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The process of filing bankruptcy is quite involved, but I will guide you through it from the beginning to the end. I invite you to call or e-mail me when you have a question or concern. Here, I am going to give you an overall explanation of the process for filing bankruptcy. There are differences between the different Chapters, but they all follow the same basic procedure.

First, we start with the initial consultation together. This consultation is free. We will review your situation and decide whether bankruptcy is the right plan for you or whether you would be better off trying to negotiate your debts. I will answer your questions and ask you questions to determine the specifics of your case. If you decide to file, I will give you some information to take home and review, then a questionnaire to fill out and return to me so I can prepare your case papers that are filed with the Cout.

Second, once you have returned the questionnaire with the supporting documentation, I will type this information in your case papers, which include a petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, statement of intention (for Chapter 7), plan (for Chapter 13) and your means test. The means test is what qualifies you to file Chapter 7. It is based upon the last 6 months of your income and upon your projected expenditures on a monthly basis. If you are unsure whether you want to file, but wish to see if you qualify for Chapter 7, I will be happy to prepare your means test.

Third, you must complete credit counseling. This counseling session lasts approximately an hour. Part of it is done online while the second part is spent talking to a credit counselor who gives you your different options. I will retrieve a certificate from the credit counselor to file with the Court.

Fourth, we will meet again to review and sign your case papers. I will answer your questions and explain the remainder of the process. I will file your case and the Court Clerk will assign us a case number, judge and trustee.

Fifth, we will meet with the trustee approximately 4 weeks after filing your case. At this creditors meeting, the trustee will check your identification (driver’s license and social security card) to verify that you are the one who filed the case, then swear you in to tell the truth. The trustee will then ask you a series of questions regarding your assets, your debts, your income and your expenses. Your creditors are invited to attend this meeting, but they seldom do. Normally, it would just be us and the trustee. In some cases, the U.S. Trustee representative or an agent from the IRS will be there to ask a few questions. The meeting is normally very low key and only lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. An average meeting is about 7 minutes. I will be there to help you during the meeting, but it is not very difficult. If you filed Chapter 13, you should have made your first payment to the trustee prior to attending this meeting.

Sixth, you need to complete a financial management class. If you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 with William Heitkamp as your trustee, you simply return to the same website where you did your credit counseling and watch a video that discusses budgeting and rebuilding your credit. If you have David Peake as your Chapter 13 trustee, however, you will be required to attend the orientiation/financial management class in person. It is just a one-time meeting, but it is required.

Seventh, if you are filing Chapter 7, you simply need to wait the 60 days from the creditors meeting for the deadline to expire whereby creditors or the trustee can object to your discharge. As long as no one objects, the discharge is usually entered about 80 to 90 days after the credtiors meeting. Then, the case is over. If you are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, you have a confirmation hearing about 45 days after the creditors meeting where your case is presented to the judge for approval. Depending on your trustee and your judge, you may or may not need to attend that hearing. After that, is is generally a matter of continuing to make your payments every month to the trustee until the end of the 5 years so you receive your discharge.

It seems like quite a bit to do and it really is. There will be a large stack of paperwork that we need to sign and file with the court, then amend to keep it current. I will help you though with each step of the way so that we can make it through the process together and you will receive your well deserved fresh start and discharge at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re looking for relief from debt or assistance with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, we are here to help. We offer a free confidential, no obligation consultation to discuss your personal situation. Please call 281-847-4345 for immediate assistance or send us a message.

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