Bankruptcy Proceedings: An Overview
One of the first questions clients ask in a bankruptcy consultation is: “How long are the bankruptcy proceedings going to take?” There is no clear answer. The best way to explain this is by looking at how a bankruptcy case progresses. At Figeroux & Associates Bankruptcy Law, a service of Figeroux & Associates, we do everything we can to streamline the bankruptcy proceedings process for you, our clients, and to make it as easy as possible to file. This article provides what you can expect when you choose us to file your bankruptcy case.
Bankruptcy Proceedings: The Free Consultation
Bankruptcy proceedings start with the initial consultation. At that meeting, the attorney will go over your financial information, explain what type of bankruptcy you might qualify for, explain the bankruptcy proceedings process, and tell you about our fees and the services we offer to clients. If you choose not to hire us at that time, there is no charge for the consultation – it’s absolutely free. If you do choose to hire us to represent you, all you have to pay is a $100 retainer, and you can set up flexible payments on the remainder of your fees, via automatic transfers from a checking or savings account. If that is not an option for you, we have plenty of other ways for the fees to be paid. Once you’ve paid the retainer, you can stop all of the harassing phone calls from collection agencies by telling them you’ve hired us. You may be able to stop paying on most of your debts as well.
Bankruptcy Resources: PACER
Bankruptcy resources and records are made available to the public through an online system called PACER, which stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. The information available on PACER is public record and may be reproduced without permission.
Bankruptcy Proceedings: Filing
After that meeting, the case will be filed very soon. When your case is filed, an automatic stay goes into place which prevents anyone from taking any type of collection action against you. On the day we file, all lawsuits, garnishments, foreclosures, and repossessions stop. No attorney can stop a lawsuit, garnishment, foreclosure, or repossession until your case is filed. We will send you a case filed letter that has the case number, the date of your next meeting, and information on how to take the Debt Management Class. You should stay informed about the bankruptcy proceedings.
When the case is filed, the court assigns a date for your 341 hearing. You should take the second class as soon as possible after the filing. The hearing is an opportunity for the trustee assigned to your case to ask you some basic questions under oath. If any creditors have questions, they can appear and ask them as well. There is no judge, and if a creditor appears (which is rare), they are allowed to ask questions, but they can not prevent the conclusion of the 341 meeting. One of our attorneys will be there to represent you and answer any questions you have before or after.
Bankruptcy Proceedings: Chapter 13
In a Chapter 13 case, your first payment is due within 30 days of the date of filing. Your attorney and the trustee will work with you to set up payments for the rest of your Chapter 13 plan. At the end of the plan, once you have made all of the required payments, you will be granted a discharge.
Bankruptcy Proceedings: Chapter 7
In a Chapter 7 case, you’re basically done after the 341 hearing. It takes about sixty to ninety days for the trustee and the court to process all of the documents necessary to grant you your discharge. Creditors do have this waiting period to file objections to the discharge, if applicable, but objections are rare.
Bankruptcy Proceedings: Discharge Specifics
Once the discharge is granted by the court, you are debt-free, unless there is some piece of property (like a house or car) that you want to keep or some kind of debt (like taxes or child support) that was not dischargeable. This is just a brief outline of some typical bankruptcy proceedings of a bankruptcy case. Obviously, every case is different and this article should not substitute for specific legal advice from an attorney.