Pew Law Center Handles Consumer Bankruptcy – Chapter 7 Arizona Cases on the Rise
As consumer bankruptcy filings continue to increase, the Pew Law Center’s attorneys continue to handle bankruptcy cases of any complexity under Chapter 7 (liquidation), Chapter 11 (reorganization), or Chapter 13 (individual debt adjustment) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
When attorney Lawrence ‘D’ Pew explains to his clients how cases proceed through Arizona’s bankruptcy court system, they often comment on how relieved they are just knowing what the process involves. Knowing what is going to happen as the case proceeds helps reduce stress for just about everyone. To guide you through the process in your bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona case – we’ve introduced the 10 basic steps involved in a majority of bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Arizona filings.
Bankruptcy Chapter 7: Arizona’s 10 Steps to a Fresh Financial Start!
Pre-Bankruptcy Preparation. Bankruptcy petitions are lengthy and fact-specific, so begin gathering your documents and materials well in advance of filing. Through the petition, you will provide a comprehensive financial picture to the court and disclose necessary personal information about yourself and your family. Your bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona petition will include the following details:
Your name, address, prior addresses, SSN.
Your spouse’s information.
Any dependents, your relationship to them, and their ages.
Prior bankruptcy cases.
Your real property interests, market value, and any encumbrances.
All of your personal property interests, of any kind and nature, market values, and any associated liens.
Complete list of creditors and a description of their claims (secured or unsecured, priority or non-priority, domestic support obligations or divorce property settlement, and so on).
Any unexpired leases or executory contracts (home rentals or equipment leases are two examples).
Codebtor’s name and address.
Your monthly wages, employer name and address.
The amount you spend each month for food, gasoline, utilities, telephone and communications, healthcare expenses, etc.
Complete financial details involving any employment or business operation that you own.
You must disclose any income you have from any source.
You will detail any lawsuits, repossessions, garnishments, foreclosures, attachments, or executions on your property.
You explain any losses that you had (fire, flood, or theft, for example).
How much cash you have on hand.
List all safe deposit boxes.
List all bank and financial accounts, pensions, IRAs, 401Ks, and the like.
Describe any property that you have in your care or possession, but which belongs to another person.
List and claim all of the bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona exemptions available to you.
Credit Counseling Course. The bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona petitioner must complete an approved Credit Counseling Course within 180 days before filing. The course certificate of completion is included with the petition when filed with Bankruptcy Court Clerk. (Note: Disabled, incapacitated, or military duty debtors may be excused from this requirement.)
Means Test. Satisfying the Means Test is a prerequisite to filing for a bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Arizona median household income tables are adjusted periodically and vary from that of other states. Under the Means Test, we take an average of the petitioner’s monthly income over the six-month period immediately preceding the filing. If the petitioner’s monthly income falls below the Arizona median household income, then the Means Test is passed – there is no presumption of abuse. Don’t panic! When the Means Test prevents filing bankruptcy Chapter 7, Arizona attorney Lawrence ‘D’ Pew will look to Chapter 13 as an alternative. (Note: SSA income and certain payments to victims are not included in the Means Test.)
Filing the Voluntary Petition and the Automatic Stay. It is finally time to file! When the bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona petition and court filing fee are handed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk, a case number is assigned and the Automatic Stay goes into effect. The Automatic Stay stops any and all creditor collection efforts, protects the petitioner, and protects the bankruptcy estate during the court proceedings. The Judge and Case Trustee will be assigned, and the first § 341 Meeting of Creditors will be set.
Creditor Proof of Claim. Once a bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona petition is filed, all listed creditors are immediately notified. The creditors may file Proofs of Claims to identify and describe their interests should there be anything for them in the bankruptcy estate. The Court automatically sends you a copy of every Proof of Claim filed in your case.
Financial Education Course. This is the second course that you must complete, known as the Financial Education Course. Use your calendar because you must complete this course within 60 days of the first date set for the § 341 Meeting of Creditors. Again, the certificate of course completion must be filed with the Court Clerk.
§ 341 Meeting of Creditors. About 25 – 45 days after your case is filed, you must appear before the Case Trustee at the § 341 Meeting of Creditors. Failure to appear will result in the dismissal of the bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona case. This is what occurs at the meeting: You will be sworn under oath to tell the truth. The Case Trustee will ask you direct questions about matters pertaining to your petition, things that need addressing or clarification. If something is missing from your petition or a matter needs handling, then the trustee will tell you how the problem will be resolved. Your creditors have the right to question you about their claims while you are under oath, too, although this seldom occurs.
Administration of the Case. The Case Trustee is wholly responsible for collecting any nonexempt assets and making distributions. If you are contacted by the trustee during administration of the bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona case, then you are expected to fully cooperate. Failure to cooperate with the Case Trustee could result in dismissal.
Reaffirmation Agreements. If you plan to enter into a written Reaffirmation Agreement with any creditor (for instance, to keep your car or truck), then the agreement must be entered into and filed with the Bankruptcy Court Clerk before the discharge is entered.
Chapter 7 Discharge Order. Generally speaking, in 60 to 90 days after the § 341 Meeting of Creditors, the Judge will issue a Chapter 7 Discharge Order. This discharge eliminates any personal liability on the discharged debts in your bankruptcy Chapter 7 Arizona case. It also prevents future collection efforts by creditors on those discharged debts. However, there are several exceptions to discharge, including the domestic support obligation (DSO) for child support or alimony. DSOs are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. (Note: Financial fraud or perjury may result in a denial of discharge.)
The Pew Law Center looks forward to guiding you through Bankruptcy Chapter 7: Arizona’s 10 Steps to a Fresh Financial Start!