Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is a serious matter and not one to be taken lightly. That said, it can be a lifeline to struggling families if all else has failed. If you or someone you know is financially struggling and needs to speak to an attorney about their options, please don’t hesitate our office.
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition allows a debtor to "discharge," or eliminate, most – if not all – of their unsecured debts. A bankruptcy reduces balances to zero for certain debts owed, like credit cards, unsecured personal loans, and back utility bills. You may have heard this described as a "fresh start," and in many cases, it could be precisely that. Filing for a Petition for Bankruptcy is a complex process, and you'll want a skilled attorney at the helm to assist you.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can stop almost all creditors in their tracks. This is due to the “Automatic Stay” that begins the moment you file your petition. Essentially, when you file for Bankruptcy, a creditor must immediately cease all attempts to collect money from you. This includes calling your phone, filing a lawsuit, continuing a lawsuit already filed or executing on a judgment. It can even stop a foreclosure or a vehicle repossession, at least temporarily.
If you are seriously in debt and you feel creditors closing in, don’t wait to call. We can put you on the path to a fresh start.
Facing financial difficulties can be overwhelming and stressful. If you're drowning in debt and struggling to make ends meet, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy lawyer may be able to help.
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy involves an extensive amount of paperwork and documentation. An experienced attorney will help you gather the required information, complete the necessary documentation, and ensure that everything is filed correctly and on time. They will also handle all administrative tasks, minimizing the chances of errors or delays.
Further, while Chapter 7 is sometimes referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy,” it doesn't mean you will lose everything you own. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy attorney will help you understand the exemptions available to you, which can protect certain assets from being seized or sold during the bankruptcy process. They will work diligently to safeguard your belongings to the greatest extent possible. Read more about the 5 Most Common Mistakes When Filing for Bankruptcy.
Once we have determined eligibility for Chapter 7 and have ensured that all assets are exempt, our next step is to draft the Petition. Drafting the Petition considers all financial history and is an incredibly involved process where attention to detail is a must. The Petition must include all creditors to whom you owe money or risk that particular debt not being cleared. You must disclose every source of income and every asset you have – right down to your kitchenware – and provide a good-faith value for each item. Failure to be completely transparent can jeopardize your entire case.
Yes, drafting the Petition is an arduous process. Fortunately, a bankruptcy attorney can assume some of these responsibilities to ease the burden. If you are considering Bankruptcy, having the advice of an experienced attorney can bring you peace of mind.
Here's some good news: The law requires collection activity to stop immediately after filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, including lawsuits, creditor calls, and creditor letters. This stoppage is called the Automatic Stay, which prevents creditors from making further attempts at separating you from your money.
From here, the next step is a hearing with the Bankruptcy Trustee called the Rule 341 Meeting of Creditors (named after the corresponding section of the Bankruptcy Code). At this hearing, the Bankruptcy Trustee will place you under oath and ask you questions about the contents of your Petition, such as your present financial situation. If proper care and attention has been given to drafting the Petition initially, this meeting will not be anything to overly worry about. Candidly, I have attended Rule 341 meetings that have lasted no more than 5 minutes. Still, you must prepare for this meeting thoroughly, and I will make certain this happens. An important note: The petitioner is required to attend this hearing. Failure to do so will risk your case being dismissed.
After the Rule 341 meeting has concluded, we are in the "home stretch," and it's usually only a matter of time before the Order of Discharge is entered. The debtors must complete a "Debtor Education Course," with proof of attendance filed with the Court afterward, but this is a relatively simple item. The only way to goof this up is to not complete the course.
Once the Court enters the discharge order, your dischargeable debt will be erased, and the case will be closed. The important note here is that not all debt is dischargeable. For example, payment for back taxes and student loans will need to continue. The same is true for a mortgage or a car loan that you’ve agreed to keep paying in exchange for keeping your house or your car. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will review your debts with you and tell you which obligations will survive the Bankruptcy process and which are dischargeable.