Filing for Bankruptcy 101

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, about 600,000 each year file for bankruptcy in the US. Graph with link. Job loss, divorce, and medical bills are the three most common reasons that filers site for taking this legal step. If you’re considering doing so too, you’ll want the help of a trusted bankruptcy attorney in Boulder. 

Chose a chapter

Once you identify a bankruptcy attorney in Boulder to help you through the process, you’ll need to decide which chapter you’ll be filing. Chapter 7 allows a debtor to discharge all of their debts with a few exceptions like student loans. Chapter 13, on the other hand, doesn’t discharge debt and instead puts you on a trajectory for paying back your debts through payment plans and is more of a debt reorganization plan.  

Collect your documents

One of the first steps you’ll need to take is to collect necessary documents. Contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Tranunion, and Equifax, and request current credit reports. Collect any billing statements you have in your home, as well as any other documentation that shows money due for goods and services that you can’t pay.  

Register for credit counseling

In order to file for bankruptcy, you must first register for and complete a credit counseling class. These classes are held all over and a simple Google search will return several providers in your area. Your attorney can also suggest a place where you can take care of this requirement.  

File forms in court

The next step is to sign a bankruptcy petition. These forms disclose all of your debts and other financial information like assets that you own. Your lawyer will then submit your petition to the court and the day of filing becomes the effective day of your petition. The court will then issue your first bankruptcy hearing date.  

Attend 341 meeting

Your hearing date is called a 341 meeting and it will be the first time you meet with your bankruptcy trustee to discuss your circumstances. Your creditors are also invited to attend the meeting but seldom do. These meetings are typically pretty quick and your lawyer will prepare you for it.

Start rebuilding your finances

Following your 341 meeting, and the completion of your credit counseling class, you will be issued a certificate of discharge which shows that your debts have been discharged by the court as of a specific date. You will use this certificate in any financial dealings moving forward, and with creditors who might still come knocking looking for payment. Your lawyer will advise you to hang on to this paper for a minimum of 10 years.