Repaying Debts After the Bankruptcy

Sometimes I am asked by debtors if they can pay their creditors after they received a bankruptcy discharge. My answer to them is that there is nothing in the bankruptcy law that prohibits debtors from voluntarily paying their creditors, either those creditors that are important to you or all of them. However, for me as a bankruptcy lawyer, it can be a bit difficult to understand since debtors typically file for bankruptcy protection because they cannot afford to pay their creditors.  At the same time, I understand that under some circumstances debtors make a deliberate decision to repay someone.

In many different situations, debtors have creditors that are important to them. Those creditors may be family members who have loaned debtors money. Typically, debtors do not want to discharge the debt owed to close relatives. In those situations, my advice is to list the debt but, once the case is over, repay it voluntarily.

Another usual situation is where the debtor may have credit at a small, local store. Since it may be important for the debtor to have that access to such credit, the debtor may choose to pay that debt even after the bankruptcy case is over and the debt is discharged.

From the creditor’s side, once the bankruptcy is filed, the creditor may not contact the debtor to attempt to “persuade” him to “voluntarily” pay the debt. TIf any creditors does this, it would be viewed by the bankruptcy court as an attempt to collect a discharged debt in violation of the discharge injunction.

If the debtor decides to repay a debt after filing for either Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, he should be very careful about making payments on a discharged debt. If a creditor were to sue the debtor on a discharged debt in state court, the debtor could raise the fact that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy by raising it as an affirmative defense in state court litigation or he could remove the action to bankruptcy court and allow the bankruptcy court to enforce its discharge injunction. By making payments on a discharged debt, the debtor could create a “waiver” of the bankruptcy discharge on that particular debt.

If you are contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, New York, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.

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