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Bankruptcy Process - Essential Steps Overview

Nov 12, 2007
If you are considering bankruptcy, you'll need to know what to expect during each phase of the process after filing.

Here's a basic overview of what to expect during the entire process:

First, you must decide which type of bankruptcy you want to file. Chapter 7 will free you of all of your debt, and allow you to begin rebuilding your credit after a few years. Many people do not qualify for this type of bankruptcy under new government guidelines established in 2005, however, which allow the court to determine if you indeed do qualify. Basically, the law requires you make less than the medium income in your state to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires you to pay back all of your debt within a specific timeframe in accordance to a schedule set by the court. While this may sound like a good solution, after all it's allowing you to pay back everyone you owe, it can be difficult since the court decides how much of your income is used for debt payments, and how much you are able to keep to live on. Their criteria is usually stringent, and doesn't allow for anything but necessities during the repayment period.

Once you've decided which type of bankruptcy to file for, it's time to start filing out mounds of legal paperwork. If you'll be filing yourself, be prepared to file app. 30 to 60 pages in your petition, including schedules and other papers filed at the time of your bankruptcy. You must follow all local and federal bankruptcy court rules carefully when completing these forms. It can be very tedious and confusing work. You must learn and understand a variety of bankruptcy laws and requirements specific to your state, and be able to type them in a specific manner.

About 4-6 weeks after filing for bankruptcy with the court, you will be required to attend a hearing presided over by the bankruptcy trustee called the First Meeting of Creditors. You will be required to answer detailed questions about your bankruptcy papers, assets, debts and other matters from both the trustee and your creditors.

Your creditors now have 60 days in most states to contest your bankruptcy filing. Once that deadline has passed you can expect the court t notify you of your official debt discharge in about 60 to 75 days.

Does filing bankruptcy mean the end of credit for a lifetime? Absolutely not! You can begin to reestablish your credit two years after the discharge of Bankruptcy. However, it will be recorded for 10 years and must be reported if asked. You may not file a new bankruptcy request for six years.
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