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What to expect during your bankruptcy

If you are a Washington, D.C., resident facing financial struggles, you may have thought about filing for personal bankruptcy. Many people do not know exactly what bankruptcy is. As a result, they may rush into the proceeding without knowing what is best for their situation. Today, we are going to give you a preview of what you can expect when you first enlist the services of a bankruptcy attorney, starting with the consultation.

Before you file your bankruptcy case, you will meet with legal and financial professionals. Attorneys will help you gather all necessary information to help you decide which type of bankruptcy is best for you. For example, people filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy must pass a means test that evaluates their income against their debts. If you are not eligible for Chapter 7 liquidation, you may be able to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. Your attorney can help you decide the best course of action. You choose what to do after the consultation.

If you choose to pursue bankruptcy, your attorney will set up a meeting that involves a trustee. This person is appointed by the bankruptcy court to oversee your case file. You will need to bring much of the information from the consultation. Chapter 13 filers will work together to create a payment plan for their debts, while Chapter 7 filers will begin the debt discharge process.

Keep in mind that even Chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot excuse all of your debts. It's important that you bring all relevant information to your trustee meeting because you will be responsible for debts you forget to list. Additionally, child support, alimony, student loan and many tax debts are also ineligible for discharge.

Many people are also concerned about losing their homes and cars during bankruptcy. In reality, a large number of bankruptcy filers are able to retain their personal assets. Speak with your bankruptcy attorney to decide those details. Bankruptcy is a viable option for fixing your financial problems, but you must be thorough and accurate. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you submit error-free bankruptcy documents, setting you up for future financial success.

Source: WOOD TV, "Navigating debt relief and bankruptcy," Feb. 19, 2013

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