Filing a bankruptcy case can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the law. Even many lawyers without bankruptcy experience may have difficulty navigating through the complexities and minutia of the bankruptcy code. The most important first step of filing a bankruptcy case is to:
- Meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Our attorney, Chris Williams, at Kootenai Bankruptcy has experience filing over 500 bankruptcy cases over his career. He also has experience clerking with the District of Idaho Bankruptcy Court, putting them in a great position to navigate you through your bankruptcy case. Kootenai Bankruptcy primarily files bankruptcy cases in Kootenai County, including Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, along with all of North Idaho. During the meeting with our attorney, we will review your income, debt, assets, and the potential benefits and risks of filing a bankruptcy case. Our attorney will conduct a thorough analysis of your financial situation to determine whether you qualify for a bankruptcy, and what type of bankruptcy best fits your situation. We will also review your non-bankruptcy options, and give our experienced opinion on what is best for you.
- Prepare, and sign the petition.
Your attorney will provide you with specific instructions on what information and documentation you need for a bankruptcy filing to be successful. Using the information you provide, we prepare a bankruptcy petition to be filed with the Court, which you review and sign. Once you have signed the petition, we file it with the Court, which imposes the bankruptcy stay against your creditors. With some exceptions, the bankruptcy stay prevents creditors from garnishing your wages, sending letters, or attempts to call you.
- Attend and answer questions at your meeting with the Trustee.
The Bankruptcy Code requires a Chapter 7 debtor to meet with the Trustee in their case, commonly referred to as the 341 meeting or the First Meeting of the Creditors. These meetings generally are scheduled for an hour block, but actual questioning is often less than 10 minutes for an individual debtor. Your attorney will attend this meeting with you, and represent you at this meeting. During the COVID pandemic, these meetings have been conducted almost exclusively over the phone, although they were typically held in-person prior to the pandemic. If there are unprotected assets to be distributed in your case, the Trustee will typically give an indication within a few weeks after your meeting whether they intend to take any action against those assets. It is the debtor’s responsibility to cooperate with the Trustee’s review of their financial information, and with the turnover of any assets to be distributed in their case. In a majority of chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, there are no assets to distribute, and the debtor moves forward to receive their discharge.
- Receive your discharge approximately three to four months after your meeting with the Trustee.
Absent complications, a Chapter 7 debtor receives their discharge approximately three to four months after the 341 meeting. If there are no assets to distribute in your case, the Trustee will file a Report of No Assets, and your case will be closed along with the discharge. If the Trustee finds assets to distribute, including a tax refund or other non-exempt assets, the case will remain open for the purpose of distributing those assets.
At Kootenai Bankruptcy, our experienced attorney can walk you through the bankruptcy process, including whether a non-bankruptcy alternative is right for you. Call or text us today at (208) 719-0232 to meet about your bankruptcy case.