How Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Help When You File Chapter 13?
Bankruptcy attorneys guide clients through the process of a bankruptcy procedure, communicating with the court, offering expert advice and answering your questions.
There are two main types of bankruptcy used by most consumers, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is often referred to as a “Fresh Start” bankruptcy, in which many, if not all, unsecured debts are discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a “reorganization” plan in which you work with a trustee of the court, repaying at least part of your debts, over a period of three to five years. If you have a home, vehicles or other items you want to retain, then Chapter 13 is the type of filing for you. Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy can go a long way in relieving some of the stress of having debts that you are unable to pay.
What Can Bankruptcy Attorneys Do For You?
Many questions can be answered over the phone with the bankruptcy lawyer prior to an in-person meeting. In an initial consultation, (usually no-cost, no-obligation) based on the information you provide, the attorney will evaluate your case and go over your options. In the event that Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not the best choice for you, you will receive other suggestions for debt relief. Once the decision to file bankruptcy has been made to file you begin the process with your attorney.
The first step in the process is to determine if are qualified to file under the laws of bankruptcy. Using your income records, your attorney will help you prepare a budget worksheet. When this is ready the attorney will review your assets and your liabilities (things you own, things you owe). In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you agree to make consistent monthly payments to the court. The bankruptcy attorneys work closely with you to arrive at a monthly payment amount that you can afford while still being able to meet your basic financial obligations (rent or mortgage payment, utilities, food, etc.).
2. Credit Counseling Class
You must complete a mandatory credit counseling class online. Some bankruptcy attorneys have you take the course at their office where they can help you. Others may choose to have you complete it on your own. You should gather all of your financial information and have it at hand before starting the course. Your attorney will provide detailed information to assist you in this part of the process. The attorney will also require copies or a detailed list of your debts; they will also obtain copies of your credit report.
Disclosure and paperwork is next in the process of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This takes place in the attorney’s office. Don’t leave anything out. Your absolute honesty and cooperation is essential to finding debt relief through bankruptcy. After the attorney has thoroughly explained the purpose of each document and form, asked you all the required questions, gone over the petition, schedules and all documents line-by-line, you will then sign everything.
Many cases have been filed within 24 hours of starting the process. It all depends on the facts of the case and client choices. The completed forms are filed electronically using special bankruptcy software. The original signed copies will be kept by your attorney. The Bankruptcy Court will inform all of your creditors that you have filed bankruptcy.
5. Meeting of Creditors
About 30 days after filing you will have a meeting set with your bankruptcy trustee. You will be notified by mail a few weeks prior to the hearing. You have the option to be notified by email even earlier. You will attend the hearing with your bankruptcy attorney. Your Bankruptcy Trustee will confirm that your paperwork is completed and correct and that you reviewed it. These are public hearings, and there will be other people who have filed bankruptcy in the room, along with their attorneys. Your creditors have the option to appear at this hearing and ask questions about your case (although they seldom do).
6. Plan Payments
You are required to make payments to the bankruptcy trustee starting within 30 days of the filing of your case. In some cases, where garnishment is in effect at the time of filing, you may be able to delay the start of the payments until the garnishment from the creditor is lifted. Bankruptcy attorneys will discuss with you how long the plan will most likely run at the time the case is filed.
7. Confirmation Order
Within about 60 days of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a hearing to determine if your plan is appropriate takes place; you are not required to attend. If the Court determines the plan is appropriate then it will issue an order “confirming” the plan. Once the case is confirmed you continue to make your payments under the plan.
8. Debtor Education Class
Another required class that you must take before you can get a discharge is the Debtor Education Class. Bankruptcy attorneys will provide you with information on the classes available. Some law firms refer their clients to a non-profit agency for one-on-one credit counseling.
9. Motion for Discharge
After you have completed your plan payments, your bankruptcy attorneys will have you fill out some additional paperwork and will then file a motion for discharge.
10. Discharge Order
Within about 30 days of the Motion for Discharge being granted, if the Court determines that you complied with all applicable rules and have successfully completed your plan payments, an Order of Discharge is granted. Shortly thereafter your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is closed. From start to finish, Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes from three to five years, depending on how quickly you complete your payment plan.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Kansas, you should speak with one of the bankruptcy attorneys at Coons & Crump, LLC, as soon as possible. We have offices conveniently located in Overland Park, Lawrence and Topeka.
The Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyers at Coons & Crump, LLC are supportive, knowledgeable, and want all of our clients to experience the relief that Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide. Please contact our Chapter 13 lawyers for more information and for a free, confidential consultation.