What You Can Expect when Filing for Bankruptcy
Choosing to file for bankruptcy, while not a decision to be taken lightly, doesn’t have to be scary. Being unfamiliar with the process can make it seem more intimidating than it has to be. Learn a bit more below about what happens when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and speak with a knowledgeable Mississippi bankruptcy attorney to learn if bankruptcy could be the right choice for you.
Filing your petition
After you and your lawyer decide that filing for bankruptcy is the right move for you, the first step you will need to take is to gather the necessary documents to support your petition. Your attorney will also help you create an itemized list of your income, living expenses, major financial transactions over the past two years, all debts, and all property you own. You will need to gather copies of your last six months’ income, two most recent tax returns, as well as documents for any loans you may have, and titles to any property you may own. This information will be used to complete and support the forms that make up your bankruptcy petition.
During this time, your attorney will also help you figure out which of your assets are exempt under the available Mississippi bankruptcy exemptions. Many Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitioners are able to have all of their property exempted. If an asset is non-exempt, then it could be seized by the court and sold, with the proceeds going to your creditors. Working with an experienced attorney is crucial to obtaining a “no-asset” bankruptcy, or exempting all possible property from bankruptcy. Equity in your home, vehicles, retirement, and necessary household items are usually exempt.
Role of the trustee
Once your petition is filed, you will be assigned a bankruptcy trustee. The trustee reviews your petition for accuracy and to ensure all necessary supporting documents have been submitted. The trustee acts as a liaison between you and your creditors, and may liquidate any non-exempt assets in order to pay your creditors.
Meeting of creditors
Approximately 30 to 45 days after you file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition, you will attend what’s called a 341 meeting, or a meeting of creditors. During the meeting, your bankruptcy trustee will ask you questions about your petition, confirming its accuracy. Your attorney will be with you at this meeting, and will prepare you by discussing the questions you can expect to answer. The meeting of creditors can last as little as five minutes. As indicated by the meeting’s name, this meeting is also intended as an opportunity for your creditors to ask you about your finances and petition. However, creditors often don’t appear at these meetings.
After your meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors will have 60 days to challenge your right to a discharge of your debts. Assuming that neither party challenges your right to a discharge, you can expect to receive notice from the court that your debts have been discharged within about a month of the objection deadline.
If you are facing serious amounts of credit card, medical debt, or other debt in Mississippi and want to know if bankruptcy could help you wipe the slate clean and start your financial life anew, speak with the knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy lawyers at the Gardner Law Firm, with offices in Biloxi (228-436-6555), Pascagoula (228-762-6555), and Hattiesburg (601-582-4300).