Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

By: Damian Sofsian

An individual, a partnership, or a corporation or other business entity is eligible for relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. A husband and wife may file a joint petition or individual petitions. A debtor files chapter 7-bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court. The court must be serving the area where the individual lives or has its place of business or principal assets.

While filing the petition, one has to pay the fees. The courts charge a $220 case filing fee, miscellaneous administrative fee of $39 and $15 as trustee surcharge. The fees must be paid to the clerk of the court upon filing. However, sometimes court permits individual debtors to pay in four installments, and the debtor must make the final installment within 120 days after filing the petition. Failure to pay these fees may result in dismissal of the case. If the debtor's income is 150% below the poverty level court waives the fee.

With the petition, the debtor must also provide schedules of assets and liabilities, current income and expenditures, unexpired leases and contracts and a statement of financial affairs. Debtors must also give a copy of the tax return or transcripts for the most recent tax year, as well as tax returns filed during the case. Individual debtors must also file a certificate of credit counseling and a copy of any debt repayment plan developed through credit counseling. If debtor received payment from the employer 60 days before the filing, he/she must provide evidence of that payment. With the net income statement, statement of any likely increase in income or expenses after filing must also be submitted to the court.

The Official Forms are available at legal stationery stores. One can also download them from http://www.uscourts.gov/bkforms/index.html.

Filing a petition under chapter 7 automatically stays most collection actions against the debtor or the debtor's property. This means the collector cannot try to contact debtor for the repayment of debts.

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