What Is Involved In Filing Bankruptcy?
Who will notify my creditors that I’ve filed a bankruptcy?
Once you’ve filed your bankruptcy petition, the court will mail notices to all creditors listed in your filing. Under provisions of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act, we must give notice to all creditors listed on any account statements, bills, and letters that you’ve received from any collection agency or creditor within the 90 days before filing.
To ensure that all creditors are notified and stop bothering you, it’s important to list all creditors’ addresses on your bankruptcy filing. It usually takes a few weeks for creditors to receive the notices.
If there’s an urgent need for notice because a creditor may be preparing to foreclose on your home, garnish your wages or repossess your vehicle, then we’ll send them a special early notification.
Do I need to go to court?
No, but sometime between twenty to forty days after the filing you’ll be required to attend the court-sponsored “Meeting of Creditors.” At that time, you’ll be sworn under oath and then the Bankruptcy Trustee will question you about your filing documents and your assets.
Although they’re invited, creditors rarely show up for this meeting. If you and your spouse have filed bankruptcy jointly, then both of you must be present at the meeting.
What is a ‘Bankruptcy Trustee’?
The Trustee is an officer of the court, to review all filing documents, investigate whether you’ve failed to disclose any assets, gather together your non-exempt property, convert it into cash, and then pay the appropriate creditors persuant to statute.
The Trustee wields plenty of legal power, so you should make sure that you fully answer all questions and comply with all the Trustee’s instructions.
What responsibilities do I have?
Bankruptcy law requires that you fully cooperate with the Trustee. The Trustee will probably require that you provide copies of these documents: Photo identification, some proof of your Social Security Number, plus copies of your pay stubs or income records for the last 6 months prior to filing before the filing, as well as copies of your bills, canceled checks and other documentation to verify your expenses, along with two years of tax returns and W2s, not to mention homeowner’s, casualty and life insurance policies, title documents, property appraisals, liens and mortgages for your real estate and personal property, retirement statements, and finally, any divorce or court-ordered support documents.
The Trustee will also ask for a copy of your tax return from last year. If you receive a tax refund during the bankruptcy process, you are not allowed to cash it or deposit it; instead, you’re required to send it directly to the Trustee.
During the process, the Trustee may ask for additional information or documentation. Keep in mind that if you don’t cooperate, your bankruptcy discharge may be refused or revoked.
What is the “Meeting of Creditors”?
In order to comply with bankruptcy law, you must attend a brief meeting, also called a “Section 341 hearing.” This meeting isn’t in a courtroom, and the judge isn’t present. Most importantly, this is not an adversarial meeting – You won’t be harassed or questioned about your personal reasons for filing bankruptcy. We’ll be present to help you answer any questions.
At this hearing, you’ll meet the Trustee in charge of your case, and you’ll be sworn to tell the entire truth. You’ll be asked to testify that your documents are complete and accurate. The Trustee will ask you questions regarding your documents. Also, if any creditors choose to attend the meeting, they’ll be allowed to ask some questions. Still, it’s rare for a creditor to show up, since most credit companies are based out-of-town.
As your attorneys, we’ll be there to help you get through the meeting and help answer the questions. A typical creditors’ meeting only lasts 5 minutes, although this may vary depending on the complexity of the bankruptcy filing.
Remember to bring your photo ID, such as your driver’s license, passport of resident alien care, as well as proof of your Social Security Number.
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