Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney in Denver COBy far the most common form of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is a relatively short and straightforward process that allows you to wipe out most, if not all, of your debt. Below is a brief summary of chapter 7 bankruptcy basics, but to learn about how to best address your situation, call an experienced bankruptcy attorney to set up a free consultation. Contact Dray Legal now to consult with one of our experienced Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorneys to determine how bankruptcy can help you get a financial start.
What is Bankruptcy Chapter 7?In Colorado, consumers and small company owners may file for bankruptcy under one of many “chapters,” including Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, and Chapter 13. By far the most prevalent personal bankruptcy chapter is Chapter 7. To declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, you must thoroughly reveal all of your assets, obligations, and financial activity during the last several years. Most sorts of debts will be “discharged” (or canceled) three months after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and you will emerge from bankruptcy with all or most of the property you had before. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is normally a three-month procedure that begins with the filing of a “petition,” which is a lengthy legal document that is often best completed with the help of your bankruptcy attorney. You’ll also have to appear at a hearing with the bankruptcy trustee, who has been appointed by the court to manage your case.
Who Can File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?Chapter 7 is open to most individuals and businesses that haven’t filed a previous bankruptcy in the past 6 – 8 years. Unless you fall under one of a few exemptions (current or recently active military service, for example) you qualify to file under chapter 7 based on your income. The primary test to determine whether or not you qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy is to compare your “current monthly income” to the median income for your state. If you make less than the state median you’ll almost always qualify for a chapter 7, but don’t be discouraged if you make more. If so, you have a second opportunity to qualify under the “means test”. If you still don’t qualify, you can consider filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy which has some benefits not available under chapter 7.
How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protect Me?Chapter 7 bankruptcy improves your life in two different ways. First, as soon as your case is filed, you start to receive protection from your creditors under the “automatic stay,” a court order which prohibits your creditors from attempting to collect the debt. This will stop debt collection lawsuits, foreclosures, and garnishments immediately. Second, bankruptcy will result in the discharge of the vast majority of your debts. That is, your balance will become $0.00. Keep in mind that some debts such as student loans, domestic support obligations, and others can’t be wiped out. Credit card, medical, and repossession debt are almost always dischargeable, though.
What Do I Have To Give Up in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing?A chapter 7 bankruptcy is also called liquidation bankruptcy. What that means is that, in exchange for the discharge of your debts, you are expected to surrender certain assets to the bankruptcy court so that they can be sold to pay your creditors. While the concept of liquidation may be intimidating, don’t let it scare you. In Colorado, we have a generous exemption law that protects the vast majority of what you own from being surrendered to the court. For example, you get to keep most, if not all of your household goods, your car, your home, your retirement fund, and more, provided they fall within certain limits. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will help you hold onto your property so you’re in the best position possible after your case wraps up.
How Does the Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Work?The process of obtaining a discharge of your debts in a chapter 7 bankruptcy is fairly straightforward. You’ll begin by preparing your bankruptcy petition, schedules, and other documents for filing with the court. This is work most commonly done by your attorney based on the information you’ve provided. During the process, you will take two classes – one before your case is filed, and the second about a month or so after your case is filed. Between 20 and 40 days after filing your case, you’ll have your “341 Meeting”, which you will appear at with your attorney. During this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee, an attorney appointed to oversee your case and represent your creditors, will take a few minutes to question you about your situation and make sure things are being done properly. If you’ve hired an experienced bankruptcy attorney, he would have taken the time prior to filing your case to make sure that you prepared for the questions at your 341 meeting. Creditors may also appear at these meetings but rarely do so. Again, the 341 meeting is a short, simple matter for most people and isn’t something to be anxious about. No sooner than 60 days after your 341 meeting, your debts are discharged. 30 days after the debts are discharged, your case will be closed. Congratulations – at this point you’re ready to get on with your life and enjoy your fresh start.
Bankruptcy Paperwork for Chapter 7Unless you want to file an emergency bankruptcy case, you must submit the following documents to the court:
- Your petition
- A mailing list of your creditors
- A document with your full Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- Your credit counseling certificate
- Detailed information about all of your debts and creditors – A description of certain economic and financial transactions that occurred within the previous several years, such as a property you sold or gave away within the previous two years; –
- A description of how you plan to handle certain debts, such as car loans and other loans that are secured by your property as collateral.
- Pay stubs that show your average monthly gross income for the six months before the month you want to file.