How long does bankruptcy Chapter 7 take? If you are filing Bankruptcy Chapter 7, you can expect the process to take between four to six months to receive a discharge. However, some cases may require more time, depending on the complexity of the case. To learn more about the process, speak to a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney today.
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If your income is below the state median, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, if you make above the state median, you may also qualify, but you must first pass the means test. Your attorney must be able to show that you lack enough disposable income to cover your expenses.
What Is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process?
A relatively standard Chapter 7 bankruptcy will involve the following steps:
Filing Bankruptcy Documents
The first step is filing your necessary paperwork with the court. These documents detail your income, expenses, debts, assets, exemptions allowed under Chapter 7, and any recent transactions you made prior to filing.
Attending the 341 Meeting of Creditors
After you file, the court will notify your creditors and demand that all collections actions against you stop. Your creditors can respond and lift the “automatic stay” during this period. The court will also set a date for the 341 Meeting of Creditors. This is usually 20 to 40 days after you filed the initial paperwork. The hearing is held by the bankruptcy trustee and you will be asked questions under oath. Creditors might attend this meeting but usually don’t. They have 30 days to file an objection to the discharge of any specific debt or your bankruptcy filing as a whole.
Providing Additional Required Information
In some cases, the bankruptcy trustee asks for more information either because your documents are incomplete or one of your creditors has raised an objection. Once the trustee has all the required information, they will conclude the hearing. After the hearing, your creditors have 30 days to make an objection.
Filing the Financial Management Course Certificate
Once the date is set for your 341 Meeting of Creditors, there are two required classes you must take to complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The second course must be completed within 60 days of the date of the 341 Meeting of Creditors. You will then file a certificate proving that you completed the financial management course.
Receiving Your Chapter 7 Discharge
The discharge is generally authorized within 60 days of the 341 Creditors Meeting. Your case won’t be closed until the court has resolved all matters related to your bankruptcy, after which, it will issue a final decree.
What Factors Could Delay the Process?
While most Chapter 7 cases close in less than six months, things may not always go so smoothly. Circumstances that may slow the process down include the following:
- Whether or not you need to prepare more documents or information requested by the bankruptcy trustee;
- If the bankruptcy trustee must liquidate any of your property in order to satisfy your debts; and,
- Whether or not you’re involved in a bankruptcy-related lawsuit.
In some cases, there may be an issue with the information you provided. One possible wrench in the plans occurs when a creditor accuses a bankruptcy filer of fraud, claims that they’ve concealed assets to avoid liquidation, or argues that they have more income than they’re reporting. If this is the case, an investigation will begin, and your finances will be combed through.
Chances are, you will not be the only person filing for bankruptcy at the 341 Meeting of Creditors. If a creditor does not get a chance to ask you questions, a second hearing may be scheduled.
Additionally, if you are attempting to discharge a student loan based on a hardship exemption, the court will need to investigate the merit of your claim.
Talk to a Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today
When it comes to finding answers to questions like “How long does bankruptcy Chapter 7 take?” and “How soon can I receive a bankruptcy discharge?” it’s best to speak to a qualified bankruptcy attorney. At The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman, PLLC we can help you ensure that you file the correct paperwork and that delays are kept to a minimum. Contact us today to learn more.