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If you need debt relief and are considering bankruptcy as an option, please call my office for a free consultation.
With over fifteen years of experience serving Western Pennsylvania bankruptcy clients, Attorney David J. Romito can help you with any questions and concerns you may have pertaining to personal bankruptcy. Because the whole process can be confusing and even a little frightening for someone considering bankruptcy for the first time, the following summary is intended to give you some insight into how it all works… and if all of your questions are not answered here, then please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the site, or, call me at 412-373-5578 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Generally, there are two questions that need to be answered during the initial consultation with anyone who is seeking debt relief. First, whether you even need to consider filing bankruptcy. If you have only a modest amount of debt – particularly if that debt consists of only 1 or 2 creditors with whom a settlement negotiation might be possible – you may not need to file bankruptcy.
And second, if a bankruptcy does make sense for you, whether you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both bankruptcy options have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to choose the option that best suits your particular situation.
Prior to Filing
Prior to filing bankruptcy, a debtor is required to take a credit counseling class by an approved credit counseling provider. This class does not require your personal attendance – it can be completed online or even over the phone if you prefer. Whichever way you choose, my office will provide you with all the information you need to complete the course with a minimum of inconvenience.
Filing bankruptcy requires a ‘petition’, which is the official document that contains all necessary information on your debts, assets, expenses, and income. My office will complete this petition for you, from information that I will request from you. Most of this information you could probably guess – I will need to look at, for example, such income documents as paystubs (if applicable), 1040s (tax returns), and W-2’s. I will also need information contained on mortgage and car loan statements. I’ll ask you for all of your credit card statements, along with any collection letters you may have received on those accounts. Information on any lawsuits against you will have to be listed in your petition, so I’ll ask you about that as well. Finally, my office will work with you to compile a list of your monthly expenses.
Filing the Petition
After receipt of all this information from you, I will compile and prepare your petition. Because the petition preparation and filing are done electronically, it can be done very quickly if necessary. So if you have lawsuits – even a mortgage foreclosure – pending against you with deadlines approaching, my office is prepared to move quickly for you.
Shortly after I file your petition, a case trustee is assigned. This trustee is simply the person appointed by the court to oversee your case. Also within a few days after the petition is filed, a "creditors’ meeting" is scheduled. The date for this meeting is typically about a month after the petition is filed. At this meeting, the trustee reviews your case and asks basic questions regarding your petition. Of course, I will be right there with you to assist you throughout the entire ‘Q & A’ session. These sessions are usually quite brief, often no more than 5-10 minutes if your petition is in order (don’t worry, that’s my job) and your case involves no unusual complications. To make the process even easier, I will personally go over with you the questions you’ll likely be faced with, the vast majority of which are standard (that is, the same questions asked by the trustee of every debtor).
Within 45 days after that creditors’ meeting, you will need to do a second credit counseling session (called a "pre-discharge financial management course") to qualify for your discharge. Just like the first one (that is, the "pre-filing" class that must be done before filing), it can be completed online or over the phone – whatever’s easier for you. And again, my office will provide you with all the help you need to complete the course with a minimum of inconvenience.
About 3 months after the creditors’ meeting – sometimes a bit sooner – the big day arrives. That’s when you receive your official discharge notice in the mail from the US Bankruptcy Court – you’re free! That’s about 4 months altogether from the time your petition is filed until your case is closed and your debts are officially history. You’ll also be happy to know that bankruptcy law gives you extensive ‘automatic stay’ protection from creditors even before your debts are finally discharged. This ‘automatic stay’ goes into effect the very day you file, and protects you so long as your case is pending up until the date your discharge order is issued by the court.
For many people, bankruptcy is the best option to obtain relief from harassing telephone calls and intimidating lawsuits. Collection agencies will call you day and night, and couldn’t care less to hear about your hardship circumstances. Creditors have high-priced attorneys who will spare no expense in coming after you. But there are powerful federal bankruptcy laws that exist to give honest debtors an effective way to deal with creditors, and their collection agents and attorneys. If you think that bankruptcy might be a potential option for the debt relief you need, contact my office today to schedule a FREE initial consultation. Telephone consultations are also available, also at no charge.