To successfully file for bankruptcy, you are required to follow a specific set of steps to get the relief and protection that you need. Knowledge is power, so let’s walk through the process that you can expect as you embark on this journey.
12 Steps to Successfully File for Bankruptcy
1. Schedule a free consultation
Set up a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to walk through your options. The attorney will help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you, and if it is, which chapter of bankruptcy (like 7 or 13) is best.
2. Fill out information about your financial situation
Fill out a basic intake form that will be provided to you by your attorney. This will include important and relevant information about you and your financial situation.
- This is not a full-length questionnaire, but instead, it asks about the big-picture topics that need to be addressed.
- General estimates are fine at this point.
- The form is provided to you prior to your appointment, typically by email or via an online link.
- Along with this intake form, you are also provided with a variety of documents and information that are required to be given to you by law.
- You are asked to sign the intake form before meeting with the attorney to comply with federal disclosure laws.
3. Meet with the lawyer
Meet with the lawyer and walk through your options. Be as open as possible so the attorney can provide the best options for your unique situation.
4. Obtain required documents
Collect basic documentation needed by your attorney to dig into the specific details of your case. This is the hardest part, but it is necessary for a successful case. Your lawyer will be able to give you a full list of documents once you meet, but common requests are:
- Seven months of bank statements
- Seven months of pay stubs from all employers
- Seven months of self-employed profit and loss statements
- Tax returns from the past two to four years
- A copy of each of your current bills
5. Pay filing and attorney fees
Pay the necessary filing fees and attorney fees. Your attorney will give you a good faith quote based on your specific situation. These fees must be paid before your case can be fully prepared and processed.
6. Take and complete the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course
Complete your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. All individuals filing bankruptcy must take a brief credit counseling class before they are eligible to file bankruptcy. This class may easily be taken online.
7. Create a formal bankruptcy petition
Draft the formal bankruptcy petition. If you have retained a lawyer, this will be done for you.
8. Review petition
Review the bankruptcy petition and validate the information presented is accurate. Once done, sign the document.
9. File petition
File the petition with the court.
10. Attend 341 meeting
Attend a brief 341 meeting of creditors. This meeting is with a Trustee and does not have a judge or jury. Your attorney will be there with you, so you don’t need to worry.
11. Complete post-bankruptcy education course
Complete your post-bankruptcy financial education course. All individuals that file bankruptcy must take a second class in order to have their bankruptcy approved (discharged).
12. Discharge of debts
Final discharge of debts:
- If a Chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed, the attorney will check in with you if there is anything else necessary to complete your case and you simply wait for the Court to approve your case (called a discharge order), which normally takes about 3 to 4 months.
- If a Chapter 13 bankruptcy was filed, make your payments until complete. Chapter 13 cases are discharged after successfully making the monthly payments, but you are fully protected from your creditors at all times. You and your attorney communicate as necessary while payments are being made.
The above list can feel really intimidating, especially if you are already under stress due to financial hardship. Know there is help available and we can help make this entire process a lot easier for you.
Our experienced bankruptcy lawyers provide hands-on attention to each client’s case. We diligently prepare all documentation for you to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible and ends with a successful result for our clients.
Contact us to speak to one of our experienced bankruptcy lawyers or to arrange a free initial consultation. If you cannot come to our Omaha offices, we can consult with you by telephone.