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The information below is intended as a guide in the process following the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Within few days from the filing of your bankruptcy petition, you will receive a notice in the mail from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Colorado. This notice will include your name, address, and case number along with information regarding your upcoming meeting of creditors. The meeting of creditors will be conducted by a bankruptcy trustee whose name will appear on the notice as well. Please, note that the trustee is not a judge but an attorney appointed by the Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct the meeting of creditors and administer any funds or property that is considered part of your bankruptcy estate.
The meeting of creditors will take place at the office of the U.S. Trustee located in Denver at 1961 Stout Street, Suite 16-200 16th Floor Room A or B Denver, CO 80202 or in the federal building that is closest to your residence as listed on your bankruptcy petition. Attending the meeting of creditors is mandatory and failing to appear may lead to dismissal of your case. However, your attorney may be able to reschedule your meeting of creditors if you have legitimate reasons to make such request and do so at least two weeks prior to the meeting. In turn, your attorney will obtain a new date and notify all creditors listed in your bankruptcy petition.
To enter the meeting of creditors you must present a government issued picture ID and social security card. Frequently though, debtors fail to bring their social security cards which leads to automatic rescheduling of their meetings of creditors. Acceptable substitute for a social security card is an employer issued W-2, 1099, Medicare card, AARP card, or military ID.
Prior to the meeting of creditors, you would need to complete a trustee information sheet and domestic support obligation form that would be supplied to you by your attorney. Please note that you must complete and sign the forms even if you find that most of the questions are not applicable in your case. Furthermore, all questions asked will refer to funds and property you had in your possession at the time of your bankruptcy filing.
The trustee information sheet will ask what amounts you had in each of your bank accounts on the date you filed for bankruptcy. You may ask your bank teller to provide you with this information. However, you must bring to your meeting of creditors a bank account statement for each of your accounts that covers the month in which you filed your case. The bank statement that you bring should show the transactions and daily balances for each day during the month you filed for bankruptcy. If the monthly statements you receive do not provide this much detail, you must request printouts from your bank that show all transaction and balances for the month of your bankruptcy filing. Failing to obtain such statements may cause your meeting of creditors to be rescheduled for a later date.
The trustee information sheet will ask whether you were owed any wages from your employer when you filed your bankruptcy. Please, note that your employer would have owed you wages for the time period between the paystub you received before the bankruptcy filing and the actual filing date, unless you were paid on the date you filed for bankruptcy. If you are paid hourly, you should refer to the check you received after the bankruptcy filing to determine how many hours you worked during that pay period and multiply it by the hourly wage you receive. Otherwise, calculate the owed income as pro-rata amount from the salary you receive each pay check. Also, you would need to list the non-exempt portion of your wages, which is generally 25%, unless you receive government assistance or benefits that are fully exempt (social security, social security disability, unemployment etc.). If you experience difficulty with any of the calculations described above, please contact your attorney for further assistance.
The trustee information sheet will ask you whether you have repaid any of your unsecured creditors (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans etc.) more than $600.00 within the 90 days before filing for bankruptcy. If you have been garnished more than $600.00 by a single creditor in the 90 days before filing, please list the name of the creditor in this section of the trustee information sheet. Also, provide a copy of the garnishment writ for the creditor who garnished you.
Lastly, you would need to bring to the meeting of creditors your most recent tax return as the trustee may wish to examine it. Normally, your attorney would have provided a copy of your taxes to the trustee prior to the meeting of creditors. Often though, such copies tend to be misplaced by trustees and it is always best to have an extra copy with you during the creditors’ meeting.
Please remember that you would need to answer “no” on each line of the domestic support obligation form, date and sign it if you do not owe anyone a domestic support obligation (child support, spousal support, or alimony). If you happen to owe a domestic support obligation, you must disclose the name of the person, his/her address, and contact information. By law, the trustee presiding over your case is required to inform that person of your bankruptcy.
During the creditors’ meeting, the trustee will review the trustee information sheet, domestic support obligation form, and supporting documents you provide. Also, the trustee will have various questions for you that are meant for you to confirm the accuracy of the information already disclosed in your bankruptcy petition. Please consult with your attorney regarding the types of questions that may arise in your case.
After the meeting of creditors is concluded, you would need to complete a post-filing debtor education course which is somewhat similar to the course you took prior to your bankruptcy filing. Please, note that you have only 45 days after the meeting of creditors to take the course. It is likely that your attorney will give you multiple reminders of your obligation to complete the course. However, the ultimate responsibility for completing the course in a timely manner rests with you. Failure to timely complete the post-filing debtor education course will result in closing of your case without discharge. Please, note that if your case is closed without a discharge you may ask the court to reopen the case so you can submit your certificate of completed debtor education course. However, the court-filing fee to reopen a case is $260.00.
Another step you may need to take after attending your meeting of creditors and debtor education course, is signing reaffirmation agreements for the debts you wish to repay after bankruptcy. The most common examples are secured debts associated with your vehicle or home. Although you may reaffirm the debts on the vehicle and home that you intend to keep, you do not have to reaffirm in order to keep them. Reaffirmation agreements are not required by bankruptcy law and your creditors cannot compel you to sign a reaffirmation agreement against your will. However, the signing of a reaffirmation agreement has its pros such as the creditor would continue to report your timely payments to the credit agencies. Conversely, reaffirmation agreements have some cons as well, including lack of reporting of the payments you make. In addition, you would be liable for the full amount of the debt you reaffirm if you later default on it. In other words, debts that are reaffirmed are treated as excluded from the bankruptcy.
If you decide to sign a reaffirmation agreement, you would be fully responsible for completing and signing the agreement unless you retain an attorney to assist you with the process. Although simple, the reaffirmation process requires that you return all signed papers back to the creditor and insure that the reaffirmation agreement is filed with the court in a timely manner. Failing to file the reaffirmation within 60 days from the filing date or prior to discharge will lead to rejection of your reaffirmation by the court. Keep in mind that creditors often misplace reaffirmation agreements or fail to submit them in a timely manner to the court. Thus, the assistance of counsel is highly recommended.
Frequently, debtors opt to repay their court-filing fees in installments. Please, note that your bankruptcy discharge will not be granted until after you have completed your installment plan with the Court. Failure to pay the court filing fee in accordance to the repayment plan will result in dismissal of the bankruptcy case without discharge. To make payments, you must contact Colorado Law Group and make the payment via debit or credit card. Please note that Colorado Law Group does not accept any other forms of payments for court fees. Therefore, please do not send personal checks, money orders or cash to our office. Lastly, please do not send payments to the Court as you would be in violation of the local rules of procedure which may lead to sanctions to you and your attorney.