Chapter 7 is one of the different ways you can file for bankruptcy. If you have learned a bit more about the process that is involved and have decided that this is the best option for you, it is important to have an attorney by your side to get through this legal situation. Although there is a process involved, it is much easier to overcome your financial situation and the debt that you are in when you have an attorney guiding you through the Chapter 7 filing process.
Goes Over Your Financial Situation With You
One of the first and most important reasons to let an attorney help you with filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to make sure that this is the right decision for you based on your financial situation and the types of belongings you have. If you have limited income and earn less than the median that is set for your state, you are likely an eligible candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but your attorney will let you know for sure after gathering information on your expenses and your monthly income.
Explains the Exemptions to You
Rather than getting on a payment plan, you would need to sell some of your belongings to pay off the debt that you currently owe, which is otherwise known as liquidation. While this would likely concern some people who may not want to part with certain belongings, there are several things you need to know. Although you would be expected to sell additional properties, vehicles, and other valuables to pay back the amount that you owe, some of your belongings are considered exempt, including your home and possibly even the vehicle that you regularly drive around in. Your attorney could make you fully aware of any exempt items you would get to keep despite filing for bankruptcy.
It helps to have an attorney explain the exemptions. When you have this information, you can work on becoming fully prepared to part with certain belongings while feeling more at ease knowing that you will get to keep some of your belongings. It can give you much more peace of mind about completing the filing process.
Handles the Paperwork
If you are going to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to fill out certain forms. It may be overwhelming to have all these forms that you need to fill out in front of you, but that is when the attorney can help you and make the situation a bit less stressful for you. It all starts with the Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. It is a form for individual debtors looking to get the process started. Some of the information you would need to provide on the form includes:
- Your name
- Why you are choosing to file for bankruptcy
- The specific chapter you are choosing to file
- Your current residence
- Details on the current debt you have
The Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy is the first of several forms you will need to fill out. If this is your first time going through this process, you may be confused by some of the questions that are included on the form, which is why it is best for you to have an attorney present when you are filling out the answers to each of those questions. If you are stuck on a specific question, you can let the attorney know and get help with answering it.
There is a fee to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but you could potentially have that fee waived. If you would like to have the fee waived because of your financial situation, you would need to fill out an application to have it waived. When completing the application, you will need to provide details on:
- The current size of your household
- The amount of money you are earning on a monthly basis
- The reason you are unable to pay the fee
- The type of assistance you may currently receive from the government
- The amount of cash you currently have
The last thing you want to do is make a mistake when you are completing these important forms. Because you want to answer everything in the correct way, you should have an attorney assisting you throughout the filing process.
Once you have completed the paperwork, your attorney can file it with the local bankruptcy court, making sure they receive it. The most complicated part of the entire process is completing all this paperwork. After you have completed it with the help of your attorney, you may feel relieved to know that you are one step closer to achieving the financial freedom you desire.
Gathers Information for the Trustee
The court will assign a trustee to the case who will need to go over the information that pertains directly to your bankruptcy filing. The trustee is the person who will assess the value of non-exempt property and then make sure that your creditors receive the money they are entitled to from the sale of any non-exempt property. There are certain things that you should be prepared to send out to the trustee, including tax returns for the past several years and statements from your bank. You can print this information out and give it to your attorney to handle it for you. The attorney will make sure all the important documents are safely and securely sent out to the trustee in a timely manner. It is necessary to have the information sent out as quickly as possible. You cannot have your debt discharged until the trustee receives the required information.
Makes Sure You Take the Required Courses
Those filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are required to complete credit counseling courses. These courses will help educate you further on how to improve your financial situation, properly use credit cards, and ultimately avoid the kind of debt situation you were once in. Your attorney can get you prepared to take these courses because then you can get them completed and out of the way while learning useful information on money management and setting a budget that works best for you.
Attends the Meeting With the Creditors
You will need to attend a meeting with your creditors and the trustee. The attorney will be there for you during this meeting while you answer questions about your finances. The primary reason for attending this type of meeting is to ensure that you are providing the most honest and accurate answers and are not hiding any crucial details about your finances. You may feel a bit nervous about attending this meeting, especially when your trustee is there, but the attorney will tell you exactly what you should expect to experience when you get there.
Answers All the Questions You Might Have
When you have questions to ask and you need reliable, accurate answers, your attorney is the one who will be there for you to answer everything. Even if you are not in the presence of your attorney when you think of a question that you would like to ask, you can always contact the office and leave a message for your attorney who will get back to you as quickly as possible.
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best decision for you to make to get out of the difficult financial situation that you are in. If you are planning to go through with this process, it is in your best interest to have a bankruptcy attorney by your side throughout each step. If you would like to start your free consultation, reach out to Bouloukos Oglesby & Mitchell at 205-322-1641.