How Long Will My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Last?

by Douglas Jacobs, Esq.

May 23, 2007

Most Chapter 7 bankruptcies are concluded in a relatively short period of time. Once the petition and all the schedules are filed, the court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to administer the estate, conduct a meeting of creditors, question the debtor, gather assets, and pay creditors out of any nonexempt property. Then the bankruptcy will be closed.

Along the way, however, the debtor will attend the meeting of creditors, be questioned by the trustee as to property, assets and debts, and be available for questioning by creditors. In most cases, 60 days after the conclusion of that meeting, called at 341 hearing, the debtor will receive the discharge, and the bankruptcy will be, for all practical matters, over.

If there are any assets to administer, however, the trustee will keep the bankruptcy open until such time as he can sell the assets or liquidate them to distribute to the creditors. This process can delay closing the bankruptcy. Further, if somebody objects to the discharge of a specific debt, an adversary complaint will be filed, and this too will delay the length of the bankruptcy until a decision is reached by the court as to whether or not the debt should be discharged.

But, in most bankruptcies, there are no assets to be administered, no adversary complaints are filed and no objections to discharge. In those circumstances, a debtor can anticipate that the 341 meeting of creditors will be held about 30 days after the petition is filed and a discharge obtained 60 days after that hearing.

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Douglas Jacobs is a California bankruptcy attorney and partner in the Chico law firm of Jacobs, Anderson, Potter & Chaplin. Since 1988, Mr. Jacobs has taught Constitutional law and Debtor-Creditor/Bankruptcy law at the Cal Northern School of Law. He has served as Dean of Students since 1994. He is a frequent lecturer on the subject of consumer bankruptcy law, and has spoken at both state and national levels.

Last modified: October 4, 2008