If you are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or have already decided to file, it is important that you understand the bankruptcy process and what to expect. We’ve put together this Survival Guide to Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy so you can have an overview of the entire process.
Quick Overview of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy can erase debts, including credit cards and medical bills. It is generally the quickest and simplest chapter and is typically completed in four to six months.
Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Erases most unsecured debts: including credit card debt and medical bills.
- Stops all collection action.
- Stops harassing phone calls from creditors.
- Stop wage garnishments and bank levies.
- Stops lawsuits filed by creditors.
- Depending on your specific situation you will most likely be able to keep your car and your home. It is more likely that you can keep your car or home if your payments are current and there is no significant equity.
The Process of Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Meeting For A Free Consultation
First, come meet with us for a free consultation. Together we’ll review your debt relief options and explore if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you and your family.
Preparing the Bankruptcy Petition
Prior to filing for bankruptcy, it is necessary to gather the necessary documents, prepare the bankruptcy petition, and complete a Credit Counseling course.
When you work with The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel, we will prepare your bankruptcy petition. Then we will review it together to make sure that it is complete and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Bankruptcy is a complex area of law, and bankruptcy petitions are filed under the penalty of perjury.
File with the Bankruptcy Court
Once your bankruptcy petition is complete, we will file it with the Bankruptcy Court on your behalf.
As soon as your case is filed the Automatic Stay immediately takes effect. This means that all of your creditors must stop all collection action. The Automatic Stay stops foreclosure proceedings and repossessions (at least temporarily), stops wage garnishments and bank levies and puts an end to collection phone calls.
Attend the Meeting of Creditors
You must attend a Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 Hearing, approximately one month after filing for bankruptcy. The meeting is conducted by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case. It is not held in a courtroom and there will not be a judge present.
While your creditors will be notified of the meeting, creditors rarely attend. In the unlikely event, they do attend, they cannot badger you or question you about why you filed for bankruptcy.
Complete a Debtor Education Course
Within 60 days of the Meeting of Creditors, you must complete a Debtor Education course. Debtor Education is a two-hour course in personal financial management that can be completed online or over the phone and is relatively inexpensive.
Other than this course, generally in Chapter 7 cases, there is little the debtor must do after the meeting of creditors concludes.
Receive Your Bankruptcy Discharge Order
A bankruptcy discharge is a court order that is the legal instrument that releases you from personal liability on dischargeable debts. Getting the Bankruptcy Discharge Order from the Bankruptcy Court is the goal of any bankruptcy filing. The Bankruptcy Discharge Order is issued from the Bankruptcy Court at the end of a successful bankruptcy case.
Prior to filing your bankruptcy case, we will need the following documents:
- 6 months of pay stubs
- 6 months of documentation of other sources of income (if applicable)
- 6 months of profit & loss statements (if self-employed or you own a business)
- Copies of your bills and documentation of other debts you owe
- Copy of your most recent mortgage statement(s)
- Copy of your most recent car loan statement(s)
- Copy of your federal and state income tax return or a transcript of the return, for the most recent filed year ending immediately before your case is filed.
- Copies of paperwork in regard to pending lawsuits, wage garnishment, bank levies, foreclosure on real property, or repossession notices
- List of all bank and credit union accounts
- Record of any interest you have in an individual educational retirement account or under a qualified state tuition program.
- Certificate of completion for pre-filing credit counseling
Get the Fresh Financial Start You Deserve
Filing for bankruptcy can give you a fresh financial start. It can be your chance to get your financial life in order. Once you are out from under the burdensome weight of debt, you are empowered to make wise financial decisions for your future.
We Will Help You Through Your Chapter 7 From Start to Finish
Filing for bankruptcy is a serious financial decision. If you are feeling apprehension about the process, we understand. Know that if you hire us to file your bankruptcy case, we will be by your side from start to finish. We will prepare your bankruptcy petition, file it with the court, and be by your side until you receive your Bankruptcy Discharge Order.
Reach out to us by email at info@BrazielLaw.com or call (912) 351-9000.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.