What is the process for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case?

As a Denver, Colorado bankruptcy lawyer, I’ve never met someone who wants to file a Chapter 7 case. However, during a free, initial consultation, I explain my law firm’s intake process step-by-step to help eliminate stress. I help my clients remain informed about their case from start to finish.

Step #1: Call or click to arrange for a free, initial bankruptcy consultation

Most of my initial consultations are conducted over the phone and take about 30 minutes. Some people prefer to schedule the consultation face to face at my office.

During an initial consultation, my primary goal is to explain a potential client’s best financial options both in bankruptcy and outside of bankruptcy. I start by asking a group questions which give me a good idea of the situation, and then try to get a feel about the primary goals of the consumer. Usually, that means figuring out a budget that works to reduce stress.

If a bankruptcy case might make financial sense, I’ll explain the “bankruptcy bargain.” That is, how debt relief, asset protection, and a financial “fresh start” are all promised by the Bankruptcy Code to consumers in exchange for completely and honestly disclosing the details of your finances. My job as a bankruptcy lawyer is to explain how that bargain would work in your situation, and I can generally outline that information in about 30 minutes over the phone during the initial consultation.

Step #2: Hiring me, paying fees, gathering documents

You can hire me to represent you either at the initial consultation or in the following weeks after by signing a written, retainer agreement. When you decide to hire me, we’ll figure out a payment plan for any necessary bankruptcy fees which works for your budget. This usually means not paying some creditors and using that same money to make a monthly or bi-weekly payment for your bankruptcy fees.

I’ll also ask you to deliver a group of documents which I need to prepare your petition.I prefer those documents be delivered electronically, but can scan your hard copies if more convenient after you deliver them to my office. The documents include an online questionnaire, 2 years of tax returns, driver’s licenses, social security cards, etc. You will also take a “credit counseling class” which can be done in about 30 minutes online or over the phone from your own home.

Step #3: Signing the Bankruptcy Petition

After your bankruptcy fees have been paid and required documents delivered, it usually takes me about 2 weeks to draft your bankruptcy petition. We will usually sit down face to face to review the petition in my office (occasionally, we can handle this step over the phone if more convenient).I’ll explain what the petition says, answer any questions, get your signatures, and file the petition electronically with the Bankruptcy Court. This appointment usually takes between 30 – 45 minutes.

Step #4: Meeting of Creditors

About 30 days after we file your bankruptcy petition, you will attend a “meeting of creditors.” This meeting generally lasts 5-10 minutes, and creditors almost never attend. Instead, a bankruptcy trustee will ask you a few very simple questions which I will prepare you for ahead of time and which all you have to do is answer honestly. As your attorney, I’ll be there with you for the short meeting.

Step #5: Debts Discharged, Case Closed

The reason you filed a case, most of time, is to “discharge” debts. This means you are no longer obligated to pay them. In Chapter 7 cases, the Bankruptcy Court can issue a discharge after 60 days has run from the meeting of creditors.

The last step is the Bankruptcy Court closing your case. This is done after the trustee has performed all of their duties, usually very soon after the discharge order is issued by the Court.

Ready to get started and live near Denver, Colorado? I would be pleased to speak with you about your best financial options moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule an initial consultation and get the process started.