Once you have evaluated all of your financial options and have decided to file for bankruptcy, you will need to begin the process.
Step 1: Find a Good Attorney.
Step 2: Complete a Bankruptcy Counseling Session. The bankruptcy process requires filers to complete two mandatory credit counseling sessions. These sessions must be with a U.S. Justice Department approved counseling agency. The first counseling is required prior to filing bankruptcy paperwork with the courts. A budget will be discussed as will the benefits and consequences of bankruptcy.
Step 3: Filing for Bankruptcy. The first step is to gather all your information together to get a full picture of your situation and to make filing easier. You will need your assets and liabilities, a list of creditors, income, tax returns, and expenditures. Even if you do not think it will be affected by bankruptcy, you will need to include any income or debts. The next step in filing is to submit a United States Bankruptcy Court Voluntary Petition. There are fees involved in filing for bankruptcy. These fees are dependent on the type of bankruptcy you are filing as well as any additional services required. Once you have filed and a case number has been assigned, the bankruptcy will appear on your credit report and creditors will be notified. Collection activities must cease. This means those dreaded phone calls and letters will stop.
Step 4: Liquidation or Repayment. The type of bankruptcy you filed will determine the process involved in this step. A meeting will be set up with the creditors within two months of the filing. This meeting is fairly straight forward and nothing to fear. If you filed for Chapter 7, your assets will be liquidated, if you have any. In Chapter 13, a repayment plan will be created and approved.
Step 5: Complete a Debtor Education Course. The second required counseling session is an educational course. It is required prior to discharge of debts.
Step 6: Debt Discharge. The final step of bankruptcy wipes away your remaining debt. For Chapter 7 filers, this is the final step. You may begin the process of rebuilding your credit. Chapter 13 filers must go through their three to five-year payment plan. Once this plan is complete, any remaining unsecured debts are discharged.