How to File for Bankruptcy in New York
Filing process & overview
Filing for bankruptcy in New York and all other states is a complicated process. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary advises:
“Corporations and partnerships must have an attorney to file a bankruptcy case. Individuals, however, may represent themselves in bankruptcy court. While individuals can file a bankruptcy case without an attorney or “pro se,” it is extremely difficult to do it successfully. It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights. For example, a debtor whose case is dismissed for failure to file a required document, such as a credit counseling certificate, may lose the right to file another case or lose protections in a later case, including the benefit of the automatic stay. Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences — hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.”
Your attorney will help you navigate through the process, which broadly stated consists of the following:
- Get credit counseling — Individuals filing for bankruptcy must obtain credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing. The counseling must be provided by an approved credit counseling agency. Find an approved credit counseling agency.
- Determine which type of bankruptcy is appropriate for you — There are several types of bankruptcy filings, named according to the chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. Read our webpages to learn more about the most common types: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.
- Apply the means test — The means test is used to determine if an individual debtor is qualified to file under Chapter 7 (and if not, the debtor can file under Chapter 13). The means test compares the debtor’s average monthly income for the past six months with the median income in New York State. If the debtor’s average income is below the median income, the debtor may file under Chapter 7 without further qualifications. If the debtor’s average income is above the median income, additional qualifications under the means test must be applied which may result in the debtor being qualified or denied the right to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Gather documentation of your income, assets and liabilities — These documents should be for the prior two years and include pay stubs, tax returns, real estate deeds, vehicle titles, loan documentation, etc.
- Prepare the bankruptcy petition and schedules — This is the documentation that is submitted to the bankruptcy court. It is a daunting task as an erroneous or incomplete filing may preclude you from obtaining the discharges of debt and other bankruptcy protections you desired.
- Prepare the repayment or reorganization plan — This applies to Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 filings.
- Attend the 641 Meeting of Creditors — About a month after filing, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case convenes a so-called 641 Meeting of Creditors (named after the section of the Bankruptcy Code that describes it). Don’t be surprised if the only persons attending are the trustee, your lawyer and you! After waiting your turn to be called, expect the meeting to last about five minutes!
- Wait — Your creditors have 60 days to object to a discharge of your debt. If there are no challenges, you will receive a notice from the bankruptcy court in about three to six months that your debts have been discharged.
- Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 plans — These must be approved and thereafter the debtor must show regular compliance with the plan. Debts in the plan to be discharged will be discharged upon successful completion of the plan.
Have an experienced attorney file for bankruptcy in NY for you
If you live in the New York City area and think bankruptcy may be a viable option for you, contact the Law Office of Gregory Messer online or at 718-717-2368 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our office is located across the street from the U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn and is close to the Borough Hall and Court Street subway stations. We serve residents throughout Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island.
To ensure every client’s filing for bankruptcy in New York receives the attention it deserves, we are an appointment-only law firm with flexible hours adjustable to fit your needs.