How Do I File?
With the Federal courts going all electronic filing, it is much wiser to let a profession lawyer handle the problem. It will cost you about $350.00 in filing fees doing it yourself anyway. Here are the steps you can expect to go through to file bankruptcy.
1. Gather all your bills and known debts together in a single file. You will need to know not only how much you owe but the name, address and account number of all the creditors.
2. Look at your total debt and your income, is there a logical way to pay off the debt? I say logical because you must factor in your daily expenses into your equation. If you have no money left to enjoy your life after you pay everyone off, then it is not logical to put yourself through several years of no income for the sake of feeling you paid off everyone you owe. Remember, creditors like it when you file bankruptcy.
3. Seek a good attorney, lowest price is not a good determining factor. You get what you pay for, nowhere is this more true than on legal matters. Ravenholt & Associates is dedicated to have personal relations with our clients. You will know the attorney and will feel as though you can call for all your legal needs. We assist you from the first day all the way through the discharge order. You are not just another file in our office, you are a person, and our valued client.
If you go to the law office and there are stacks of files everywhere, know that you are in a bankruptcy mill. They may have a low price, but they will be too busy just pushing the files through to have time to personally take care of you. This should be your first sign that you should choose another law firm.
1. When you come into our office you will discover that we treat you like a friend. You will meet with the attorney personally and go through your debt story. It is at that time you will receive a second opinion on whether filing bankruptcy is the right decision for you. We do not charge for the consultation, so it is sound advice from an expert. Once we decide to go forward, you will receive a packet that you must fill out. Don’t be intimidated! Although the packet is large, it is created for all types of debtors including those with a lot of creditors. You will only have to put in the information you have, so many pages are going to be left blank. This is why we recommend that you have already put all your bills in a single file beforehand. Now all you must do is transfer that information into the packet and bring it back to the firm. We will assign you a single paralegal that will help you along the way and answer all your question if you have problems filling out the paperwork.
2. You will have to pay the attorney fees in full before we can file. The reason makes sense when you hear it. If we are owed money at the time of filing, our debt gets discharged with the rest of the creditors. Therefore, every attorney requires full payment before filing. The cost is about $1,500.00. But with this cost you get full personal service from your day through having an attorney present at the Federal court appearance all the way through to the final discharge order from the court. Really it is about 10 hours of actual attorney work and $1,500.00 is a bargain.
3. Once you have completed the packet, you will make an appointment to come back to the office to turn it in and review. This is when you will sit with the paralegal who will review and make sure that packet is complete. It is easier to get the missing information in a single sitting than making several telephone calls while that paralegal is preparing the Federal filing.
4. Once the filing is prepared, you will come back and review the final product. This is very important because you are responsible for the filing and will be held liable for any mistakes, even clerical errors that have an affect on the information. We will then file your bankruptcy.
5. There are two classes you must take to file bankruptcy. The first is required before we can file, I call it “how to avoid bankruptcy” class. It is offered both in person and online. It costs about $50.00 per person, so if both you and your spouse are filing a joint petition, the cost is $100.00. Once you complete this class, you need to provide us with your certificate of completion that we must attached to the initial filing. The second class must be done 30 days following the date we file. I call this class “how to budget your money” and it shows you how to not get over your head in debt in the future. Again, you will have to provide us with the certificate of completion, so we can electronically file it into the case file with the court.
6. After we file the bankruptcy, you will have to go to Federal court for a hearing. This is called a 341 meeting and is named after the Federal Bankruptcy rule number. Your attorney will meet you at the hearing and will protect you from the Trustee who will be running the hearing for the court. You will be swearing under oath that everything you have filed is correct and nothing (assets or debts) has been left out. Our experience is that this is not a major hearing because we have already reviewed your file for potential issues and have worked with you to solve them before the hearing. Once this hearing is over, you will get an Order of Discharge from the Federal Bankruptcy court in two or three months. Do not worry about the length of time because your bankruptcy date will be the date we first filed, not the date of the Order.
7. This is how filing bankruptcy works, but every case is different. You need to understand you are going to the Federal court and their investigators are the FBI. So be honest and forthright with your filing information. Every unsecured debt will be discharged, and you will have the option to keep the secured debts at the same monthly payment you currently have if you want to keep the asset (house and car). It will solve all your financial problems and give you a brand-new start on your life. It is a great solution and we encourage you to come in to discuss this option in a free consultation.