Bankruptcy is a federal court process. It doesn't have to be scary but does require honesty and full disclosure. Most consumers or small businesses will file either a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. Larger businesses file under the SBRA (small business reorganization act) or Chapter 11. Chapter 12 is utilized by farmers. A meeting with one of our experienced attorneys can help you determine which chapter is best for you.
Here are the steps we will take you through to reach the finish line (financial freedom!):
Step 1 – Consultation
At Kuni Donaldson, LLP, every fresh start begins with a no-obligation initial consultation. We offer consultations in office or by telephone depending on your location. Our paralegal, Jackie will schedule a time for you to meet with an attorney. She will provide an initial worksheet to you to complete and bring with you to your appointment. This worksheet gives us valuable information about your assets, debts and budget to help us give you the best options for your individual situation. If bankruptcy isn't right for you, we will discuss alternatives.
Step 2 – Homework & Credit Counseling
You have made the decision to file and retained our office to help you – nicely done - What is the next step? Every bankruptcy case has financial documents which we must review from you to protect your interests. At your consultation, we provide you with “homework” in the form of a document checklist noting items to be provided for our review. In addition, you have one class to take online or in person called a “credit counseling” class. A certificate is generated following that class used to file your case.
You then provide the information to our office, and we generate a draft of your schedules for review.
Step 3 – Review and Sign
During this meeting, you will meet with your attorney to verify that the information listed in your bankruptcy schedules is true and correct. Once your documents are signed, we file your case electronically with the bankruptcy court. The automatic stay is now in effect and no creditors can sue you, garnish you, or take further property from you without permission of the bankruptcy court.
Step 4 – The 341a hearing
This hearing was named after a section of the bankruptcy code (11 U.S.C. §341). It is an administrative hearing not in front of a Judge, but a Bankruptcy Trustee. The hearing is an opportunity for the Bankruptcy Trustee to verify the information you have disclosed in your bankruptcy schedules. You will need your social security card and driver's license or other approved form of ID for this hearing. Our attorneys will attend your hearing with you. Prior to the hearing, these questions and others with you well before your hearing takes place.
Step 5 – Financial Management Class/Debtor Education
This is a two-hour online class required by Congress following your 341a hearing. This class teaches about what you can expect after bankruptcy, including how to rebuild your credit. The class must be completed within 45 days of your 341a meeting.
Step 6 – The Discharge
60 days after the 341a meeting of creditors you receive a Discharge. Discharge is based upon a Court Order declaring those debts eligible for discharge have now been eliminated. Feel that? It's your new sense of relief from getting rid of those old burdensome debts. Congratulations, you have your life back!