Steps to Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
in Gainesville, Florida
1. Schedule Your Free Phone Consultation with Gainesville, FL Bankruptcy Lawyer Barbara Cusumano
The first, and perhaps most important step, is recognizing that help is needed and requesting a FREE confidential phone consultation with Barbara Cusumano, Attorney at Law. During the call we will go over your financial situation. I will answer any questions that you may have and explain the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process in clear, easy to understand terms.
2. Establish a Payment Option
At this point, if you decide to go forward, I will provide you with a legal fee quote and Retainer Agreement. I offer payment plans and different bankruptcy packages to meet your needs.
3. Preparing the Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules
Once the legal fee has been paid in full, we will have you fill out our easy online questionnaire and upload the needed financial information and documents through our secure online portal. Many attorneys farm their cases out to legal assistants or paralegals and frequent mistakes are made. I personally oversee the preparation of each Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing to make sure that you (and your assets and money) are protected 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). There is no extra charge for this service.
5. 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. They are nothing to worry about and are really simple — just a formality in order to file.
6. Final Preparation 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 all legal options that would benefit you. I’ve got your back!
7. Review and Sign Completed Bankruptcy Petition & Schedules
I will email you a final copy of your bankruptcy petition for your review and signatures. We will also do a phone consultation (or office visit) so that I can answer any questions that you may have. The entire package is about 30 pages long and includes, among other things, a detailed listing of your assets, debts, income, financial transactions 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.
9. Automatic Stay
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 / 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. Request for Documents or Phone Conference
Most of the Bankruptcy Trustees request documents before the court date and a few request a 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. I will have provided the Bankruptcy Trustee with all the requested documentation beforehand. I also make myself available to the Bankruptcy Trustee
13. Questioning at the Meeting of Creditors
At the court date / Meeting of Creditors, the Bankruptcy Trustee will ask you a series of questions (all of which I will have gone over with you prior to the court date!).
14. Sigh of Relief
WHEW! After your court date / Meeting of Creditors, you can breathe a sigh of relief!
15. Negotiations with the 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. Signing Reaffirmation Agreements
You will 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.
17. 60-Day Waiting Period and Discharge is Granted!
After the court date, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period and then your Bankruptcy Discharge is entered.
18. Case Closed
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!
20. Credit Rebuilding After Bankruptcy
We enroll all our clients in a free Credit Rebuilding Program after bankruptcy. Our goal is to drastically improve your credit score within the year!