Bankruptcy Procedures

After filing bankruptcy paperwork, the vast majority of bankruptcy cases proceed through the process without a hitch. Here's what you can expect.

The bankruptcy court notifies creditors of the automatic stay order prohibiting most collection activities, assigns filing and hearing dates, and appoints a bankruptcy trustee to oversee the case. Your first job will be to provide the trustee with financial or "521" documents such as tax returns, proof of earnings, and banking and retirement account statements. Then you'll attend a hearing called the 341 meeting of creditors where you'll show the trustee identification and answer questions under oath. Most hearings take about ten minutes to complete, and creditors rarely appear.

Chapter 7 filers will have one more thing to do before receiving a discharge—complete the debtor management course and file the certificate with the court. Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers must attend a Chapter 13 plan confirmation hearing where a judge determines whether the repayment plan satisfies requirements and complete the approved payment plan.

Motions, adversary proceedings (bankruptcy trials), and other types of litigation don't arise much in Chapter 7—they're more common in Chapter 13 matters. Even so, you can rest assured knowing that most bankruptcy lawyers can identify issues in advance and will have already formulated a strategy.  

The bankruptcy articles below explain the automatic stay, what will happen at the 341 meeting of creditors, the Chapter 13 confirmation process, bankruptcy litigation, and other procedural issues.

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