Once you retain our firm to handle your Bankruptcy, we will provide you with some items that we will need your help to complete. The main item we need completed is our questionnaire. This questionnaire asks you to provide us with:
- some personal information (name, address, ss#, …, );
- information on your assets (a breakdown of bank accounts, cars, homes, …);
- list of creditors to make sure that we have all of your creditors, since not all of your creditors will appear on your credit report;
- information on your last 6 months of income; and
- information on your living expenses.
We will also ask you to gather certain documents for us, such as bank statements, tax returns, paystubs, divorce decrees, or other items we will need to either complete your paperwork or that we will have to provide to the Bankruptcy Trustee. You will also then have to complete a Credit Counseling course that is usually completed on the internet.
Once you complete the questionnaire and deliver the requested documents, we will prepare your paperwork. We will have you come to our office to review and sign the Petition, Schedules and related items. We will then file your case once you have signed the documents, completed the Credit Counseling course, and paid the appropriate fees. Keep in mind that once your case is filed, you will have to complete a second course on financial management.
What happens next depends on whether you filed a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case. If you filed a Chapter 7, about a month after your case is filed, you will need to attend a Meeting of Creditors at the Bankruptcy Court. During this meeting, the Trustee will ask you questions for a few minutes and your creditors may also seek some information from you. Typically, however, no creditors will show up. Usually, our clients are understandably quite nervous about attending the Meeting of Creditors and then they are relieved once it is over and they see that it is not near as bad of an experience as they feared. Most of the time, about 2 to 2 ½ months after the Meeting of Creditors, you will receive you Discharge. This closes your case and is the final step in extinguishing you dischargeable debts.
In a Chapter 13 case, you will have to start making your monthly “Plan Payments” to the Trustee about a month after your case is filed. Also, the Meeting of Creditors is about 6 to 8 weeks after the case is filed. Then, approximately a month after that we can “confirm” your case, which is the process where the Bankruptcy Court approves your plan. Also, if we are doing items such as removing your second mortgage, attempting to modify your first mortgage, or negotiating a settlement with the IRS or other creditor, we should take care of these items before your case is confirmed. Sometimes, we will need to continue the confirmation date until we have resolved all of these types of issues. After your case is confirmed, you will need to make all of your scheduled Plan Payments. Once this is done, you will receive your Discharge.