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The first step in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to confirm that you qualify for the form of bankruptcy many people prefer. The means test essentially considers your income against how many people are in your household, as well as questions about your debts and the assets you currently own. The federal government provides this form and you can find versions of it online.

Once you’ve determined you are an eligible candidate for bankruptcy, you need to gather credit reports from the three credit bureaus. This is important because not all creditors will report to all three bureaus. If you go with only one or two of the bureaus and a creditor has not reported your debt, and you inadvertently fail to list it when petitioning the courts for bankruptcy, it won’t be discharged. Once you have all three reports, you will need to attend a formal credit education course.

The paperwork that must be filed once your coursework is completed is the most complex part of the process. This involves gathering specific forms relevant to your petition and your circumstances and attaching all relevant documents. At this time, you may hear from the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case and, if so, you must respond in a timely fashion or risk your case being dismissed.

The next step is something called a “Meeting of Creditors” in which no creditors actually attend, but you must and your assigned trustee will be there to ask a series of questions that you must strive to answer candidly.

At this point, you will need to attend a course on personal financial management and then you must wait to hear whether or not your debts were able to be successfully discharged.

While it is possible to do many things in court without the assistance of a lawyer, with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, it may not be wise and it can get confusing fast. Slight missteps can cause major issues or even derail your bankruptcy case. A Florida bankruptcy attorney should be able to offer the knowledge that can benefit you the most.