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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline

Before Filing Bankruptcy: Complete Credit Counseling Course [within 180 days Before filing]

Description

Before you file for bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course from an approved credit counseling agency. These courses generally last 60 to 90 minutes, and may be completed in person, on the internet, or over the phone. For a list of approved credit counseling agencies, you may visit http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm.

Upon completion of the course, you will receive a Certificate of Credit Counseling.

Deadline

You may complete the credit counseling course any time within 180 days BEFORE you file for bankruptcy.

Day 1: File Bankruptcy Petition with Court and Pay Filing Fees

Description

Filing a bankruptcy petition is your official request to the court to open your bankruptcy case. The "bankruptcy petition package" refers to the complete set of court documents required to open a bankruptcy case.

For more information on the bankruptcy process you can visit the Don't Have a Lawyer page or you can visit the courthouse to attend a free Bankruptcy Clinic.* Employees of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court are not permitted to recommend or refer you to a lawyer or provide legal advice, including how to complete the bankruptcy forms or which forms may be required in your bankruptcy case. However, you may qualify for free or reduced legal assistance.

Once you complete your petition package, you can file it by bringing it to the intake window of the clerk's office at your divisional courthouse. At the time of filing, you will have to pay a filing fee in the exact amount since the clerk's office does not provide change. For additional information you can review the Filing Fees and Acceptable Forms of Payment page.

If you have trouble paying the filing fee, the court may grant you permission to pay in installments. If your income is below 150% of the poverty level and you are unable to pay the fees even in installments, the court may waive the fee requirement. Please see Local Rule 1006-1 (Installment Payments and Chapter 7 Fee Waivers) for more information.

Deadline

You must complete your Credit Counseling Course within 180 days BEFORE filing your bankruptcy petition package.

* Visit Court Locations: Where do I file? to find the courthouse near you.

Day 1 to 14: File Certificate of Credit Counseling

Description

You must file the Certificate of Credit Counseling that you received upon completion of the Credit Counseling Course.

Deadline

You may file the Certificate of Credit Counseling with your bankruptcy petition package on Day 1 (See page 2). The absolute deadline to file the certificate is 14 days after filing your petition.

Tip

There are many reasons why your Bankruptcy case could be dismissed and your debts will not be discharged. Avoid these common mistakes when filing for bankruptcy.

Day 1 to 14: File Lists, Schedules, and Payment Advices

Description

There are a number of court documents included in your bankruptcy petition package, including the List of Creditors (mailing matrix), Schedules of Assets and Liabilities, Schedule of Income and Expenditures, and Statement of Financial Affairs.

Deadline

You may file these documents with your bankruptcy petition package on Day 1 (See page 2). The absolute deadline to file these documents is 14 days after filing your petition.

Noticing

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida now offers debtors the opportunity to request receipt of court notices and orders via email, instead of U.S. mail, through a program called Debtor Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing or DeBN. This is a free and voluntary service.

Day 13 to 33: Deadline to Provide Tax Returns to Trustree [7 days BEFORE Meeting of Creditors]

Description

You are required to provide a copy of your most recent federal tax return to your Chapter 7 Trustee.* Your Chapter 7 Trustee’s address will be listed in a notice entitled, “Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines” which you will receive from the court after filing your bankruptcy petition.

Deadline

You are required to provide your tax return to your Trustee at least 7 days BEFORE the date first set for your Meeting of Creditors (See page 7).

*In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you may hear the word "Trustee" more than once. The Office of the U.S. Trustee is part of the Justice Department, responsible for protecting the integrity of the Federal bankruptcy system. After you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Office of the U.S. Trustee will appoint a Chapter 7 Trustee to oversee your case. The Chapter 7 Trustee is a private, impartial individual paid to administer your bankruptcy and liquidate any non-exempt assets in your estate.

Day 20 to 30: Deadline to File Statement of Intention (30 days After filing OR Before first date set for Meeting of Creditors, whichever comes first)

Description

The Statement of Intention is a document in the bankruptcy petition package that addresses your secured debts -- these are debts in which there is collateral (property) promised to your creditors in case you fail to pay them back. Examples of secured debts include car loans and mortgages. In the Statement of Intention, you will describe your plan to either surrender or retain any property securing your debts.

