What Can I Expect When I File for Bankruptcy
Preparing to File Bankruptcy
After making the decision to file for bankruptcy and you’ve found a trustworthy attorney to do so, you must begin gathering the necessary information immediately. You will need paperwork that outlines your current debts, assets, expenses and income.
You should also find somebody that you trust to appoint as your trustee. The trustee in your bankruptcy case, often your bankruptcy lawyer, will provide the following:
- Review of your bankruptcy documents: The trustee will ensure all the proper paperwork is completed and accurate so that you waste no more time in your filing. If you tell the court you have $10,000 in debt, the trustee will review your debts and ensure that amount is accurate.
- Inquire about your debts and assets under oath: Creditors will be permitted to ask you questions about your paperwork, and the trustee will ask you these questions in court, under oath, to ensure that your answers are correct.
- Determine your property value: When you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 you are allowed to keep certain assets. However, other assets may be sold to pay off creditors. The trustee will determine the value of these assets that you must sell.
- Ensure your bankruptcy filing meets the court requirements: The trustee is there to make sure that you follow the filing to the letter of the law, and that nothing is overlooked.
Now that you know a little bit more about the bankruptcy trustee that you’ll work closely with, let’s understand the steps to take in filing for bankruptcy in Pittsburgh.
Step 1: DECIDING TO FILE
Often the most difficult decision in a bankruptcy case is the decision to file. Many look upon this as a failure, but we feel it is the first sign of strength. In filing, you’re admitting that the problem is too big to solve on your own, and therefore is a sign of strength that you are getting the help you require.
Speak with a licensed attorney, preferably one that will provide a free consultation, to help you determine if bankruptcy is the answer for you.
Be wary of large bankruptcy corporations, and be selective in your process. Gross & Patterson is a well-known and established Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney because of the time we take to understand every clients needs and wishes. We will provide referrals during our free consultation with you if you request them.
Step 2: REVIEW YOUR DEBT
It’s important to understand your current situation inside and out. Take the time to fully understand:
- All of your debts and the amount of each
- Know your creditors, what they are expecting from you, and the deadlines they have given you
- Your property and how much it is worth
- Your current income from all of your employers
Doing so will speed up the bankruptcy process and ensure that you have the correct paperwork at your initial meeting with your attorney. Understanding your situation will also help you and your attorney determine if you are even eligible for bankruptcy.
If you are being sued, our bankruptcy lawyers will need to know detailed information pertaining to the lawsuit. We may be able to prevent the entry of a default judgment or file an emergency petition to postpone any pending court action.
In addition, if you do not have some of the above required information, we have ability to obtain it through credit checks.
Step 3: FILL OUT YOUR BANKRUPTCY FORMS
In many cases, the following information is useful when filing for bankruptcy in Pittsburgh:
- Tax Returns for the past two years
- 6 months of Payment Stubs or proof of income
- List of Monthly Expenses
- Mortgage Statements, If Any
- Copies of All Bills
- Credit Card Statements
- Car Payments
- Pending Judgments or Lawsuits
- Any Other Financial Records
You’ll need to take the time with your bankruptcy attorney to fill out dozens of bankruptcy forms. While this seems daunting, your attorney will complete most of this for you.
Step 4: MEET IN COURT
While going to court may sound scary, the actual case will last just a few hours at the most and the questions you will be asked are ones that you will already know the answers to, since you have done your research by this point and your attorney has guided you.
We often find that court time is almost a relief for clients, and something that they are just checking off as one of the steps. They are often relieved at the thought of getting a fresh start, that court is simply a required step that they get through.
During the court session, you may be asked about income, expenses, debts and other details from your paperwork.
Step 5: RECEIVE YOUR DISCHARGE
The discharge is provided by the court and outlines which debts you are now free of. This is the moment in a bankruptcy filing that you have been waiting for!
It is often a rewarding time, where you and your attorney review together the debts that you are no longer responsible for. At this time, a good bankruptcy attorney will provide some tips on how to build a stable future so that you do not wind up back in bankruptcy court.
For many people, bankruptcy is the best option to stop harassing telephone calls and get creditor relief. If you think filing bankruptcy sounds like a valid solution for you, contact us today to schedule a FREE telephone consultation, which takes just a few minutes.