The Bankruptcy Process
An experienced Denver bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Serafin has assisted numerous individuals in Denver and other areas of Colorado achieve a fresh start financially by reducing or eliminating credit card debt, medical bills, tax debt, and debt resulting from foreclosure or repossession. We also represent businesses in corporate bankruptcy filings.
Proper application of the Means Test under the new laws in Colorado, combined with a particular client’s objectives, will determine which chapter is most appropriate. A chapter 7 is considerably different from a chapter 13. Often referred to as a form of debt liquidation, a chapter 7 eliminates most types of unsecured debts without the requirement to make monthly plan payments. In other words, a chapter 7 provides immediate debt relief and is the quickest, simplest and easiest form of bankruptcy. In comparison, a chapter 13 allows a debtor with a regular course of income to keep valuable assets and to re-organize most debts in the form of a three to five year monthly consolidated payment plan (or less if all unsecured debt is being paid back).
Your first contact with the Law Office of David M. Serafin will be a free initial consultation at our Denver, Colorado office whereby we examine your initial eligibility to file for bankruptcy, particularly if you’ve filed before. We’ll also look at your income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, consistent with the new laws in Colorado, in order to eventually prepare your petition. We’ll inform you which property is exempt and, thus, what you can keep.
You’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire and provide pay stubs for the previous 2 months, so that we can best analyze your situation applying the Means Test. We will also discuss and review with you any pending foreclosure notice, lawsuits, garnishments or creditor harassment justifying a quicker filing in order to invoke the Automatic Stay rules strictly prohibiting collection activity the minute a petition is filed.
Once you provide the aforementioned financial information, have completed a credit counseling class (typically on-line), and have provided a retainer and the court filing fee, we will file the petition in after which a meeting of creditors (also called a 341 hearing) will be scheduled for 4-5 weeks after filing. With a chapter 13 filing, we will additionally discuss the monthly plan payment and plan duration.
The meeting of creditors, which typically is a short hearing lasting, on average about 10-15 minutes and which is rarely attended by any creditors, is conducted by a chapter 7 or 13 trustee at the Colorado Bankruptcy Court. After the meeting of creditors, you are responsible for both completing a second course, referred to as a Financial Management course, AND providing our office with a certificate of completion, both within 45 days after the meeting of creditors.
Creditors or the U.S. Trustee in chapter 7 typically have 60 days from the date of the meeting of creditors to object to discharge. In the absence of an objection to discharge in a chapter 7, the Court will issue a discharge order.
Conversely, in chapter 13 cases, an objection to the plan is required to be filed three court days prior to the 341 hearing. It is not unusual for the chapter 13 trustee or a secured creditor to object to the plan payment, duration or a given provision in the plan. Any objections and the terms of an amended plan will be discussed with you before the meeting of creditors.
Regardless of whether the original chapter 13 plan remains intact or an amended plan is filed, our office attends a second hearing, referred to as a Confirmation Hearing, with the chapter 13 trustee before a bankruptcy judge in Denver to determine whether a confirmable chapter 13 plan exists. At this point, the plan may either be confirmed on the spot or the judge may order an amendment to the plan for a variety of reasons. Assuming the plan is confirmed, the debtor will make regular monthly plan payments for the duration of the plan, until the discharge order enters. (Over 90% of our chapter 13 plans are confirmed by the court.)
The Law Office of David M. Serafin will guide you through the seemingly myriad and confusing bankruptcy process under the new laws in Colorado. An experienced Denver bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Serafin will provide you with top notch advice as to your rights.