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Filing for Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania: The Process

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Filing for Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania: The Process

Filing for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania is a fairly straightforward process, but if this is your first time, it can seem a bit overwhelming. To help you gain a better understanding of what to expect, let’s look at each step individually. There are two kinds of bankruptcy for individuals – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each type has significant differences.  For instance, Chapter 7 is for the discharge of debts. In Chapter 13, you don’t get rid of the debts, you restructure the payments, so they are more manageable.  

Steps Involved in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you’re filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll spend a lot of time filling out a bankruptcy petition and a few other forms. The entire process may take from 4 to 6 months.  

Here is a Step-by-Step Outline of The Chapter 7 Process:

Get mandatory credit counseling 

Should be from an agency that the US Trustee’s office approves.  A list is available on their website.

Filing your petition

This includes the petition itself, financial information forms and schedules that list your income and expenses.  Complete this, and an automatic stay goes into effect that stops any collection actions.

The trustee takes charge

Once your paperwork has been filed with the court, a trustee is appointed by the court who will handle your case.  

Meeting with creditors 

The court will notify you when the meeting of creditors will take place (also known as a 341 meeting).  You’ll be asked questions under oath about your finances and bankruptcy petition. This meeting is usually very short, and in many cases, no creditors show up.

Your eligibility is confirmed

The court has reviewed all your information and makes a decision as to whether you are eligible for Chapter 7 protection.  If you are denied for Chapter 7, you may have the option to file for Chapter 13.

Handling non-exempt property

The trustee will determine whether your non-exempt property can be sold and the money distributed to your creditors. This can be avoided if you can come up with the cash on your own.

Secured debts handled 

Secured debts are those that are backed by collateral which the creditor can take if you default.  You can give the property back or reaffirm the debt. This means you agree that you will still owe the debt after the bankruptcy closes.  If you choose to reaffirm and a bankruptcy lawyer does not represent you, you must attend a reaffirmation hearing before the judge.

Financial management course 

After they discharge your case, you must complete a debtor’s education course and file a Form 423 “Certification About a Financial Management Course.”

Receive the discharge 

Your bankruptcy officially closes when they grant a discharge.  From this point, you will no longer be liable to most of your debtors. Your debtors will no longer contact you.

Of course, you’ll also have a lot of questions about the aftermath of filing for bankruptcy.  Will it affect your credit? Can you still get a credit card? Can you be discriminated against for filing the bankruptcy?  What does it cost? We can help you find the answers to these and any other questions you have about the bankruptcy process.

Get the Answers You Need About Bankruptcy from Bartifay

Whether you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the bankruptcy lawyers at Bartifay Law Offices, P.C. will be happy to answer your questions and represent your case with the expertise that comes from over 26 years of helping clients achieve positive outcomes with their legal transactions.  Contact us today for a free consultation. We look to the opportunity to represent you.

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