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When you decide to file bankruptcy, you will have a trustee assigned to your case. The trustee takes on a number of important tasks and administers your case. Their goal is to assess your circumstances, ensure that you are not hiding property, manage the property in the bankruptcy case, and manage payments.

Who Is the Trustee?

Trustees are appointed by the courts. Trustees are typically accountants or lawyers.

Trustees in Chapter 7 Bankruptcies

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the ultimate goal is a discharge of all qualifying debts. The trustee is expected to be impartial throughout the process. They receive a small fee for their services, as well as a percentage of any property sold. This serves as extra motivation to find property that people who file bankruptcy may try to hide.

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Maybe you've decided that bankruptcy is the right choice for your family. What's your next step? This step-by-step guide outlines what to expect throughout the bankruptcy process and what your responsibilities are along the way.

Step 1. Discuss Bankruptcy Options with An Attorney

Though you can represent yourself, bankruptcy cases can be incredibly complicated. For that reason, I always recommend that you hire an attorney. Depending on your income level and the amount of debt you have and your assets, you can choose Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. It's important to discuss these options with a lawyer, since Chapter 7 and 13 have their own specific requirements, and each provides different benefits. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for a full discharge of debt without any repayment, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy permits you to keep some of your assets while making monthly payments.

Step 2. Get Your Documentation to Your Attorney

Your attorney will let you know what is needed to proceed with bankruptcy. You will be expected to provide information on your household income, credit card debt, secured debt, assets, and investments. Most attorneys will also need you to complete a questionnaire.

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Your bankruptcy case is complete and you've received a full discharge-what now? Declaring bankruptcy gives you a clean slate, but you have to approach this time with the right mindset and goals. Here are a few tips to set yourself up for success.

1. Check Your Credit Report

Through each of the three credit bureaus, you have the right to a free credit report once per year. Around 90 days after you've received your discharge, pull your credit report from each bureau. Verify that your discharge is marked on your credit report and that none of the discharged debts are still listed on your report.

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You've filed bankruptcy and eradicated the debt that's been hanging over you for months or years. Now it's time to start planning for the future. While bankruptcy does offer the chance for a fresh start, it also causes an immediate hit to your credit score. With time and careful management of your resources, you can help your credit bounce back.

1. Secured Credit Cards

Some people have difficulty finding lending opportunities after bankruptcy. Creditors may be unwilling to take a chance on someone with a recent bankruptcy on their record. A secured credit card could be the solution. When you get approved for a secured credit card, you make a cash deposit to the lender. The deposit is typically the same amount as your credit limit. You get your deposit returned after making on-time payments for a set amount of time. Secured cards often have high-interest rates, so use them as a credit-building tool and keep a low balance.

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There's a reason that debt collectors have such a bad reputation-they are aggressive and often blatantly disregard the law in their attempts to get a payment from a debtor. Even worse, most consumers do not know their rights or are too ashamed of their financial situation to advocate for themselves. Even if you are behind on payments, you do not deserve to have your rights ignored. If a debt collector tries these practices, they could be in violation of state or federal law. Companies that break debt collection laws may have to pay the victim a fine for each and every violation.

1. Calling After Being Asked to Stop

If you do not wish to receive calls anymore, you can request that all communication regarding your debt be done in writing. You should make this request in writing and send it via certified mail. If the collector continues to call after receiving this letter, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

2. Calling an Unreasonable Amount of Times or at Unreasonable Hours

While the law doesn't say how many calls are allowed in a 24-hour period, it does say that collectors can't call too frequently or place an unreasonable amount of calls. Furthermore, they cannot call before 8 A.M. or 9 P.M. The exception to this rule: they may call you outside these hours if you make arrangements with them to discuss your debt outside this time frame.

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