How long does it take to file Chapter 7?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take four to six months to do, from the time you file to when you receive a final discharge – meaning you no longer have to repay your debt.
Various factors shape how long it takes to complete your bankruptcy case. You will have to take care of some tasks before you file. If you experience delays, your timeline will likely run longer.
In This Article
General Timeline for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Knowing what you need to do before, during, and after filing will provide a better idea of what your Chapter 7 bankruptcy timeline could look like. Before filing, you must complete a credit counseling course online or by phone. After you have completed counseling, you will submit bankruptcy forms.
You must list your property and the creditors you owe, including information about your financial transactions on these forms. You will also need to mail a copy of your most recently filed income tax return to the bankruptcy trustee. They may ask for additional documents from you, as well. There’s more detailed information about this below.
You Must Attend a Creditors’ Meeting
About a month or so after you file, you will need to attend a creditors’ meeting where a trustee will ask about the information you submitted – you will have to answer under oath. This meeting is known as the 341 meeting.
Within two months of attending the creditors’ meeting, you must complete a financial counseling course. After you’ve received budget counseling, you wait to receive a discharge of your debts from the bankruptcy court.
Many people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can retain all their assets. However, you cannot sell or give away any property without clearing it with the trustee during this time. Most bankruptcy cases generally receive a discharge order from the court about 60 days after the initial creditors’ meeting.
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So what is Chapter 7 bankruptcy, exactly?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to erase overwhelming debt and get a fresh start managing your finances. It can relieve you of the responsibility to repay your creditors and eliminate most or all your current debt. This option is designed to give debtors a clean financial slate.
A critical benefit of filing bankruptcy is that all debt collection efforts must stop as soon as you file. This benefit can provide relief from demanding letters and phone calls that only add stress to an already challenging financial situation.
Another advantage of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it does not require you to file a repayment plan. Instead, you are allowed to retain your assets, and the courts discharge all your qualifying debts.
Find Out If You Qualify to File Bankruptcy
When debt becomes insurmountable or your ability to pay changes due to job loss, a change in the family dynamic, or any other reason, you might need the benefits of bankruptcy. The following people may qualify to file for Chapter 7:
- People who have made a valid effort to repay debt
- People who cannot realistically repay their debt
- Individuals, married couples, and certain businesses
While the bankruptcy process is demanding, filers don’t need to take on this challenge alone. Our lawyer will determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and explain how discharging your debt might allow you to start over financially.
The Benefits of Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer
While you may represent yourself when declaring bankruptcy, hiring a bankruptcy lawyer can help make the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process more manageable. An attorney from our firm will answer any questions and concerns you have as you go through the process. We can also handle any complexities your case involves.
Our attorney will do the following once you become our client:
- Help you understand the benefits and limitations of filing bankruptcy
- Recommend the best bankruptcy chapter for your financial situation
- Provide information on dischargeable and nondischargeable debts
- Review the bankruptcy consequences for your vehicle, home, and other property
- Define how bankruptcy could affect your taxes, credit report, etc.
Our Lenoir bankruptcy lawyer will also help you complete and file necessary forms, advise you about continuing to pay debts, and familiarize you with relevant laws and procedures. While you’re not required to have an attorney present at the Chapter 7 creditors’ meeting, we can represent you at this legal proceeding and any others during your case.
We Will Help You with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Paperwork
Bankruptcy cases involve a great deal of paperwork, and we will help you with all of it. Declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy starts with filing a petition for debt relief. When filing your petition, it should include the following schedules:
- Assets and liabilities
- Current income and expenses
- Financial affairs
- Executory contracts
- Unexpired leases
You must provide your case trustee with all relevant and recent tax returns, as well. You might also need to provide proof of credit counseling and information on state or federal student debt. The forms that make up your official petition include:
- A complete list of creditors and amounts owed
- A statement of income sources and amounts
- A complete list of all debtor property
- A detailed list of all monthly living expenses
Because each individual filer will have a unique set of assets, debts, and financial challenges, discharging debt through bankruptcy can be varied and complex. Our team can help you compile the right schedules and documents for your case, submit them on time, and guide you as you navigate the bankruptcy court system.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation About Your Bankruptcy
Filing bankruptcy does not have to be a daunting process. Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, represents individuals and small business owners in North Carolina and South Carolina who need Chapter 7 debt relief.
Call us today at (828) 286-3866 to speak with a team member about how long it takes to do a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how soon you might expect to benefit from filing.