A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where you liquidate your unsecured debts, will generally last about four months. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, where you pay back some or all of your debts, will generally last between three and five years. No matter the timeline though, there are three dates that are generally the most important in bankruptcy law.
Remember These 3 Keys Dates
The first big date? The date that your case is filed. This is by far the most important date in any bankruptcy case as it’s the date that the brick wall goes up between you and your creditors. After this date, assuming the creditors have gotten notice of the filing, any further collection of a debt is absolutely prohibited under bankruptcy law. If you have an attorney, which is highly recommended, you are not even permitted to be contacted regarding the debt at all -- if a creditor has an issue, they must contact your lawyer. Many individuals who end up filing for bankruptcy help have been putting up with threatening phone calls and letters from creditors for weeks, months, or even years. Although they are just doing their job, sometimes the debt collectors aren’t particularly pleasant. The date of a bankruptcy filing is the day that these collection practices end. In fact, after this date, you wouldn’t even know that these debts existed if it wasn’t for the fact that you just filed a bankruptcy case. For many, this is the date that they can breathe a massive sigh of relief.
Next, the date of your 341 Meeting, also known as the Meeting of Creditors, is a very important date in any bankruptcy case. Every single person who files a bankruptcy case of any type has to attend a 341 Meeting and answer some questions under oath. This important date isn’t anything to be fearful of though -- it doesn’t take place in a courtroom or even in front of a judge. This meeting, usually about 10 minutes long, takes place in an office space meeting room of some sort and you’ll be asked mostly yes or no questions by another lawyer with the title “Bankruptcy Trustee.” with your lawyer present. The questions aren’t hard and you have already been asked these questions at least once, probably more than once, by your lawyer. Your creditors do have the opportunity to attend and ask questions, but that is rare, and even if they do, it is generally not adversarial. And, again, your lawyer is there to protect your interest. This date is so important for you to get a discharge, allowing for your debts to be eliminated. It’s a necessary evil that isn’t actually evil, even if it is a little intimidating.
The final date of important is the date of discharge. At the end of a personal bankruptcy, assuming all requirements have been met, you will get a Discharge Order. This order of the court officially discharges and eliminates all debts eligible to be eliminated in your bankruptcy case, and is usually the conclusion of a bankruptcy proceeding. It should be fairly obvious why this date is important. . . you’re done! The relief you were seeking has been granted by the Court.
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There are obviously other important dates in the process as all cases are different. However, in general, these three dates are the big ones to be prepared for. If you think you might need bankruptcy to help with debt consolidation don’t hesitate to contact Steidl & Steinberg’s bankruptcy lawyers. We can walk you through these important dates and everything else involved with bankruptcy law at a free consultation.