by Stephen Labiak, Attorney at Law
After how much does it cost to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the next question is how long is it going to take in Hanford. While every case is different, this is a general time line.
-Before you file: This may range from mere minutes in stopping in Fresno a foreclosure to years because we are waiting for a statutory deadline to pass. During this time, you talk to your attorney about your goals, fears, and the outcome of filing the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Visalia. Also during this time you are gathering documents, such as paystubs, debts owed, statements from your bank, and whatever else the attorney requires so as to be able to do the case properly.
-Date of Filing Your Case: your life will be divided into two periods: before you file the ch 7 bk, and after you file the ch 7 bk. This is an important date that should not be overlooked. Make sure if you and the attorney are on the same page as to when this should happen due to balances in your bank account. This can be the difference between losing thousands of dollars in the bank or not.
-Documents to the Trustee: you will be required to provide to your trustee certain documents. Depending on the attorney and trustee, this may be in paper or digital form. Typical documents include paystubs, copies of ID’s, bank statements, and tax returns. These should have been gathered in the before you file time period. These documents need to be in the hands of the trustee no later than 7 days before your meeting of creditors. If this does not happen, your case will be continued and you will have to make repeated trips to court.
-Meeting of Creditors: This is called the 341 meeting of creditors. This usually happens around 30 days after the filing date. This is where the trustee may question you on your Chapter 7 and chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing and the paperwork you have submitted for Hanford city. Creditors may also question you if they show up. Don’t worry, they hardly ever do. If your paperwork is in order, and all the proper documents submitted, this is typically the only time you have to meet the trustee. If there are further issues or problems, then you may have additional meeting of creditor sessions.
-Debtor Education Course: this is the second course you must take to receive a discharge in your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing. You have about a total of 75 days to take this course from the date you file. You cannot take it before you file. If you don’t complete this course in the time required, you will not receive your discharge unless you pay more money to reopen your case.
-Notice of No Distribution or Notice to File a Claim: These usually come out about 15 days after the final meeting of creditors. The Notice of No Distribution usually will come faster than the Notice to File a Proof of Claim. As long as the case is open, either of these can be sent out. The notice of No Distribution means the ch 7 trustee is not taking any of your belongings. The Notice to File a Claim means the ch 7 trustee thinks there may be assets for the estate to distribute.
-Payment of Court Fees: If you did not pay your attorney court fees up front, and are paying the court the fees in installments, then from the date you file, you will have approximately 135 days to pay the court fees.
-Discharge: This usually happens about 90-100 days after you file. If you haven’t paid your court fees, you will not receive your discharge in your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case until you pay off the court fees in Fresno. If there is an objection or adversarial proceedings, this may delay the discharge until these are completed.
-Final Decree: If it is a no asset case, then this will happen as early as the same as the discharge, but typically a couple days after receiving your discharge. This means your case is over and done with. If it is an asset case, then the time line on your case closing is a lot longer. In an asset case, you will have received your discharge, but the case will remain open to administer your estate. If it is a simple issue of distributing cash in hand, it may take only a year. If it involves the sale of real estate, or waiting for probate to close, then the time frame may be multiple years. The time also depends on how fast the ch 7 bk trustee operates, their other cases, if all the checks are cashed quickly, if there are objections, and other factors. The case may remain open for several years, although this is rare. Typically two to three years is the upper range for many asset cases to remain open.
-Inheritance: If you receive an inheritance within 180 days from the date you file, you are obligated to inform the trustee, and I’d recommend your attorney as well. Even if your case has Discharged and a Final Decree been issued, the inheritance may be part of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Estate.