Wondering how to file bankruptcy in Colorado? Read on to learn what steps you need to take to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado to eliminate overwhelming debt.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step One
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether or not you want a lawyer to represent you in your bankruptcy case.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer to file bankruptcy. You can represent yourself. In Colorado, approximately 10% – 15% of people who file bankruptcy, file without a lawyer. While most do so without any problems, hiring a lawyer can go a long way to ensuring that you don’t hit any hidden landmines in the bankruptcy process.
When it comes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I would never recommend anyone (not even my worst enemy) file without a lawyer. The Chapter 13 process is simply too complex and technical for an inexperienced person to navigate and get their reorganization plan approved by the bankruptcy court.
If you decide to file without a lawyer, check out the website for the bankruptcy court in the district you’ll be filing in. It will have resources for pro se filers.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step Two
Unless you’re sure about what debt you owe or a creditor has filed a lawsuit, I usually suggest that someone considering bankruptcy pull their credit report. You can request a free report from each of the major reporting agencies once a year here.
Why I suggest pulling a credit report is because of all the times I’ve met someone who “just knows” they have a lot of debt, but then can’t give me any details about it. When I dig in deeper, I find out that it’s been awhile since they looked at their credit report and even longer since the debt was due. Using this information we may talk about whether or not bankruptcy is even necessary if the debt is older than the statute of limitations.
We’ll also talk about your income and how it relates to the means test to see if you’re eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step Three
After you’ve met with a few lawyers, the process from there is pretty much the same. You’ll need to gather information about your income, assets, debts, and expenses. It’s impossible for any attorney to know all of that information without your help, so you’ll need to do some homework.
Among the things you’ll need to collect are pay stubs, bank statements, creditor statements, tax returns, apartment leases, mortgage documents, government identification (driver license or passport) and Social Security card. If you’ve been sued, you’ll also need a copy of the lawsuit.
Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming to gather all of the information you need, but this is about 80% of the work you’ll need to do.
After you collect that information, you’ll need to take the online credit counseling class. It’s a short class that will take you about 75 minutes. You’ll go over your income and expenses. Don’t worry if you’re not 100% accurate with this. The information you use doesn’t go to the bankruptcy court or even your attorney.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step Four
Your bankruptcy attorney will take all the information you’ve gathered and organize it into your bankruptcy petition. This is the paperwork that gets uploaded to the court when someone declares bankruptcy.
Once the petition is complete, you’ll meet with your lawyer to review the petition together. Your lawyer wants to make sure that you understand it, and that it is accurate and complete. Although you can correct mistakes after the petition is filed, it’s best to make sure everything is correct before you file it.
After you’ve reviewed it, you’ll sign it.
At that point, it’s ready to file. Filing is simply uploading the document to the bankruptcy court’s website.
Once the case is filed, anyone who has been trying to collect a debt from you has to stop. They are not supposed to call you, write you, sue you, or garnish you. This also includes creditors who have a debt you want to keep, like car or home loans. Make sure you continue to pay those loans if you want to keep those items. You will probably have to call them to make a payment or mail in a payment.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step Five
Now that your petition has been filed, most of your work has been done. There are just two (maybe three) other things you need to do.
First, you’ll need to take the second online financial management class. Like the first class, it will only take you about 75 minutes, and you can probably use your smartphone to get it done.
Second, you’ll need to attend your meeting with the trustee (also known as the 341 meeting of creditor, even though creditors rarely show up). This is a five minute meeting. The trustee will put you under oath and ask you questions about your petition to make sure it’s accurate. He may want to ask questions about certain things on your petition. However, your attorney should have prepared you for those questions. There shouldn’t be any surprises. Most of the questions will only need a yes or no answer.
Third (maybe), if you have to turn over personal property, real estate, cash, or documents, you’ll need to do that after the meeting. You’ll sign an agreement with the trustee that gives you deadlines for doing so. If you don’t perform under the terms of the agreement, the trustee can ask the court to dismiss your case. At that point, you’ll no longer have the protection of the bankruptcy court. Creditors will be able to come after just like they could before you file bankruptcy. Plus, you may not be able to file bankruptcy for those debts again.
Most people who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy don’t have to turn anything over to the bankruptcy trustee.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado – Step Six
Now all you have to do is wait to get your discharge order, which will come about 61 days after your trustee meeting. The discharge order is the document that tells the world that you’re no longer legally responsible for your dischargeable debts. You’ll still be on the hook for things like child support and spousal maintenance, certain taxes, student loans, and restitution.
If you don’t have to turn anything over to the trustee, the court will close your case about a month after you get your discharge order. If you have to turn anything over, your case will stay open until you’ve done that and then the trustee has to distribute that money to your creditors. That process can take several months. That’s okay. You’ll still get your discharge order about 100 days after your case was filed.
After you’ve gotten your discharge order, you can start rebuilding your credit.
How To File Bankruptcy In Colorado: Talk To A Top-Rated Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney
If you’re thinking about bankruptcy or aren’t sure bankruptcy is a good option, we’ll be happy to talk with you about to file bankruptcy in Colorado. We offer free consultations with an experienced Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorney to people who are considering bankruptcy. The easiest way to schedule an appointment is by going to our scheduling page by clicking here.