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Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?
Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, however, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended.
Where can I obtain legal advice?
The county bar association may be able to assist you in finding low cost legal advice. Please keep in mind, that the Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office is prohibited from giving legal advice.
Where do I file my bankruptcy case?
Pro se debtors (debtors without an attorney) may file their cases by mail or in person (see our locations, mailing addresses and county jurisdictions listed on our website: www.ilcb.uscourts.gov). Attorneys must file their petitions electronically.
What happens after I file my bankruptcy petition?
When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay immediately goes into effect. A notice will be sent by the Clerk’s Office to all the parties listed on the mailing matrix. This notice will advise them of the date and time of the first meeting of creditors (341 meeting) and other important information concerning the case.
What is an automatic stay?
An injunction that automatically stays certain collection activity and other actions against the debtor and the debtor’s property the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.
What is the 341 meeting of creditors?
This is a meeting of creditors at which the debtor is questioned under oath by creditors, a trustee, examiner, or the United States trustee about his/her financial affairs.
What are the trustees and the United States Trustee?
United States Trustee: An officer of the U.S. Justice Department responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, estates and case trustees, monitoring plans and disclosure statements, monitoring creditors’ committees, fee applications and performing other statutory duties.
1. Chapter 7 Trustee: A person appointed in a chapter 7 case to represent the interest of the bankruptcy estate and the unsecured creditors. The trustee’s responsibilities include reviewing the debtor’s petition and schedules, liquidating the property of the estate, and making distributions to creditors. The trustee may also bring actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate.
2. Chapter 13 Trustee: A person appointed to administer a chapter 13 case. A chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities are similar to those of a chapter 7 trustee; however, a chapter 13 trustee has the additional responsibilities of overseeing the debtor’s plan, receiving payments from debtors and disbursing plan payments to creditors.
How do I correct information or add information to my case?
The petition, schedules and/or statement of affairs can be corrected by filing an amendment with the Clerk’s Office. Any amendments to Schedule D, and/or E/F should list only the corrected or additional information, and must include a proof of service which indicates the amendment was served on the creditor or party affected by the amended schedules. A filing fee is required for amendments to Schedules D, E/F or an amended mailing matrix (for a list of current fees click here). Also, amended schedules (Schedules A/B, D, E/F, I, J and Forms 122-A-C) require a Declaration (Official Form 106Dec) and a Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (Official Form 106Sum) (for individuals only).
How do I report an address change to the court?
If you are a debtor representing yourself, you may mail a change of address to the court. You must provide the name of the case, the case number, and both your OLD and NEW address. If you are an attorney, you must update your account information through ECF under Maintain Your ECF Account.
How do I obtain a copy of my bankruptcy papers?
There are several ways to obtain copies of documents:
a) You can print electronic records from your personal computer using PACER, the Judiciary’s public access service. Registration is free. Visit the PACER website at http://www.pacer.gov for a full explanation of PACER services, any applicable charges, and directions for registration.
b) You may send a written request for copies by email or mail to the office where your case was filed. Click here for addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for each office. The Clerk’s Office will advise you of the fee required for the copies requested. Do not submit payment until you have been notified of the exact amount. Many cases filed prior to 4/12/04 will be located in the Federal Records Center in Chicago, IL. We will provide information to you on how to obtain copies if your file has been moved to the Federal Records Center.
c) You may also obtain copies of documents in your case by visiting the Clerk’s Office. You can print electronic records from the public access computer terminals located in each of our three offices. You will be charged a fee for each page printed (for a list of current fees click here). Please note, the Clerk’s Office can only accept EXACT CHANGE and cannot make or give change.