How to File for Bankruptcy

Step 1: Schedule a consultation with us to make sure it's the best move.
File for Chapter 13 bankruptcy for credit card debt
How to file for bankruptcy
How to file for bankruptcy.

This is a big part of how we can help. Filing for bankruptcy is a life-changing decision and all your options should be carefully considered. Our free consultations are designed to help you through this step. The bankruptcy attorneys at McDonald Law are experts in the field trained to provide the best possible advising. If you're overwhelmed by it all, we can help provide clarity by explaining everything in easy-to-understand terminology and establishing a clear path to debt relief.

Step 2: Make sure the timing is right.

The timing when you file for bankruptcy is far more important than most people realize. There's significant minimum time requirements between filings, so it's best to have your debts "prepared" as best as possible. For example, if you expect to accumulate a substantial amount of debt in a relatively short period of time in the near future, we would advise you to wait until then so that debt can be included in your filing.  

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait at least 8 years since your last Chapter 7 discharge and at least 6 since your last Chapter 13 discharge.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must wait at least 4 years since your last Chapter 7 discharge, and at least 2 years since your last Chapter 13.

Step 3: Conduct a bankruptcy counseling session.

There are 2 mandatory sessions that must be completed during the bankruptcy process. These sessions must be completed with an agency that has been approved by the U.S. Justice Department. This is the first session that takes place before you file bankruptcy paperwork with the courts. 

These sessions are intended to give you a better idea of whether you need to file for bankruptcy, or if an alternative plan is better. Once you've completed the course, you'll recieve a certificate of completion. You're required to provide a copy of that certificate to the court when you file, so DO NOT lose it.

Step 4: Completing the bankruptcy forms.

This is another significant way we can help. Bankruptcy forms include about 70 pages of paperwork that our attorneys will fill out on your behalf with the information you provide to us. It's absolutely critical that this paperwork is filled out correctly, and we're here to ensure that. 

Step 5: Filing bankruptcy forms in court.

Your compeleted bankruptcy forms will be taken to your local courthouse clerk's office where they will collect them and the filing fee (or an application to waive the fee or pay in installments). The federal court charges a $335 filing fee.
After about 15 minutes, the clerk will provide you with:

  • Your bankruptcy case number
  • The name of you bankruptcy trustee
  • The date, time, and location of your meeting with your trustee

Step 6: Mail your documents to your trustee.

Shortly after filing, your assigned trustee will send you a letter asking for you to mail them certain required financial documents. If you fail to send these documents to your trustee, your debts may not be discharged.

Step 7: Take the 2nd bankruptcy counseling session.

After filing you'll need to take the 2nd of the two required couseling sessions. This will typically take about 2 hours. 

The focus of the second session is to educate you on making smarter financial decisions in the future. You'll learn how to effectively budget and avoid incurring debts with unmanagable interest rates. You're not eligible for a bankruptcy discharge if you do not complete this course and file your certificate of completion with the court.

Step 8: Your 341 meeting.

The 341 meeting (also known as meeting of creditors) is the meeting scheduled with your trustee. Typically this takes place about a month after filing. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 341 meetings are being held by video conference or phone.

Most 341 meetings are about 5 minutes. Your trustee will verify your identity and ask a handful of standard questions. Your creditors are also allowed to attend your 341 meeting, but it is very rare that they do.

**You must bring your government-issued ID and social security cars to the 341 meeting. This is required for the meeting to proceed. You should also bring copies of all the documents your trustee requested.

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