What is the process for filing bankruptcy?

by Mark E. Godbey, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Once a decision to file the bankruptcy has been made and your case is filed, you will need to attend the required 341 meeting, a.k.a. “meeting of creditors.”  In most cases, this meeting is the only hearing you will have to attend in your case.  You will receive notice of this hearing from both the court and your attorney.  During the meeting of creditors, you, along with your attorney, will meet with the court-assigned Trustee and any of your creditors who choose to attend the hearing.

This meeting is generally a short and simple procedure in which you are asked to verify the information in your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation.  If complications do arise before, during, or after the meeting, or if you choose to dispute a debt, you along with your attorney may have to appear in front of the bankruptcy judge.  If you need to go to court, you will receive notice of the court date and time from your attorney.

Prior to filing bankruptcy, a consumer credit counseling course must be taken and a certification of completion for the course attached to your bankruptcy filing. After your case is filed, you must also complete an approved course in personal finances. This latter course will take approximately two hours to complete. Your attorney can give you a list of organizations that provide approved courses, or you can check the website for the United States Trustee Program office at www.usdoj.gov/ust. In a Chapter 7 case, you should sign up for the course soon after your case is filed. If you file a Chapter 13 case, you should ask your attorney when you should take the course.

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