Carl P DeLuca, Attorney at Law, LLC

BANKRUPTCY attorneys

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process

Our offices use the latest technology and best bankruptcy software to collect and process your financial information.  When we have all the information we need for your petition we will send a draft to you for your review and revision and tell you the fee amount.  Once the petition is completed properly and to your satisfaction we will file it for you electronically, using the bankruptcy court internet gateway, as required by the Bankruptcy Court.  The Bankruptcy Court in Rhode Island charges a $335 filing fee, which may often be paid in four monthly payments of $83.75.  Prior to filing you will need to take a credit counselling course.  We will direct you to a website that allows you to get the required certification.  The cost for the course is nominal. 

 Once the petition is filed the court enters an “Automatic Stay.”   We will then need to upload copies of  your pay stubs from the 60 days preceding the filing.  This means your creditors may not continue to try to collect and if you are granted a discharge, they may never attempt to collect from you again. However, if the creditor has a secured debt they may attempt to have the stay lifted for them and they may attempt to repossess, foreclose, etc., on the property on which they have a secured interest once your bankruptcy case is closed or if the Court lifts the stay on their behalf.

A bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case and a date for the 341 meeting will be scheduled.  The bankruptcy trustee is not a judge, though he or she is usually an attorney.  They oversee your petition and confirm that it satisfies the relevant legal requirements.  If you have more assets than you are entitled to keep, they will sell those assets to pay towards your debts.  Most Chapter 7 cases do not result in asset sales as most people who file Chapter 7 do not have more property than they are allowed to exempt.  Exemptions are an amount of value in a property that you may keep even though you are filing Chapter 7 and are usually sufficient protection.  If you have property that exceeds the exemptions we will be able to tell you that before you file based on the information you provide to us.

The trustee will preside over the 341 meeting, which will occur 20 – 40 days after the petition is filed.  Usually, before the date of the meeting the trustee will ask your attorney to submit to him your latest tax return, and possibly some other additional documentation.  In Rhode Island, the 341 meetings are held in the same building as the bankruptcy court is in, but they are not done in a courtroom.   They are done in a long room with several rows of chairs.  At the front of the room is a table at which the trustee sits, with a stack of files and a tape recorder.  

At the 341 meeting, there will be approximately 15 cases processed in a one hour period.  When your name is called you will proceed to the table at the end of the room with your attorney and you will present your identification papers and be sworn in.  The debtor must bring two (2) forms of proof of identification. Individual debtors must provide picture identification and proof of social security number to the trustee at the meeting of creditors. These documents should be originals, not copies.   Acceptable forms of picture identification include:

driver’s license
government, state, student or military ID
US passport
resident alien card

Acceptable forms of proof of social security number include:

social security card
medical insurance card
pay stub, W-2 form, IRS form 1099
social security administration form

The 341 meeting is also called “The  First Meeting of the Creditors.”  This is because this meeting is an opportunity for creditors to question the petitioners.  Although this used to be a regular occurrence and may still happen now, it is unusual for creditors to attend these meeting and there is no financial benefit to them for doing so unless they believe there is a valid reason that you should not receive a discharge or that you have assets that should not be exempt.

For the most part, the trustee will just walk you through your petition and confirm that what you have filed is correct.  If the trustee needs any more information, the trustee will usually schedule another meeting but you may not need to attend the second meeting if you provide the trustee with the documents he or she requested before the new meeting date.  Prior to the case being closed, you will need to take an online financial management course.  You will use the same website you used for the pre-filing course.

Approximately, 60 days later you will receive a discharge and shortly thereafter your case will be closed.  You will be relieved of any unsecured, non-priority debt you listed in your petition and you may begin to rebuild your financial security!

Call our bankruptcy lawyers for assistance or submit your information to us for a free review using our secure, online MyCaseInfo questionnaire at no charge by registering below: