How The Chapter 7 Process Works

People struggling with debt try their best to keep up with payments, but one day they realize it will never be possible to pay them off. That's when the bankruptcy process begins — with a phone call to a lawyer you trust.

The Right Lawyer

Who can you trust?

  • It's usually not best to go with the very lowest cost advertised. If you do, you will likely not get the personal attention you need.
  • Look for an attorney who is experienced, someone who has focused on debt relief, instead of having 10 practice areas.
  • Work with someone you feel comfortable with — someone with good personal skills.

The Interview

Once you call, there will be an in-person interview with the lawyer. Heidi Milam will want to know your story and how bad the situation is. She will help you choose between Chapter 7 (a complete restart) and Chapter 13 (a restructuring of your debts so that they are payable).

Gathering Information

Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is largely a matter of paperwork. We will do the paperwork for you, but we will need your assistance in rounding up records. Many documents are necessary for the filing, which we will explain.

The Filing

Once the paperwork is complete, you sign it and we file it, electronically. Almost immediately, an automatic stay descends on your financial life. This is a good thing — creditors may not bother you with collection efforts from that point on.

The 341 Meeting

For Chapter 7 filings, a meeting with your creditors before a judge will be scheduled in the federal building. You must be present. A trustee appointed by the court will conduct the meeting, reviewing your history and documentation. Creditors may challenge the findings presented or actions that cast doubt on your good faith.

After four or five months, the process is complete, and you will be notified. At that time, your nonsecured debts (for instance, credit card and medical debt) will be discharged — and your new life begins.

How Chapter 13 Differs

Chapter 13 takes longer than Chapter 7 because there is a three- to five-year repayment period, at the end of which nonsecured debts are discharged.

This is just a broad outline. If you need to know more about how the bankruptcy process works, ask attorney Heidi Milam at our Southaven, Mississippi, offices, at 662-655-1605 — or email us your questions.


We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.