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How to file for bankruptcy? Here are the eight steps you must know

Article updated on 19/08/2019
Even if bankruptcy can happen to anyone, the process alone may seem intimidating. Our advisors will be there to guide you, from the first consultation until your debts are discharged. Here’s how it works.


How to file for bankruptcy?
  • From the outside, declaring bankruptcy may seem like a failure. But that’s not the case. It’s a way of regaining control of your finances if you run out of money.
  • There are a few steps in the process of filing for bankruptcy. You don’t need to do it alone. You can rely on your financial advisor and licensed insolvency trustee.
  • If it’s your first bankruptcy, you can get rid of your debts and resume your normal life in just 9 months (or 21 months if you have excess income). We’ll work with you to make sure you don’t lose your house or vehicle.

Making an appointment: The first step toward peace of mind

Worried about debt? It’s time to take action before things get worse. Book an appointment with one of our experts today. Next, gather the documents you need for your consultation.

What you need to bring

The essentials:

  • A piece of ID (e.g. driver’s license or health card)
  • Proof of income (e.g. pay stub )
  • Tax return and/or notice of assessment for the previous year (self-employed workers can use this as proof of income rather than a pay stub)
  • Most recent monthly bank statement
  • Information on investments and/or RRSPs
  • Account statements for all debts (e.g. credit card, cellphone, car, furniture, etc.)

If you own a vehicle:

  • Registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle(s)
  • Purchase agreement for the vehicle(s)

If you own a house or condo:

  • Mortgage statement
  • Municipal tax bill

Missing something? No problem. Bring the documents you do have.


The preliminary consultation: Exploring your options

At the preliminary consultation, you’ll meet the advisor who will work with you until your debts are discharged. Together, you’ll take a look at your financial situation and find the right solution for you. Although you might think bankruptcy is the only option, that’s not necessarily true. There are alternatives to bankruptcy.


Signing the papers: On your way to breathing easier

Is bankruptcy your best option? It’s normal to be concerned. But let us reassure you: You’re not going to lose everything. Far from it. In fact, this will help you get back on your feet. You’ll start by signing some documents. This can be done at the preliminary meeting.


Filing your documents: Say goodbye to creditors!

Your bankruptcy becomes official when your advisor files the documents to a government institution called the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Finally, an end to harassing calls from creditors. You won’t ever have to speak to them again. Your advisor will take care of everything.


The notice to creditors: Carrying out the process

One to five days after your documents are filed, your advisor will contact all of your creditors to let them know. It may be necessary to call a meeting of creditors, but this is rare. In most cases, it’s unnecessary. Your advisor can tell you more.


The first counselling session: Talking good habits

You’re ready to move on from your financial troubles. But how can you prevent this from happening again? There are red flags to look out for, and room for improvement when it comes to budgeting and spending. You and your advisor will talk about it at your first mandatory counselling session.


Second counselling session: No such thing as too much advice

This time, you and your advisor will talk about how debt problems happen. You’ll also have a conversation about credit: How to apply for it, use it and build it. Finally, your advisor will provide you with resources to consult if you find yourself in dangerous territory again.


Freedom from debt: Starting over

It takes courage to regain control of your life, but you’ve done it. Bravo! You’ll receive a certificate to confirm that your debts have been discharged. We’re sure it’ll be a huge relief.

Bonus advice: Now that you’re debt-free, what’s next?

Beyond maintaining good financial habits and enjoying your new peace of mind, you can slowly start improving your credit score. To help you, we’ve put together some practical tips.

Have you already filed for bankruptcy at least once? The process will take longer. Speak with your advisor to learn more.

Bankruptcy timeline

Infographic illustrating the 8 steps in the bankruptcy process

Have you already filed for bankruptcy at least once? The process will take longer. Speak with your advisor to learn more.