From Filing to “Fresh Start”: Five Steps in Approximately Four Months for
Understanding the steps in the bankruptcy process can go a long way in helping people feel comfortable about filing for bankruptcy, eliminating debt, and getting a fresh start in life. As a bankruptcy attorney, it’s my job to make sure prospective clients and existing clients thinking about Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection understand these steps:
1. Decide if Chapter 7 is right for you.
If you have a lot of credit card debt, medical bills, and/or utility bills that you can not pay, don’t own much property, and are receiving collection calls and notices, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection may be the best choice for you. A consultation with a bankruptcy attorney can help you determine if Chapter 7 is right for you.
2. File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
If you and your attorney decide Chapter 7 is the best option, the next step is to file a bankruptcy petition with the appropriate bankruptcy court. Your attorney will take care of this and other required documents, but will need a list of all creditors, as well as the amount and nature of their claims.
Typically, your attorney will file all Official Bankruptcy Forms together, but you have up to 15 days after the petition is filed to submit other documents to the court listing your assets, liabilities, expenses, income, and a statement of your affairs. If you are an individual with primarily consumer debt, the Court also requires a certificate of credit counseling and a copy of any debt repayment plan developed through credit counseling.
3. Let the process work for you – the first 2 weeks after filing.
Once your petition for bankruptcy is filed, the Court will send a notice of your case to all of the creditors listed in your petition. The Court will also appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The trustee will review your petition, make sure it’s complete, and schedule a meeting of your creditors. During this time, the law prohibits creditors from taking any collection or legal action against you.
4. Attend the Meeting of Creditors – approximately 3 to 6 weeks after filing.
Between 21 and 40 days after your petition is filed, your bankruptcy trustee will meet with you, your attorney, and any creditors who attend. Typically, creditors do not attend, and the meeting can be very short (approximately 10 minutes), but you will be required to be there, testify under oath that the statements in your petition are true, provide financial records or documents requested, and attest to your understanding of the potential consequences of a bankruptcy ruling. After the meeting, creditors have 60 days to object to the discharge of your debt.
5. Start fresh after receiving a copy of the final order of discharge from the Bankruptcy Court – within 60 days of the Meeting of Creditors (approximately 4 months after filing).
With the help of an expert bankruptcy firm like The Law Offices of William Waldner, your unsecured debts can be discharged in approximately 4 months. That is, you will not be legally required to pay the debts, and creditors will be prohibited from taking any form of collection on them. The outcome might not be so simple if creditors object to the discharge of debt or if you do not cooperate in turning over nonexempt property to the bankruptcy trustee for liquidation. However, a good bankruptcy attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls.
The Law Offices of William Waldner are dedicated to providing you with a fresh start at your finances. If you live in New York and want to explore possibilities, call us at 212-244-2882 or fill in the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
This article is intended for educational purposes only. By reading this article no attorney-client relationship has been created.