Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my very best to answer your legal questions.
Based on what you wrote, I would not even consider bankruptcy right now.
First, it is usually unwise to file for bankruptcy before the bleeding stops. In other words, if you were to file for bankruptcy today, then what would stop you from getting back in a hole beginning tomorrow? Your husband still has no job. Imagine that you're in a boat and it's sinking because of a hole in the bottom. You have two immediate choices: fix the hole, or use a pail to dump out the water. What do you do first? You fix the hole, right? Using the pail to dump water will be pointless because the hole will keep letting in more water. In that analogy, the pail is bankruptcy, and the unemployment is the hole. Fix the hole first, then deal with the water.
Second, it doesn't sound like you have much debt. You mentioned $13k in credit cards, and nothing else. I'll assume that you have a mortgage, but otherwise no substantial debt. I would almost always advise against filing for bankruptcy over $13k. I'm not even sure that I can think up a scenario where it would make sense. In a worst case scenario, you would default on the credit cards, and you could probably negotiate a settlement for half of what you owe. If you have 401k plans, paid off cars, etc., I imagine that you could scrape together $6k-$7k if need be to get rid of those credit cards. And it may not even come to that because all you need to do is pay the minimum while your husband looks for a job. So, I don't see what debts you'd really need to discharge if you were to file for bankruptcy.
Third, you stand to lose a lot of money if you were to file for bankruptcy. If you were to file, then you could only keep up to $3250 for a vehicle for each (i.e., $6500 in total). If your vehicles are worth more, then the bankruptcy trustee
would sell them and use the proceeds above $3250 per car to pay your creditors. Even more troubling is what would happen to your house: You'd likely lose it. In Washington, you can only protect up to $125k worth of equity. You stated that you have $200k in equity. This means there is $75k that can be used to pay your creditors. The bankruptcy trustee would sell your house to get at that $75k. And what would that $75k pay off? The $13k in credit cards? That makes no sense. Geez, you could just sell your house now without filing for bankruptcy, and use your equity to pay off those credit cards. You'd be saving your credit from being destroyed, and you'd be saving a lot of money because of legal fees, etc.
However, you would get to keep your 401k accounts, but not stocks that are not in an ERISA plan.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne is this: It is far too early to consider bankruptcy. You can probably minimize the bleeding, tighten your belts, and get through this unemployment hump long before bankruptcy would ever make sense. I'd simply stop paying the credit cards long before I'd consider bankruptcy. Moreover, even if your husband were to never get a job again, there are likely much better alternatives if the only substantial debts are a mortgage and $13k in credit cards.
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