Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Important Reminders

FIRST MEETING OF CREDITORS:
Shortly after filing, you will receive a notice from the court giving you the date, time and location of your First Meeting of Creditors. You (and your spouse, if you have filed jointly) must attend this meeting, or the court will dismiss your case. The meeting is usually scheduled for about 30 to 60 days from the date your petition is filed, and can only be rescheduled in the event of a dire emergency.

The trustee will require you to take picture ID and proof of your social security number to your 341 meeting. Picture ID would include a valid driver’s license, government issued picture ID card, U.S. passport, government employee photo ID card, military photo ID card, or a legal resident alien card. Proof of your social security number would be include a social security card, or an original W-2 for the most recent tax year. An insurance card, other than a Medicare card, is not acceptable proof of social security in IL, but will suffice in MO.

CONTACTS BY CREDITORS:
It normally takes about a month (or two months, for large corporations) for the creditor to get your notice from the Court to their correct department and into your computer file, in order to stop your bills. If, after your petition has been filed for 30 days, you continue to receive bills from the creditors listed in your petition, please forward the bills to our office, and we will send the creditor a letter notifying them that they must stop trying to collect on this debt. If you receive any phone calls from creditors after your Chapter 7 has been filed, please refer them to us.

MOVING? CHANGING PHONE NUMBERS? NEW JOB?
Be sure to notify our office immediately , so that we can reach you as needed.

UTILITIES:
Although the past due amounts on your utilities may have been wiped out by the Chapter 7; you do need to continue to pay your current monthly utility bills directly to those companies as they become due. The utility companies do have the right to require a deposit from you before they re-establish your service, but they must stop billing you for the past due amounts listed in your petition. In MO, an unpaid sewer bill can be discharged, but the liens on your property would remain until the debt is paid.

MORE CREDITORS:
If, after filing your bankruptcy, you realize that you have forgotten to list one or more creditors, it is possible to have them added. The court charges $26 per schedule each time you add one or more creditors. You may add as many creditors as necessary on any given schedule at one time for that $26 fee per schedule, while the case is open.

However, the later you wait to add new bills, the greater likelihood exists that the debts may not be eliminated. We recommend that you add bills within 30 days of filing to prevent those possible problems. Please note that, in order to be added, the debt must have been incurred before you filed your petition. If you order a credit report that arrives after filing, it will be your responsibility to go through the credit report and check it against your creditor matrix to determine if there are creditors that need to be added to your bankruptcy.

After your bankruptcy has been discharged, it may still be possible to add the creditor, but it will be much more costly.

NOTICES FROM THE COURT:
Before your case is discharged, you may occasionally receive notices from the court giving you the date and time of a hearing, such as a Hearing for Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay. Except for the first meeting of creditors, you will probably not need to go to any further court hearings. If you will need to be at a hearing, we will notify you.

REAFFIRMATION AGREEMENTS:
Some of your creditors may send out a "Reaffirmation Agreement" for you to sign. We will work with your creditors to obtain these reaffirmations from you, but cannot guarantee that they will allow you to keep the collateral. If you choose to reaffirm on the debt (i.e., pay off the debt as previously agreed in order to keep the collateral), please sign the agreement and return it to us, AND KEEP MAKING YOUR PAYMENTS.

If you choose not to reaffirm, you will need to contact us to make arrangements to surrender any collateral. Please do not sign any reaffirmation agreements that you have received from somewhere other than our office, without talking to us first. An income and budget statement will be attached to this reaffirmation agreement, and if it does not appear that you will be able to make these payments, you will have to appear before a judge to explain why you wish to reaffirm this debt and how you will be able to make payments on it.

SURRENDERING SECURED PROPERTY:
If you decided to allow a creditor to take back their collateral, you can contact them to make the arrangements for the return. You can either return it yourself to where it was purchased, or the creditor can come to your home to pick it up. If the creditor is to come to your home, and they have not been there in what you would consider a reasonable amount of time, the collateral does not become yours to sell: it still belongs to the creditor. Please notify us and we will follow up with the creditor.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT COURSE:
This course must be completed in order for your debts to be discharged at the end of your case. Your TBC attorney will help you find a class that qualifies for this requirement, and will advise you of the cost (normally about $50)

SALE OF ASSETS:
IF YOU HAVE LISTED ANY ASSETS IN YOUR CASE, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SELL THEM WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE TRUSTEE.

FILING TAX RETURNS:
During the time your Chapter 7 is in effect, DO NOT FILE ELECTRONICALLY IN IL, OR DO RAPID REFUND IN EITHER IL OR MO. If you file taxes while your case is open, you need to enclose a note stating you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case number, and your attorney’s name, address and phone number.

TAX REFUNDS:
If you receive a tax refund within a year of filing your Chapter 7, it is important that you contact TBC before you spend any of it, as all or a portion of it may need to be turned over to the Chapter 7 Trustee.

CREDIT REPORTING:
A credit report can reflect a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing each account affected by the case for up to 10 years. However, it is most likely that a Chapter 7 will be listed on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing and a Chapter 13 will be listed for 7 years from the date of filing. All debts listed in your bankruptcy should be listed on the credit report as being part of the bankruptcy. If you have a co-signer on a debt…your co-signer’s future credit. Please contact our office if you or one of your co-debtors has any problems with a credit report as a result of your bankruptcy.

We recommend that you pull a credit report a few months after receiving your Chapter 7 discharge. All debts that were listed in your bankruptcy, other than your mortgage and any other debt on which you reaffirmed in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, should be shown as being discharged through your bankruptcy. If this is not the case, please contact our office and schedule and appointment with one of bankruptcy attorneys.

Specifically you should make copies of and retain the following:

  1. The listing of creditors included in the case, a copy of which we will give to you at your Meeting of Creditors;
  2. The Discharge Order entered by the Court upon completion of your case;
  3. The Order closing your case.

These and other documents could be valuable in proving to a future creditor when your case was filed, closed, and what creditors were affected by your case.

EFFECT OF NONCOMPLIANCE AND/OR DISMISSAL:
If you do not comply with the laws laid out in the Bankruptcy Code, or any orders issued by the Bankruptcy Court, your case will be dismissed and/or your discharge revoked. If your case is dismissed and you choose to file another bankruptcy, the Bankruptcy Code places limitations on the amount of protection you will receive from your creditors. In extreme cases, you could face felony charges of bankruptcy fraud for failure to disclose all assets and/or liabilities in your bankruptcy petition, or due to other noncompliance with your Chapter 7 Trustee or the Bankruptcy Court. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, in regard to your case, please feel free to contact our office. If your attorney is not available when you call, just ask to speak to one of the paralegals. They will answer your questions, if they can; if not, they will have the attorney answer it for you.

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