Many people who’ve filed for bankruptcy say that though reaching the decision was hard, once it had been made, they felt that an incredible burden had been lifted from their shoulders.  While the promise of a fresh start represents an enormous psychic shift, the process is not automatic. In most cases, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take between four and six months from the point that you file until the discharge of debts finally takes place.

Of course, bankruptcy does not begin with the filing itself. Before the filing, there are several steps that you’ll need to take, including:

  • Collecting all of your financial documents, ranging from bills and loan information to bank statements and investment accounts, to two years of tax forms, to pay stubs from the previous 6 months
  • Sign up for and complete a credit counseling course
  • Fill out all of the bankruptcy application forms and print them out
  • Obtain the money to pay the filing fee or – if you are unable to afford it – complete a fee waiver application

Once you have completed all of these steps you or your bankruptcy attorney can file the paperwork with your local bankruptcy court. The application forms and fees will be submitted directly to the clerk, who will scan all the paperwork and assign you both a case number and a trustee. You will be given a date for your meeting with that person and told to submit the rest of your financial documents to them for review and processing. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be required to take an additional credit counseling course that will help you with money management in the future.

The best news for you is that once you’ve filed your paperwork the automatic stay will be put into motion, and that will stop any calls or dunning notices you’ve been receiving from creditors. About a month after you’ve filed your paperwork, you’ll have a meeting with the trustee assigned to your case. Your information will be verified, and your creditors will have the opportunity to question you. After this meeting, a series of deadlines will be set for things like creditor objections, discharge of debts, and management of secured debt. Objections may delay the process, but usually only if you’ve provided incomplete information.

Every bankruptcy is different and takes its own path, but the best way to ensure that the process goes smoothly is to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. To set up a time for us to meet, contact our office today.

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