QUESTION: What should I do immediately after my case is filed?
ANSWER: Start a file. Keep all papers you receive. The fact that you filed a bankruptcy case can appear on your credit report for as long as ten (10) years. It is likely that you will need some of these documents even after your Chapter 7 proceedings are completed. Documents often requested are:
(1) List of Creditors (also referred to as the "Creditor Matrix")
(2) Notice of Commencement of Case
(3) Order of Discharge
Soon after filing, you will receive the Notice of Commencement of Case Under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, Meeting of Creditors, and Fixing of Dates (sometimes referred to as the " ?341 Notice"). This is a very important notice! This is the same notice that is sent to your creditors. It provides you with the date, time and place of your Meeting of Creditors. It also provides the name, address and telephone number of your Trustee; as well as your case number and the date of filing. You MUST appear at the Meeting of Creditors.
QUESTION: What do I do about garnishments?
ANSWER: When your case is filed, all collection efforts against you should stop, including any lawsuits or garnishments filed against you. At the time of your consultation, you should have advised us of any pending garnishments and/or lawsuits. When we file your Chapter 7 Petition, we notify those creditors directly who are garnishing your account, so that they will stop their collection efforts. If four to six weeks have passed since your case was filed and you are still experiencing garnishment problems, please let us know and we will contact the specific creditor again. If our efforts to stop the garnishment are ineffective, we will seek the appropriate relief through the Bankruptcy Court.
QUESTION: What court appearance must I attend?
ANSWER: In all cases, a first Meeting of Creditors is scheduled by the Bankruptcy Clerk. You will be notified of the date and time of the hearing. All persons who have filed a Chapter 7 proceeding must be at the meeting, which is also referred to as the "Section 341 Meeting." You will be questioned by the Trustee or his/her representative about the property you have listed, your income, your dependents, and the arrangements you have made to protect property that is the subject of a security interest (lien). Unless you are advised by our office, it is not necessary that you attend any court hearing.
QUESTION: What should I do if I forgot to list a creditor?
ANSWER: It is your responsibility to give us a complete list of your creditors. Forgetting a creditor will cause additional work on our part to amend the schedules which you filed with the court and will also require you to pay a filing fee to the court to file those amendments. In any event, it is important that you give us any additional information as you receive it. IF A CREDITOR IS NOT LISTED, THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE NOTICE OF YOUR BANKRUPTCY. IF THEY DO NOT RECEIVE NOTICE OF YOUR BANKRUPTCY, YOU WILL STILL OWE THE DEBT AFTER THE BANKRUPTCY CASE IS OVER.
QUESTION: What do I do about debts that have been co-signed by friends, family members or someone else?
ANSWER: Your obligation will be discharged, however the co-signer will still have to pay those debts (unless the co-signer also files for bankruptcy). However, if the co-signer does not pay, the creditor CAN NOT ask you to pay the debt because your obligation has been discharged in bankruptcy.
QUESTION: What do I do about child support payments?
ANSWER: All current child support payments must be made timely, or you risk your case being dismissed. Under the new bankruptcy law, all child support obligations must be current before you can receive your discharge.
QUESTION: What do I do if my circumstances change and I am not able to afford the debts that I have reaffirmed?
ANSWER: CALL A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY IMMEDIATELY! You have the later of 60 days after the reaffirmation agreement is FILED with the court or the date of discharge to rescind the reaffirmation agreement. If you do not rescind the agreement within that time period then you will be stuck paying the debt. Alternatively, you might be able to convert your Chapter 7 case to a Chapter 13 case which would prevent the creditor from repossessing the collateral and may also allow you to keep the collateral while paying less than the amount due on the loan.
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