Filing bankruptcy involves specific steps that must be completed successfully. Not understanding that process could mean having to start all over because you missed something. Even if you are not forced to start over you could encounter delays because you are not prepared. The best way to ensure a successful bankruptcy is to be as prepared as possible and that starts with a consultation with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Gather All Documents

Once you retain a bankruptcy attorney, he or she will ask you to gather several documents. The attorney needs information from the documents to determine whether you should file Chapter 7 liquidation or Chapter 13 reorganization. They will also need the financial information on the documents to complete the filing.bankruptcy filing in georgia

As you gather documents, follow a checklist so that you are less likely to forget something.

Documenting Bills

In addition to assets, you will need to provide liabilities, including credit cards, hospital bills, loans, and other debt that you owe. In most cases, you just need the latest statement. If you need to provide more than one statement, keep those statements together. Create different files for each type of liability. For example, all medical bills in one file, all credit cards in another file, long-term liabilities in a file, and car payments in a file.

Bankruptcy Worksheets

Some attorneys ask you to enter the amounts due and values of assets into a worksheet. Once you organize the documents, it’s a simple procedure to obtain the amount from the documents and enter them into the worksheet. The attorney may need the documents and the worksheets.

Take the Credit Counseling Course

Once you decide to retain a bankruptcy attorney, you will receive a bankruptcy packet. It will include information about a credit counseling course. You must take the credit counseling course prior to the 341 Meeting of Creditors. This meeting generally happens within a week to 30 days from the initial filing.

As soon as you receive the information, schedule the class for the nearest time that is convenient for you. You will not be able to move forward in the bankruptcy process until you take the credit counseling course.

Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors

The trustee will schedule a 341 Meeting of Creditors. Any creditor can show up to dispute the bankruptcy, but most do not unless there are extenuating circumstances. You must attend the 341 Meeting. Your attorney will attend with you. You must bring your identification with you.

Create a Chapter 13 Plan

Ultimately, your attorney should create a Chapter 13 plan prior to the meeting of creditors, but in some cases, the trustee schedules the meeting quickly so the attorney will turn it in within a few days of the meeting. Be sure to go over the Chapter 13 plan with your attorney before he submits it to the bankruptcy court. The Chapter 13 plan shows how much debt you own and includes a plan to pay the debt. If you file Chapter 7, you will not have a plan and will not repay some or all of your debt.

Know the Value of Your Assets

Whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you should know the value of your assets, though it is more important for Chapter 7 since the trustee will liquidate part of your assets to cover some of your debt.

Bankruptcy laws allow for certain exemptions, so you do not lose everything if you have to file Chapter 7. Knowing the value of your assets means that your attorney can create a more accurate exemption worksheet.

If you have unmanageable debt that you can’t seem to get out from under, contact a bankruptcy attorney at Clark & Washington, P.C., for a free consultation.