There are TWO things you should find out from the attorney (or ask the debtor in the client intake interview) before you start drafting a bankruptcy petition. These two questions are:
1. Have you completed the credit counseling requirement?
2. Have you ever filed bankruptcy? If so when?
As a virtual bankruptcy assistant working for bankruptcy attorneys, we have encountered several problems when not asking these questions before drafting the petition. After the attorney has the client fill out the Client Intake Forms and sends them to us, we assume the attorney has already qualified these debtors. But as amazing as it sounds we have spent many hours inputting information into the bankruptcy petition only to find out the client has not completed the credit counseling requirement.
At this stage we have no choice but to immediately stop drafting the bankruptcy petition and notify the attorney at once. Unless the debtor can go online and obtain his or her credit counseling certificate within a few days, the figures we entered into the bankruptcy software will need to be changed. Therefore, we will stop the process. Then, when the client obtains the credit counseling certificate, we will go back and update the Means Test as well as any additional income information on Schedules I and J and year-to-date totals under Item #1 or #2 of the Statement of Affairs.
But if you want to eliminate the possibility of this situation occurring altogether, do not input a bankruptcy petition until you have verified the debtor has completed the credit counseling requirement. This information should be provided by the attorney you are working for or a member of the law staff. But in our experience, we obtained this information from the debtor during the client intake interview.
The same thing holds true regarding prior bankruptcy filings. If you discover a debtor has filed bankruptcy within the past 2 years, you will want to use the information below to determine if the debtor's are eligible to file.
Under the new bankruptcy law:
1. If someone files a Chapter 7, they cannot file another Chapter 7 for 8 years.
2. If someone files a Chapter 7, they cannot file a Chapter 13 for 4 years.
3. If someone files a Chapter 13, they cannot file a Chapter 7 for 6 years.
4. If someone files a Chapter 13, they cannot file another Chapter 13 for 2 years.
Completing this step before drafting the bankruptcy petition will save you, your attorney and the law firm a great deal of time and expense.
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