.

More information about access to free credit reports can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/freereports.

How do I remove inaccurate information from my credit report?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting agency and the creditor are required to correct inaccurate or incomplete information on a credit report. The credit bureau will reverify the item in question with the creditor at no cost to the consumer. The credit reporting industry has a policy that requires a creditor to respond to a reinvestigation within 30 days. After the reinvestigation is complete, the credit reporting agency will notify the consumer of the outcome. If information in the report has been changed or deleted, the consumer will receive a copy of the revised report. For additional information on credit report disputes click here.

Contact the credit reporting agencies at:

Equifax Information Service Center
Attn: Consumer Department
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-888-909-7304
http://www.equifax.com

TransUnion Corporation National Consumer Disclosure Center
PO Box 7000
North Olmstead, OH 44070
(312) 408-1400

Experian Consumer Assistance
PO Box 2350
Chatsworth, CA 91313-2350
1-888-397-3742
http://www.experian.com

The Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection has publications and an education program to help consumers reestablish credit and address credit problems.

How do I obtain case information?
Bankruptcy cases are public records and are available for viewing online in the Clerk's Office in either Spokane or Yakima. In addition, the court's Electronic Case Files system provides access to court files via the Internet. Basic information about a case is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) Web site and by calling our Voice Case Information System (McVCIS).

What do we do if someone in bankruptcy owes us money?
If you are listed as a creditor in an asset case you will receive a claim form and a notice setting a date to file. Proof of Claim forms are available on this Web site under Forms and Rules/National Bankruptcy Forms/B-10, or at the Clerk's Office in Spokane and Yakima, or by mail. File the original claim and any supporting documents at the Clerk's Office. If you wish to have a copy returned to you, please enclose an extra copy of the claim, and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

What does it mean when a case is dismissed?
A dismissal order ends the case. The dismissal order removes the automatic stay that prevented a creditor from collecting on a debt or taking other actions against the debtor and the debtor's property. Debts that are discharged prior to dismissal are not affected by the dismissal order, unless the discharge order was revoked.

What is a bankruptcy discharge?
Generally, by filing bankruptcy a debtor is seeking a discharge of debts. A discharge means that certain debts become unenforceable against the debtor personally. Creditors whose claims against the debtor are discharged may never take action against the debtor to collect the discharged debts. If a creditor believes that the debtor should not receive any discharge of debts under Sec. 727 of the Bankruptcy Code or that a debt owed to the creditor is not dischargeable under Sec. 523(a)(2), (4), (6), or (15) of the Bankruptcy Code, timely action must be taken in the bankruptcy court by the deadline set forth in the Notice of Meeting of Creditors.

What is a section 341(a) meeting of creditors?
Section 341(a) of the Bankruptcy Code requires every debtor to personally attend a meeting of creditors and to submit to an examination under oath. The United States Trustee, her designee or, in a chapter 7 case, a panel trustee, presides at the meeting. Creditors may question the debtor under oath, elect a trustee other then the one assigned, and conduct such other business as may be appropriate. Creditors are not required to attend the meeting.

What is the automatic stay?
Upon the filing of a bankruptcy a "stay" goes into effect which prohibits creditors from taking or continuing most actions to collect money or property from the debtor. See Bankruptcy Code sec. 362. A creditor wishing to proceed with action against the debtor or its property must obtain permission from the Court, or face a potential claim for damages, including costs and attorney's fees, and, in appropriate circumstances, punitive damages. Creditors who are uncertain of their rights should seek legal advice.

What is the difference between chapters?
Chapter 7 is designed for individuals, corporations and partnerships in financial difficulty who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Under chapter 7 a trustee takes possession of all the debtor's non-exempt property, liquidates it for cash and uses the proceeds to pay creditors according to priorities of the Bankruptcy Code.

Chapter 11 allows a business to reorganize and restructure its finances so that it may continue to operate, provide employees with jobs, pay its creditors, and produce a return for its stockholders, if any. While chapter 11 is primarily designed for a business it is also available to individuals. In a chapter 11 case the debtor proposes a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the court, will allow a debtor to reorganize. A debtor may also propose a plan of liquidation and cease doing business.

Chapter 13 enables individuals with regular incomes, under court supervision and protection, to repay their debts over an extended period of time according to a plan. The plan may call for full or partial repayment.

Chapter 12 allows family farmers with financial difficulties to repay debts over a period of time from future earnings. In many ways it is similar to a chapter 13 case. The eligibility requirements are restrictive, limiting its use to those whose income arises primarily from a family-owned farm.

Chapter 9 is designed to allow a municipality to continue operating while it works out a repayment plan for its creditors. A municipal unit cannot liquidate its assets to satisfy its debts.

What is the Bankruptcy Code?
The Bankruptcy Code is the informal name for Title 11 of the United States Code. It contains chapters that provide a legal procedure for individuals and businesses to deal with debt problems. The most commonly filed bankruptcy cases are those under chapters 7, 11 and 13.

How do I file for bankruptcy and where can I obtain the forms to file a bankruptcy case?
A bankruptcy case is commenced by the filing of a petition. You must also file a statement of your assets and liabilities, and schedules listing your creditors.

Bankruptcy forms can be purchased at any local office supply or from the Official Bankruptcy Forms section of this Web site.

Is there a charge for filing bankruptcy?
There is a range of filing fees for bankruptcy cases, depending on the chapter of the bankruptcy code under which you file. Chapter 7, by far the most common form filed by individuals, involves an almost complete liquidation of the assets of the debtor, as well as a discharge of most debts. Filing fee information is available on our Web site.

Who do I notify about a possible fraudulent filing?
The Office of the United States Trustee reviews complaints about possible fraudulent filings and, if appropriate, notifies the U.S. Attorney for further investigation. For more information contact:

Office of the U.S. Trustee
United States Courthouse
920 W. Riverside Ave., #593
Spokane, WA 99201-1012
(509) 353-2999

How do I find out who the trustee is in a case?
The trustee's name and address is printed on the notice of the sec. 341(a) meeting of creditors. You also can obtain the trustee's name from the court's Web site, automated public information systems, McVCIS and PACER or by calling the court and speaking to the receptionist.

How do I obtain a transcript?
In September 2007, the Judicial Conference adopted a policy regarding the electronic availability of transcripts. Transcripts will no longer be made available for viewing on PACER until ninety (90) days from the date of the filing of the transcript. Any person requiring a copy of the transcript before then may purchase a copy from the transcriber or view the document at the clerk's office public terminal.

How do I obtain the most recent version of a Chapter 13 plan?
See Local Form 2083 under Forms.