How Do I Properly Prepare for Filing Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is never an easy process to go through. Making the decision to file for personal bankruptcy, especially during this time can feel overwhelming, and you may not know where to begin. Our team at Grossbart, Portney & Rosenberg, P.A. has extensive experience in helping our clients move through the bankruptcy process efficiently, ensuring that you will not suffer the long term effects of bankruptcy on your financial freedom. Here, our team walks you through the steps to properly prepare for filing bankruptcy, and how we can be of assistance. 

Gather All Income Statements When Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

The first step when preparing to file for personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13), is to gather all of your income statements. Income statements are more than just paychecks, so it is vital that you have a filing system, either digitally or in person, that enables you to easily access these documents. Generally, bankruptcy petitions are created using the previous six months of income statements. Documents you should include in your bankruptcy petition include, but are not limited to, paycheck stubs, bank statements, tax returns from the past two years, investment and retirement accounts, home and car valuations, credit card statements and a list of property that has been valued. This will expedite the filing process, and help your bankruptcy attorney evaluate your case more thoroughly. Going through this process prior to filing also helps you stay organized and understand the impact these bankruptcy proceedings are going to have on you in the near future. 

Complete Credit Counseling Course & Gain Certificate 

One area that is often overlooked when preparing to file bankruptcy is your credit counseling course. In each bankruptcy case, a credit counseling course must be completed prior to filing for bankruptcy, and a post-filing debtor education course begins after your bankruptcy filing is enacted. This credit counseling course takes place with an approved credit counseling organization, and is generally a 60-to-90 minute meeting that takes place in-person, over the phone or online. In this course, you and the organization will discuss your current financial situation as well as alternatives to bankruptcy, and will create a personalized budget plan to assist you as you move forward in the process. If you are unable to pay for the cost of this course, which is generally around $50, you can apply for a fee waiver. Once completed, you must receive a certification, and it is important that prior to taking this course, you make sure that you receive counseling from an approved organization within the judicial district you are filing bankruptcy in. You can find a list of approved credit counseling organizations in Maryland through the Department of Justice’s website by clicking here.

Prepare Adequately for Bankruptcy Hearing & Meeting of Creditors 

One of the last steps when preparing to file for bankruptcy is to gather all information and knowledge needed for your hearing, and prepare for your First Meeting of Creditors if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 meeting, is a meeting in which you are asked questions under oath by your bankruptcy trustee, as well as creditors, to ensure that information regarding your assets and financial status is accurate. Additionally, you will need two forms of identification, generally your ID and social security card, to ensure there are no fraudulent filings. While there is no judge present at this meeting, you will receive a notice from the court telling you the date, time and place of your meeting in which your bankruptcy trustee will lead the proceedings among you and the creditors. Once you have gotten these documents approved and the 341 meeting out of the way, you will be able to enter into bankruptcy proceedings and begin repaying debt. 

Discuss Your Options With Bankruptcy Attorneys at Grossbart, Portney & Rosenberg, P.A. 

As you are navigating through the complex process of bankruptcy, know that you are not alone. At Grossbart, Portney & Rosenberg, P.A., our attorneys are ready and willing to guide you through your bankruptcy filing from inception to full repayment of debts. If you are a Maryland resident considering filing for bankruptcy, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of qualified professionals so that you feel comfortable and confident in your repayment efforts. Our mission is to help you achieve financial freedom as soon as possible. To learn more about our team and see how we can help you, contact us today.