Once you make the decision to file for a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should begin to look forward to a better financial future. Unlike the chapter 13 debt reorganization plan, a chapter 7 bankruptcy can be completed in a fairly short amount of time. In most cases, unless you have extensive complications, your bankruptcy will be final in a few months' time. To learn how you should proceed in your bankruptcy case, read on.
1. Gather your documents. A bankruptcy petition requires a large volume of paperwork, so the sooner you get started on getting the following documents together, the quicker you can file. These documents will be needed for your own records, to give to your bankruptcy attorney to assist in filling out the bankruptcy petition, and to be given to the creditor matrix and to your creditors, so make copies.
- The names, addresses, account numbers, and amounts owed to all of your creditors.
- Pay stubs or statements showing proof of income.
- A copy of your most recent tax return.
- A copy of any divorce-related financial documents, such as spousal support and child support orders.
2. Take your pre-bankruptcy educational class. You are now required to complete a credit counseling class before you can file for bankruptcy, and the certificate of completion must accompany the filing paperwork. You can take the class up to 180 days prior to your filing date.
3. File your bankruptcy petition with the Federal court and attend your creditor's meeting. Once you have filed the petition, you will be given an appointment for an appearance at a 341 meeting (the creditor's meeting). Be sure to have your Social Security card and government issued identification for the meeting. In some instances, you may be visited by the bankruptcy trustee (or their representative) to inspect your property and to assign a value on it. In most cases, you won't be surrendering any of your personal property at that time.
4. Take the debtor education course. This class will focus on teaching you how to make better financial decisions in the future and provides invaluable information about making a budget, putting aside funds for an emergency fund, how to use credit wisely, and more. The completion certificate must be filed with the bankruptcy court.
5. Wait for the final discharge document. If everything is in order, you should receive your final discharge paperwork in the mail.
For more information about how to navigate the bankruptcy process, talk to a lawyer like Jeffrey S. Arnold, Attorney at Law, P.C.