THE BANKRUPTCY PROCESS
At your initial consultation, you will need to provide us with some basic information such as information on your debts (including your credit card debt, any lawsuits, foreclosures or repossessions, tax, student loans, or medical bills) and information about property you own (bank accounts, real estate, cars, insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.). After reviewing this information with you, we can discuss your finances and concerns, and we will propose a recommendation for action.
Once we are hired to help you, you may refer all creditors to us and they will almost always stop contacting you.
If you decide to file for bankruptcy, we will then prepare a Petition for Bankruptcy from the information you provided, and we will have you review it carefully. If you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we will prepare a Chapter13 plan as part of the Petition; this plan sets forth a monthly payment amount to be distributed to your creditors over a period of time.
After you sign the Petition, we will file it with the Bankruptcy Court, and a trustee is appointed. At this point your creditors must stop harassing you. Any contact from them can be referred to your attorney. Filing a Bankruptcy Petition also stops any lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments and attachments.
Next, the Court sets a date for a creditors meeting, and notifies your creditors. The creditors meeting takes place approximately one month after filing. This is usually a brief, informal hearing which we will attend with you. The trustee will question you regarding your assets and your outstanding debt. Your creditors can attend too (however, most times they do not).
If you are filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee reviews your plan at the creditors meeting to ensure it is feasible. A confirmation hearing is then held a few weeks later (which you usually do not need to attend), where the Court determines whether it approves your Chapter 13 plan. Then, you or your employer will make monthly payments in accordance with your plan, which the trustee distributes over a set period (usually between three to five years).
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case will generally be discharged after approximately three months. You will receive a Notice of Discharge from the Court eliminating your debts. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Court issues a discharge once you have made all your payments. After discharge, creditors are prohibited forever from collecting these discharged debts.