Let me start by saying that you will almost always need an attorney to file a successful Chapter 13 case. Once you find an attorney that you are comfortable with he will most likely give you an intake packet and request items from you. These items are usually your last 2 years of filed tax returns, a recent car statements, appraisals for any real property that you own, recent mortgage statements, the last 7 months of paystubs for you and your spouse if married, proof of any other income such as a profit and loss for self-employment income, recent statements for your retirement accounts and other investment accounts. Once your bankruptcy attorney has all of this information he will prepare your petition and schedules. The petition and schedules make up a 40 to over 100 page legal document.

Next you will take an online credit counseling course and sign the petition. Once the petition is signed your attorney will file it with the bankruptcy court and a trustee will be appointed to your case. If you are in the Southern District of New York the Chapter 13 Trustee will be Jeffrey Sapir and in the Eastern District of New York it will be either Marianne DeRosa or Michael Macco . You will have a meeting of creditors and confirmation hearing with these trustees.

Your first chapter 13 payment needs to be made within 30 days of your case being filed. Before the meeting of creditors your attorney will prepare you for the questions that you will need to answer under oath. You will need to bring your original social security card and NYS ID to the meeting of creditors. The trustee’s all ask different questions at this meeting and their questions vary depending on the facts of each case but here are some examples:

1. Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
2. Have you owned any Real Property in the last 6 years?
3. Have you given anything of value to anyone in the last 6 years?
4. Do you have any stocks, bonds mutual funds or retirement accounts?
5. Do you have the right to sue anyone?
6. Have you received or are you expecting an inheritance?
7. What is the highest balance you have had in any account that you are a signatory on in the last year?
8. Are you holding anything of value for anyone?
9. Do you have any winning lottery tickets?
10. Did you receive a tax refund this year?

Believe it or not these are all very loaded questions. They can cause the trustee to change the nature of your case if not answered properly. For this reason I always review the questions with my clients in a practice meeting. That way I can help prepare the client to answer the questions properly.

A month or two after this meeting is the confirmation hearing. You do not always need to go. This is a hearing in front of a judge. You will not need to say very much if anything at this hearing, your attorney will do the talking. If the hearing goes well the judge will confirm your case. This means that as long as you make all of your payments your case will get a discharge, relieving you of your debt.

You should contact an attorney if you are contemplating filing for Bankruptcy. If you live in NYC and would like to learn more call my office at 212-244-2882.