If you are considering bankruptcy, you likely have many questions about how the process works and where to get started. How do you know which type of bankruptcy to file? What should your first steps be? How do you even know if you qualify? A skilled and experienced bankruptcy attorney can answer all of those questions for you and guide you through the bankruptcy process in Texas.
At The Law Offices of Sean T. Flynn PLLC, my clients receive personalized counseling regarding their options, including the type of bankruptcy that best fits their situation. I then walk each client through the steps until they reach the discharge phase, marking the end of the process. With over 10 years of experience serving clients throughout the greater Austin area, you can rely on my knowledge and trust that I will be there to answer your questions and advocate for you along the way.
Before you ever file a petition in bankruptcy court, you must first complete several initial steps. When you come into my office, we will closely examine your debts and financial situation to figure out the best path for you. These first steps include:
- Looking at your debt, property and income: When you file for bankruptcy, you will need to tell the court what you owe, what you own and how much money you earn.
- Credit counseling: Bankruptcy law requires you to go through credit counseling before you can file. Many approved agencies provide this counseling and even offer the courses online.
- The means test: The bankruptcy code requires you to complete a “means test,” which looks at your total finances over the past six months to decide if you currently have the ability to pay off your debt. If not, you may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have some ability to pay your debts, you may need to file under Chapter 13. This test is complicated and must be completed correctly or it can jeopardize your bankruptcy.
- Addressing lawsuits and foreclosures: If your creditors have already started some kind of legal action against you, like foreclosing on your house or suing you to collect payment, we will address those matters right away. Timing is critical in those situations, and we may be able to stop or stall the action.
Once we complete these beginning steps, we will have a better idea of whether you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Then, we are ready to file your petition with the bankruptcy court.
Filing Your Petition
At this point, the process will look very different depending on the type of bankruptcy you file. Your petition must include all of your financial information. It is important to identify all of your debts because leaving any items off of your petition means they will not be discharged in bankruptcy. If you are filing for Chapter 13, you must also include a payment plan to pay off as much of your debt as possible.
You will attend a meeting with your court trustee — and any creditors who wish to attend — to review your bankruptcy plan and confirm the information you submitted in your petition. I will help you prepare for the meeting, but know that they are typically very short and simple.
Discharging Your Debt
In a Chapter 7 case, you may need to sell some assets and turn what you have over to the court. Most people who qualify for Chapter 7 have very few assets. The court will discharge (or dismiss) your debts within a few months.
Chapter 13 is more complicated and takes much longer. Assuming the court approves your payment plan, you will continue to make payments for three to five years. The court will discharge any remaining debt at the end of that period.
Are You Ready To Get Started?
The sooner you begin the process, the sooner you will be able to start fresh with your finances. I am here to listen and to help. Together we will take control of your debt. Call 512-640-3340 today to schedule an appointment or fill out my online form.