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Filing a Simple Bankruptcy
by: Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
We all know times are tough and, for some of us, bills are getting harder to pay each month. If the debts you owe are more than what you can afford, you should read on.
Filing a bankruptcy can be the answer to your problems. A bankruptcy is a way to discharge your debts completely so you can have a fresh start in your financial and personal life. You can only file a bankruptcy once every 6 years and once filed, it can become part of your credit history
Before filing, you want to know two things: 1) that your monthly expenses (i.e. rent, phone, medical payments and just about anything else paid by you for the living expenses of you and your family) are more than your monthly net income and 2) that your assets (all property you own at its current market value) are worth less than your liabilities (that is, the debts you presently owe and that you will list in your bankruptcy petition).
The next step in filing a bankruptcy is to have the actual petition prepared. The petition is an extensive document listing all of your income, assets and liabilities as well as other information with respect to your financial history. You must list all of the creditors that you owe money to and want to be discharged from that debt. Any creditor that you do not list will always remain your creditor. For example, you may want to keep one of your credit cards if you do not list that credit card company on your petition then you can continue to use that line of credit (of course, you will continue to make your monthly payments for that credit card).
Your petition will be filed in the bankruptcy court for about a $150.00 fee. The moment your petition is filed an automatic stay is in place that means your creditors listed in the petition must stop their collection procedures during your bankruptcy proceeding.
Only those creditors you list in the petition will be notified with respect to your filing for bankruptcy. In about 30 days from your filing date, you will be scheduled for a first meeting of creditors (called a section 341 meeting). At that meeting, the bankruptcy trustee (the person from the court) will ask you some questions. The trustee is interested in discovering whether you have any property or assets available for the benefit of your creditors. By law, you are allowed to keep certain property and the trustee's questions are very straightforward and not at all intimidating. When the trustee is finished, your creditors are given an opportunity to speak. If none of your creditors appear then an additional 60 days is set for anyone to make any objections or file any additional papers. If nothing happens in that 60 day period, your bankruptcy will be granted and you will be relieved from all debts listed in your petition.
This article is certainly not all inclusive and is intended only as a brief explanation of the legal issue presented. Not all cases are alike and it is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney if you have any questions with respect to any legal matters.
Any questions and/or comments with respect to this topic or any other topic, contact:
Law Offices of Susan Chana Lask
Susan Chana Lask, Esq. c 2004
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