How Long Does A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Take? – What To Expect
November 4, 2022
The issue of bankruptcy is a serious one, one that needs to be considered from all angles. Many people facing bankruptcy don’t know what to expect, and most everyone feels anxiety about the process and its impact on their lives. But bankruptcy can be a great solution for some, when financial stress has become overwhelming. At Robert J. Adams & Associates, your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Chicago, we take great pride in helping individuals through some of their most difficult times, and our commitment to clients is unparalleled. We will be with you every step of the way, no matter what legal matter you are dealing with.
ONE QUESTION WE ARE OFTEN ASKED: DO I HAVE TO APPEAR IN COURT BEFORE A JUDGE?
With very few exceptions the answer is NO. In most cases you will not have to appear before a judge.
ANOTHER FREQUENT QUESTION: HOW LONG DOES THE ENTIRE PROCESS TAKE?
The entire process usually takes about four (4) months, though there could be a few exceptions.
People simply don’t know what to expect from the process or from their attorney. But I can tell you what to expect when you work with us at Robert J. Adams & Associates—you can expect a thorough and easy process, and a dedicated team that is 100% focused on your issues and committed to you.
Initial consultations are free. You can always leave without any obligation to us. As a top Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Chicago, our priority is taking care of the needs of our fellow Chicagoans.
When visiting our office, we’ll ask you to fill out a very short intake sheet, and provide us with your name, address and phone number, as well as where you currently work, marital status, and how many children you have at home—just the basics.
The next step is to compile your debts so we can help you analyze your financial situation. We’ll assist you with attaining a free credit report, and you should bring your bills in, to the extent that you can, so we can consider that as well. It is important to note also that some creditors are not listed on credit reports. Additionally, if you have a car note it will be helpful to bring in the documents that you signed when purchasing the car. Consult with your Chicago bankruptcy attorney for more details.
The law requires that you have at least the last 60 days of pay stubs. However, we must list all income for the past 6 months.
If you haven’t worked, we can prepare an affidavit.
If you receive Social Security, Unemployment or Retirement Income: bring a document that shows what you receive.
The law requires that we have your last four years of income tax returns.
But what if you did not work for one or more years? — An Affidavit will be sufficient.
HOW WE WORK WITH YOU
When we have all the relevant information and documents gathered, you’ll sit down with a lawyer from our team, either Brian, Tina, or me (Robert). We have the experience to handle your financial and bankruptcy issues, and as one of the most respected Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney firms in Chicago, you can rest easy, knowing you are in skilled hands.
We will ask a little more about your background and what you want to accomplish. We’ll be asking questions, but this is not to be nosy—we ask questions so we can ensure that things go smoothly, so we can help you accomplish your goals as quickly as possible.
We look over all debts, and make sure they are in the property category.
If you own a home, we’ll look up the value—same for any car you may own.
Your attorney will list all your assets and insert the proper exemptions.
Your Chicago bankruptcy attorney will input your income and monthly expenses.
We’ll look to see if there are any problems, and if there are problems we will tell you right away. Most of the time things go smoothly though.
Areas Where Problems Sometimes Arise & Important Questions To Consider
Possible debts that will not be discharged in a Chapter 7, such as back child support, and some (but not all) IRS debts.
Parking and red light tickets or money owed to the Illinois Tollway Authority.
NOTE: While some Chicago tickets are eliminated in a Chapter 7, others may not be.
Are any of your debts ‘co-signed’ or guaranteed by someone else?
Did you get a ‘cash advance’ from any credit card within the last 70 days? (Does not apply to Pay Day Loans.)
Your income may be too high for a Chapter 7.
NOTE: We do a lot of work to defeat the Means Test.
If you own a home, is the equity (market value less mortgage balances) above your exemptions? This can be a complex area, so ask your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Chicago to fully explain how it works.
Do you have any other valuable assets? (This could include a large bank account or a Personal Injury claim.)
NOTE: Workers’ Comp claims are exempt and not a problem.
Did you get a Chapter 7 discharge within the last 8 years? Did you get a Chapter 13 discharge within the last 4 years?
As an aside note: Consider the date of filing a prior case, not the date of discharge.
If you have a car note, what are your intentions? Most clients want to keep their car; however, some clients don’t think their car is worth keeping. As your Chicago bankruptcy attorney, we’ll explain what it means to ‘reaffirm’ a car note.
It is a Chicago bankruptcy attorney’s duty to explain the different types of bankruptcy.
After the above steps, we’ll then ask if you agree that filing a Chapter 7 is best for you.
Next, we’ll discuss our lawyer’s fee as well as the court’s filing fee.
Our fee agreement generally requires a small down payment and the balance can be paid over a period of time. Any amount that you owe is paid where you can afford.
Then we’ll have you sign documents after you have had time to review them.
Before a case can be filed you will have to complete ‘Credit Counseling.’ This can be done before you meet with us at our office, or later. But a case cannot be filed until we have the certificate from the Credit Counselor. The course can be completed on a computer via the internet, and the cost is less than $10. It can also be completed by phone, IPad, or other tablet—but the cost in these cases will be $50. Approximately half of our clients complete their credit counseling right in the comfort of our office.
Some creditors must be notified immediately. Often there are wage garnishments. Your Chicago bankruptcy attorney will explain the details and make this process simple.
For about 20 to 40 days you will have to attend a Trustee’s meeting. A lawyer will always be with you. The trustee meeting is usually just 5 to 10 minutes long.
WHAT DOES THE TRUSTEE DO?
The trustee’s responsibility is to make sure all documents are in order. Also, the trustee looks for assets over and above exemptions. We won’t go to the trustee’s meeting unless we know everything is in perfect order.
NOTE: creditors are allowed to attend the Trustee’s meeting and ask questions; however, creditors rarely do.
IMPORTANT: Clients must complete a Debtor Education program. As with Credit Counseling, you can complete this via the internet or by phone. The cost is about $10 if completed over the internet via a computer. But, it is $50 if completed by phone or tablet.
About 3 months after the Trustee’s meeting a formal discharge will be entered and the case is then closed.
CAN A CREDITOR OR TRUSTEE OBJECT TO YOUR CASE?
Yes. That is why we have to be thorough. Objections to Chapter 7 bankruptcies are extremely rare, however, and the most common cause is due to a failure to disclose a large asset.
Disclaimer: Blogs on legal matters are for information purposes only and are not to be construed as legal advice.
For more information call today. We are your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Chicago.