Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be easy or difficult. Here are four steps to making it go quickly and smoothly:
1. Hire a competent knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney that you can talk with. Provide your attorney every piece of information and all of the documents she asks for. Remember that the attorney is on your side: she wants the case to go as easily and smoothly as possible.
2. Communicate with your attorney. Make sure she has all the answers to all of her questions. Playing “hide the ball” or “forgetting” to tell her something will only make her life harder, your paperwork inaccurate, and can potentially be catastrophic. A good attorney will recognize the weak spots of your case, and discuss what can and should be done. Sometimes it is as simple as waiting a couple of more weeks or months to file and the problem will go away. But if the attorney isn’t told about the issue, she won’t be able to advise you competently.
3. Attend the 341 hearing after reviewing the bankruptcy paperwork and discussing any potential issues with your attorney. While there, answer all questions fully and honestly. If the trustee believes you are hiding something, he will get suspicious and start looking for problems. If you are honest and forthright, everything will go easier. And if you have told your attorney everything, you’ll be prepared for what the trustee will ask.
4. Follow up with your attorney after the hearing. She will know if there are any issues or any more information that the trustee needs. Help the trustee in any way you can to get anything needed to close the case. Remember that the trustee is doing his job. Make it as easy as you can and the case will be concluded much quicker.
Most Chapter 7 bankruptcies go smoothly and quickly. It’s the ones where the lawyer isn’t fully informed or the debtor is hiding something, that linger on. Make your case easy: tell your attorney everything.
Carolyn Secor is a Clearwater bankruptcy attorney and Clearwater foreclosure attorney serving Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Seminole, St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay area.