Schedule a Consultation
During your initial intake, you will be asked some information about your household size, income, assets and a ballpark estimate on how much debt you have.
The initial consultation may take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on how many questions you may have. During this consultation, it can be determined whether you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Eligibility is determined by household size, income and assets involved.
Retain a Lawyer
Sign the contract with your attorney and make your first payment. Most bankruptcy attorneys are willing to accept the fee in installments and typically will not begin processing your case until you are paid in full in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
Turn in Paperwork
You will be provided a list of documents to gather together. Once your case is paid in full, your case will be assigned a case manager who will reach out to you with any additional requests for information or documentation that is missing.
Take Your Credit Counseling Course
The bankruptcy course requires that you take a credit counseling course prior to filing your case. The course takes about 90 minutes, costs about $15, and can be done online. This certificate has an expiration date of 180 days. If your case is not filed within that 180 days, it will be necessary to repeat the course.
Once you’ve turned in your paperwork, your attorney will start preparing your bankruptcy filing. You should expect that your attorney’s office will reach out to you with questions, clarifications, and requests for more information to make sure your case is well prepared.
Sign and File
Before filing your case, you will be provided draft documents to review carefully and sign. Your attorney’s office will also ask you for updated bank balance of all accounts, as well as the amount of cash on hand on the day of filing. Your case will be filed, and you will be provided a case number.
A Few More Documents to Gather
Dependent upon the request of the trustee that is assigned your case, some additional documents may be needed before your 341 meeting. This is usually additional pay stubs or bank statements.
341 Meeting of Creditors
This meeting takes place about a month after your case is filed — no judge, no jury, just a 5 – 10 minutes meeting with a Trustee to answer some basic questions about your case. Your attorney should have you prepped and ready for this meeting and either your attorney or his appearance attorney will be present with you.
Take Your Debtor Education Class
Before your debts can be discharged, the court requires that you take a financial management course. It takes about 90 minutes, costs about $15, and can be completed with the same company as your initial course.
This takes place no sooner than 60 days after your 341 meeting, but not until the debtor education certificate has been filed. All the debts listed in your bankruptcy that can be discharged are wiped out. Certain taxes, student loans, spouse or child support, fees owed to the government, and some other types of debts will survive the bankruptcy.
Trustee Case Administration
In a Chapter 7, you might surrender certain unexempt assets in exchange for getting your debts wiped out. The Trustee collects these assets, sells them off, and distributes the funds to your creditor. Your attorney should work with you to keep your assets safe so that you turn over as little as possible, and ideally, you won’t have to surrender anything at all. This process generally begins at the 341 meeting and ends when the Trustee has finished his or her work.
Your bankruptcy case will close no sooner than 30 days after the 341 Meeting, but not until the Trustee has finished the case administration. Once all the steps above have been completed, the court will close your case, issue a final decree and you can enjoy your fresh start.
For assistance with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, contact your local Stockton bankruptcy attorney.
Categorized in: Chapter 7