Filing for bankruptcy can be intimidating. You’ve likely heard horror stories about painful court hearings, nosy creditors showing up asking questions, and the process dragging on forever.
But we’m here to tell you – with proper preparation, filing bankruptcy does not have to be a scary or overly complicated process. By getting all your financial ducks in a row ahead of time, you can file quickly, efficiently, and with total confidence.
In this article, we’ll walk through a complete pre-bankruptcy preparation game plan covering every document you’ll need, accounts to close or open, people you should notify, and questions to ask your attorney beforehand.
Deciding Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Mississippi
The first step is deciding whether to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Your assets are liquidated in Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Any remaining unsecured debt, like credit card balances, is discharged. Chapter 7 typically takes 3-6 months to complete. To qualify for Chapter 7 in Mississippi, you must pass the means test showing your income is under the state median.
A 3-5 year repayment plan is established by Chapter 13 bankruptcy to help you pay off some of your debt. You get to keep your assets. Once the repayment plan is completed, your remaining unsecured debt is discharged. Chapter 13 works well if you have assets you want to keep or have too much income to qualify for Chapter 7.
A Mississippi bankruptcy attorneys can analyze your unique situation to determine if Chapter 7 or 13 is best for you. The choice impacts the length of your case, assets you keep, and debt eliminated.
Gathering Documents Needed to File for Bankruptcy in Mississippi
Filing for bankruptcy involves disclosing your financial affairs completely. Having organized records prepared ahead of time prevents delays.
We recommend gathering:
- Federal tax returns for the past 2 years for Chapter 7 or 4 years for Chapter 13
- Pay stubs proving income for the last 6 months
- Bank statements for the past 2 months
- Bills and statements from all creditors
- Titles for vehicles
- Mortgage documentation
- Retirement and investment account statements
Other assets like property, valuables, and insurance policies will also need documentation. Keep originals in a safe place and only provide copies to the court.
Thorough financial records allow us to complete your bankruptcy forms accurately and avoid issues or delays.
Completing the Mandatory Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course
In Mississippi, you have to finish a credit counseling course from an authorized provider before you can file for bankruptcy. The course is usually done online or by phone.
At the end, you will receive a certificate proving you completed the mandatory counseling. This certificate must be filed with the bankruptcy court, or your case will be dismissed.
Filling Out the Bankruptcy Forms and Schedules
The official bankruptcy forms contain detailed questions about your assets, debts, income, and expenses. These forms are filed with the Mississippi bankruptcy court to start your case.
In addition to the main bankruptcy petition, you will fill out Schedules covering:
- Assets and liabilities
- Current income and expenditures
- Executory contracts and unexpired leases
- Your financial affairs
This paperwork must be completed thoroughly and accurately. Your bankruptcy law firm can assist in filling out all required documentation appropriately.
There is also a filing fee of $338 for Chapter 7 or $313 for Chapter 13 due when forms are submitted.
Bankruptcy Exemptions in Mississippi
Bankruptcy exemptions determine what assets a filer can keep during the case. Mississippi has opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions and has its own approved list.
Common exempt assets in Mississippi include:
- Up to $75,000 equity in your home
- Vehicle up to $12,000 in value
- Personal property up to $10,000
- Jewelry up to $2,000
- Tools of your trade up to $5,000
- Certain retirement accounts
Your attorney will claim all applicable exemptions to protect as much of your property as possible under Mississippi law.
Attending the Meeting of Creditors
Approximately 30-40 days after filing, you will attend a Meeting of Creditors. The Chapter 7 trustee or Chapter 13 trustee in charge of your case will preside over this brief hearing.
You will be placed under oath and asked questions about your bankruptcy forms, assets, debts, income, and expenses. In most cases, the meeting lasts less than 10 minutes.
Receiving a Discharge and Getting a Fresh Financial Start
Receiving a bankruptcy discharge is the ultimate relief most filers seek. The discharge order eliminates your liability for dischargeable debts and stops collection calls.
In Chapter 7, a discharge is typically received within 3-6 months after filing. For Chapter 13, the discharge comes after finishing all plan payments, usually in 3-5 years.
Dischargeable debts include credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, utility bills, and more. Student loans, alimony, child support, and recent taxes are usually not discharged.
Preparation Keys for a Smooth Bankruptcy Process
Filing bankruptcy can be overwhelming. A Mississippi bankruptcy law firm can help you make the process as smooth as possible. Being organized with your documents, understanding your options, completing the credit counseling course, filling out forms accurately, and attending your creditor’s meeting are all key steps.
If you are struggling with debt and considering bankruptcy, contact Ware Law Firm for a consultation. Their experienced bankruptcy attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the process. Visit https://warelawfirm.com/ to learn more today. With proper preparation and legal support, you can move forward toward financial freedom.