Filing for Bankruptcy and the Bankruptcy Code

When filing bankruptcy initiates an automatic stay which means that creditors are essentially put on hold. They can no longer take steps to collect the owed money. The court clerk will give the petitioner a docket number or case number which the debtor will later use to put on the memo line of checks or money orders that are given to the trustee.According to the bankruptcy code, the petitioner must submit a document, known as a matrix, to the court within seven to ten days after filing for bankruptcy. The matrix is a listing of all creditors and addresses. Within another seven to ten days, the petitioner is required to submit a reorganization plan that includes income information, personal assets, and expenses. The document will also include the petitioner’s plan for repayment of debts and meeting ongoing obligations within the next three to five years, unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy which has no repayment plan. A trustee or examiner is assigned to the case. The trustee has authority to mediate agreements between the petitioner and creditors; usually the case does not need to appear before a judge. About one to three months after the petition is filed, the trustee arranges what is known as a 341 meeting. The name refers to Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. Under the chapter 13 Bankruptcy code, the debtor is required to appear before the trustee and creditors, though the creditors seldom attend. The trustee asks the petitioner, who is under oath, various questions regarding the financial situation. The debts owed to each creditor are negotiated so that the final obligation may be less than the original amount. Most creditors negotiate to get at least of the amount that is owed.

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