A Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Lawyer and Attorney Andy Miofsky

2249 Pontoon Road, Granite City Illinois 62040

An Illinois Bankruptcy Lawyer and Attorney 618-931-1313 Offering Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney information in Madison, St Clair & Southern Illinois counties

How Do I File Bankruptcy

    First, get a good lawyer, one who concentrates in bankruptcy law.  Yes, bankruptcy is a law, a federal law that involves a court proceeding and testimony under penalty of perjury.  You want a lawyer who can properly advise you at all stages of the process.  Demand to speak to an actual licensed lawyer and not a paralegal or clerk.  Your case is important, make sure the firm treats it seriously.

    The interview is the most important part of the process.  At this time, your lawyer learns information about your case and determines how bankruptcy will affect you.  You need to gather certain documents for your lawyer to review at this interview.  Depending on your situation, you and your lawyer will discuss the various chapters of bankruptcy available to you.  Briefly, if you have few assets and mostly unsecured debt, you might be a candidate for Chapter 7.  If you need to protect a house from foreclosure, or you have a certain level of assets or income, you might need to file Chapter 13.  Your lawyer will help you fill out Schedules listing your assets, debts, income, expenses and Statement of Financial Affairs.  You need to sign these documents under oath so it is important to be truthful and accurate.

    Your lawyer will file your case over the internet though a secure system called Electronic Case Filing.  This procedure will automatically assign a case number and schedule a Meeting of Creditors.  The system will send a list of your creditors to a Bankruptcy Notification Center which will mail notice to your creditors that you filed the case.  Your lawyer does not mail this notice.  The Court uses this procedure to be satisfied notice is sent to the proper address.  Sometimes creditors try to collect debts outside of the bankruptcy system and in violation of the law.  When caught, they often try to blame a lawyer for not sending them notice.  Well, the Court does not listen to that excuse because the court keeps track of whom it sends notice.  If you list someone on your schedules, the system will send that person notice.

    At the same time the case is filed, the court will issue you an Order for Relief that serves as an injunction to stop creditors from taking collection activity against you.  This is referred to as the automatic stay against collection activity.  If you are a repeat filer and have had prior cases dismissed, this order might not issue.  It is illegal to proceed with a garnishment, repossession or foreclosure after an Order for Relief is entered.  The court provides a central forum for all things related to your case, and all creditors must come to bankruptcy court to resolve disputes or collect their debts.  In an asset case, the court will send your creditors a Proof of Claim form.  This document is used by the creditor to tell the court how much money you owe that creditor.  A creditor will not receive any money from your bankruptcy case unless a claim is filed for that creditor.  A creditor is not required to file a claim and many creditors do not.  If a claim is filed, it must be signed and filed under penalty of perjury.  You will receive notice when a claim is filed and you should examine any claims for accuracy. 

    The next step in the process is to attend the Meeting of Creditors.  This meeting is also referred to by its statutory number, the 341 meeting; or it is often called the Trustee Meeting.  You will appear with your lawyer and you will be asked to testify under oath in front of the Trustee about the specific information listed in your Petition and Schedules.  Creditors are permitted to attend this meeting and ask you relevant questions.  In practice, very few creditors attend.  After the 341 meeting, the trustee will investigate the case and make a recommendation of findings to the court.
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