Prior to the bankruptcy discharge:
Within a week after your case is filed the court will mail notices to all the creditors you listed on your paperwork. The court also imposes an “automatic stay” that mandates that almost all creditors must stop all efforts to collect any debts you owe. So, no more telephone calls, collection letters or lawsuits. Child support creditors can still continue to collect child support debts.
About 30 days after you file your bankruptcy case you will need to appear at a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. This is called the 341 meeting or “meeting of creditors”. At that hearing the trustee will ask you some questions about your property, finances and financial transactions. The hearing is usually less than 10 minutes long and most of my clients tell me that the hearing was easier than they thought it would be. Creditors rarely appear at this hearing.
About 70-75 days after the meeting with the trustee you should receive your discharge from the bankruptcy court. before the court will grant the discharge you must complete a course in personal financial management, which can be completed entirely online.
After the bankruptcy discharge has been entered:
Once your case is discharged and closed, your creditors cannot collect any debt that was discharged. This is called the “discharge injunction.” An injunction is a court order that prohibits certain actions, in this context, to collect a debt. Generally you do not have to worry about your case being reopened or the trustee being able to go after your property once your case is closed except in a few circumstances. First, if you receive an inheritance or a marital property settlement within 6 months of the filing of your case. Second, if you concealed assets. If assets are concealed, the trustee has essentially an unlimited amount of time to reopen the case and pursue the undisclosed asset. Also failing to disclose assets could lead to the revocation of your discharge.
Will I ever get credit again?
The simple answer is yes. Most people that file for bankruptcy will be offered credit shortly after they file their case such as offers from car dealers and credit cards. It will usually take about 2 or 3 years to bring your credit rating up to the point that you will get interest rates as good as someone that has never filed a bankruptcy. The secret is to get some kind of credit. A small secured credit card. A modest car loan. Something. Then pay on that debt perfectly until it is paid off, then do it again. This is the best way to reestablish good credit. Also check your credit report to make sure everything on your bankruptcy is shown as “discharged” or “included” in bankruptcy. The error rate on people’s credit reports is astounding. If something is wrong you need to dispute it with the credit reporting bureaus. The websites of the credit bureaus will have information about how to dispute something on your credit report. If after you dispute and item and it is still reported incorrectly call your lawyer.