The process begins with a call to the attorney’s office to schedule an interview with the attorney. The initial consultation takes only about a half an hour, during which we cover the essentials of bankruptcy law and apply them to your particular situation. You do not have to bring anything to the interview, except perhaps a brief listing of your creditors and how much you owe them. You will have a good idea at the end of that interview of your various options, and to the extent that non-bankruptcy options were suggested, you will be encouraged to pursue those before scheduling another interview in our office. We will give you some forms to complete and list of items to return if you decide that bankruptcy protection is your best option. You will feel no pressure to retain one of our attorneys when you come in to talk with us. Except in emergency cases, you cannot even retain the attorney at this initial consultation.
If you decide to file for bankruptcy protection, we will schedule a second appointment to review the paperwork you completed and begin filling out the extensive paperwork for the filing. After the attorney completes your petition/paperwork, you’ll need to review and sign it. The bankruptcy petition and schedules are filed with the bankruptcy court. A Chapter 13 Plan by which you propose to pay towards your bills is prepared by you and the attorney, and submitted to the court.
The Court will schedule a hearing with a trustee and your potential creditors. Although creditors are invited to attend the hearing, they rarely do. We, of course, will be at the meeting to represent you.
At the hearing, the trustee will ask you questions about the accuracy of your filing, your present financial situation and may request additional information from you. The Trustee will inquire on any concerns he has about the feasibility of the Plan.
You must initiate Plan payments within 30 days of the original filing. At the conclusion of the plan period (typically five years), and assuming no complications, your case will come to an end, and you will be granted your discharge in bankruptcy. You must attend a debtor education course with a certified agency before the discharge can be issued.