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If you have made the decision to file for bankruptcy, it is no doubt at the end of a long and difficult decision-making process. You probably feel like you have been weighing pros and cons for months. Now that you are finally ready to go through the appropriate steps to resolve some of yo debt through the bankruptcy process, it is easy to think that the hard part is over. However, it is important to be prepared for the bankruptcy process which can be long, overwhelming, and emotionally difficult.
The single best way to prepare for what will happen when you file for bankruptcy is to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area. Each bankruptcy court will have its own rules and practices by which you must abide. Only an attorney who has been practicing in your bankruptcy court will know the ins and outs of that court’s processes. He or she will be in the best position to guide you and make sure that your debt is resolved in the most efficient and painless manner.
That said, there are some things that will happen in almost every bankruptcy in almost every court. Here are a few of those things and a brief description of what you may be able to expect:
- You will be required to attend credit counseling. Before filing for bankruptcy, you will almost definitely be required to meet with a credit counselor who will go over your finances. This is the government’s way of making sure that you have considered your options and are truly ready to file for bankruptcy. The credit counselor may make a recommendation for bankruptcy alternatives, or may suggest which type of bankruptcy is best for you. Typically, you must meet with a credit counselor well in advance of filing for bankruptcy.
- You file for bankruptcy by using a bankruptcy petition. The act of “filing” for bankruptcy is accomplished by submitting a set of paper documents called a bankruptcy petition to the clerk of the appropriate bankruptcy court. You will have to fill out the documents with a complete listing of your financial information. The petition can take time to complete and it is best to consult with an attorney during this process.
- The court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee. The bankruptcy trustee is the person who will be responsible for taking charge of your money and assets in order to pay off your debt. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, the trustee may take different actions to pay your debt or to create a schedule for you to repay your creditors.
- You will be required to meet with your creditors in court. After you file your bankruptcy petition, the court will schedule a creditors meeting. At this meeting your trustee will meet with you and your creditors. The trustee will verify your identity and may ask you questions about your finances that are not addressed in the bankruptcy petition. Often, creditors do not actually attend this meeting, but if they do, they will be able to ask questions to the trustee and discuss repayment of what you owe.
These are just a few of the events you can expect to occur during your bankruptcy proceeding. Make sure you are prepared by consulting with a qualified and experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa, FL early on in the process.
Thanks to The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, P.L. for their insight into bankruptcy and what to expect when you file.