What is a Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy is a legal proceeding filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court under a federal law, the Bankruptcy Code, the purpose of which is to control creditors from collecting debts in a manner that you cannot tolerate. When you file a bankruptcy petition a temporary restraining order call the “automatic stay” immediately goes into affect to prohibit creditors from calling you, writing you, suing you, repossessing or foreclosing upon your property, garnishing your wages, or taking almost any other kind of collection action. The automatic stay applies to almost all creditors, including IRS and other government agencies. The duration of this protection depends on the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code under which you file.

There are several remedies for different types of debtors identified by chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. Individuals, including sole-proprietor business owners, and married couples, can file under Chapter 7 to “discharge” debt so that it never has to be repaid, or under Chapter 13 to consolidate and repay debt over as many as 5 years, and often at less than 100 cents on the dollar. Corporations, limited liability companies, and other business organizations can liquidate under Chapter 7 or reorganize and repay debt under Chapter 11. Individuals and sole proprietors with high amounts of debt can also reorganize under Chapter 11. Family farming organizations can consolidate and repay debt under Chapter 12, and there are other chapters for municipalities and other organizations.

We represent individuals, married couples, sole proprietors, corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities under Chapter 7 only. We no longer are taking cases under Chapter 13.

How do I file Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy is a complex legal proceeding that will affect your financial future for many years. As such, it is usually a mistake to represent yourself or hire a “paralegal” or typing service who cannot provide legal advice or actually represent you. The bankruptcy petition and schedules to be filed with the court are a minimum of 50 pages in which you testify under penalty of perjury that you have listed all of your property, all of your debt, and have answered all questions truthfully. Accurate preparation of the case is critical to getting a successful result, so we recommend the following step by step process.

1. A free initial consultation with attorney, Jerry White

The purpose of the initial consultation is to help you understand your legal and economic options and to demonstrate the superior quality of our advice and representation. When you call to set an appointment we will email you a questionnaire and ask you to prepare a simple list of all of your debt with the name of each creditor and the amount you owe. The questionnaire asks you to provide your contact information, a basic description of all property you own, and information about economic activity that is relevant to a bankruptcy. In the appointment Mr. White will thoroughly review the facts of your case in order to identify all of the bankruptcy issues. He will prepare a written analysis describing the likely results of filing a bankruptcy under both chapters 7 and 13, and may also identify potential strategies to be followed before filing that may improve the results. After the consultation we welcome you to call if you have questions or need clarification so that you can make the best decision based on your personal priorities and goals.

2. Retaining us to represent you

Once you decide that you want us to represent you, just call when you are ready to set an appointment with our staff to review our retainer agreement and pay the initial installment of our fees. When you come in, the staff will give you a set of instructions and questionnaires to collect the data and documentation to prepare your case. They will then set a date for you to deliver the data and documentation and a date, about 7 to 10 days later, to meet with your attorney to prepare the case.

3. Collection of your financial data and documentation

In order to convince the court that you are eligible for bankruptcy protection you will need to provide extensive information concerning your financial affairs. You will list all of the property you own and all of the debt you owe, answer questions concerning your financial history, and describe your current income and expenses. You will provide copies of statements from creditors and collectors, deeds to real property, tax returns, pay stubs, loan contracts, and other documentation relevant to your circumstances. Once you deliver your information by the agreed upon date, the staff will prepare a first draft of the bankruptcy petition and schedules.

4. Attorney Review

Mr. White will review the first draft and all of your information and documentation before meeting with you to prepare to file the case. If there is additional information needed, he will email you a list of information or documentation to be brought to the meeting.

5. Meeting with Mr. White

This is the most important part of the process. The purpose of this meeting is to be sure that you have provided all of the information and documentation to convince the court that you are eligible for the protection you seek. The bankruptcy petition and schedules must describe your circumstances as of the date you file, so Mr. White will review each page with you to be sure that you understand what information the court requires and have provided it accurately. During this meeting you will establish a specific strategy targeting the date of filing and identifying all information to be updated, or action to be taken, before filing in order to get the best results. You will be given a copy of the corrected first draft to review and a list of information to be provided. A deadline will then be set by which to execute the strategy and update information so the case can be filed.

6. Providing additional information and executing the strategy

Once you complete all action to execute the strategy and provide all of the information to update the schedules, we will correct and edit the draft to make the clearest and strongest argument that you are eligible for the protection requested.

7. Updating last minute information and filing the case

Some facts continue to change daily (cash on hand, bank balances, year to date income, accrued earnings owed to you, accounts receivable, etc.) and those facts must be updated on the day you file so the petition and schedules are accurate when you sign them and file the case. On the day of filing you will call us with this information before you come in to sign the final draft. Once you review and sign it, we file it with the court electronically that same day at which time the automatic stay goes int affect to immediately protect you.