The Bankruptcy Process: From your Initial Consultation to Case Filing
Our blog post last week focused on the emergency bankruptcy filing – typically any case filed less than a week after first meeting to discuss your financial situation. Since you should generally only consider an emergency bankruptcy filing as a response to an urgent problem (usually a home foreclosure, car repossession or wage garnishment), you’ll most likely follow the typical process of preparing and filing a bankruptcy?
So what does that look like when you hire The Law Office of Andrew S. Trexler?
Step 1: Your Initial Free Consultation
I offer anyone eligible to file bankruptcy in Colorado a free consultation. There really is no “minimum amount” of debt you need to file for bankruptcy relief. If you are overwhelmed by your debts and don’t have a rock-solid plan to pay them in full within around two years, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. While most potential clients want to meet in person, I offer consultations by phone when needed.
It’s my job at this consultation to explain how bankruptcy works, and the benefits for and responsibilities of anyone who files for bankruptcy protection. I also really do my best to understand what my potential client is earning, what they own, what they owe, and whether they made any financial transactions within the last few years that may affect their bankruptcy case in some way. Preparing and filing a good bankruptcy case is sort of like putting together a puzzle, and you need to start by making sure you have all the pieces and that everything will fit in place nicely.
I also explain my fees and the paperwork to the client, so they know exactly what they’ll need to pay to file, what they’ll need to gather and what questions they’ll need to answer. There’s a lot of work you need to do if you file for bankruptcy, but if you’re my client, I’ll be there to walk you through it all.
Step 2: Meeting to Prepare your Case
Once you make the decision to become a client of my firm, you schedule a time to pay the retainer fee and meet with me to review the documents and information needed to prepare your case for filing with the Bankruptcy Court in Denver. This appointment can be somewhat tedious, but rest assured it’s for a good purpose! Up to this point, we’ve only talked about your situation, and now we’re going through the documents to show your eligibility for bankruptcy and all the information needed to complete the petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, means test and other related documents in your case.
I feel it’s absolutely crucial to understand my clients’ financial situations in depth before we file, since timing can sometimes be everything in a bankruptcy filing: file too soon and without care and you could be dealing with a non-dischargeable tax debt, or a lawsuit against you, or the loss of something you really wanted to keep. File too late and you could be dealing with judgments on your home you can’t get rid of, or other negative consequences.
By the end of this appointment, my new client will know of any final needs before filing, and in most case should have a very good understanding of how their case will play out.
Step 3: Reviewing and Signing your Case & Electronic Case Filing
Once all the paperwork has been gathered and final questions answered, I can prepare the case for signature and filing with the Court. You must carefully review everything in your 60-80 page bankruptcy filing, and sign your name attesting to the truth of your statements. For this reason, we meet to make sure everything is in order and nothing has been left out, since mistakes are sometimes difficult to correct. Once everything is signed I file the case with the bankruptcy court online and give the client their case number and info on next steps. At that precise moment, nearly all creditors must stop trying to collect their debts, at least temporarily, but usually permanently. This first piece of relief is known as the “automatic stay.”
Next time: The process after filing