Our firm understands that the bankruptcy process can be overwhelming, frustrating, and greatly intimidating to many people. The legal proceedings involved are commonly filled with technical legal terms and concepts, dense paperwork, and a wide variety of regulations and procedures. In order to equip our clients with crucial information about the bankruptcy process, the attorneys at the David McCormick Law Group have provided answers to several frequently asked questions about the bankruptcy process.

FAQ What happens to my estate if I die without a will?

When someone dies without a will, it is referred to as dying intestate. When a person dies without a will, under Virginia law, after the payment of funeral expenses, debts, and administration have been made, then all will go to the surviving spouse unless there are children of someone other than the surviving spouse. If there are children, then one-third would go to the surviving spouse and the remaining two-thirds would be divided amongst all of the children. If there is no surviving spouse, then all would pass to the children and their descendants. If there are no children, then all would go to the deceased's mother and father or the survivor. If there aren't any parents, then all would go to the brothers and sisters of the deceased and their descendants.

What is probate?

Probate refers the official process of proving that a will is authentic and valid. A person's will is subject to probate when they owned a home, or real estate, or if the decedent died and had any type of an estate. If the decedent was living in a nursing home when they passed away, then the home they were living in before they moved into the facility is presumed to be their residence.

What are the penalties for a domestic violence conviction?

In Virginia, domestic violence is covered under § 18.2-57.2. Under this section, anyone who commits assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. Under § 18.2-11, the punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor includes a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500. Furthermore, whenever a warrant has been issued for domestic violence, the magistrate will issue an emergency protective order unless the defendant is a minor, for which it wouldn't be required.

Will I get points for a traffic violation?

The Virginia DMV uses a point system in order to rate drivers. If you receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation you will receive demerit points, and for safe driving you will receive safe driving points. In Virginia, demerit points are assigned when a driver is convicted of a traffic violation, and they remain on their record for two years from the date of the offense. Not all violations carry the same number of points; some violations carry more points when the offense is more serious. For example, an improper U-turn carries 3 points whereas passing a stopped school bus carries 6 points.

Is the state of Virginia a community property or equitable distribution state?

The state of Virginia is an equitable distribution state; this means that if the divorcing parties cannot agree on property division, then their property will be distributed in an equitable fashion, and this doesn't necessarily mean 50/50 or equally. When deciding upon property division, the courts will consider a variety of factors including the duration of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse financially and otherwise, and a number of other relevant factors.

How will bankruptcy affect my credit in the future?

Your credit score will always be a matter of personal preference to any potential lender. You will find that some lenders will give more consideration to a bankruptcy than others. The best way to help yourself is to remain current on any remaining obligations that you may have, including but not limited to mortgage payments, rent, and car payments.

How long does a Chapter 13 payment plan last?

The plan is for three to five years, depending on several factors, including the amount and type of debts paid in the plan, the amount of money available for the payment, and your household income.

Can I choose which debts to include in my bankruptcy?

No. Federal law requires that debtors list all creditors, including those they wish to pay back. Anyone that is owed money, including family members, must be listed in the bankruptcy paperwork.. There are different rules in a Chapter 7 versus a Chapter 13 concerning whether you have to repay a certain debt.

What debts will not be “wiped out?”

Certain debts will not be discharged, even if you file for bankruptcy. These debts include, but are not limited to, certain income taxes, student loans, fines, and court costs, as well as certain personal injury claims arising from a DUI charge. Since each situation is unique, we will review your debts and let you know what will happen in the bankruptcy.

In Bankruptcy, can I keep my house and vehicles?

That depends. If you are currently behind on your monthly payments, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to keep the property and pay any arrearages through your Chapter 13 plan. If you file a Chapter 7, and are current on your payments, you can usually keep the property (depending on the value), provided that you remain current on all payments. If you are behind in payments in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a possibility that you will lose the property.

If your house and / or vehicles are paid for, we may still be able to protect your property so that it will not be used to pay off a portion of your debt. Give us a call at 757-461-9455 for a free consultation so we can discuss your specific situation.


It is important to note that bankruptcy cases vary depending on the personal situation, financial circumstances, and other unique factors of every individual, and that there is no universal formula or guaranteed strategy for bankruptcies. Our firm will work closely with you to evaluate your situation, providing you with the necessary facts, options, and information regarding how you will be impacted personally and economically. If you would like to know more about the bankruptcy process, or if you have any additional questions, contact our firm today.

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