TIMELINE FOR BANKRUPTCY IN TENNESSEE
The bankruptcy process can be intimidating, but with a bankruptcy attorney, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a difficult system to navigate on your own, but we file cases all day, every day, and we’ve streamlined the process to make it as easy as possible for our clients. We’ll walk you through each step and take care of the filing and paperwork, so you’re free to concentrate on the other important parts of your life. Here’s an overview of what you can expect if you work with Knoxville Bankruptcy Attorney Offices:
- Pre-Filing Requirements
- Free Consultation Meeting
- Paperwork Completion & Drop-Off
- Debtor Education Class #1
- We File Your Case!
- Post-Filing Paperwork: Schedules & Statement of Intention
- Six Weeks After Filing: Meeting of Your Creditors
- Debtor Education Class #2
- 60 Days After Meeting of Creditors: Discharge Decision
- Your New Life Begins!
1. Pre-Filing Requirements
If you have never filed for bankruptcy before, you must be a resident of the state of Tennessee for at least 90 days before you can file. That’s it! (If you don’t meet this requirement, or have filed bankruptcy before, contact us and we’ll discuss your options.)
Visit our Bankruptcy Do’s & Don’ts page for information about which bills you should pay, and which you should not.
2. Free Consultation Meeting
Simply give us a call, and we’ll set up a free consultation meeting with you at our offices in Royal Oak, Tennessee. Before the meeting, you can download our confidential, financial questionnaire, and bring it with you, or you can fill it out at our offices.
At the consultation meeting, we’ll discuss your individual needs and options. We’ll explain the process to you, answer any of your questions, and make sure your visit is pleasant and painfree. The in-person meeting is completely free; you are under no obligations if you attend. We just want everyone in Tennessee to have the facts and know their rights regarding financial fresh starts. We’ve helped thousands of people just like you, and we’d be happy to help you too!
3. Paperwork Completion & Drop-Off
If you decide to file bankruptcy with our help, we’ll give you the necessary paperwork, and all you you need to know to complete it. Much like when you apply for a loan, you’ll need to list your assets and debts, and collect any documents to support them. Please make sure all amounts are listed correctly, as this is extremely important to the state of Tennessee and will help your filing go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
When valuing your assets, you should use “garage sale value,” or the amount you could reasonably expect to receive if you sold your item at a garage sale. If you have any questions about how to assess something, feel free to give us a call.
Once you’re ready, just give us a call, and we’ll set up an appointment for you to come into the office with your original documents. You don’t need to worry about organizing the documents or making sure you have letter-sized copies. We have a state-of-the-art computer system that will scan in your documents and automatically organize them. It generally takes about 1 hour to get all of your information into the computer. We’ll give you back your originals on the spot, so you don’t have to worry about a second pick-up meeting.
4. Debtor Education Class #1
Before we can officially file for you, you will have to complete a pre-filing bankruptcy debtor education class. Don’t worry — it’s easy, takes less than an hour, and can be completed online or in a classroom for around $30. There are companies that offer the classes online, but we can give you a list of our favorite classes (cheapest, quickest to complete, etc). Once you complete the class, the company will email or fax you a copy of your “completion certificate.” Simply forward that to us, and we will add it to your file!
5. We File Your Case!
Once we have your paperwork, documentation, and class #1 completion certificate, we will file your bankruptcy petition with the court. Your case is now formally commenced! As soon as your petition is filed, the court will enter an Automatic Stay order prohibiting your creditors from taking or continuing any collection or legal action against you. This means no more harassing letters or phone calls while your case is in progress!
Next, the bankruptcy court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The trustee is a federal employee appointed by the court to monitor your case and make sure you are eligible for bankruptcy. The trustee will review your petition, make sure that it is complete, and then schedule a Meeting of Your Creditors (also called a “341 Meeting” after the section in the bankruptcy code that requires it: 11 U.S.C. 341. ) to take place approximately 6 weeks after your filing date.
6. Post-Filing Paperwork: Schedules & Statement of Intention
We do all the heavy lifting at this stage: filing the financial schedules and the Statement of Intention and serving copies of everything to the trustee, as required by the bankruptcy courts. We might call you for clarification during this time, but for the most part, you just get to sit back and wait for the Meeting of Your Creditors. You should receive a notice directly from the court within 15 days of your bankruptcy filing with the information about your meeting, but we will also call you to confirm.
7. Six Weeks After Filing: Meeting of Your Creditors
You are required to attend the Meeting of Your Creditors, but don’t worry, we’ll be there with you! The meeting takes place at the courthouse downtown, but not in front of a judge, and not in the courtroom. You’ll meet in a room with several other filers and their attorneys. And while it is called a meeting of your creditors, most likely, your creditors will not be there. The meeting is presided over by your trustee, and usually only last a couple of minutes. Typically, the trustee will conduct 20 meetings each hour!
The meeting is not a test or an inquisition. You don’t have to justify why you filed for bankruptcy. It is only a fact-finding meeting for the trustee to determine if he has all the information he needs, or needs something more. At the very worst, if the trustee discovers new or questionable information during the meeting, he can file a motion or proceeding for the judge’s consideration, but nothing will happen at the actual meeting. None of your rights can be won or lost in that meeting, and your attorney will be there to reassure you before, during and after.
When your name is called, you will be asked to take an oath, swearing to tell the truth. You will state your name and current address. You will verify your social security number, and that you have personally seen and signed the bankruptcy petition. The trustee will then ask you questions about your debts and assets, your income, who you owe money to, and if there have been any changes in your situation since you filed. If any of your creditors are present, they will have a chance to ask you questions as well, but again, it’s not a place for confrontation or justification, and we’ll be right by your side.
The meeting will be tape recorded, but that only means you need to speak clearly and loudly. There is nothing to fear, and we’re with you every step of the way!
8. Debtor Education Class #2
Before you can be discharged, you are required to take a second course: a pre-discharge debtor education class. It can also be taken online or in a classroom, from the same company you took Class #1 with, and costs around $25. Unlike the first class, this class is required by law to last at least 2 hours, so if you take the class online, make sure you have enough time alloted. Class #2 is a financial management class. It’s not hard, but you do need to read every section carefully, as you will be asked summary questions.
Again, you will receive a completion certificate, which you must send to us, so we can file it with the court.
9. 60 Days After Meeting of Creditors: Discharge Decision
The trustee has exactly 60 days after your Meeting of the Creditors to decide if he recommends you get discharged immediately, or if he has any objection. Most cases are discharged without any further review.
The trustee can only raise objections if he believes there has been misconduct, like fraud, embezzlement, concealment or destruction of property or financial records, false statements, withholding information, failing to explain losses, failure to respond to material questions, or a discharge in a prior case. If you have caused any willful or malicious injury to another party, or gotten separated or divorced since you filed, the trustee can also file an objection.
Again, most cases don’t require any extra steps, but this is why it’s important to have a great attorney at your side throughout the entire process. Even if the trustee files a motion, that is just his opinion to the judge, and we will help you take the necessary steps to move forward.
At Knoxville Bankruptcy Attorney Offices, we’re committed to getting the best possible results for our clients as quickly as possible. For everyone. Every time.
10. Your New Life Begins!
Approximately a week after the trustee files his recommendation for discharge, you will receive your official discharge papers. You can now begin again, with a clean slate, and work toward a successful future!