One of the most common questions we receive is what does a client need to do to file a Chapter 7 and stop creditor collection efforts. Here is the usual process.
Free Initial Consultation – Discuss Basic Bankruptcy Process
Normally, you begin by scheduling a free initial consultation with an attorney and that is usually with me – Rob Russell. At the initial consultation you will be given basic information on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and how each might benefit you. You will get a good understanding of how bankruptcy might help you. [You can also, at any time, review the information available throughout this website.]
If you are interested in obtaining more information specific to your circumstances, we need specific information from you. We will give you forms to fill out and a list of documents to obtain such as bank statements and pay stubs.
Drop Off Information/Deposit
When you have all the necessary information and documents collected, you can come to our office and drop off the completed/collected information. You do not need an appointment to drop off the documents. Normally, you will need to drop off a $450 nonrefundable deposit at the same time. (We do make exceptions.) With this information we will create a draft petition, send you an email stating the information/documents we may still need, and contact you to set up an appointment for you to come in and review the draft petition for filing. [It normally takes about 7-14 days to have your case filed after you drop off the documents, etc. If you need to be filed faster than that, we can certainly make arrangements to get that done!)
Review and Sign Bankruptcy Petition
At the appointment, you will review your draft petition, make updates/corrections and make sure it is accurate. When it is accurate you will meet with me, Rob Russell, and we’ll go over your situation. (Normally, our meeting happens that same day you review the draft petition.) At that meeting I will go over the details of your case and discuss your options – Chapter 7, Chapter 13, non-bankruptcy options. I will explain the pros and cons of each option. If you have all your questions answered and you are ready to file, then we’ll set up payment arrangements for the balance due on the fees.
After you have updated your bank account balances and signed the petition, we file your bankruptcy petition with the court. (Petitions are filed electronically with the bankruptcy court in Tacoma.)
341 Meeting (About 30 days after filing)
Approximately 30 days after your petition is filed, you will have to personally attend a Section 341 First Meeting of Creditors (“341 Meeting”). Immediately after filing, the court will mail out a notice to you and your creditors that states the date, time and place of the 341 Meeting. As a result, you will have at least three weeks notice of the 341 Meeting. [Presently, Chapter 7 341 Meetings are always held at the Vancouver Federal Building on Wednesday mornings. The only real question is the date and time of the meeting.]
Discharge Order (Exactly 60 days after the 341 Meeting or about 90 days after filing)
Exactly 60 days after your 341 Meeting, the court will enter your Discharge Order (assuming you have taken your post-filing class and filed the resulting certificate with the court). In a “no asset” case (99% of the time), your case is complete. It is, therefore, about 90 days from the date your case is filed until the the date the court enters your Discharge Order.
Case Closed by Court
In a “no asset” case, the bankruptcy court will officially close your case a few days after entry of the Discharge Order. This happens automatically. You do not need to do anything.
We Care – We Are Here to Help
On our homepage you will see information if you are Considering Bankruptcy, if you want to know your options Instead of Bankruptcy, and what you might expect After Bankruptcy. We will help you analyze all your options. You can also look over the considerable information presented in this website. If you are looking for something specific and can’t find it, you can use the “Search this Website” feature at the top right of each page. If you can’t find what you are looking for, please feel free to send me an email and ask. You might also check out our client Testimonials and see what other clients have said about dealing with our office. If we can help, just let us know.