Although the basic premise of filing for bankruptcy may be simple, the legal process you have to go through to do it can be lengthy, time-intensive, and complex, depending on your financial history and needs. Whether you want to file under Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or any other Bankruptcy Code section, you should take some time beforehand to familiarize yourself with what tasks you will need to complete and their deadlines.
An experienced Salt Lake City attorney will provide practical guidance and beneficial pre-filing strategies to those considering bankruptcy. While you have the right to file bankruptcy by yourself, retaining legal counsel could dramatically simplify this process and ensure you do not make any avoidable mistakes along the way. Often, pro se bankruptcy filers end up paying their bankruptcy trustee way more than if they had the benefit of legal counsel.
Before filing a Salt Lake City bankruptcy, a debtor should collect as much documentary information about their financial circumstances as possible, including income tax returns, pay stubs, overdue bills, collection notices, and bank statements. Most importantly, they should list current contact information and mailing addresses for all their creditors, which the Court will use to inform those creditors that bankruptcy proceedings have started.
Additionally, anyone who wishes to file personal bankruptcy in Utah must complete a credit counseling course no more than six months before their initial filing date. Once the debtor files their case, the Court will not grant a discharge until the debtor files a certificate of completing the debtor education course.
Debtors who wish to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 also need to complete the Utah bankruptcy means test, which determines whether their average yearly income is low enough to qualify them for this chapter. Individuals who pass the means tests are also eligible for shorter repayment plans if they wish to file under Chapter 13.
In Salt Lake City, the first step in the formal bankruptcy filing process is completing the appropriate federal forms for the chapter under which a petitioner will be filing. Often, debtors need to fill out the same basic bankruptcy petition and the same accompanying schedules that detail their financial situation, whether they are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A debtor’s unique circumstances may require he or she file additional forms with the Court.
Next, the petitioner files these forms, along with their certificate of credit counseling, with the Utah Bankruptcy Court. At this time, they will also need to pay the requisite filing fees applicable to the chapter under which they are filing, unless they seek and receive a fee waiver. If everything is in order, the Court will grant the bankruptcy petition and institute an automatic stay, which prevents all collection efforts directed at the debtor until their bankruptcy is complete.
The process of filing for bankruptcy in Salt Lake City involves many different forms, documents, and court procedures, which unfortunately means there are a lot of opportunities for omissions and mistakes that could jeopardize a debtor’s financial future. If you want to maximize your chances of navigating your bankruptcy proceedings smoothly and effectively, enlist the help of a legal professional.
A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney will offer guidance, support, and legal advice every step of the way throughout this process. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.