A good bankruptcy lawyer will work to protect assets and help his clients understand which debts are dischargeable. He will also ensure that the filing is completed correctly. If more than one form is needed, the case could be dismissed.
Interview several attorneys before choosing someone to handle your bankruptcy. Be sure to ask about their fee structure.
Filing for Bankruptcy
A reasonable bankruptcy attorney will provide a comprehensive overview of your financial situation, including assessing your debts and assets. This will help you determine whether bankruptcy is a good option for you. If it is, your attorney will explain how to avoid complications.
Bankruptcy law includes a system of exemptions that allow you to keep specific property if you file correctly. Your lawyer can explain state exemption laws and help you protect your possessions.
The most complicated part of bankruptcy involves filing a petition with the court. Some courts require a very detailed listing of creditors and debts. A skilled bankruptcy lawyer will ensure the petition meets court requirements and that you are not trying to discharge non-dischargeable debts. Non-dischargeable obligations include mortgages, liens, child support, alimony, and some taxes. A knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer will also be able to help you decide on a repayment plan that is realistic for your budget.
Meeting with Creditors
A bankruptcy filer must understand that it isn’t as simple as saying, “I’m broke!” and asking for mercy. There is a process that individuals must follow, including gathering financial information and undergoing credit counseling before filing, completing more than 20 bankruptcy forms, and attending a meeting with creditors required by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code.
This meeting is called the creditors’ meeting or the 341 meeting, and it allows creditors to ask questions of the debtor under oath about their assets, property, and finances. The trustee assigned to the case may also question the debtor about these matters.
A proficient bankruptcy attorney can prepare clients for this consultation by explaining what to expect and answering questions that might arise. This can help reduce client stress and ensure that the bankruptcy trustee has the correct information about the debtor’s finances. Moreover, financial planning for bankruptcy is essential to navigate the complexities of the process and work toward a more stable financial future.
Meeting with the Trustee
The trustee appointed to your bankruptcy case will set up a mandatory meeting with you and your creditors (if there are any). This meeting is called the 341 meeting, and the Bankruptcy Code requires it. The trustee will inquire about the details of your bankruptcy filing at this meeting. They will ask how you came up with the values for certain property items and other financial information.
During this hearing, you will be placed under oath and asked to answer the trustee’s questions truthfully. You could be found guilty of perjury if you fail to tell the truth. A legitimate government-issued photo ID is required and social security card to the meeting. If you cannot attend for a valid reason, your trustee may allow you to participate by telephone. You can decide whether or not this is a wise decision with the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. Additional papers like pay stubs, tax returns, bank account, or retirement statement requests may also be made by the trustee.
After your bankruptcy case is complete, any eligible debts you listed in your paperwork are discharged. Your lawyer will also help shield your property from creditors by identifying assets exempt from liquidation. This process varies by state; your attorney will know how best to protect your belongings.
During this time, you are prohibited from making creditor contact or taking any other actions that would violate the terms of your discharge. A violation of the words could result in an additional legal proceeding, and the debt collection company may be liable for damages incurred by you.
Before you receive your discharge, taking a second financial education course is necessary. These courses are typically available over the Internet for a fee. Having this step completed early in the process can speed up the discharge timeline. Typically, discharges are formally determined about 60 days after you meet creditors.