Deadline

You can file the Statement of Intention with your bankruptcy petition package on Day 1. The absolute deadline to file the Statement of Intention is within 30 days after filing your petition OR on or before the date first set for the Meeting of Creditors (whichever comes first).

Day 20 to 40: Meeting of Creditors [also called the 341(a) Meeting]

Description

Once you file your bankruptcy petition, the court will mail you and any creditors a notice entitled, “Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines.” This notice informs your creditors of the bankruptcy case, provides information about various court deadlines, and contains the date, time, and location of the Meeting of Creditors. You are required to attend this meeting.

The Meeting of Creditors is not a court hearing, but rather a chance for the Chapter 7 Trustee overseeing your bankruptcy case, as well as any creditors who wish to attend, to ask you questions regarding your financial affairs and property. Although there will be no judge present during the Meeting of Creditors, you will be under oath as you answer questions regarding your financial situation.

Video - Bankruptcy Basics: 5. Creditor's Meeting

When visiting the court make sure to follow the Entrance Requirements to ensure you arrive to your meeting on time. Below are some things to keep in mind when visiting the court:

  • a photo identification
  • documentation supporting the schedules from your bankruptcy petition
  • the public may not bring cell phones, cameras, recording devices, or other electronic devices (such as MP3 players)

Deadline

The Meeting of Creditors takes place within 20 to 40 days after you file your petition.

Day 50 to 70: Deadline to Perform Statement of Intention [30 days After first date set for Meeting of Creditors]

Description

As you recall, you were required to file a Statement of Intention with the court, describing your plan to either surrender or retain any property securing your debts (See page 6).

Deadline

30 days after the date first set for the Meeting of Creditors, you must perform what is outlined in your Statement of Intention.

Day 80 to 100: Deadline to Complete Financial Management Training Course and file Form B423 [60 days After first date set for Meeting of Creditors, whichever comes first)

Description

In addition to the credit counseling course you completed before filing for bankruptcy, you are ALSO required to take a financial management course from an approved agency. The course can be completed in person, on the internet, or over the phone. For a complete list of approved agencies where you can take the course, please visit http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/de_approved.htm.

Once you complete the Financial Management Course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion. You are not required to file the Certificate of Completion itself, but you must complete Form B423 ("Debtor's Certification of Completion of Postpetition Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management") and file this with the court -- unless the approved agency through which you took the course has already notified the court of your completion.

Deadline

You must file Form B423 within 60 days of the first date set for your Meeting of Creditors. Failure to comply will delay your discharge.

Day 80 to 100: Reaffirmation Agreements [Up to 60 days After first date set for Meeting of Creditors]

Description

If you wish to keep certain personal property after filing for bankruptcy, you may enter into a Reaffirmation Agreement with your creditor. In a Reaffirmation Agreement, you agree to continue making payments on a particular debt (such as a car loan) in order to keep the property (such as a car).

If you are represented by an attorney during the negotiation of a Reaffirmation Agreement, and your attorney signs all the appropriate sections of the agreement, it is not necessary for a judge to approve the agreement.

However, if you are not represented by an attorney during the negotiation of a Reaffirmation Agreement, you must attend a court hearing called a Reaffirmation Hearing, where the judge must review and approve the Reaffirmation Agreement. The judge must decide that the agreement is in your best interest in order to approve it.

Deadline

You must complete any Reaffirmation Agreements within 60 days after the date first set for Meeting of Creditors.

Discharge Granted

Description

If you wish to keep certain personal property after filing for bankruptcy, you may enter into a Reaffirmation Agreement with your creditor. In a Reaffirmation Agreement, you agree to continue making payments on a particular debt (such as a car loan) in order to keep the property (such as a car).

If you are represented by an attorney during the negotiation of a Reaffirmation Agreement, and your attorney signs all the appropriate sections of the agreement, it is not necessary for a judge to approve the agreement.

However, if you are not represented by an attorney during the negotiation of a Reaffirmation Agreement, you must attend a court hearing called a Reaffirmation Hearing, where the judge must review and approve the Reaffirmation Agreement. The judge must decide that the agreement is in your best interest in order to approve it.

Deadline

You must complete any Reaffirmation Agreements within 60 days after the date first set for Meeting of Creditors.

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