If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you are assigned a bankruptcy trustee. It's very important to know what this person does and what you'll need to do to work with him or her toward a successful completion of your case.
The trustee is the first one to review the bankruptcy petition. If there are any glaring errors or reasons why you don't qualify, they may be found at this point.
A meeting will be set up with the trustee. You'll need to be at this meeting, and you'll need to bring all of the required documents with you. For example, if you work for a company, you may need pay stubs for the past two months. If you own a business or work for yourself, you'll have to bring bank statements for the same timeframe, along with profit and loss statements.
You at least have to meet with the trustee to go over these documents a week before you show up at the first hearing. If you don't go to the meeting or don't send in the right documents, the trustee can throw your case out before you even get to court. Now, the trustee may contact you and give you another chance, or a separate hearing may be scheduled so you can tell your side of the story, so it's not always the end of the case if you miss the meeting. However, it's critical to know how much power the trustee has at this point.
Bankruptcy is a complex legal process, and you have to follow the steps exactly in order to get through it successfully. Always make sure you know your rights and what is legally expected of you.
Source: Bankrate, "Avoid these bankruptcy mistakes," Justin Harelik, accessed Dec. 29, 2016