The Chapter 7 process follows this format:
1. Initial meeting. This is where we discuss the impact of bankruptcy, alternatives, the process, etc.
2. Client provides information. We need a lot of information, and a lot of documentation from you.
3. Attorney processes the information, applies legal analysis, completes Petition and Schedules for filing. Time depends on complexity.
4. Client undertakes “prepetition credit counseling” – required by statute. Simple and relatively quick, but costs $50 - $80 usually.
5. Attorney files Petition and other required documents, all via internet.
6. Court provides notice of filing and sets date for “341” Meeting of Creditors with the Chapter Trustee, usually set for 3 – 4 weeks after filing. The meeting is usually the only appearance required of the client. It usually takes 10 - 15 minutes, and consists of a series of "boilerplate" questions along with questions about any issues specific to your circumstance.
7. A post-petition financial management course and certification must be obtained and filed within 45 days of the Meeting of Creditors. Often clients take this course from the same company who provided their prepetition counseling certificate.
8. A notice of discharge arrives 60 days later, if no issues arose to stop it.
9. Reaffirmation agreements, (agreements to preserve a debt from discharge) if any, need to be filed within 45 days after Meeting of
Creditors. Voluntary repayment after discharge is at your discretion, but a reaffirmed debt is binding.
10. Various deadlines for creditors, objections, etc., come and go, most of which are irrelevant unless a problem has arisen.
11. Secured creditors may bring motions to lift the stay so they can collect collateral.
12. Trustee may abandon non-exempt assets if they have no value to the estate.
13. Eventually a notice of case-closing will arrive.