We will sit down with you to evaluate your financials and advise you of the different options that may exist (you will have to bring with you 6 months of paystubs, tax returns for the last 2 years, a statement for each one of your credit card and other debts or a recent credit report, collection and attorneys’ letters. If filing for bankruptcy is an option best suited for you, you will be so advised and will be given the opportunity to decide whether you want to retain our firm. If you decide to retain us we will prepare a retainer agreement which explains the nature of our legal services and the price to be paid ($950 for a Ch. 7 personal bankruptcy plus $335 for the filing fee which is payable to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court). The retainer fee will have to be paid before we start our representation of you (in certain cases, installments may be available).
We will direct you to a not-for-profit credit counseling agency to complete a “pre-bankruptcy budget and credit counseling” course. This is a requirement PRIOR to our office filing your bankruptcy petition in court. You can do the counseling session (usually it takes about 45 minutes) either by phone or online. The agency representative will ask you, more or less what we already asked you, will go over your income, assets, debts and expenses and at the end of the session will issue to you a certificate, which we will attach to your bankruptcy petition when we file it in Court. Without this certificate you cannot file for bankruptcy petition. (Hint: Obtaining the certificate is almost guaranteed because during our initial interview we would be able to “screen” you and ascertain if you are a good “candidate” to successfully receive it).
We are going to meet, again, so that you can review the bankruptcy petition, that we will have already prepared, and sign it. In addition, we are going to prepare you for the upcoming meeting with the trustee by going over the questions usually asked. Once you sign the paperwork you will also pay the court filing fee (we prefer that you give us a money order payable to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk, in the amount of $306.00).
Within a few days of the filing of your papers, you are going to receive an official Notice from the Bankruptcy Court, informing you of the date of your meeting with the trustee (“meeting of the creditors” is the term used even though it is extremely rare for a creditor to show up for the meeting). You will need to contact us to confirm that you received the Notice.
The day of the meeting with the trustee you will have to have withproof of your Social Security number and your NYS driver’s license. We will meet you in Court, at 271 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York, 2nd floor, before your meeting. You should make an effort to be there at least 30 minutes prior to the time of your meeting. We will go over your case again, for a few minutes, and what to expect from the trustee. (Hint: Typically, the meeting with the trustee lasts 3-5 minutes, only.)
You will have to complete an approved course in personal finances, a Financial Management course also known as the Debtor Education course. This is a course that is best completed online. This course should be completed at any time after the filing of your bankruptcy petition and prior to your meeting with the trustee. We will prepare you so that you would know before the course what to expect.
Before you are to receive the bankruptcy discharge (which means that your debts are discharged and that your case is completed) we will advise you as to how to improve your credit and raise your score. (Hint: You may be surprised to know that filing for bankruptcy may not be as devastating to your credit as people have been telling you about (unless it was excellent to begin with) and that within the first 2 or 3 years after the completion of your bankruptcy you may have better credit than what your score was before the filing of the petition.)