The Chapter 7 process is the shortest termed bankruptcy that you can file. A Chapter 7 case typically takes about 90 days, depending on how many assets and creditors you have. If you have several assets, your case may take longer because the trustee may need to investigate them more closely. Regardless, a bankruptcy attorney can expedite the Chapter 7 process and help you obtain a fresh start. For more information, you should contact a bankruptcy attorney in Tampafor specifics about your circumstances.
The First Step in Chapter 7 Process
The first step in the Chapter 7 process is to complete a credit counseling course. This course must be completed 180 days prior to filing the petition for Chapter 7. There are numerous pre-approved agencies that offer this course. You can find a list of approved agencies in in Florida by going here: https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111. A bankruptcy attorney in Tampa can also provide advice on which local agencies offer the course.
The Chapter 7 Petition
The second step in the Chapter 7 process is to file a voluntary petition for Chapter 7 and accompanying schedules. Your schedules are an organized and compilation of your assets, debts, income and expenses, etc. It is very important to make sure the petition and schedules are done correctly. If you have any doubts about how to properly complete the documents contact a bankruptcy lawyer for advice right away.
Once you have filed your petition, an “automatic stay” will take effect, which stops all collection actions against you. For example, if you have a foreclosure sale pending on your home, once you file your petition, the creditor must stop its foreclosure efforts due to the automatic stay that has been put into place by the bankruptcy court. The automatic stay may also immediately stop a court ordered wage garnishment without the need for additional court hearings.
The Meeting of Creditors
Next step in the Chapter 7 process is to attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors. This is a meeting that your trustee will set (and you must attend) as a way for him or her and your creditors to ask you any questions they wish, under oath, regarding your petition and schedules. See bankruptcy law 11 U.S.C. § 341. Creditors rarely attend the 341 Meeting. Clients normally don’t need to worry about a bunch of bank representatives or attorneys attending. If any creditors do show up, they are usually individuals (like an ex-spouse, family member, or friend) who you owe money to and want their voice to be heard. You also have the right to have your bankruptcy lawyer present with you at the 341 Meeting.
Proof of Claims
After you attend your 341 Meeting, creditors must file their “proof of claim” forms within 90 days of your first scheduled 341 Meeting. This is a form that unsecured creditors must complete and file with the court in order to receive any money from your bankruptcy. If they do not file a timely proof of claim, then they lose their claim and will not be paid.
Liquidation by the Trustee
The next step in the Chapter 7 process will be for the trustee in your case to collect any of your non-exempt assets, auction them off, and distribute the proceeds from that sale amongst your creditors who filed valid proof of claims. Exempt property is property that you do not have to forfeit when filing for bankruptcy and are entitled to keep. Before you file for bankruptcy or take any other debt relief measure it is important to know which exemptions you qualify for. The amount and type of exemptions you are eligible for may greatly impact your decision on whether or not to file for bankruptcy, and if so either Chapter 13 or Chapter 7.
Depending on the circumstances of your case all of your property may be exempt from the bankruptcy. On the other hand, you may be forced to liquidate precious assets if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your property does not qualify for an exemption. Contact a bankruptcy attorney for help in determining what property of yours may qualify for an exemption and which property may be subject to liquidation
The Final Step of the Chapter 7 Process
After completion, the debt will be discharged forever and there is nothing creditors can do about it. Remember, there are certain debts that are non-dischargeable, such as child support, alimony, and student loan debt. After receiving adischarge, you can choose to pay back any debt voluntarily, but you cannot be forced to do so by any creditors. If creditors start calling you again after you receive your discharge, you may have a legal remedy against those creditors.
Bankruptcy Law Firm
At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. we understand that the Chapter 7 process can be a very confusing and intimidating process. That is why we work so hard to make the process as easy as possible for our clients. When you hire Florida Law Advisers, P.A., you get an experienced Tampa bankruptcy lawyer by your side throughout every phase of the bankruptcy process. To schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa call us today at 800 990 7763