Bankruptcy from Start to Finish – Your Fresh Start in Wyoming
How Do I Start My Bankruptcy Case?
From start to finish in bankruptcy requires that you follow a process that will lead to the discharge of your debt and a fresh start. Take the time to understand the timeline, duties, expectations and protections that comprise the bankruptcy process. Although the process differs depending on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all Wyoming bankruptcy cases will have the following in common:
Establish an Attorney-Client Relationship. After the attorney-client relationship is established, you may refer creditors to us. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires a creditor to stop calling you after being notified that you are represented by an attorney. However, until you actually file for bankruptcy, your creditors can still sue, garnish wages or foreclose. To establish an attorney-client relationship with Arnold Law Offices, you must sign and return to us the Bankruptcy Fee Agreement and a partial or full payment of your attorney’s fees.
Complete Worksheets and Gather Documents. We need you to accurately and completely fill in and return the Client Worksheets. There are no shortcuts with the Client Worksheets. The Client Worksheets are necessary to accurately and truthfully complete your bankruptcy petition that will be filed with the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court. Section 521 of the Bankruptcy Code requires us to provide numerous documents to the bankruptcy trustee. On our Document List, several types of documents are listed that must be provided. Some documents are required from every debtor in every bankruptcy, while other documents apply to some debtors and not to others. Examples of required documents include: all wage records for the 6 month period just prior to the filing for bankruptcy; of bank statements for each account for the three month period just prior to the filing for bankruptcy; 2 years of tax returns in Chapter 7 and 4 years of tax returns in Chapter 13.
Complete The Credit Counselling Course. Before filing your petition with the bankruptcy court, you are required by law to complete a credit counseling course. The course costs $12.00. For information about enrolling to take the credit counseling course, you should access Arnold Law Office’s Credit Counselling Instructions.
Close and File Your Bankruptcy Petition. You and your attorney will meet to review, edit and “close” your bankruptcy petition. The closing may take an hour in a simple Chapter 7 case or more than 2 hours in a Chapter 13 case. At the end of the closing, you sign the bankruptcy petition. If there are no reasons for delay, your Wyoming bankruptcy petition is then filed electronically with the Bankruptcy Court. Before you leave Arnold Law Offices, you will have a Bankruptcy Case number and a certificate of filing that shows the Bankruptcy Court’s seal and the date and time your Wyoming bankruptcy petition was filed.
Honesty and Integrity. Your completion of the worksheets, production of documents and participation in the closing require your best effort and full candor to ensure accurate, truthful and complete disclosure about your financial affairs, assets and debts. Anything less impairs your bankruptcy attorney’s ability to identify and manage issues and may put you at risk of not receiving a discharge, of having your discharge revoked or having your case referred to the Department of Justice.
What Happens After My Bankruptcy Is Filed?
Automatic Stay. After you file, your creditors are notified of your bankruptcy. The automatic stay takes effect the moment you are filed, which forces all collection efforts, including garnishments, collection suits, repossessions and foreclosures, to come to an immediate stop. A violation of the automatic stay can, under appropriate facts, lead to the imposition of sanctions against the offending creditor.
341 Meeting Time and Place. After your bankruptcy petition is filed, you are notified of the date, time and location of your meeting with your Wyoming bankruptcy trustee. This is referred to as the 341 Meeting and is held about 25 to 40 days after your filing date. In Chapter 7, the meeting is held in Green River, Lander, Sheridan, Basin, Casper or Cheyenne, depending on where you live. In Chapter 13, the meeting is held in Cheyenne or Casper. At the 341 Meeting, the trustee often issues written instructions that must be complied with. Your attorney and the staff with Arnold Law Offices will assist you regarding compliance.
341 Meeting Trustee. At the 341 Meeting, you are required to testify under oath about the statements in your bankruptcy petition and about the documents provided to the trustee. In Chapter 7 cases, the trustee is attempting to identify non-exempt assets. In Chapter 13 cases, the trustee is attempting to ensure that all monthly disposable income is paid to the trustee under your Ch. 13 plan. The 341 Meeting is not held in a Courtroom, but it is a serious and important event in your Wyoming bankruptcy case. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee should not be confused with the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court Judge.
Chapter 7 Discharge. In Chapter 7, the order discharging your debt is issued by the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court Clerk two months after your meeting with the trustee. The order of discharge is mailed to you and your creditors. If you received written instructions from the trustee, your discharge will be revoked if you fail to comply with the instructions. Further, some debt is not discharged such as student loans, most tax debt, past due child support and debt obtained by fraud. Your attorney with Arnold Law Offices will review with you whether you owe debt that is not discharged in Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 Plan. In Chapter 13, your bankruptcy attorney has 14 days to file a proposed plan of repayment. You will need to sign the plan. The plan may provide anywhere from a 1% to a 100% repayment to your unsecured creditors over a 3-year to 5-year period. The plan may propose to “cure” missed payments on your home, car or child support and propose how to treat your tax debt. However, after filing for Chapter 13, you may not miss anymore payments on property you intend to retain. If you are managing your budget and if you attorney understands how effectively calculate projected monthly disposable income and how to construct a plan that will work for you, while being confirmable, then you should not have problems missing payments after the filing of your case.
Chapter 13 Confirmation Order. To have a successful Chapter 13 outcome, it is necessary that the Bankruptcy Court Judge enter an order confirming your plan. The time needed to confirm a plan varies widely. Often, one, even two, amended plans are needed before obtaining a confirmation order. After confirmation, you receive your discharge soon after making your last plan payment, assuming certain conditions are met, including being current on child support and turning over all tax refunds required by the plan to be paid to the trustee.
This overview gives you a general idea of what you to expect as your Wyoming bankruptcy case winds its way to a successful conclusion. If you have questions, please contact the Wyoming Bankruptcy Law Firm of Arnold Law Offices, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. Arnold Law Offices serves all of Wyoming, including Uinta, Sweetwater, Lincoln, Carbon, Teton, Fremont, Natrona and Laramie Counties. Call (888) 760-4357 or (307) 789-7887 to make an appointment.