Depending on the circumstances, Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides a quick, well outlined path to becoming debt free. This choice is for qualifying individuals and businesses who have little means of paying off their debts and are in need of a solution within a few months. Here’s a general timeline of the Chapter 7 filing process in New York. For legal guidance on your specific situation, consult with Attorney John D’Amato, our trusted bankruptcy attorney in Buffalo.
How Long Does the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process Take?
In general, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process in New York takes three to six months, from the date of your filing to the date your debts are discharged (erased). The actual length of the process depends on how efficiently you meet the requirements and whether there are complications such as objections from your creditors.
Having a bankruptcy lawyer is valuable in ensuring a smooth and quick Chapter 7 process. Your attorney can assist you in completing the paperwork, dealing with the bankruptcy trustee, and ironing out any legal complications.
Chapter 7 Steps and Timeline in New York
Step 1: Pre-bankruptcy Credit Counseling
By law, people who intend to file for bankruptcy must take a credit counseling course within 180 days (six months) prior to their filing. Choose a counseling provider who is approved by the US Trustee’s office. Most filers complete their counseling session in 60 to 90 minutes.
Step 2: Bankruptcy Filing
File your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction. You’ll need to use the Official Bankruptcy Forms, and within 15 days of filing, you must also provide your statement of financial affairs, schedule of assets and liabilities, and other financial documents. Get a lawyer’s help to make sure your documents are complete and accurate.
Also within 15 days of your filing, the court will send a Notice of Commencement of Case to you and your creditors. This notifies your creditors that you have initiated a bankruptcy case and thus their collection actions are “stayed” or paused. The notice will also contain the date of your creditors’ meeting, which you must attend.
Step 3: Statement of Intention
If you intend to keep any property that serves as collateral for secured debt, you must notify the court by filing a Statement of Intention within 30 days of your initial bankruptcy filing.
Step 4: Creditors’ Meeting
A creditors’ meeting, also known as the 341 meeting, is typically scheduled three to six weeks after your initial filing. Your bankruptcy trustee will interview you about the information you submitted, and you’ll have to answer under oath. Your creditors are also invited to this meeting but are not required to attend.
Step 5: Creditors’ Objections, Pre-Discharge Counseling
In the 60 days after the creditors’ meeting, your creditors have the opportunity to object to the debts that are about to be discharged. The bankruptcy trustee will also verify whether all the exemptions you claim are valid. Most cases do not have any objections, especially when guided by an experienced attorney.
Within these two months, you must also attend a post-discharge financial counseling course. This is required by law to help bankruptcy filers avoid similar circumstances in the future. Like the pre-bankruptcy counseling course, this post-bankruptcy counseling session typically takes 60 to 90 minutes.
Step 6: Debt Discharge
Finally, if there are no unresolved objections in your case, the court will give the debtor a discharge order, which officially forgives your dischargeable debts. In undisputed cases, this order is usually given 60 days from the creditors’ meeting date.
You can enlist a bankruptcy attorney at any point in the process. Many filers find it helpful to have a lawyer right from the start of filing, as gathering financial documents can be complex and meticulous. It’s all the more important to have a lawyer’s counsel if you encounter objections from creditors or the trustee. Competent legal guidance can be the difference between a stressful bankruptcy process and an efficient, successful one.
Contact John D’Amato, Buffalo Bankruptcy Attorney
Western New Yorkers have trusted Attorney John D’Amato for over 30 years now, as he has helped thousands of clients successfully file for bankruptcy and become debt-free. Reach out to Mr. D’Amato for Chapter 7 assistance, or if you need smart legal strategies in managing your debts. Your consultation is confidential. Call Attorney John D’Amato at 716-706-0000 today.