Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take many slow, calculated steps to get right. You might feel like you are drowning in paperwork in the first week of your journey. So, How long does it take for an attorney to file bankruptcy after everything is turned in?
How Long Does It Take for an Attorney to File Bankruptcy After Everything is Turned in?
The good news is that once all of the necessary documents are collected and organized your attorney can immediately begin filing your bankruptcy petition.
Chapter 7 Discharge Timeline
You’ll progress through several required steps in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. Your attorney will keep you on track and make sure every step is completed to the satisfaction of the bankruptcy court. During this time, you will work with your attorney to secure and prepare important documents for bankruptcy such as a list of your assets, liabilities, and creditors.
However, before you are allowed to file, you’ll be enrolling in a mandatory credit-counseling course. You can complete this course online or by phone.
What Happens During the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Process?
Once your documents are all accounted for and you’ve signed off on their accuracy, your legal representative can audit your file and prepare it for the bankruptcy filing.
Filing Petitions and Other Paperwork
Filing will usually happen shortly after you review and sign the package prepared by your attorney. This package is called “Petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs.”
Providing 521 documents
Your bankruptcy trustee will require 521 documents that include two months of paycheck stubs and bank statements. Two years of Federal tax returns should also be provided.
Notifying the Creditors
The bankruptcy court notifies all of your creditors listed on your petition that your case is filed. At this time, an automatic stay goes into effect and creditors can no longer contact you about your debt.
What Happens After Filing?
Attending the 341 Meeting of Creditors
After about a month you’ll attend a creditor’s meeting, also called a 341 Meeting of Creditors, where you will answer questions under oath asked by the bankruptcy trustee. Your bankruptcy lawyer will be at your side during this hearing. Creditors usually do not bother attending.
Filing the Debtor Education Certificate
Within 60 days you’ll be required to complete a mandatory budget counseling session and file a form informing the court upon completion.
Receiving the Discharge
You may have to wait for three months or more after your 341 Meeting of Creditors to hear from the bankruptcy court. The court will hopefully be sending you a written discharge of your debts. Bankruptcy filings are rarely denied at this point. Generally, only a complaint filed by a creditor can delay approval.
At this point, your qualifying debt is cleared except for certain debts that are exempt like child support, most tax debts, and student loans. For more information on what happens during the filing process, the US Courts System offers plenty of information.
Chapter 13 Discharge Timeline
Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn’t wipe all of your debts away. Instead, you work out a payment plan to repay your creditors over several years.
What Happens During the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Filing Process?
As with any bankruptcy process, the hardest work is done before the filing day as you and your lawyer diligently collect numerous documents down to the finest details of your financial history. You’ll also determine the most feasible plan for you to make payments over the next three to five years to pay off your debts.
You are also required to take a credit counseling course before filing your petition.
Petitions and Other Paperwork
Once every administrative requirement is met and you and your lawyer have laid out your plan your “petition day” has arrived. Filing can move forward that day or in the days that follow.
Once your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, creditors are prevented from contacting you about your debt. They are forced to rely on your payment plan to get their money. An Automatic Stay also prevents foreclosure, eviction, most wage garnishment and can keep your utilities being shut off.
Appointment of Trustee
A few days after submitting your petition you should receive a “Notice of Appointment of Trustee” from the court. The trustee will check over your documents and may request more information.
What Happens After Filing?
In the following days your trustee and your creditors will be going over your proposed payment plan and determine if it would cover all of your debt and if it is feasible given your financial situation.
You won’t wait on creditor feedback, trustee input, or the court’s opinion on your payment schedule. Your first promised payment will be due within 30 days after you file for bankruptcy.
341 Meeting of Creditors
Around four weeks after filing you’ll be summoned to a Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors set up by your trustee. You will be under oath at your 341 Meeting of Creditors as you answer questions about your documents and your proposal for repaying your debts. Your attorney will be on hand to help you through this meeting.
20 to 45 days after your meeting of creditors, the confirmation hearing for your case will be held. Your appearance at that hearing is not necessary, your attorney will appear for you. A bankruptcy judge will go over any problems brought up by creditors or your trustee. If issues can be worked out, the court can then decide to approve your repayment plan.
Repayment Plan Payment
Once your plan is approved you will continue fulfilling your promise to pay monthly towards your debt. Your trustee will provide regular updates on how much you’ve paid to each creditor. Any deviation from your payment plan can jeopardize or delay your chance of getting free from bankruptcy.
Financial Management Course
At some point before your last payment, you will be required to fulfill a Pre-Discharge Debtor Education Requirement. You’ll take this course in financial management from a U.S. Trustee Program approved provider.
You will file a certificate proving that you completed this personal finance course.
What Happens When Your Bankruptcy Case Ends?
If you complete your payment plan successfully you can earn a discharge from the rest of your qualifying debt. You’ll be mailed a formal notice of your discharge. This happens anywhere from three to five years from when you filed. You may even earn a discharge earlier if you completely pay off your debts before three years have passed.
It’s important to remember that discharges can be denied or revoked later if it’s found that you lied on paperwork or in testimony. You can expect your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to stay on your credit report for seven years from your filing or petition date.
Contact a Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles or anywhere across Southern California please contact us today. For over 20 years and 3,000 cases, the attorneys with the Law Offices of Steers and Associates have saved clients millions of dollars through bankruptcy cases. They have stood by their clients through difficult times and helped them reach the other side to financial freedom.
Elena Steers is an expert in bankruptcy law and debt negotiation in California and has worked on both sides of the bankruptcy process. She uses her knowledge of how these cases play out to give clients a voice in a process that can sometimes make them feel helpless. Take a moment and read her extensive amount of legal experience.
You may also find our online guide to bankruptcy helpful, The Ultimate Guide to California Bankruptcy
Elena Steers is a highly experienced bankruptcy attorney, the founder of Law Offices of Steers & Associates, and previously worked as a Bankruptcy Trustee Assistant at the Office of the Chapter 13 Trustee in Los Angeles. Her current affiliations include the State Bar of California, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association.