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Bankruptcy > For Debtors > Bankruptcy Planning and Process

What type of bankruptcy can I file?

The type of bankruptcy an individual may file is based on the individual’s income and expenses and how it compares to what is considered the “median” annual income for the individual’s state.  It also depends on the size of the individual’s household and specific expenses. At the initial bankruptcy consultation, an attorney will discuss what type of bankruptcy is available for the particular situation.  In some cases, it is necessary for an individual to provide your financial documentation before the attorney can accurately determine the type of bankruptcy that is appropriate.

What is included in my bankruptcy?

Individuals must include all of their creditors and list all of their assets.  If individuals do not disclose all of their assets and creditors, they will be guilty of a federal crime and will be penalized.  It is important that individuals tell their attorneys everything so that their bankruptcy goes as smoothly as possible.  If individuals do not provide the documentation requested or are not truthful, they will jeopardize their bankruptcy case and may not be able to keep property or discharge debts that they would otherwise have been able to keep or discharge.

With planning individuals should be able to keep their property and reorganize their financial affairs.  Hiding assets or failing to be truthful is against the law and will cause trouble.  Full disclosure is necessary and will allow the bankruptcy to run smoothly.

What bills can I still pay?

After an individual decides to file bankruptcy, the individual may not purposely incur additional debt.  For example, an individual that is going to file for bankruptcy must not continue to use credit cards or takeout new loans.  An individual that is going to file bankruptcy may also not treat any creditors preferentially.  For example, the individual may not pay family members back for loans instead of paying a credit card debt.  All unsecured creditors must be treated equally.  Continuing to pay for living expenses and insurance is always appropriate.

What documents do I need?

After your initial consultation with one of our attorneys, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of the documents you will need to provide to us prior to filing your bankruptcy case.  However, listed below are the main items we will need in order to determine whether or not you are able to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case:

  1. Tax returns for the past four years
  2. Six months of pay stubs for you and your spouse
  3. Documentation of any additional income you receive or have received from any source during the last 6 months.
I think I need to file. What do I do now?
  1. Set a time to meet with an attorney for your free consultation.
  2. Provide all of the documentation necessary to file your case.  We will give you a list of documentation necessary and once we have received all of your documents that we will be able to prepare your case.
  3. Once we have all of your documentation, we will provide you with the information necessary to complete the credit counseling class that is necessary prior to filing your bankruptcy case.  It takes about an hour to complete and can be done on the Internet or by phone.  You may not file a bankruptcy unless you have completed a credit counseling class within 180 days PRIOR to filing your bankruptcy case. 
  4. Once we have prepared the documents called “Schedules” that detail your assets and debts, you will meet with an attorney to review your case and make sure all of the Schedules are accurate. 
  5. Once your case is filed with the bankruptcy court, you will be appointed a trustee and given a date for a “Creditor’s Meeting” approximately 45 days after filing your bankruptcy.  You must attend the meeting.  It is scheduled for approximately an hour, but usually only takes 10 minutes depending on how many other meetings are scheduled at the same time.  We will let you know where and when you will need to appear.  An attorney will attend the meeting with you and you will need to show your government-issued photo identification (driver’s license or passport is fine) and your social security card (if you do not have one, you can provide an original pay stub).  The trustee will ask you any questions he or she has about your financial affairs as of the date of filing your bankruptcy case.
  6. After filing your bankruptcy, you will need to complete a financial management course.  It will take approximately one hour of time to complete and can be done via Internet or phone.
  7. If you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and there are no assets for the trustee to sell to pay your creditors, you will obtain a discharge from the bankruptcy court within 6 months.
  8. If you have filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to make your Plan payments from the date you file bankruptcy until you have completed your Plan (typically 60 months).
  9. If you have filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, another hearing will be set to confirm/approve your Plan.  You need not attend this hearing. Once the Chapter 13 Plan is confirmed/approved, you will continue to make your Plan payments for the duration of the Plan and after you have made all of your payments, you will be granted a discharge by the court.
The information provided in this website is meant only as a general description of the current laws as of the date of the writing. It is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of all the nuances of the law and is intended to be only an overview. Many issues may appear simpler than they are, and an individual should always contact an attorney to obtain a complete, accurate interpretation of the law given the individual's particular circumstances. Thompson Law Group, P.C. makes no representations as to how the law would affect a particular situation and intends only to illustrate areas of concern and give general information.

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