Filing for Bankruptcy - How Does the Process Work?
1. Initial Consultation
You will receive a free initial consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys. During your free initial consultation we will review your current assets, income, budget and your previous financial circumstances. Our bankruptcy lawyers will explain the bankruptcy process and answer any questions you may have about filing for bankruptcy. If you decide to retain our law offices to file your bankruptcy case, then we will reach an agreement on attorneys fees. Once you have retained our law firm you will be able to refer your creditor calls to our law office. During your initial appointment we will also setup an affordable payment plan to pay your attorneys fees and costs.
2. Preparation and Filing of Bankruptcy Case
We will provide you a list of documents and instructions on the items needed to complete your bankruptcy petition. After receiving these documents, the attorney will review the documents with you. The bankruptcy attorney and you will review all the bankruptcy petition documents and schedules to ensure accuracy and completeness of your bankruptcy petition. Once this has been completed, you will sign the necessary bankruptcy forms and schedules to file your case. Once we have reviewed your documents and you have signed your petition, we will electronically file your bankruptcy case with the federal bankruptcy courts. After your case is filed you will receive a notice from the court informing you of your meeting of creditors' date, time and location.
What documents do I need to file for bankruptcy?
The following is the majority of documents you will need to provide to our office to file your bankruptcy case:
- Income Information
- 7 months of paystubs (employee)
- 6 months of Profit/Loss Statements(Independent Contractors and Self Employed)
- Unemployed/Retired-Unemployment Stub; Pension Stub
- Other Statement/Stub for Any Additional Income (i.e. State Assistance)
- Pension/Retirement Account Statements/401K Statement (statement showing accumulated balance)
- Life Insurance Statement-Whole Life (statement showing cash surrender value)
- Mortgage Statements
- Property Insurance Statements
- HOA Fees Statements
- 6 Months Banks Statements for Any Bank Accounts
- Closed Financial Accounts in Last Year (Date Account Closed, Last four digits of Account Closed)
- Copies of Pending Lawsuits (any lawsuits where you are a plaintiff or a defendant)
- Last 2 years of Filed Federal and State Taxes (4 years for Chapter 13 case)
- Months Remaining on Car Payments
- IRS Statement/State Tax Statement (Recent statement showing back owed taxes)
- Account Statements for Any Bills Listed on Your Credit Report
- Additional Items for Chapter 13 cases with Homes and Cars
- Exact amount that is past due on mortgage, vehicle payments, HOA Fees
- Sale Date Notice
- Real Estate Appraisal for Stripping Second Mortgage (where applicable)
- Months remaining on 401K/Retirement Loan Repayment
3. Meeting of Creditors
It is mandatory that you attend the 341 meeting of creditors. At the meeting of creditors you will be asked questions by a trustee. A trustee is a court appointed person who will review your documents for accuracy and will oversee your case. If you filed bankruptcy with your spouse both you and your spouse must be present at the 341 hearing. An attorney will be present with you at the hearing and will assist you with any questions. Generally the trustee's review of your case does not take longer than 5 to 10 minutes. The majority of 341 hearings are fast and routine, without any major issues present.
What Happens at the 341 Meeting of Creditors and What Questions am I Asked?
You must bring your social security and identification to your 341 meeting of creditors. At the 341 meeting of creditors the trustee will verify your identity and swear you in. Once this is complete the trustee will generally ask the following types of questions
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy before?
- Did you list all of your creditors and assets in the bankruptcy petition?
- Did you review the schedules, and documents before signing the documents?
- Are there any errors in your bankruptcy documents?
- Is the information contained in the schedules and documents true and correct to the best of your knowledge?
- Do you owe any spousal or domestic support obligations?
If you would like more information on what happens at the 341 hearing then go to: Do I Have To Go To Court If I File for Bankruptcy?
4. Discharge of Debts
Once your debts have been discharged in bankruptcy, you will have the ability to get a financial fresh start. After filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will receive a discharge order in 3 to 4 months. The discharge removes your personal liability from any debts that were discharged in bankruptcy. For Chapter 13 clients after review of your case by the trustee, your case will move to confirmation of your Chapter 13 repayment plan. Confirmation of a Chapter 13 plans indicates that the repayment plan has been approved by the court. For Chapter 13 plans your repayment plan will range generally from 36 months to 60 months, depending on your particular circumstances.
Our bankruptcy lawyers are available for an initial consultation in Orange County, Riverside, Los Angeles, Temecula & Murrieta, Ca.
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