1. First Appointment: At the first appointment, the attorney or paralegal will ask you some background questions about your finances. Then we will go over bankruptcy law in general and how it would apply ,in your case. Before you leave, you will be given a packet consisting of: a written statement of attorneys fees, a worksheet and a consumer informational packet about the law. In order to encourage clients to seek legal advice, we do not charge a fee to clients who choose not to file. If you do file, the fee for the initial conference is included in the fee agreement.
2. Client Completes Worksheet and other documents: The case cannot be properly prepared unless the client fills out the worksheet completely. This means nothing left blank; all sections must either be answered or client must write NIA for not applicable. If you make an appointment without filling out the worksheet the appointment will be rescheduled. Due process requires that all creditors be notified so you must list a proper address for each creditor in the worksheet. Please note that bankruptcy schedules are sworn to under penalty of perjury so all creditors and all property must be listed. After you complete the worksheet, you will schedule another appointment. Please bring in any items that you have from the List of documents that you are given – particularly bills, pay stubs, last two bank statements, and last two years of tax returns. Please make an appointment with a credit counseling provider to obtain the certificate necessary to file your case.
3. Second Appointment: You will go over your worksheet with the paralegal first. Then you will meet with an attorney who will work on the means test to determine which chapter you can file. At this second appointment, you must pay a retainer based upon the payment plan you have selected from those listed in the fee agreement. You must also sign and return the fee agreement before the attorney or staff can work on your case.
4. Preparing the Paperwork: When you return the worksheet the paralegal will tell you what further information is needed. Our office may also call or write requesting more information. Your cooperation is essential since the case cannot be filed until all the information is supplied. Please note that, since you now have paid a retainer, you may give our name out to creditors if they call. In preparing the case, priority is given to those who have paid in full (Payment Plan #1). After your case has been prepared, our office will call or write to you to come in to sign the bankruptcy petition. If you have an emergency such as a foreclosure sale corning up please advise us so that we may expedite your case.
5. Signing the Paperwork: Please take time to thoroughly review the paperwork. Since you are signing the papers under penalty of perjury, you are responsible for the contents. For example, if there is a creditor not listed for whatever reason, the creditor will not be included. You may add creditors without charge until the case is filed, but after that you have to pay a fee.
6. Filing the Case: Our office is one of the few (or the only) one that 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. All fees and costs must be paid before filing except Chapter 13 clients selecting Plan #3.
7. Advisements to Client: Our office advises each client of what they must do, the date their case is filed and the case number, where and when the court hearing is, what follow-up information is required, and in chapter 13’s what amendments if any must be made.
8. Court Hearing: There is no longer a Federal Courtroom in Pueblo so hearings are held at two separate locations. Your hearing notice will specify 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.
9. 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.
10. 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, we are asking all clients to complete this class within 30 days of hearing.
11. 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.
12. Bankruptcy does not erase bad credit entries from credit reports. Bankruptcy prevents collection of debts, not the reporting of them. Do not call your attorney about your credit