Filing for Bankruptcy in Minnesota
Bankruptcy cases are filed and heard solely in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, which is a United States Federal court. Bankruptcy courts are specialty courts, meaning that they only handle matters that are directly related to bankruptcy. Because of this, there is often a lot of confusion and lack of information among the public, even among attorneys who do not practice bankruptcy law.
Because we practice bankruptcy law all across Minnesota, we know the process, we know the people and attorneys involved, and we know how to guide you through the process.
HOW DO I START THE PROCESS?
Simply call or email us. We can often answer your initial questions right away, and if you have a more complicated situation, we can help you get to the bottom of it. When you contact us, we will gather some basic information from you and set you up for a free consultation, which can be in person at our office, by telephone, or by videoconference. We will mail or email you some initial information to help you understand bankruptcy and find the relevant information we will review at our consultation.
Although most of our clients are from the Twin Cities metro area, we regularly represent clients from all parts of Minnesota. We can handle most aspects of your case by telephone, email, mail, or video conference. Because of the complexity of bankruptcy law in general, many of our clients prefer to meet face-to-face in our office at least once, so that we can review their case in depth to ensure that each client understands all facets of their case. Throughout the filing process, we stay in communication with our clients by phone, email, mail, and video conference to ensure that our clients’ cases are on track.
WHAT IS THE INITIAL CONSULTATION LIKE?
You will meet or speak with one of our attorneys one-on-one (or two-on-one if you are married) to review the pertinent details of your situation with you and discuss whether and what type of bankruptcy you may be eligible to file (and whether there may be an alternative that would work for you) and then give you our advice as to your bankruptcy options. Our goal, in short, is to give you information about your situation and your options so that you can make the right decision for you and your family. We don’t try to sell you on filing bankruptcy or give you any high-pressure talk. Our job is to provide you information, and assistance if you choose to file bankruptcy.
At the end of our consultation we will go over fees, what remaining documentation you need, and make a plan for your next steps.
After we have all the necessary information to file, you have paid or made an arrangement for your fees, and you’ve taken the credit counseling course, then you will need to review and sign the bankruptcy petition, schedules and statements. We can then file your bankruptcy case.
WHAT ABOUT GOING TO COURT?
There are Bankruptcy Courts in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Fergus Falls, and we will file your bankruptcy case with one of these bankruptcy courts. Which court we will file your Bankruptcy petition in will be determined by where you live geographically. We will file your bankruptcy case electronically, and you will receive notification that your case has been filed by mail within a week after your case is filed.
About a month after you file, you will have to go to a meeting in one of several locations throughout the state, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, Fergus Falls, Duluth, or Crookston. Typically the meeting will be held in the location that is closest to where you live. This meeting does NOT happen in a courtroom, and Judges are prohibited from attending. This meeting is called the “meeting of creditors” but it is incredibly rare for a creditor to show up. Typically this meeting will be between you, your attorney, and another attorney called the Trustee, who represents the bankruptcy estate. This meeting is usually short, about 5 to 10 minutes long. The purpose of this meeting is for the Trustee to verify your identity, review your paperwork and verify that it is true and correct, and then review your assets to determine whether there are assets that can be recovered to pay creditors back. We will review this meeting with you beforehand. While many of our clients get worried about this meeting, they are almost universally relieved and surprised at how quick and efficient the meeting actually is.
The vast majority of people filing bankruptcy never see the inside of a Bankruptcy courtroom or see a Bankruptcy judge. Most matters in bankruptcy are handled by default – meaning that unless another party objects, it happens automatically. Even if there is a dispute, it is usually handled by attorneys in the courtroom, and only rarely will clients ever have to appear.
WHAT ABOUT DISCHARGE?
Most of the effort in filing bankruptcy is in the process leading up to the case being filed. After filing, you are obligated to attend the meeting of creditors and cooperate with the Trustee, take a Debtor Education class, notify your attorney if something major changes, and then wait. The bankruptcy court can discharge your debts as soon as 61 days after the meeting of creditors is concluded in a Chapter 7 case. The bankruptcy court can discharge your debts at the end of your Chapter 13 plan.
After your debts are discharged, you can move on with your financial life and rebuild your credit.