How Long Will My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Last

by Susanne Robicsek, North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney

February 11, 2007

Chapter 7 bankruptcy case timeline

Once you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy you start getting a little anxious.  The papers are filed, but when will the agony be over? Surprisingly, it may go a lot faster than you think.

If your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is considered a “no asset case” then the case will be closed fairly quickly.  Many Chapter 7 cases are “no asset,” which means the trustee on your case reviewed your documents and has determined that all of your assets are exempt and there isn’t anything that can be sold to pay towards your debts.

Most Chapter 7 trustees will file a No Asset Report with the court soon after the Meeting of Creditors, which is when the trustee can ask you questions about your assets and debts.

There are a few more things your lawyer’s going to need to take care of in order to make sure the Chapter 7 bankruptcy goes through smoothly.  Any reaffirmations or redemption motions must be filed and approved prior to discharge.  You’ll also need to complete your financial management course.

Then it’s a waiting game.

Assuming there are no other issues in your case, the entire process from case filing to Final Decree can take approximately four to six months. One of the things that will speed up the process is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition that’s drafted properly.

If the Chapter 7 trustee finds mistakes on the petition and related documents, he or she will keep the case open for as long as it takes to verify every single item.  As you can imagine, that could take awhile.

The Discharge releases you from all legal liability of the dischargeable debts you owed when your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case was filed.

Until a Final Decree is issued, the bankruptcy case is not finished. As long as it remains open, the court will retain control over the property that the debtor owned when the case was filed.

If a case seems to be taking a long time to finish, talk with your lawyer to see if there’s anything else you can do to speed things up.

But as with any other aspect of filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to make sure you’ve got an open dialogue with a competent lawyer.  Good lawyering and clear disclosure makes things move more quickly – and that’s definitely in your best interests.

Image credit: Josh Work (Viking Zippy)/Flickr

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Concentrating in Consumer Bankruptcy Law since 1988; Wake Forest Law School JD 1987 Law Office of Susanne M. Robicsek since 1993, Law Clerk to Judge Rufus Reynolds, US Bankruptcy Judge for Middle District of NC; Burns Price & Arneke, PA, David Badger and Associates, PA.

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Last modified: October 12, 2012