Friday, March 4, 2011

How Do I Go Bankrupt?

When someone asks me "How Do I Go Bankrupt?", I tell them that it will depend on their own unique situation and what bankruptcy chapter they qualify for.

I firmly believe, and keep repeating, that you should seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney if you are going to file bankruptcy. That said, while I can't tell you exactly how to go bankrupt because I don't know your situation and I am not a lawyer, I can tell you the bankruptcy steps that I took to receive a discharge in the chapter 7 that I filed.

  • I met with a number of bankruptcy attorneys and hired the one I was most comfortable with. My attorney let me pay him off over time. For tips on hiring a good attorney, read my bankruptcy attorney tips.

  • I gathered the paperwork that my attorney told me to gather (your attorney may require additional documents). These were my last two tax returns, the last six months of pay stubs, and I filled out a creditor matrix. The creditor matrix includes all companies, or persons that you owe money to, including addresses, balances, and account numbers. Collection agencies also needed to be included.

  • I took the mandatory pre-filing credit counseling course. I took this online and it took about two hours and cost about 35.00. I was able to print the certificate needed for filing on my own printer at home.

  • I finished paying off my lawyer's retainer and the court filing fee. (Attorney fees will vary. Court filing fee is 299.00.)

  • I submitted all the necessary paperwork and my lawyer filed my bankruptcy. The automatic stay went into effect and my creditors were barred from contacting me in any way about the debts.

  • I attended the 341 Meeting of the Creditors that was scheduled for about a month after the filing (this is scarier than it sounds for most people. Creditors rarely show up for a chapter 7 bankruptcy hearing and mine was no different).

  • I took the mandatory post filing bankruptcy course and sent the certificate to my attorney for filing. This course took about an hour online and cost around 35.00.

  • I waited. I waited longer than most people because the Los Angeles courts are usually backed up. Most people who file a chapter 7 and have no complications receive their discharge about 60 days after the 341.

  • I received my discharge. That was two years ago. Since then I live mostly a cash and carry lifestyle and much prefer it. I will never take peace of mind for granted again.
Those are the bankruptcy steps that I took. If you find yourself asking "How Do I Go Bankrupt?", remember that your bankruptcy steps may vary and see my tips for selecting a great bankruptcy attorney.

Best of luck to you,


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