Note:  This page is designed solely for clients of the Law Office of Mark J. Markus and contains information specific to this office’s procedures.

This page explains what happens after you retain me but BEFORE your case gets filed with the court.

For information on the process after your case is filed, see bankruptcy process after filing

The Process Prior To Filing Your Case

The following applies to MOST (but not all) cases where you are filing a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy.  Everyone’s situation is different, so this does not cover every conceivable case situation, but it will apply to most.

  • Retainer:  Signing and returning the retainer agreement with the down payment.  This forms the contract between our office and you and explains  the services to be rendered.   This, as with any documents or payments, should be sent to my mailbox facility in Studio City (address provided to you by e-mail).  You may hand-deliver to that address as well, during normal business hours (currently 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. M-F ).   If you are hand-delivering, be sure everything is in a fully addressed envelope or package.
  • Worksheets to Complete:   Upon receipt of the agreement and down payment, I will e-mail you (or send another way if you so designate) the worksheets (client questionnaire) and other documents you need to complete to enable me to prepare the required bankruptcy petition, schedules and necessary court documents.
  • Credit Counseling:  (Individuals only) With the worksheets, I will also send you information on taking the required pre-filing credit counseling course which you can do online.   You need to complete this course prior to filing your bankruptcy case.
  • Preliminary Review:   Once you have completed the worksheets, sent them to me and provided me all the required supporting documentation, I will do a preliminary review of everything and contact you with any questions or issues I have (typically this is missing documentation, incomplete or inconsistent answers, etc.).
  • Preparation of Bankruptcy Petition:  After I get all your responses to my questions and concerns, I will continue preparation of the paperwork and will e-mail you a draft to review.
  • Draft Review By You:   You will get back to me with any changes/corrections/errors/omissions in the draft.  I will make those changes.
  • Final Draft:  I will send you the (hopefully) final draft of the papers to review.  If no further changes are necessary, you will print out the documents, sign all the relevant pages under penalty of perjury, then return them to me (along with remaining documentation such as current paystubs and items not previously provided) and the balance of fees owed to me–if not already paid–and  then….
  • Case Gets Filed!:  I will file your case with the court.   This is when the automatic stay goes into effect preventing creditors from pursuing any legal or collections actions against you.
  • Trustee’s Meeting Date:  I will notify you of your case filing, case number, and the date, time, and location of your Trustee’s Meeting, with instructions regarding the meeting.

    How long does all the above take?

    As you can see, that depends largely on how long it takes you to complete everything, get it back to me, how accurately you have completed everything and responded to my requests, and, of course, how busy I am when you return everything.

    I can state with confidence that I process my client documents much faster than the majority of bankruptcy attorneys.

    It is important to understand that there are many factors which may delay the filing.

    The most common occurs in consumer (non-business) cases where the Means Test is an issue and/or where the client has not provided all the requested paystubs/proof of income and other documentation.

    The delays can cause another round of documentation (updated bank account statements, paystubs) and require me to re-do the means test.

    Chapter 13 cases add more complications due to mortgage arrears changing  and having to re-do plan and other calculations.

    I hope this answers any questions you had on the process.  If not, do not hesitate to call or e-mail me.