How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works in Queens and Brooklyn
Bankruptcy cases fall under the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U. S. C. Section 101, et seq. This is federal law. Notwithstanding, state and local laws intertwine with each and every bankruptcy case. With that said, many people call and ask, how does chapter 7 bankruptcy work if you’re in Queens or Brooklyn.
While each and every lawyer will have their own way of doing things, you can expect most cases to run as follows. The first step is review your general facts and circumstances to see whether bankruptcy might work for you. This often involves a conversation that includes what kinds of income your household has, what kinds of expenses, what kinds of assets you have, and what kinds of bills and liabilities you may have. This is critical, as bankruptcy has limitations as to what kinds of debts might be dischargeable, whether your income allows you to file bankruptcy without a presumption of abuse, and what kinds of assets might be exposed to be marshaled by the trustee in a case.
After this initial intake, and deciding that bankruptcy works for you, you will have to put together documents to get your petition and schedules ready. While every case requires different documents, below are some of the common documents you will need in most bankruptcy cases:
- tax returns
- paystubs from previous 60 – 90 days
- bank account statements from any and all bank accounts from previous 6 months
- bills, collection letters, lawsuit documents, credit report
- a list of household expenses
- any titles to property (real estate, vehicles, etc)
- financing statements (mortgage statement, vehicle financing statement, etc)
- valuations of property, such as real estate, vehicles, jewelry
When someone files for bankruptcy, they have to take two budgeting and finance courses, one course before the case is filed (called credit counseling) and one course after the case is filed (called debtor education). Generally, while I am preparing a client’s petition and schedules, I will have them complete the first course. When the course is completed, and the petition and schedules are ready for review, the client will come back in to review, make any changes to the bankruptcy papers, sign the documents, and the case will be ready to be filed.
Once these documents are compiled, you will begin to work on the petition and schedules. This requires use of the official bankruptcy forms. The petition requires basic information, including names, addresses, what kind of case the bankruptcy is, estimated assets and liabilities, as well as signatures. The schedules are the forms where all of the financial information is included, including any and all interests in property, exemptions claimed, interests in assets, all the liabilities, and income and expense information, including the required means test.
Once the case gets filed, the court will notify all interested parties of the case information, including the case number, who the trustee is, and when the meeting of creditors is. Generally, the meeting of creditors is about 30 days from the date of filing. At the meeting of creditors, the trustee assigned to your case will ask you questions about your circumstances to confirm the information in the petition and schedules, and to ensure that there are no assets available to marshal and liquidate. If the trustee is satisfied with your documents and testimony, the meeting of creditors is closed.
After the meeting of creditors, the case is generally pretty silent as in not much happens. In this time, you have to complete the second course and file the certificate. After the meeting of creditors, the case remains open for about another 3 months to allow for any creditor or party in interest to file an objection or claim. If nothing happens, the discharge order is eventually signed and entered, and the case is closed.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy case is a great way of eliminating debts and obtaining a fresh start in your financial life. There is information and documents that you will have to bring together to prepare your bankruptcy petition and schedules. Once the petition and schedules are filed, you will have to appear at a meeting of creditors, where a trustee will ask you questions about your petition and the circumstances of the bankruptcy. Assuming no issues, the meeting of creditors is closed, and the case eventually closes in about 3 months after the order of discharge is entered.
If you live in Queens or Brooklyn, and you would like to learn more about how a chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you eliminate debt, stop a garnishment and obtain a financial fresh start, contact the Law Office of Richard Kistnen, (718) 738-2324. If you’re interested in filing for bankruptcy on your own, and want some guidance, then you may want to check out the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Webinar that I will be hosting!