The decision to file bankruptcy is usually not arrived at without serious thought. When you are unable to regularly meet your monthly financial obligations, it is a good idea to explore your options so you can get back on your feet. For some people the answer lies in reworking their budget and cutting out extras where possible. For others, there is no wiggle room and the solution is to seek the protection of bankruptcy. The process can be frightening and difficult to understand, but with the right advocate by your side it becomes manageable and pretty painless. There are a few important basics to understand when filing, which include who the parties are and how the process works.
A bankruptcy is initiated by filing a petition in bankruptcy court, seeking to either restructure your loan obligations or to eliminate certain debt so your money is freed up to put towards other things. When you file a petition in bankruptcy, a trustee will be appointed to oversee the administrative workings of your case. The trustee is:
- An independent person, appointed at random by the Court.
- Responsible for making sure your papers are filed properly and completely.
- Will be allowed to ask you questions about your assets and liabilities, and will likely ask to see your pay stubs and any documents showing ownership of an asset (like a car title).
A bankruptcy trustee is responsible for the smooth administration of the case and is the person that will conduct the first meeting of your creditors. At the first meeting, referred to as the 341 meeting, you will be seated in front of the trustee while your attorney asks a few basic questions about why you filed bankruptcy. In most instances this is the end of the filer’s involvement, and a short time after the 341 meeting the trustee will determine that the case was properly filed and all information has been provided. Once that determination is made, the trustee will advise the Court it is appropriate to enter an order of discharge. The discharge if the legal mechanism that “wipes out” your debt and is the goal of bankruptcy. If there are additional items needed before this determination can be made, the trustee is the party that seeks that information. This might happen if you were unable to provide proof of your income at the 341 meeting, but simply results in a request for the documentation and can usually be resolved by faxing the requested items to the trustee’s office. You are never in the presence of the trustee without your attorney, and most communication with the trustee is simply to gather information about your case. Our office will help prepare you for the 341 meeting, so you are not nervous and can proceed with confidence.
If you are having a hard time paying your bills, consider the option of bankruptcy. Let an experienced attorney help you understand the process and prepare you for what to expect. Call a Bloomington, Minnesota bankruptcy attorney today.