Chapter 7 bankruptcy may seem intimidating, but as you can tell from the following infographic, the steps that go into successfully completing your case are pretty straightforward.

For those of you who may not be able to view the image, the text follows:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline

  • Initial Consultation
    • Meet with an attorney to discuss your financial circumstances and options including debt settlement, repayment plans, Ch. 7 and Ch. 13 bankruptcy. Takes about an hour and costs $0.00.
  • Retain Our Office – 1 day to 2 weeks after the initial consult
    • Sign the contract for legal services and make your first payment.
  • Make Payments –  Within 4 months of retaining
    • Pay the balance of your attorney’s fees in installments. The court filing fee can be paid during this time or after your case is filed.
  • Turn in Paperwork – With your final attorney’s fee payment
    • Once you’re ready to make your last payment, call our office to set up a time to drop off all your paperwork. The more thorough and complete your paperwork is, the quicker and easier your case will go.
  • Take your Credit Counseling Course – After your paperwork has been turned in but before your case is filed
    • Before your case is filed, the court requires that you take a credit counseling course. It takes about 90 minutes, costs about $15, and can be done online.
  • Case Preparation – Once paperwork is turned in and fees are paid
    • We’ll go through your paperwork and be in touch with questions, clarifications, and requests for for information.
  • Sign and File – Generally about 2 – 4 weeks after paperwork is turned in and fees paid
    • Once you’ve reviewed and signed everything, we’ll file it with the court. Lawsuits, garnishments, foreclosures, and other collections stop at this time.
  • Pay Your Court Filing Fee – Between 15 and 120 days after the case is filed
    • If you didn’t do so before the case was filed, you can pay you court fee in installments after the fact. The first payment will be due within 15 days of case filing.
  • 341 Meeting of Creditors – About a month after your case is filed
    • No judge, no jury, just a 5 – 10 minute meeting with a Trustee to answer some basic questions about your case. You’ll be prepped and ready and your attorney will be there with you.
  • Take your Debtor Education Course – Within 45 days of the 341 Meeting
    • Before your debts can be discharged, the court requires that you take a financial management course. It takes about 90 minutes, costs about $15, and can be done online.
  • Debts Discharged – No sooner than 60 days after your 341 meeting, but not until the debtor education certificate is filed and court filing fees are paid
    • All the debts listed in your case that can be discharged are wiped out. Certain taxes, student loans, child or spousal support, fees owed the government, and other debts aren’t affected.
  • Trustee Case Administration – Beginning at the 341 and ending when the job is done
    • In a Ch. 7, you surrender certain assets in exchange for getting your debts wiped out. The Trustee collects these assets. We’ll make sure the amount you turn over is as little as possible, and ideally nothing.
  • Case Closed – No sooner than 30 days after the discharge of debts, but not before the end of trustee case administration
    • Once all the steps described above have been taken, the court will close your case and you can enjoy your fresh start.

This timeline represents the most common stages major in a chapter 7 bankruptcy, and does not attempt to list every step, deadline, or obligation.

To discuss your debt with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer call 303-900-8598.