The Bankruptcy Filing Procedure
There are a number of legally required steps involved in filing for bankruptcy. Failing to complete them can lead to the dismissal of your case.
Prior to filing for bankruptcy, people are required to complete a credit counseling session and obtain a certificate to file with their bankruptcy petition. The counselor should evaluate your personal situation, give advice on budgeting and debt management, and discuss alternatives to bankruptcy. You can find the names of government-approved credit counseling agencies in your area by calling the federal bankruptcy court closest to you or by going to its website.
Filing for bankruptcy involves submitting a bankruptcy petition and financial statements showing your income, debts, and assets. You will also be required to submit a means test form, which determines whether your income is low enough for you to qualify for Chapter 7. If it is not, you will have to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. You will also need to pay a filing fee, though it is occasionally waived if you can prove you can't afford it.
You can acquire the forms you need from the bankruptcy court. If you enlist the services of a bankruptcy lawyer, which is generally a good idea, they should also be able to provide them.
When you have filed, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will schedule a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting for the section of the bankruptcy code where it is mandated. This is an opportunity for the people or companies that you owe money to ask questions regarding your financial situation and your plans, if any, to repay them.
Your case will be determined by a bankruptcy judge, based on the information you have supplied. If the court decides that you have attempted to conceal assets or committed other fraud, you may not only lose your case but additionally face criminal prosecution. Unless your case is really complicated, you generally won't need to appear in court before the judge.
After you have filed for bankruptcy-- but before your debts can be dismissed-- you need to take a debtor education course, which will offer advice on budgeting and money management. Once again, you will have to acquire a certificate showing that you have participated. You can obtain a list of approved debtor education providers from the bankruptcy court or from the Justice Department.
Presuming the court decides in your favor, your debts will be discharged, when it comes to Chapter 7. In Chapter 13, a payment plan will be approved. Having debt cleared means that the creditor can no longer attempt to collect it from you.
When to Declare Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy law exists to assist people who have taken on an unmanageable amount of debt-- often as a result of large medical bills or other unanticipated expenses that are no fault of their own-- to make a fresh start. However it isn't an easy process and does not always result in a happy ending.
So before filing for bankruptcy, make sure to examine all your options and be prepared for some of the negative consequences described over. If you decide that bankruptcy is your only reasonable option-- as hundreds of thousands of Americans do each year-- remember that the blot on your record will not be permanent. By using credit cautiously in the future and paying your bills on time, you can begin to rebuild your credit and gradually put bankruptcy behind you.
For More Information About Filing Bankruptcy in Los Angeles, California, Contact Thomas K. McKnight LLP At (800) 466 - 7507 or Visit Our Website at TKMLLP.Com for a Free Consultation!