Creditors are calling day and night, there is no money left at the end of the pay period, and it is a struggle just to make it through each month. This is a familiar situation for many Florida residents, and the allure of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is strong. However, many people do not understand how the process works, so they are hesitant to take advantage of this debt relief option.
It is true that the process can be complex and frustrating, but the potential rewards are worth it to most people who file. People often refer to the saying “knowledge is power,” and the saying is especially true when it comes to bankruptcy. Understanding the basics of the process might help make it less intimidating.
First, the means test will help Florida residents determine whether to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Next, a credit counseling course is required to be completed within six months of the filing of the petition. This course can be done online. All financial information needs to be gathered. It is important that all debts be included in the bankruptcy because, if a debt is not listed, the filer could remain responsible for that debt even after receiving a discharge.
Once the petition is filed, a post-filing credit course, which can also be done online, is required. In most cases, courtroom appearances are limited to a 341 meeting, during which the trustee who goes over the paperwork and asks any questions necessary to determine whether one qualifies for a discharge. If all goes well, a discharge of most, or all, debts can be issued approximately 60 days after this meeting.
Of course, this is a simplified version of the process, and is only meant to provide a broad picture of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. There are deadlines, documentation and other requirements that need to be met in order for the process to go smoothly. For these reasons, and others, it is not recommended that people file without the assistance of attorneys. The stakes are often too high to go through the process alone.
Source: wisebread.com, “11 Steps to Take When Bankruptcy Is Your Only Option“, Andrea Cannon, March 11, 2016