Anthony Landolfi, Esq., P.C.

Your bankruptcy attorney in South Jersey!

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as a "straight bankruptcy" or a “Liquidation Chapter,” and is often what people mean or think of when they hear of bankruptcy. In its simplest form, Chapter 7 wipes out most of your debts and, in turn, you may have to surrender some of your property. Chapter 7 does not include a repayment plan. Your debts are simply eliminated forever.

Theoretically, a debtor's assets can be seized and sold for the benefit of creditors. All nonexempt assets owned as of the petition date are fair game. But in practice, 96 percent of the consumer bankruptcies are no-asset cases, meaning that no property is taken away from the debtor because it's all exempt (protected under the bankruptcy code) or worth so little it's not worth the trouble. Certain debts, e.g. back child support, recent taxes, are not dischargeable in any bankruptcy.
Bottom line: most debtors can discharge most of the their debt while keeping most of their property.

Chapter 7 Process

The entire process starts after extensive information gathering is completed. A document called a Bankruptcy Petition is completed containing detailed information relation to the debtor's income, assets and debts. The debtor eventually reviews & approves of his or her petition by signing it, and immediately thereafter it is electronically filed by the debtor's attorney. 

In the Chapter 7 process, a trustee is designated by the bankruptcy court to review the assets of the debtor.  The trustee determines which assets are exempt or nonexempt property.  Exemption of property is restricted to debtor equity in a possession such as a car, home, or life insurance.

Once Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection has been filed by a debtor, all creditor collection activities must cease immediately.  This includes harassing collection letters, phone calls, garnished wages and repossessions. 

The process requires the debtor to provide documentation of the value of all assets as well as a list of all creditors, income and expenses.  This documentation must be completed prior to filing.  The required documentation includes the following items:

  • Pay stubs for the debtor and all household members for the previous six months
  • Copies of all bills and notices
  • Credit report
  • Valuation of all assets
  • Any Child Support orders
  • Federal Tax returns for the three years prior to the filing

Also prior to the filing, the debtor must undergo credit counseling and receive a completion certificate from an approved credit counselor. This certification must be filed with the court, with the bankruptcy petition.

Credit Counseling

The Bankruptcy Code requires that all debtors (with certain exceptions) complete a credit counseling course prior to filing his or her petition.  Credit counseling is generally simple and fast and typically costs $15 per person or couple. Counseling sessions take about an hour and  the sessions may be done in person or via telephone or internet.  The objective is to assist the debtor in understanding the cause of the financial issues and to develop recommendations for resolution.  As such, the counselor will require income, expense, assets and creditor information.

We will provide you with contact information for several companies we use or list of  court approved agencies is also available at

The credit counseling must be completed prior to filing the petition and a Certificated evidencing same must accompany debtor's petition.

The 341(a) Creditors Meeting

After the debtor's petition is filed with the Court, the Court then schedules a 341(a) Creditors Meeting. This hearing is typically scheduled about one month after the filing. The court is responsible to notify all creditors and the debtor of the scheduled meeting. It is unusual for any creditor to appear at the hearing, but they are allowed to attend to ask the debtor questions.

In addition to the documentation for trustee outline above, further documentation is required at this meeting:

  • Proof of identification such as a driver's license, passport or State issued ID
  • Proof social security number
  • Other documentation may include the value of assets and payoff of liens on same 

The meeting itself is generally under a half hour and consists mainly of the trustee reviewing the information supplied by the debtor.  If no further investigation is required, the trustee will recommend to the court that the debtor be granted an Order of Discharge. If the trustee recommends an order of discharge, the debtor should receive the order approximately 120 days after the petition was filed.

Personal Financial Management Course

The debtor is also required to complete a Personal Financial Management Course and file a certification of completion with the court within 45 days after the 341(a), Creditors’ Meeting.

As with the credit-counseling requirement, the debtor must use a court approved counseling agency.  These counseling sessions may also be done in person or via telephone or internet.  This course, like the Credit Counseling, will last approximately one hour.  The objective is to assist the debtor in developing money management skills.

We have several companies we work with. There is also a list of  court approved agencies is available at:

Start the Process Today

Seeking bankruptcy protection can be a complicated process. We are here to help. Our experienced team can help you navigate the options available to help you resolve your financial issues.

While the Bankruptcy Code requires all legal fees to be paid prior to the actual filing, we provide a free initial consultation, and will begin preparing your bankruptcy petition with a deposit of $250.00.  

Stop creditor harassment and get a fresh start!

Anthony Landolfi, Esq.
295 Bridgeton Pike,
Mantua, New Jersey, 08051
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