Financial hardship can feel like something that you cannot escape, but Chapter 7 bankruptcy may offer the help you are looking for. More than 300,000 Americans file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year, and you may be able to join them in experiencing financial freedom.
Discharging your debt is not an immediate process, however. Even after you file for bankruptcy, it can take between four and six months for the process to finish. Here is what you can expect along the way:
Attending a meeting with your trustee
Usually, within a month from filing for bankruptcy, you will need to go (or, attend by telephone or video conferencing) to a meeting with your court-appointed trustee, otherwise known as the 341 meeting. These meetings are where a trustee will ask you to swear under oath and answer questions about your bankruptcy case. Creditors may attend, but usually they don’t attend.
After the meeting, if you provided the necessary information, you would need to complete a financial counseling course. You will usually need to complete this course around two months following the trustee meeting. The objective of this course is to help you avoid any financial mistakes that could lead to bankruptcy in the future.
After your counseling course, the next step is waiting for the discharge to take place. Like any area of government procedures, this process can take time. You cannot sell, donate, or transfer ownership of any major assets during this time without gaining approval from the bankruptcy trustee first. Most people will receive a discharge order within two months after their meeting.
How you can keep things moving
While there is a defined minimum amount of time between the steps of discharging financial debt, there are many ways that you can accidentally prolong the process. You can avoid mistakes like missing meeting dates and not submitting the necessary or completed paperwork by seeking the help of a bankruptcy attorney. A lawyer’s guidance can help you settle things quickly and efficiently and take the first step into the next chapter of your life after financial hardship.