Contact Barbara Cusumano, Attorney at Law
1.Schedule an Appointment with a Gainesville Bankruptcy Lawyer
The first, and perhaps most important step, is recognizing that help is needed and requesting a free confidential consultation with Barbara Cusumano, Attorney at Law. At the relaxed, informal bankruptcy consultation (a judgment free zone – I promise!) we will go over your financial situation, I will answer any and all questions that you may have and explain the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process in clear, easy to understand terms.
2.Establish a Payment Option
At that point, if you decide to go forward, I will provide you with a legal fee and cost quote and provide you with a list of documents that we will need to proceed. I do offer payment plans for the legal fee. Also, I have a “Legal Fee Guarantee” where I will match any written quote from a competitor.
3.Preparing the Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules
Once the fees and costs have been paid in full, you will bring me back the requested documents and I will begin to prepare your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules. Many attorneys farm their cases out to legal assistants or paralegals and frequent mistakes are made. I personally oversee the preparation of each and every bankruptcy filing to make sure that you (and your assets and money) are protected at every step of the way.
4.Download a Tri-Merge Credit Report
At this time, I will also download a tri-merge credit report (so that we can match your credit reports exactly, which will help you reestablish credit after you are discharged of your debts).
5.Need to Take Two Credit Counseling Classes
I will also sign you up for the first of two online or over the phone credit counseling classes that you will have to complete. Nothing to worry about, really simple, just a formality in order to file.
6.Final Preparations of Bankruptcy Petition & Schedules
Now, I will personally oversee the preparation of your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules. I am a strong advocate for my clients and actively and aggressively take advantage of any and all legal options that would benefit you. I am definitely on your team!
7.Review and Sign Completed Bankruptcy Petition & Schedules
We will quickly set up a mutually convenient time for you to come back into the office to review and sign the completed Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules. We also have an option to mail or e-mail the package for your signature. The entire package is about 30 pages long and includes, among other things, a detailed listing of your assets, debts, income and expenses.
8.Filing Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Once signed, I will electronically file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case and immediately obtain a bankruptcy case number.
At this point, none of your creditors may call, bother or attempt to sue you. Everything freezes, this is called the Automatic Stay.
10.A Bankruptcy Trustee Appointed & a Court Appearance Scheduled
Within a week of filing your case, a Bankruptcy Trustee is appointed to your case and you will receive a date and time for your court appearance. This court appearance is called the “Meeting of Creditors”.
11.Potential Request for Documents or Phone Conference
Some Bankruptcy Trustees, request documents before the court date and some request a quick phone conference, as well. I will help you with both.
12.Meeting of Creditors
Within approximately a month after you file, you and I will attend the one-time mandatory court hearing / Meeting of Creditors. Generally, creditors do not appear and I will have provided the Bankruptcy Trustee with all of the requested documentation beforehand. I also make myself available to the Bankruptcy Trustee via phone call, email or text for any questions he or she may have.
13.Questioning at the Meeting of Creditors
At the court date / Meeting of Creditors, the Bankruptcy Trustee will ask you about 10 questions (all of which, I will have gone over with you prior to the court date!) and it only lasts about 5 to 7 minutes.
14.Sigh of Relief
WHEW! Sigh of relief for all of my clients at this point!
15.Negotiations With Bankruptcy Trustee
If you are within your asset limits for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, not too much else happens after this point. If you are over your asset limits for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, I will negotiate with the Bankruptcy Trustee for you to keep everything that you own in exchange for payment of the value difference over twelve months.
16.60-Day Waiting Period
After the court date, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period before your Bankruptcy Discharge is entered. This gives the creditors and the Bankruptcy Trustee time to object to the case (although, at least in my cases, this rarely happens).
17.Signing Reaffirmation Agreements
You will also complete the second credit counseling class called Financial Management. At this time, you and I will also review and sign any Reaffirmation Agreements, as necessary. Reaffirmation Agreements are written agreements provided by your secured creditors in which you agree to pay collateralized debts such as your vehicle or home that you want to keep.
After the 60 days has passed from your court date or, if required, you have paid the asset value over your limits to the Bankruptcy Trustee, your case will be officially closed.
19.A Fresh Start
Happy Day! Time to enjoy your financial fresh start – you deserve it!