Although bankruptcy cases can be complex, many of the procedures and cases are routine. Before filing a bankruptcy case, you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code and which form of relief is most beneficial to you. Be sure you understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations.
To file a bankruptcy case, documents called a Petition, Schedules, and Statement of Financial Affairs, as well as in some cases a Statement of Intention need to be prepared correctly and filed with the bankruptcy court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court.
Once your case is filed, you will have to attend a first meeting of creditors where you will be questioned under oath by a court official called a “trustee”. At this meeting you may also be questioned by your creditors.
If you choose to file a Chapter 7 case, you may be asked to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming debts.
If you choose to file a Chapter 13 case in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over a 3 to 5 year period, your attorney will help you in preparing your Chapter 13 plan and with the confirmation hearing on your plan which will be before a Federal Bankruptcy Judge.
If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than chapter 7 or chapter 13, you will want to find out what should be done from someone familiar with that type of relief.
Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court. BE AWARE – Only an attorney can give you legal advice and can represent you in court.
The bottom line: Find a good attorney you can trust and be comfortable with and allow them to assist you. Bankruptcy is not the end of the world, in fact, in most cases it can be the beginning of your fresh start !
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