Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline
The idea of declaring bankruptcy can be intimidating to many people, especially those who don’t know what’s ahead of them. If you’re considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might be dreading the uncertainty of what lies ahead in the days, weeks, and months to follow. So exactly how long does it take to file bankruptcy? To help you better understand what this process entails, here is a brief and highly-simplified Chapter 7 bankruptcy timeline.
7 Steps to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Initial Consultation: Schedule a no obligation consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. We will have you complete a short intake form prior to the meeting. At the consultation, we will discuss your current situation, including your income, property, and debts, and evaluate whether Chapter 7 is the proper path for you. Afterward, we will give you a longer questionnaire, which you can complete by hand or online, as well as a list of documents to provide to our office.
- Preparation of Your Case: Before we can file your Chapter 7 case, you will need to complete the mandatory paperwork and provide the necessary documents. Once we receive your paperwork, our team will prepare your case. If there are any missing documents or information, we will contact you. Your file will be thoroughly prepared and reviewed prior to scheduling an appointment for you to review and sign it. Additionally, you are required by law to complete a credit counseling course, which usually takes around 90 minutes and can be done either online or by phone. We will provide you with the credit counseling course information and let you know when it is time to complete it.
- Filing: Once your Chapter 7 case is prepared and has been closely reviewed by one of our attorneys, we will schedule you an appointment to review and sign the paperwork. You will have the chance to review everything to ensure it is all accurate. You will then meet with one of our attorneys to discuss any questions you might have, as well as the next steps. After your appointment, our team will electronically file your case with the appropriate court. Once your case is officially filed, your Automatic Stay will immediately go into effect. The Automatic Stay prevents credits from contacting you or attempting to collect a debt.
- Provide Documentation to Your Trustee: Once filed, your case will be assigned a bankruptcy trustee who will oversee affairs and liaise between you and your creditors. Our office will need to provide the trustee with your most recent tax return, pay stubs, and other documents requested. This will happen within a few days of your filing.
- Attend a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors: Roughly 30 days after your case is filed, you will attend a Meeting of Creditors that is conducted by your trustee. Most of the time, your creditors themselves do not attend. At the meeting, the trustee will put you under oath and ask you a few questions about your bankruptcy paperwork. These meetings usually don’t last more than 15 minutes or so, and some last less than five minutes. One of our attorneys will meet with you prior to the meeting to discuss the questions the trustee will ask, as well as answer any questions you might have about the meeting or your case in general. One of our attorneys will be present with you for the entirety of the meeting.
- Mandatory Budget Counseling: Before your discharge is entered, you’ll have to complete a budget counseling course by phone or online. One of our attorneys will provide you with the course information at your Meeting of Creditors. Once you have completed the course, the company will file the certificate with the court.
- Discharge: After your Meeting of Creditors, your creditors will have 60 days to object to your debts being discharged. This is a rare occurrence—if we anticipate a creditor objecting, we will discuss that with you prior to your case being filed. Also during this time, the trustee will make arrangements for you to transfer any non-exempt property to him/her for liquidation—if you have any, that is. Before filing your bankruptcy, our goal is to make you aware of any property that you may lose in the bankruptcy so that you can make an informed decision prior to filing. Once this process is completed, the court sends you a notice that your debts have been discharged. This is the official completion of your case.
Remember, your own case is unique and has its own circumstances and obstacles that must be overcome in order to complete it. To learn more about what your own specific timeline would look like, it’s strongly advised you discuss your options with one of our Tulsa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys.