The Bankruptcy Timeline
Guiding You Through the Bankruptcy Process Every Step of the Way
The bankruptcy process can be intimidating and overwhelming. However, with the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, you can effectively deal with your debt through Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. By learning more about the steps you will encounter in bankruptcy and the general timeline, you can feel more confident going forward.
At Allmand Law Firm, PLLC, our Dallas bankruptcy lawyers strive to help our clients through the bankruptcy process as efficiently and successfully as possible. While no two bankruptcy cases are alike, a general timeline does apply in most cases regardless of what Chapter you file under.
What You Need to Know Before Filing Bankruptcy
The bankruptcy process can be complex; however, by being more prepared prior to filing, you can more easily achieve success. When you come to the initial meeting with your bankruptcy lawyer, you should have with you:
- A recent bill from each of your creditors,
- Any collection letters you’ve received,
- All court documents you’ve been served,
- Notices of utility shut off, vehicle or property repossession, or foreclosure on your home,
- Pay stubs for the last six months to one year,
- Tax return documents for the last two years, and
- Your drivers’ license and social security card.
Before filing bankruptcy, you should also take a pre-filing credit counseling course with an approved agency. This step must be completed within 180 days of filing your bankruptcy petition with the court.
When you meet with your lawyer, they will walk you through the bankruptcy process. They will assess your eligibility to file bankruptcy and which type is best for you. For example, in some locations, you must have been a resident of the state for a certain amount of time prior to filing bankruptcy. Your attorney can make sure you can file where you live.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline
Eligibility Requirements With Prior Cases
If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy before and are considering filing a new case, you will have to wait until at least eight years have passed since the date of your prior filing. If you previously filed under Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 within the last six years, you will only be eligible to file under Chapter 7 if you have paid at least 70 percent of your unsecured debt from your previous case.
All consumers are required to complete credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA).
Beginning the Process
The bankruptcy process formally begins when you file a petition with the bankruptcy court. Once you have filed, the court will issue an automatic stay. This will stop all collection actions against you by creditors while your case is pending.
Meeting of Creditors
After you have filed your bankruptcy petition, you will be required to attend a mandatory meeting of creditors within 60 days. During this meeting, you will have to answer questions under oath about your income, assets, liabilities, and expenses. Your case will then progress based on your unique financial situation and the Chapter you filed under.
Refrain From Transferring Property
During your bankruptcy, you will need to refrain from operating a business with inventory or transferring any type of property until after you have a received a discharge or get permission from the bankruptcy trustee.
Between the meeting of creditors and your discharge, creditors can raise objections to your petition to discharge debts. They will generally only do this when they have cause to believe you have committed some form of fraud. Fraud can take the form of running up a credit card with the intent of filing for bankruptcy or attempting to hide assets from the bankruptcy trustee.
Receiving a Discharge
Each case is different. There is therefore no set time for how long it will take for a filer to receive a discharge. Generally, however, Chapter 7 filings may be resolved in as little as four to six months. Conversely, Chapter 11 or 13 filings may be resolved within three to five years after completing a repayment schedule.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Timeline
During a Chapter 13, your debt is reorganized into affordable payments that you will make over the course of three or five years. Chapter 13 cases have specific deadlines that need to be met by each party involved.
Credit Counseling Course
Before you file, you are required to take a credit counseling course within six months of your date of filing.
Preparing Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
You and your attorney are responsible for providing the court with no small amount of information. This includes:
- Your bankruptcy petition,
- Your bankruptcy schedules,
- And your proposed repayment plan.
Your bankruptcy schedules is where you will disclose all of your assets and debts and other relevant financial information.
Filing a Chapter 13
The court will assign your bankruptcy a case number. You can use this case number to inform creditors if they attempt to collect a debt while your case is in bankruptcy. Essentially, you are submitting a repayment plan to the court to be executed over the next three or five years on a specific schedule. This information must be presented to the court within 14 days of filing.
At this point, the court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The automatic stay will begin to take effect now.
341 Meeting of Creditors
The 341 meeting can occur anywhere from 21 days after filing to 50 days after filing. Seven days prior to the meeting, you will need to send your most recent tax return to the bankruptcy trustee.
The trustee will review your repayment plan and give creditors an opportunity to look over your Chapter 13 filing.
Begin Making Payments
Unlike Chapter 7, your Chapter 13 will remain open as you make payments over the next three or five years. Your first payment will begin 30 days after you have submitted your repayment schedule. Payments are made on a monthly basis directly to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee.
In some cases, your first payment will predate the meeting of creditors. You will make this payment even if your bankruptcy has not yet been approved.
You and your attorney will attend a court hearing during which the trustee or creditors can raise objections to your plan. With luck, your plan will be confirmed.
Continue Making Payments
It’s important that you continue to make payments on the agreed upon schedule. If you can’t you may be able to ask the court for a hardship exemption. Your Chapter 13 can be converted into a more manageable plan or into a Chapter 7.
Financial Management Class
At some point during your bankruptcy, you must complete a debtor education course. This is different from the credit counseling course.
Your Debts Are Discharged
At the end of your repayment period, the debts listed in your bankruptcy will be discharged.
What to Do After Filing for Bankruptcy
Although you’ll probably experience stress leading up to filing for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy process continues to be difficult after filing. Your attorney can help you with the following steps after filing for bankruptcy:
- Filing specific information about your assets, debts, income, expenses, and liabilities with the bankruptcy court within 15 days after you file your bankruptcy petition.
- Filing a repayment schedule if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Making your first payment according to your Chapter 13 repayment schedule within 30 days of filing your bankruptcy case.
- Filing a document regarding debts you would like to reaffirm to retain the property for a Chapter 7 case.
- Holding a 341 meeting of the creditors within 45 days of filing for bankruptcy.
- Taking a two-hour bankruptcy education course prior to discharge of your debts.
Every bankruptcy is different. However, most Chapter 7 cases are discharged between four and six months after filing. Most Chapter 13 cases take three to five years to complete the repayment schedule. A skilled attorney can help you through the bankruptcy process from start to finish.
Contact Us for an Assessment of Your Case
As the largest bankruptcy filing firm in Texas with more than 20 years of experience, Allmand Law Firm, PLLC has handled thousands of bankruptcy cases in Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Mid Cities. If you are struggling with debt and are considering bankruptcy, turn to our firm for expert assistance. Our firm’s founder, Reed Allmand, is Board Certified in Bankruptcy by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, so you can be confident that we have the knowledge and resources to help you regain your financial freedom. Our clients are our top priority, which is why we offer free case evaluations to assess your case and recommend a solution that works best for you.
To talk about your case, filing options, and approximate timeline for your unique situation, please fill out an online contact form and our Dallas bankruptcy lawyers will be in touch with you promptly.