Area of Law:
If you seek relief from harassing phone calls and letters from creditors and you are unable to afford the monthly payments to repay your debt, consider filing for bankruptcy in Michigan. Filing for bankruptcy in Michigan has many benefits, including the protection of the automatic stay. However, before you file for bankruptcy in Michigan, you should discuss your financial situation with a Michigan bankruptcy attorney, or the Michigan bankruptcy court to determine if other options may be better for you according to your situation.
After you submit your bankruptcy petition to the clerk, the automatic stay will immediately become effective. The automatic stay offers you protection from harassment from your creditors by prohibiting your creditors from contacting you directly. Instead, your creditors must communicate through your bankruptcy trustee or your Michigan bankruptcy attorney. The clerk will notify all the creditors named in your bankruptcy petition of your bankruptcy filing and that the automatic stay is in effect. If your creditors violate the automatic stay, this can result in serious consequences for your creditors. For example, if a violation of the automatic stay caused actual harm to you, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you for the harm. However, the creditor must knowingly violate the automatic stay. To knowingly violate the automatic stay the creditor must have knowledge of your bankruptcy filing, and contact you anyway. In contrast, if the creditor contacted you unaware of your bankruptcy filing, the creditor will not be liable for any resulting harm. For this reason, it may be a good idea for you to send notices to all of your creditors listed in your bankruptcy filing, informing them of your bankruptcy.
Meeting of the Creditors
Between a month and 6 weeks after you file for bankruptcy in Michigan, you will attend the meeting of the creditors, or the Section 341 meeting. The meeting of the creditors is held in your bankruptcy trustee’s hearing room. The meeting is informal, and usually lasts about 15 minutes. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for the bankruptcy trustee to ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition and schedules, and your current financial situation. For example, the bankruptcy trustee may ask questions about your assets to try and determine whether additional assets exist that can be included as part of your bankruptcy estate. In addition, the bankruptcy court will send notice to your creditors, informing them of the date and time of the meeting. Your creditors will have an opportunity to ask you questions during the meeting as well. However, it is fairly rare for a creditor to appear at the meeting of the creditors.
After your bankruptcy case is complete, you will receive a bankruptcy discharge. For example, most Chapter 7 petitioners receive notice of the bankruptcy discharge about 3 to 4 months after they file for bankruptcy. In contrast, if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Michigan, you will not receive a bankruptcy discharge until you complete your repayment plan, which can take 3 to 5 years. In addition, to receive a Chapter 13 discharge, you must make all payments in full and on time each month to your Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee for the entire length of your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Filing for bankruptcy in Michigan is an important decision. Therefore, contact an experienced Michigan bankruptcy attorney or the bankruptcy court in Michigan to answer any questions you may have. For example, if you live in Detroit, you can visit the Eastern District of Michigan's website http://www.mieb.uscourts.gov/ for information. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy on your own, visit http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyResources/FilingBankruptcyWithoutAttorney.aspx for additional information regarding how to file for bankruptcy without the assistance of an attorney.