You would be smart to familiarize yourself with the timeline, duties, expectations and protections that are a part of the bankruptcy process. Although the bankruptcy process differs depending on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in general the bankruptcy process will proceed as follows:
To start, you are required to complete a set of work sheets we provide you and to give us copies of certain documents, such as, for example, 6 months of wage stubs, car titles, tax returns and bank statements. To establish an attorney-client relationship, you must return to us a signed fee agreement and a partial or full payment on your attorney’s fees. After the attorney-client relationship is established, you may refer creditors to us who, under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, must stop calling you, although they can still sue, garnish wages, foreclose and so on.
Before filing your petition with the bankruptcy court, you are required to complete a credit counseling course. The cost is nominal. For information about contacting a credit counseling firm and having your certificate of completion forwarded to us, click here.
You and the bankruptcy attorney will meet at his Law Office to review, edit and “close” your bankruptcy petition. The closing may take 40 minutes in a simple Chapter 7 or up to 2 hours in a complex Chapter 13. At the end of the closing, you sign the bankruptcy petition, and if there are no reasons for delay, it will be filed electronically with the bankruptcy court. The credit counseling class must be completed before the closing.
Your completion of the worksheets and your participation in the closing require your complete candor and fullest possible disclosure about your financial affairs, assets and debts. Anything less will, at a minimum, compromise the ability of your bankruptcy attorney to identify and manage issues and may, at worst, put you at risk of not being discharged or even having your case referred to the Department of Justice.
When your petition is filed, you are assigned a case number and a date and time for your meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. This meeting is held about 25 to 40 days after you file. In Chapter 7 the meeting is held in Green River, and in Chapter 13, it is commonly held in Cheyenne. Often, the trustee will issue written instructions that must be complied with after the meeting. The trustee is not a Judge.
After you file, your creditors are promptly notified, and all collection efforts, including garnishments, collection suits, repossessions and foreclosures must be stopped dead in their tracks.
In Chapter 13, your bankruptcy attorney has 14 days to file a proposed plan of repayment. The plan may provide anywhere from a 1% to a 100% repayment to your unsecured creditors over 3 to 5 years. The plan may propose to “cure” missed payments on your home, car or child support and propose how to treat your tax debt.
At the meeting with the trustee, you are required to testify under oath about the information provided in your petition and the documents your bankruptcy attorney sent the trustee.
In Chapter 7, the order discharging your debt is issued by the bankruptcy court 60 days after meeting the trustee and is mailed to you and your creditors. If the trustee gave you any written instructions, your discharge can be revoked should you fail to comply with the instructions.
In Chapter 13, it is necessary to obtain a court order confirming your plan. The time needed to confirm a plan varies widely. After confirmation, you receive your discharge shortly after making your last plan payment.
This outline is a general idea of what you will experience during the bankruptcy process. If you have questions, or if you would like a Wyoming bankruptcy lawyer to provide you with more details, please do not hesitate to contact Wyoming bankruptcy attorney George L. Arnold today!