The Procedure For Filing Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy relief is very powerful. Once your case is filed with the court, bill collectors and creditors are not allowed to do anything to collect debts from you. It also means all lawsuits stop (they are usually dismissed), foreclosures are stopped, other legal proceedings against you are stopped, and you will probably never hear from your creditors again. No further action can be taken against you without Court approval.

Free Informational Meeting:
The first step to relief from creditors is to meet with us.  Our first meeting is informational, and this half-hour consultation with Attorney Gindes is free.  A consultation allows us to explain debt relief under the new bankruptcy code.  We can review which of your debts can be forgiven, what property you can keep (such as your home and car), which debts you may need to keep paying, etc.

Case Evaluation:
Once you have decided to retain Attorney Gindes, the next step is a case evaluation.  At this point, you can tell your bill collectors that you are represented by our office, and they must stop calling you (this is called a preliminary injunction). The case evaluation is a more involved review of your particular situation.  First comes the ”safe harbor test” which is used to determine if you can file Chapter 7.  For this, we evaluate your monthly income, averaged over the previous six months, and compare it to the median income in Massachusetts (taking into account your household size).  If your income is at or below the state median, you can file Chapter 7.

If your income is above the state median, we will conduct a “means test,” which is a more involved review of your financial situation to determine if you can still file Chapter 7, or whether you will need to file Chapter 13.  Should we recommend that you file Chapter 13, we can calculate for you your projected monthly payment.

Please note that although it may be more difficult to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the new law, studies have been conducted which show that more than 85% of Chapter 7 filers who filed before the new law would still be able to file Chapter 7 today.  So be assured that despite the new law, most people will still be able to file some type of bankruptcy.  We promise to help you to resolve your debt issues in the best way possible

If you would like Attorney Gindes to perform a case evaluation for you, please click here to have a copy of our bankruptcy questionnaire and the checklist of items to bring with you emailed to you.

Filing Your Bankruptcy With the Court:
If you choose to proceed with bankruptcy, our office will collect all of the necessary information, and then assemble papers that disclose all of your assets, liabilities, and expenses.  After we have drafted these documents, you must check them carefully, because intentional misstatements can be a criminal offense.  After your review, we will file all of the necessary forms, petitions, schedules, and other documentation with the court.

The Court charges a fee for filing bankruptcy, which is now $274.00.  (This does not include our legal fees.)  We will submit your documents and the filing fee to the Bankruptcy Court, and then each of your creditors will receive notice that you have filed bankruptcy.

Credit Counseling:
Note that under the new law, you must also undergo credit counseling within 180 days (about 6 months) prior to your bankruptcy filing.  This counseling session can be by telephone, over the Internet, or in person.  We can help you to locate a credit counseling agency.  Although these non-profit agencies usually charge a fee for their services, under the new law they are required to provide their services for free to individuals who cannot afford to pay.  You should also be aware that many of these companies are subsidized by the credit card industry, and they may try to talk you out of filing bankruptcy.  They are not, however, allowed to give you legal advice.

341 Meeting:
About a month after we have filed your bankruptcy with the court, you and Attorney Gindes will attend a meeting with your bankruptcy trustee (this is called a 341 meeting).  The trustee is the Judge’s eyes and ears.  You will never actually go to Court or see the judge assigned to your case except for rare circumstances.  Unless there is something unusual about your case, the meeting with your trustee is very simple and lasts no more than a few minutes.

Approximately 60 days after your 341 meeting, you will receive a discharge order from the Court. This is the final order of the Court, which prevents all the creditors listed in your petition (a petition is the bankruptcy papers that Attorney Gindes filed with the court) from taking any action to collect the debts listed.

Be Aware:
Remember, certain debts cannot be erased in bankruptcy.  Student loans, some taxes, child support, alimony, court-ordered criminal restitution, and some other specific debts may not be discharged.  If you have any such debts, talk to us about your options.

Because the new law is complicated, it is now more important than ever to have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer on your side.  The Law Offices of Daniel Gindes specializes in consumer bankruptcy cases.  Attorney Gindes has reviewed the new bankruptcy law extensively and has attended seminars about the new law.  If you have any questions, please call our office at (978) 741-4320, or click here.

Common Bankruptcy FAQs

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