The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Legal Process

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Legal Process

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If you’re in the midst of financial difficulties, the prospect of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a daunting idea.

You might be worried about having to complete a mountain of paperwork and handle complex legal procedures—but that’s where a Chapter bankruptcy attorney may be able to help.

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Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Though the procedures and deadlines for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be confusing for someone without legal training, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can keep you advised as he or she files any papers or statements that your petition requires.

It’s a good idea to follow your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney’s advice and do not attempt to conceal your property, destroy any financial records, violate any court order or make last-minute charges on your credit cards.

Doing these things might get your case thrown out before you are granted a discharge.

Before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must:

  • meet with your lawyer and provide the necessary information for completion of the petition and schedules, including a list of your current personal property and its value, a list of creditors whom you owe and any payments you have made to them, information on employment or other income and other information that your bankruptcy lawyer will ask you to provide.
  • complete a U.S. Trustee-approved Credit Counseling Briefing and give the completion certificate to your attorney to file with your petition.

After you have completed these tasks, your bankruptcy attorney will file the petition and credit counseling certificate with the bankruptcy court.

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Legal Process

After You File the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition

After your bankruptcy petition is filed:

  • Your creditors will be sent a notice of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. A bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to oversee your case. The trustee is a federal employee appointed by the court to monitor your case and make sure you are eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The trustee will review your petition, make sure that it is complete and schedule a Meeting of Creditors.
  • You and/or your bankruptcy lawyer will file any schedules that were not filed with the petition within 15 days.
  • You and/or your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer will file a Statement of Intention within 30 days regarding any secured property.
  • You and/or your bankruptcy lawyer will attend the Meeting of Creditors, which will take place around six weeks from filing.
  • You will need to complete a U.S. Trustee-approved Debtor Education course at some point between filing and your discharge.

After you make sure that you follow all of these procedures for completing your bankruptcy petition, typically all you must do to see your bankruptcy petition through to discharge is play the waiting game.

If no creditor objects to any specific debt for statutory reasons, and the trustee does not find that your case is “abusive” and dismisses it, then you will likely receive your Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge after about 60 days.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are typically faster than Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Read more: How Fast is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

The Automatic Stay

After you file your bankruptcy petition, you will likely be granted an automatic stay from the bankruptcy court, which was designed to prevent creditors from taking (or continuing) any collection or legal action against you.

Note: The above summary is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on bankruptcy laws, speak to a local bankruptcy lawyer in your state.