A large percentage of my clients have already tried various debt repayment plans without
success. Usually, a combination of unfortunate events contributes to significant financial woes.
Sometimes the client is an older person, on a pension, whose spouse has passed away.
Sometimes, it’s due to divorce or it may be someone whose income has decreased due to illness
or disability. Other reasons include job loss, lay-offs, and staggering medical bills. By the time I
see clients for the first appointment; they have often spent months or years agonizing, trying to
make minimum payments to no avail.
As soon as the petition is filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court, an automatic
stay order goes into effect. This is a powerful protection for the person filing bankruptcy (the
debtor). The stay order means that creditors cannot take or continue action against the debtor.The court sends a notice to all of the creditors advising of the stay order. The notice also states the date, time and place of the Meeting of Creditors.
The Meeting of Creditors is attended by the debtor and the debtor’s attorney. It is
presided over by a Trustee. The meeting usually occurs 4 to 5 weeks after the filing of the Bankruptcy petition. I begin to help prepare my clients for the Meeting of Creditors starting with the first appointment.
About 60 days after the meeting of creditors, the court issues a “discharge order”. In
most cases, the “discharge order” discharges all of the debtor’s debt so that they no longer have an obligation to pay them. Of course, this is a general overview of the bankruptcy process. Only by meeting with a client, can I advise regarding their particular situation.
Upon first interviewing a client for Bankruptcy representation, I inquire about their
income, debt and any property that they may own. Then I patiently explain the details about
Bankruptcy, explore other options, and make sure that the client understands all of the steps
involved in filing a bankruptcy. Bankruptcy consists of preparing a petition, various schedules
and documents. Using the latest Bankruptcy preparation software, I interview the client
personally to prepare the documentation. The petition, schedules and documents are then filed with the Bankruptcy Court. Our local court is the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
Eastern District of Louisiana. It has jurisdiction over Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John,
Plaquemine and some other surrounding parishes.
Armando R Baralt