While terms associated with bankruptcy tend to remain static it does not mean every bankruptcy filing is the same. Each case is different and the elements of each need to be assessed carefully to come to a proper decision about whether bankruptcy is the right route to take and if it is, which form of filing is most appropriate.
If the protections offered through bankruptcy are found to be needed, there are certain steps that are typically necessary and some that are specifically required, as noted on the official website of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas.
The obvious first step when filing for any form of bankruptcy is taking a financial inventory. Each debt needs to be accounted for in detail, as do all the typical expenses of life such as housing, food, transportation and clothing. On the income side, all sources need to be tallied and documented. Income contributed by others in the household counts, too.
Step two is credit counseling. Before you can submit a petition, you must be able to document that you've received credit counseling from an approved agency. The list of acceptable agencies is available from the court. Go armed with your financial inventory to make the most of the sessions.
The third step, which usually comes about 45 days after filing, is the 341 meeting. This is ostensibly a first meeting of creditors, but the name is somewhat misleading. The implication is that creditors will be there and that more meetings could follow. Neither of those things typically occurs. What does happen is that you and your attorney meet briefly with the court trustee to address any possible issues regarding the financial inventory.
Step number four involves a bit more class work. It's called post-filing debtor education. Once again, this must be attended and it must be provided by an approved provider and it has to be completed before a discharge of debt will be granted. The emphasis this time is on creating and following a budget and managing your credit.
Source: MoneyCrashers.com, "How to Declare and File for Bankruptcy – 4-Step Process," Kira Botkin, accessed July 29, 2014