There are numerous steps included in filing for bankruptcy. The first is to consult with an attorney such as those at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC to get a better picture of which type of bankruptcy is best for you, as well as examining other options. If you have decided to file, whether it is a chapter 7, a chapter 13, a chapter 11 for your business, or another alternative option of which there are a number (which we also cover in a separate blog later), you’ll begin the process with mandatory pre-bankruptcy counseling, using a nonprofit agency who is approved through the U.S. Trustee Program.
Finding an agency is simple, as you just go to the U.S. Trustee Program site and enter or find your judicial district there along with your state. If you speak another language and require an agency with someone fluent in languages other than English or Spanish, you’ll find resources for that as well. No matter the bankruptcy option you intend to file for, this must be completed first. If you and your spouse are filing together, you can attend this session together should you wish to do so. If cost is an issue, that can generally be easily handled through a fee reduction or waiver, although this should be low cost to begin with.
Keep in mind that pre-bankruptcy counseling is just a session—not a class! You will probably only be engaged for about an hour or maybe two, communicating in person, by phone, live chat, or email. While this may just seem like something to check off your list, keep in mind that this session is important because one, it is required per the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, and two, you may even actually learn something as it helps to evaluate whether this bankruptcy is truly necessary, or whether you could choose another route. Obviously, that would be something you are most likely going to want to discuss with your attorney. As we emphasize, there are often other alternatives for repayment and bankruptcy may or may not be the best fit.
During the session, you need to have your financial information available. You should be receiving personalized and comprehensive information regarding your specific budget, as the counselor works to provide an analysis of your finances. You will discuss details regarding your current situation and circumstances leading there, as well as how to solve debt issues. This is just counseling though—and while of course the counselor’s analysis will be documented in the bankruptcy file–you are not under any obligation to do what they propose. You can also change your mind at that point regarding filing as well. This is why it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a bankruptcy attorney—like those at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC. An experienced attorney will be able to answer your questions and go over your options with you, whether you are going to file for bankruptcy or negotiate a settlement with creditors. We are here to help you!