If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to understand who will be involved in your case, so you know what to expect. The parties involved in a personal bankruptcy case are typically always the same, though you’ll usually only have contact with a limited number of them.
Read on to learn about the individuals involved in the majority of bankruptcy cases and their responsibilities throughout the proceedings.
The debtor — or debtors, when the case involves a married couple — is the primary party filing for bankruptcy. If you’re filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you (and your spouse, if applicable) are the debtor(s).
As the debtor, you’re looking to have your debts relieved, which is why you file a bankruptcy petition with the court. This petition is a request for the court to wipe out your existing unsecured debts (in Chapter 7) or a proposal for a reasonable debt repayment plan (in Chapter 13).
Creditors are the other major party involved in the bankruptcy case, and they have a claim for the debt you have. Basically, that means the creditors have provided something to the debtor (you) under the assumption that you’ll eventually compensate them for what they’ve provided.
For example: If you took out an unsecured line of credit from a financial institution, the assumption was that you’d eventually pay it back. In most bankruptcy cases, the creditor is one of the following:
● A credit card provider
● A financial institution
● A lienholder
When you file for bankruptcy, all of your creditors will be notified of your petition. In very limited cases, they may be allowed to make objections to the petition, but that depends on the situation.
Generally, I can tell you if you will have a problem with a creditor before we file your case. That said, a good Minnesota bankruptcy attorney will ensure your creditors have no grounds for objection before proceeding with your bankruptcy filing.
It’s important to note that creditors do not actually participate in the majority of bankruptcy proceedings.
The Bankruptcy Attorney
The bankruptcy attorney is the debtor’s (your) personal advisor throughout the bankruptcy case. Before you file, your attorney reviews your case to maximize the odds that make the bankruptcy petition will be approved and your case will eventually be discharged.
Throughout the bankruptcy case, your attorney will assist you with several other important things, including:
● Determining whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best solution for the debtor to handle their debts
● Helping the debtor retain their assets in a Chapter 7 case
● Helping the debtor develop an ideal repayment plan in a Chapter 13 case
● Ensuring the debtor gathers and files all necessary documentation with the bankruptcy petition
● Ensuring all bankruptcy paperwork is complete, true, and correct to the best of the debtor’s knowledge
● Ensuring the debtor meets all necessary deadlines and responds promptly to any requests for additional documentation
● Serving as the debtor’s representation during the meeting of the creditors (341 hearing)
● Serving as the debtor’s representation during any necessary court hearings
● Answering any of the debtor’s questions throughout the bankruptcy proceedings and helping the individual navigate the case to a successful conclusion
Unless you have extensive knowledge surrounding bankruptcy law in Minnesota, hiring an attorney that specializes in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is in your best interest. Without in-depth knowledge of the bankruptcy process, it’s exceedingly easy to make simple mistakes that could lead the court to dismiss your case rather than discharge it.
The Bankruptcy Trustee
Also referred to as the interim trustee, the case trustee is responsible for making sure the bankruptcy case is handled properly. This individual ensures all involved parties follow all applicable rules and oversees the handling of the debtor’s assets throughout the case.
When you file your petition, the court will assign a trustee to your case. Approximately 20 to 40 days after you file, you must attend a 341 hearing, at which your trustee will be present. During this meeting, he or she will ask you a number of questions to verify the information you supplied in your petition is accurate. I will be with you at that hearing, and you will be well prepared.
While 96% of bankruptcy cases do not involve any degree of property loss, when the sale of the debtor’s assets becomes necessary, the bankruptcy trustee handles that process. The trustee also ensures that funds earned from the sale of those assets are distributed appropriately to the debtor’s creditors.
The Judge and Bankruptcy Court
A judge is assigned to every bankruptcy case; however, cases that do not involve any disputes usually don’t ever go before the judge. All bankruptcy filers must attend one mandatory meeting — the meeting of the creditors or 341 hearing — but that meeting does not take place in a courtroom. Rather, it takes place at the office of the bankruptcy trustee.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Twin Cities Bankruptcy Attorney
If you’re living with overwhelming debt and need a fresh financial start, Ron Lundquist, Attorney at Law, can help you determine whether personal bankruptcy is the right choice for your needs. As one of the leading bankruptcy attorneys in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, I’ve proudly helped thousands of Twin Cities clients over the last 20 years. To learn more about your bankruptcy options, please call my office today at 651-454-0007 or request a free consultation to get started.