Filing for bankruptcy might seem like a daunting task, especially given the stress and strain you are likely already experiencing due to your financial situation, but this process can go smoothly if you have a clear idea of what to do and expect. Here are the steps you will need to familiarize yourself with and take if you are considering filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Understand your debt: There are some debts that are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, such as child support payments, student loans, and certain taxes. If you pledged collateral for a debt, a creditor would be able to take the property if the debt has not been paid.
- Know your state’s exemption laws: Exemption laws dictate the types of property you are able to keep when filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In some cases, these laws can also determine how much equity in you are able to keep in certain kinds of property.
- Check if you are eligible: Not everyone is eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so before you embark on filing any forms, make sure you are eligible. If your average income during the 6 months prior to your filing date is greater than the median income for a family of your size in your state, you might not be eligible, depending on your debt and income.
- Redeem or reaffirm secured debt: You will need to pay a creditor if you pledged property as collateral for a loan and want to keep the property. Upon filing for bankruptcy, you will be asked if you want to redeem the property and pay the creditor the replacement value of it, or if you want to reaffirm the debt and agree to new contract terms with the creditor. You also have the option of surrendering the property and allowing the creditor to take it.
- Fill out the forms: There are about a few dozen pages of forms in which you must document and list debts, income, property, expenses, names of creditors, disputed debts, any property you would like to claim as exempt, and what you want to do regarding any secured debts you might have.
- File the forms: Your case officially begins once you file your petition. If your case is an emergency, you can file a two-page form and file the complete set within 14 days.
- Meeting with the trustee: Generally, those filing for bankruptcy will only need to go to court once to meet with the trustee, and possibly a couple of creditors. During this meeting, your case will be reviewed and, if there are any questions regarding the information you provided on the forms, you will have to provide answers.
- File any necessary motions or objections: If you either want to dispute a creditor’s claim against you or eliminate certain liens, this will be the time to address these matters.
- Handle secured debts: When you began filing your bankruptcy forms, you stated how you intend to handle your secured debts. Before your case can be closed, you will have to handle your secured debts, however you plan to do it.
- Get your discharge: If successful, the court will issue and order stating that your debts are officially discharged. You will no longer be legally obligated to pay them and a creditor can no longer demand payment for them.
Get in Touch with the Justice Café for an Affordable Solution
Deciding to file for bankruptcy can be a difficult decision, but can be made easier with some knowledgeable help to navigate you every step of the way. At The Justice Café by The Manely Firm, PLLC, our Georgia bankruptcy attorneys are here to ensure there are no missteps within the process, from start to finish. We are dedicated to helping our clients, regardless of the complexity of the situation. Our attorneys are prepared to assist you in discerning which debts can be liquidated and what you should do to prepare yourself moving forward.
We are also proud to provide low-cost legal services to get you through this time. If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy with one of our experienced Georgia attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at (888) 817-6610. This is a chance for you to start fresh, so why not seek skilled help to make sure it is done right?