Whether you’ve decided to move forward with Chapter 7 bankruptcy or you are still weighing your options, we know that you have questions. Many people wonder just how long a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take—after struggling under the weight of unbearable debt for years, many of our clients just want to be done as quickly as possible.
We’re here to help you know what to expect from the process and what the general timeline looks like. For more personalized advice regarding your bankruptcy plans, call Padgett & Robertson at 251-336-3695 to set up a consultation with our Mobile bankruptcy attorneys.
What to Expect for an Average Chapter 7 Case
To start, there are tons of factors that affect the timeline of a bankruptcy case. For example, if you file during a massive economic downturn when many others are also filing, the entire process may just be longer due to the backlog of cases. There are many factors or circumstances that can cause your case to fall outside of normal ranges, and we’ll go over those below.
On average, it takes between four and six months for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to be completed.
The General Timeline
The four-to-six-month timeline is short, but a lot gets done in that period of time. You’ll begin by filing the initial paperwork, which includes information on your debts, income, assets, and general background. From there, you will complete your first financial management course as you wait for your 341 meeting.
The 341 meeting, also known as the meeting of the creditors, is where you answer questions asked by your trustee and affirm that everything you sent in is true and complete. Creditors may show up at this meeting to ask questions, but it is fairly uncommon for them to do so. You take a second financial management course after your 341 meeting. Assuming that nothing else happens, your debt will be discharged about 60 days after your meeting of creditors.
Factors That May Complicate Your Case and Take More Time
The timeline given above assumes that everything is done correctly and there are no hiccups in the process. Some issues that may cause your process to be delayed include:
- Your trustee sells your assets: The vast majority of people who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to keep all of their assets, thanks to the substantial exemptions provided in each state. If you are one of the few that does have assets to sell, that could take substantially more time.
- You need to provide more information: It’s important to fill out your paperwork accurately and completely. If you fail to provide information, provide conflicting information, or skip portions of the paperwork, the court will require additional information from you.
- The creditor requests more information: Creditors generally don’t request more time for a 341 meeting. If they suspect fraud, though, they may ask to delay the 341 meeting or your final discharge until they can conduct their own investigation.
- You don’t take your credit counseling class: You are required to take both credit counseling courses. If you do not do so, the court may postpone your 341 meeting until you are able to meet this requirement.
- The trustee suspects fraud: This is fairly rare, but there are situations in which the trustee suspects that a filer is hiding assets or income in order to get their debt discharged. If they receive a tip from someone about hidden assets, they will need to act on that information before granting a discharge.
How to Streamline Your Chapter 7 Process
Obviously, any delays can cause you extra stress and unnecessary worry. If you want to avoid potential problems and move through this process as quickly as possible, start by hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Mobile, AL. This process is complicated, and even small mistakes on your paperwork could lead to untimely delays. An attorney can ensure that your paperwork is complete and help you prepare for any potential delays.
Explore Your Bankruptcy Options with Padgett & Robertson
We know how exhausting debt can be, and we’re here to help you find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you. Set up a meeting to talk about your debt options by contacting us online or calling us at 251-336-3695.