How Long Will My Bankruptcy Take?
Once you make the decision to file for bankruptcy, there will be some sense of relief simply because you HAVE made that decision and you now have a plan — a sense of direction. Still there will be anxiousness because of not knowing the procedures or the timeline. In short, you have never been here before and you don’t know what to expect.
At Lanser Law Office in Milwaukee, attorney Bruce A. Lanser works hard to put his clients at ease by letting them know what to expect at each stage of the bankruptcy process. Helping people understand the bankruptcy timeline often relieves a lot of anxiety.
In a Milwaukee Magazine survey in which Bruce Lanser “tops the list of bankruptcy lawyers,” one lawyer commented that Bruce “has a nice way of making people comfortable when they are obviously confronting a traumatic time in their lives.”
How Long Until My Bankruptcy Is Filed?
The timing of your bankruptcy filing is usually dependent upon how efficient you are in terms of assembling the documents and information needed to prepare the required bankruptcy petition, schedules and statement of your financial affairs. Once a draft of those documents is prepared, we may learn of other issues that affect timing, including your current eligibility to file and your conduct with regard to any transfers of assets or payment to creditors in recent months or years.
You will be required to obtain credit counseling from an approved agency, which can be accomplished online or in person. And you must ensure that all earned attorney’s fees are current and that the bankruptcy filing fee is paid at the time of filing.
What Happens When Your Bankruptcy Is Filed?
Once your bankruptcy documents are in their final form and you have signed off on them, attesting that they are true, accurate and complete under the penalty of perjury, they are filed, electronically, with the bankruptcy court. It is at that point that an “automatic stay” goes into effect prohibiting creditors from taking any action to collect a debt or affect your assets.
A notice is promptly generated by the bankruptcy clerk’s office advising creditors of your filing and the creation and effect of that automatic stay. That same notice will advise you of the name of the person who has been appointed to serve as the trustee in your case and will further advise you of the date and time of your meeting with that trustee.
How Long Until I Go To Court?
You will be required to attend a hearing, which is more appropriately called the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors, approximately 30 days after your case is filed. This is true whether you filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
What Happens At The 341 Hearing?
The 341 meeting of creditors is presided over by the bankruptcy trustee, a private local lawyer who is appointed to administer your bankruptcy case. There are generally four cases scheduled for each half hour, meaning that the cases usually go quickly.
The primary purpose of that meeting is to give the trustee an opportunity to place you under oath and to ask a variety of questions intended confirm the appropriateness of your filing, to ensure that the bankruptcy documents are truthful and accurate, and to come to their own conclusion as to whether there are any assets available to be liquidated for the benefit of your creditors.
A lawyer from Lanser Law Office will attend that meeting with you. Your creditors are invited to attend the meeting but rarely do so.
How Long Until I Receive My Discharge?
The timing of your discharge will depend on the type of bankruptcy you filed. If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will typically receive your discharge 60 days after the meeting of creditors. If you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will receive your discharge at the completion of your plan. Chapter 13 plans range anywhere from 36 to 60 months.
You will be required to obtain additional counseling, called financial management counseling, prior to receiving your discharge. If you fail to do so, your case could be closed without your receiving a discharge of your debts.