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What are the requirements to file Chapter 7?

For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must be an individual or a corporation. You must have submitted to a credit counseling session. You must provide the most recent federal tax return as well as the most recent 60 days of paycheck stubs or other proof of income. You must complete an intake questionnaire or otherwise be interviewed by your attorney so that your attorney can gather all the information needed to prepare your actual petition. The bankruptcy petition is a 60 page document or so containing all kinds of information concerning your assets, your liabilities, your income, your expenses as well as detailed information about your financial life over the last several years. You also have to provide a photo ID and proof of your Social Security card.

Once your case is filed, a notice will go out from the clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court notifying you, your attorney and all of your creditors listed in your petition of an upcoming 341 Meeting of Creditors. The Meeting on Creditors is set out about 4 to 6 weeks after filing and it gives creditors an opportunity to appear and more importantly, it gives the trustee an opportunity to examine you under oath to make sure that the information listed in your schedules is true and accurate. The trustee is not looking to trick you. The trustee is not looking to take property that's protected. The trustee just has an obligation under the Bankruptcy Code to make sure that you are entitled to a fresh start, you complied with the Bankruptcy Code and that if any unexempt property is available and it wouldn't be too burdensome to administer, then the trustee has an opportunity and an obligation to administer that asset.

Your attorney is going to be with you every step of the way through the process. If you hire an experienced attorney, that attorney will be able to help you to the point where you probably won't feel any nervousness about your Meeting of Creditors. The attorney will also help you gather information and advise you on what is needed prior to filing. Some cases need to be filed immediately due to a garnishment or a repossession or any kind of issue and you may not have all the documentation you need upfront. A good attorney will make sure that you provide that information within a day or two of the filing so that your case does not get dismissed on the 46th day after the filing.

For more information about what's needed in your particular case, consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your local area to learn your rights.

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