At Your First Appointment

by Paul R. Tom Basic Bankruptcy Information, Myths and FAQs

Your initial consultation is free. We review your financial situation for you and explain exactly which debts are dischargeable and which are not. If you then choose not to file, we won’t charge you for the initial consultation (it’s free). If you choose to file, we’ll explain all of the costs involved and make sure you understand the process.

After you decide to file bankruptcy, you’ll need to get a “certificate of counseling” from a Consumer Credit counseling agency approved by the Court. This can be done over the Internet or by telephone, and we’ll direct you to an agency that can help you quickly and conveniently fulfill this requirement. Later on, you’ll also need to obtain a “financial education” certificate before receiving your bankruptcy discharge – again, we will direct you to an agency that makes getting this certificate as painless as possible.

After gathering and reviewing all of the documentation we’ll ask you to provide so that we can file your case, we will then prepare your petition and schedule an appointment for you to come back and sign the petition. After signing, we will file the petition with the Court.

The Court sends you, our office, and all of your creditors and co-debtors a notice of the filing. The notice is normally sent within a week of filing, and tells all creditors to stop any and all collections against you. However, until the notice is received by the creditors, they do not normally know you have filed, and they may continue to try and collect the debts. You’ll need to let us know the names of the creditors who are actively attempting to collect their debts, so that we can stop them from bothering you.

The notice of filing from the Court also informs you of the time, date, place and directions for the “First Meeting of Creditors,” also known as a “341 Meeting.” The meeting will be approximately 30 days from the date of filing, and is a simple, informal meeting with the Trustee that takes about 5 minutes. We will represent you at that meeting, though you will have to appear as well. Creditors may attend the meeting, but few do. Most questions from creditors are taken care of before the meeting.