Bankruptcy is an option during tough times. If you’re deep in debt due a loss of employment, emergency repairs, or a divorce, you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to receive a discharge of debts, if approved by the court. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, some debt may be discharged while you’ll receive help creating a repayment plan.
The outcome can be helpful and, with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you can get on track to a more secure financial situation. But getting there is a journey. This roadmap is designed to help you navigate these hard times and better understand the process.
- Step One: Free Evaluation
During a consultation with a qualified bankruptcy attorney, you’ll discuss your unique financial situation and whether a legal case to pursue bankruptcy is necessary. In other words, there may be other solutions to your problems. OakTree Law makes this step easy because you can request a free evaluation online.
- Step Two: Pre-Bankruptcy Counseling
If you’re planning to file a bankruptcy case, you must get counseling from a government-approved organization. This must be done during the 6 months before you file. Your appointment with a counseling organization should take around 60 to 90 minutes. The meeting may take place in person or can be a telephone or online consultation. You’ll receive a written certificate proving you completed the debtor education course, which will ultimately be filed with your bankruptcy petition.
- Step Three: Complete Paperwork
With filing for bankruptcy comes lots of paperwork. Documents you will need include the retainer agreement, proof of income, and disclosures of your expenses and recent financial transactions. All details on your income, expenses, and investments must be complete and accurate. You’ll also fill out a bankruptcy questionnaire and pay court fees. These must be paid in full prior to a Chapter 7 case; with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, 40% must be paid upfront and you can absorb the rest into your payment plan.
- Step Four: Sign and File
Once you submit your paperwork, you may be asked for additional documents and to make any necessary changes. You can then mail or electronically file your petition and supporting documentation. When you sign the petition, your signature is an oath that all the information it contains is accurate. For more information, read our blog on how to go about filing for bankruptcy.
- Step Five: The Meeting of Creditors
During an on-record 341 hearing, you are asked questions under oath by a bankruptcy trustee, who will review your financials and paperwork. The 341 Meeting of Creditors is to ensure the accuracy of all information you provided in your petition. Creditors rarely appear at this meeting although they have the option to, but it’s important to be prepared for this meeting.
- Step Six: Take a Debtor Education Course
A debtor education course is required after your case is filed. It can be completed in person, over the phone, or online; you’ll receive a certificate that proves you completed the course. At OakTree Law, we’ll even submit it to the court so it can be properly filed.
At this point, there is usually not much left to do unless you need to file a reaffirmation agreement. It’s still very important not to make any mistakes, to ensure you’re finances and property remain protected. Always stay aware of what not to do when you plan to or have filed for bankruptcy.
And lastly, stay in touch with your bankruptcy attorney, whether you file an individual or joint case with your spouse; it can preserve financial and other aspects of your marriage.
OakTree Law can help you get the most out of your bankruptcy case. For a free consultation, call us at 562-219-2979 today.