What To Expect When You File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
A little bit of debt is normal and healthy, but it's too easy to get overwhelmed with more debt than you can handle. Whether it's from a divorce, sudden financial hardship or just bad decisions, there is a solution. Filing for bankruptcy may seem foreign, but it is a solution to help get you out of debt once and for all. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, learn a bit about the process to make it seem less scary.
The Initial Stage
Before you can file for bankruptcy, you may have to undergo credit counseling to help determine if bankruptcy really is your best course of action. If you haven't done so already, you also need to gather all your relevant financial documents, such as assets and debts. You'll use these throughout the process, so keep them in a safe place. If bankruptcy is your best chance at getting out of debt, you'll still need to determine if you qualify for filing for bankruptcy by taking the means test, which looks at your income and debt.
When you're ready to start the process, find a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney is your best ally in helping you file the paperwork, gather the necessary information and help you prepare for your meeting of creditors. You don't have to hire an attorney, but it is strongly recommended that you do. The process involves gathering and presenting a lot of specific information, which can be difficult if you don't have the right knowledge or training.
The Filing Process
Once you have an attorney, the next step is to start filling out the mountain of paperwork. The paperwork includes standard federal forms, but your state or county may have additional forms. Luckily, your attorney handles most of the filing process, but you'll need to supply the information. It's important to enclose every piece of relevant information your attorney requests to help bolster your case.
The information your attorney will need includes the creditor matrix, your credit counseling certificate and schedules. The creditor matrix is just a list of your creditors, and it is used to let the creditors know you are filing, so they will stop requesting payment. Your credit counseling certificate just proves you underwent credit counseling. The schedules are the official forms. If, during credit counseling, it was determined you should repay some of the debt, you'll also need to include a repayment plan.
Meeting of Creditors
Your case is given to a trustee who will usually contact you and then schedule a meeting of creditors. Although it doesn't take place in a court room and there is no judge, you will be sworn and placed under oath. Make sure you or your attorney brings all the necessary paperwork necessary, including your assets and debts. You'll also need to bring your government issued ID and social security card for proof if identity.
Your creditors have the right to attend this meeting and ask you questions, but it's uncommon. Usually, the only creditors who show up are those for your house or car. The majority of the meeting involves the trustee asking you a list of questions. The questions vary from trustee to trustee, and your attorney will work with you to help craft the right answers.
Going through a bankruptcy isn't that stressful, especially if you have a good attorney to help you every step of the way. Just make sure to always ensure your attorney has all the right information. For more assistance with filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, check out the site to contact a bankruptcy attorney in your area today and schedule a consultation.