1. Analyze your Debt
Bankruptcy is never to be taken lightly. If you want help from the US Federal Bankruptcy Court you must strictly follow ALL the Court procedures, rules and required forms or the Court won’t help you. A Federal Bankruptcy Trustee will be appointed to inquire into your financial affairs and administer your case. You will be required to attend a hearing to answer questions asked by the Trustee and occasionally by your creditors.
Our experienced attorneys and staff will carry you through this difficult process and assist you in making good decisions which will enhance your future. Bankruptcy is a “Fresh Start” & we want you to succeed!
2. Important Preliminary Filing Decisions
It is vitally important to meet with our attorney as soon as possible. You may complete all the necessary paperwork online, by email & fax but we must meet with you to establish the Attorney-Client confidential relationship. More importantly, we want to discuss which type of bankruptcy would best suit your situation and issues that may have surfaced from the completed evaluator and our discussions with you. THE COURT MAY REQUIRE YOU TO REPAY SOME OF YOUR DEBT.
Preferably we should meet in our office. But, for many busy people we can communicate by phone, email, Skype & FaceTime after the first appointment.
3. First Appointment with Attorney
At the first appointment, expect to spend about 45 minutes for the following:
A. This office will obtain for you a copy of your credit report at no charge.
B. The attorney will discuss bankruptcy law, the available types of bankruptcy and the positives and negatives of each type in your situation, and any legal issues the attorney sees that could affect your bankruptcy and what can be done about them. The attorney will go over any legal issues apparent from the evaluator that could have a negative impact on the bankruptcy and what can be done about them.
C. The attorney will give the client a written contract setting forth what the attorney can do for the client and what it will cost. The contract will have amounts filled in but neither the attorney nor the client will sign it until the client agrees to hire the attorney.
D. The attorney will describe how to register to use the client portal on our website, so that the client, if they choose, might complete the case online. Whether the client uses the client portal or supplies information directly to this office is up to the client.
4. Flexible Hiring Arrangements
If you decide to hire us, sign the Fee Agreement and return it to us with a retainer. The case cannot be filed until the total fee is paid. However, we do take payments while the paperwork is being prepared. You may pay $300.00 so you can refer your harassing creditors to us as your temporary attorneys. If you pay at least $450.00 we will begin the paperwork to get your case filed. These fees are non-refundable, but if for any reason you decide not to file, we will refund any sums that you have paid over $$450 that we have not earned. Filing priority is given to those who have paid in full.
5. Required Completion of the Bankruptcy Questionnaire
There are 2 ways for you to complete our Bankruptcy Questionnaire: 1) Online or 2) by Written Paper. The Questionnaire must be completed in its entirety or we cannot prepare the case. Plus, all creditor addresses must be complete or Notices will not be sent properly & your discharge will be jeopardized. Further, you will be required to produce the entire list of items from the List of Required Documents that you are given – particularly bills, pay stubs, last two bank statements, and last two years of tax returns.
Credit Counseling: You are required to complete 2 short Credit Counseling courses from court-approved providers. One course must be taken prior to filing bankruptcy and the other course must be taken after bankruptcy.
Truthfulness: The Court requires truthful & complete answers to ALL questions. Violators of this law may be subject to criminal & civil penalties. Please take time to thoroughly review the paperwork. Since you are signing the papers under penalty of perjury, you are responsible for the contents. Attorneys & the Courts can only help honest & diligent clients.
6. Filing the Case
Second Appointment: After you’ve completed the Questionnaire we will calculate the Means Test and discuss the options with you. The retainer and fee agreement should be completed from you at this time. If you have completed the paperwork properly, we can have the case ready for you to sign at this meeting. If not, the paralegal will tell you what further information is needed. For those using the client portal, the second appointment may be done by phone if necessary.
Electronic Filing: Our office files cases instantly over the internet. We can file the case any day that is convenient for you, when you will have a low bank balance.
Advisement to Client: Our office advises each client of what they must do, the date their case is filed and the case number, where they must go and what they must bring, when the court hearing is, what follow-up information is required, and in chapter 13’s what amendments if any must be made.
7. Mandatory Court Hearing
There is no longer a Federal Courtroom in Pueblo so hearings are held at two separate locations. Your hearing notice will specify a location. An attorney will be with you. You will be advised of the hearing date both by the Court and by our office. You must attend. If you do not attend, you will be charged $150.00 per your fee agreement for our efforts in trying to continue the case. If you do not appear a second time, your case will be dismissed. You will be advised by letter what to bring and what to expect at the hearing. At the hearing, the Trustee administering your case may ask for additional information such as property tax assessments or income tax returns to be supplied later. Failure to do so will jeopardize your case.
8. Follow up
In the majority of cases, action needs to be taken after the Court hearing; amendments to case, information to the trustee. Please cooperate and respond immediately to requests for information or signatures. Failure to do so will jeopardize your case.
Financial Planning Class: Before you get the discharge from the court, you must file a certificate that you completed a course in financial planning. This course involves making a budget and is separate and apart from the course in credit counseling. Failure to obtain the certificate prior to the discharge date will have serious and expensive consequences. Therefore, it is best to complete this second class after the case is filed but before we go to court.
Discharge: In due course you will receive a document from the court called a discharge. A discharge protects you from liability for all dischargeable debts. Some debts such as certain taxes, student loans, and child support are not discharged. If a creditor later attempts to collect from you on a discharged debt, notify our office to request assistance.
Advisement: Bankruptcy does not erase bad credit entries from credit reports. Bankruptcy prevents collection of debts, not the reporting of them.
9. Rebuilding your Life
Since the purpose of bankruptcy is a “fresh start” we want to ensure your bright future by suggesting how to restore your credit. You may rebuild your credit by obtaining a “secured” credit card and paying the balance each month. Another way is to obtain a small loan with a co-signer and pay it back religiously. If you keep your credit clean by not having any late payments, your credit for most purposes will be back to normal in about four years. This means that you can buy a house with a 30 year loan at the rate offered to any buyer.
Now that you’re out of bankruptcy you need to start an IRA for retirement or heavily contribute to your 401(k), Also, be sure and get some quotes on Permanent Life Insurance, Disability Income Insurance & Long-Term Care Insurance (especially for the ladies)
We can prepare Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trust and all estate planning documents to secure a smooth transfer of your legacy.
Please call any time!