Okay, so you have signed your petition, and your attorney has filed it with the court. Now what? Well, in New Jersey, the next thing that happens is that a meeting with your trustee is scheduled, usually for a date about 45 days from your filing date. A document called a Notice of Commencement of case is then mailed out by the courts to all your creditors, your attorney, and you, containing, among other things, the date and time of your hearing. Once you receive this notice, you can reasonably conclude that your creditors have as well, and you should advise your attorney of any contact by creditors after that to try and collect the debt.

I usually send a letter to my clients setting forth the information needed to be brought to that meeting, including:
  • Government-issued Photo ID
  • Proof of Social Security Number (either a Social Security card, W-2, or 1099)
  • Most recent paystub
  • 90 days worth of bank statements going back from your date of filing

I also recommend that the Financial Management (or Debtor Education) course be taken from an approved vendor prior to the meeting, so that I can prepare the relevant document for your signature to have with me for the meeting. That way there is one less loose end to address after the meeting.

Then, if you have a car that has an outstanding loan or lease, you have a decision to make.  Do you assume the lease (keep the car and continue to be responsible under the lease) or turn in the car?  As for a loan, do you turn in the car, pay off the loan (most often not a practical option) or reaffirm the loan (keep the car and continue to be liable on the loan)?  This must be done within 45 days of the date first scheduled for your meeting with the trustee.  You should talk to your attorney about which is the best option for you.

Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.