Filing for bankruptcy might seem like a daunting task and summon images of juries and stern judges in a court room. Surprisingly for most cases, the process ends up being fairly easy and painless, especially if you hire a lawyer. If you file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these cases are often straight forward and you only will need to step foot in the courthouse once or twice.
The first time you would have to go to the courthouse would be to submit your bankruptcy forms to the clerk’s office. If you hire an attorney, they can usually do this online so you would not have to go to the courthouse at all.
Meeting of Creditors
The 341 meeting, or Meeting of the Creditors, is not always held in a courthouse, but can be in a meeting room with a couple people present along with you and your attorney. A trustee will look over your paperwork where you listed your assets, debts, and creditors, and they might ask you a few questions about your financial affairs to ensure you were telling the truth or to clear up any confusion. It is their job to stop fraud from occurring. Once they are satisfied, they will approve your bankruptcy filing.
You will only have to appear again if something goes wrong during this process. Your attorney can prepare you for the meeting so you know what types of questions you might be asked and so you can have some answers prepared beforehand.
Individuals with significant assets and income or those who are filing for a Chapter 11 or 13 will probably have a more complicated case to deal with and there will likely be more questioning to determine a fair repayment plan and to decide which debts should actually be discharged and which you are able to pay back.
You must be diligent in creating this plan and listing all of your assets and debts, so the trustee does not think you are trying to hide or protect some of your investments. Both Chapter 11 and 13 allow you to keep some of your assets, so it is better to be honest up front to save yourself trouble later.
Being in the position of having to file for bankruptcy can be a challenging time, both for individuals and businesses. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you through the process and ensure your case is handled fairly so you can start over in the most beneficial way possible.