Key Deadlines in Bankruptcy Cases

Alabama Attorney Protecting Debtor Rights

Navigating the bankruptcy process can be extremely challenging for a layperson. It requires you to make full disclosures of assets and debts, and comply with numerous deadlines in order to complete the process and obtain a discharge. Failing to meet mandatory deadlines may result in the dismissal of your case or a failure to obtain the automatic discharge at the end of the process. As a layperson, you may be anxious about whether you are taking the right steps and what other people involved in the bankruptcy, such as the trustee, are doing to move your case forward. An experienced Alabama bankruptcy lawyer at Grainger Legal Services can keep you apprised of key deadlines in your bankruptcy case so that you can be reassured that your case is proceeding as expected and that you will receive a discharge of all of your dischargeable debts at the end of the process.

Key Deadlines in Bankruptcy Cases

Some of the key deadlines in your bankruptcy case actually occur before you file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy is a serious matter, so it is important to be aware of these deadlines when deciding when to file for bankruptcy. For example, any transfers of property to others for less than market value that you make two years before filing for bankruptcy can be recovered by the trustee. The trustee has the right to put this property into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy estate for the purposes of liquidating it and paying back a portion of your debts. Many types of payments to a relative or insider will be considered "preferences" if they are made within one year of filing. The trustee can recover these payments and divide the amounts among your creditors.

Another important deadline that occurs before filing for bankruptcy is the dismissal of a prior bankruptcy. You should be aware that you cannot file for bankruptcy if you filed a prior bankruptcy that was dismissed, either by your request after a creditor filed a request for relief from the automatic stay or by a court order of dismissal for your willful failure to obey court orders, in the 180 preceding days. Within the 180-day period before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should also complete an approved credit counseling course.

There are many key deadlines to meet after you file your bankruptcy petition and commence your case as well, including deadlines by which various information must be provided. One of the most crucial deadlines is the meeting of the creditors, which is required by §341 of the Bankruptcy Code. Many key deadlines run off this meeting, rather than the filing of the bankruptcy petition. This meeting must be held within a reasonable time, which is typically between 20 and 50 days after filing the petition, and you are required to attend the meeting and testify under oath that you have provided accurate information in your bankruptcy paperwork. Usually, the meeting does not take much time, and most creditors do not attend, but your failure to attend the meeting may result in a dismissal.

Thirty days after the conclusion of the meeting of the creditors, creditors or the trustee must file any objection they have to your claim of exempt property. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are entitled to exempt certain property from being put in the bankruptcy estate for liquidation. However, in some cases, creditors may object to the exemptions you have taken. If they do not object within the appropriate timeframe, your exemptions will stand.

The deadline for creditors to object to the discharge of a particular debt is 60 days after the first date that was scheduled for a creditors' meeting. This may arise in situations in which a creditor believes that you have engaged in misrepresentations or fraud.

Generally, a bankruptcy discharge is entered in a successful Chapter 7 case in 120 days or more. In a Chapter 13 case, it is entered 3-5 years after the bankruptcy case commenced.

Consult an Experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer in Alabama

At Grainger Legal Services, we understand that filing for bankruptcy can be stressful, and we strive to keep you informed about key deadlines in your case. Alabama bankruptcy attorney Charles Grainger provides knowledgeable and experienced legal representation to clients from offices in Troy, Prattville, and Montgomery. Call us at (334) 260-0500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable debt relief attorney.