Most people with debt who file a bankruptcy petition know very little about the filing process. Many of their creditors aren’t well-informed about the process, either. The filing process is a crucial part of a bankruptcy petition. Let’s review what’s involved.
The Filing Process
Your bankruptcy case begins with filing the paperwork–a vitally important, yet time-consuming, process. Bankruptcy forms include the official petition (bankruptcy request), schedules, and statement of financial affairs. In these forms, you will list all of your assets and all of your debts, as well. You’ll also need to share some recent of your recent financial history.
Schedules list your creditors–people and companies to whom you owe money. It is critical that every creditor’s information, including a valid mailing address, is contained in the schedules. It is necessary to list all of your debts, even if the debt is non-dischargeable debt–the kind you cannot eliminate through a bankruptcy filing. You must also record debt you intend to reaffirm. Reaffirmed debt is agreed upon debt that you’ll continue to pay after the bankruptcy, typically for the intent of keeping it as collateral.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules also list your personal property, any debts secured by that property, and the sale value of it. Property means your assets and possessions, not just your real estate. Your choice of exemptions–property you want to keep–is also listed on one of the schedules.
You’ll be required to sign the schedules under penalty of perjury. If the information provided in them is false or carelessly inaccurate, the schedules can prevent you from getting your bankruptcy discharge–the release from personal liability for your debts. Then, schedules are filed with the bankruptcy clerk in your residential district or in the district where you have lived for the more significant part of the last 180 days.
For most purposes, all of the proceedings in bankruptcy after the initial filing relate to the circumstances as they were on the day the case was filed. That includes the rights of both the debtor and the creditors that exist on the day the case is filed.
The court appoints a trustee, an official representative who supervise the case. The trustee notifies all of the creditors listed on your schedules that you have filed bankruptcy. You will get a copy of that notice as well.
Finally, an injunction, called the automatic stay, goes into effect upon filing the bankruptcy petition. This automatically stops all collection activity, lawsuits, foreclosures, and wage garnishments, preventing creditors from taking further action against you.
File With the Help of a Bankruptcy Lawyer
As stated above, the filing process is a crucial and complicated process. Mistakes, recklessness, incomplete information, and inaccuracies can lead to an unfavorable outcome in the case. You’ll want to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, like a bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa, FL, in your local area who can take charge of the filing on your behalf. A bankruptcy attorney has in-depth experience with filing, and can assure your information is reported clearly and accurately. Don’t delay–call a lawyer today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, P.L. for their insight into bankruptcy.