First step: You will file a Petition with the bankruptcy Court, that presides over the area where you live. With the Petition, you must include a few vital documents.
A list of all of the things you own, as well as, the debts that you owe.
A budget including your income, and all of the money that you spend each month.
A formal statement summarizing your financial situation.
A list of all contracts and leases that you are bound to.
Your most recent tax return, and in some cases, tax returns from prior years.
A certificate of credit counseling.
Your Attorney will be able to assist you in compiling this list in a form that is acceptable to the Court, and conducive to the success of your case.
Your Attorney will prepare and file a document listing all of your exempt property. This is a list of things you own that the court will not be allowed to take away to sell in order to pay creditors. Your Attorney will be able to help you to determine which of your possessions qualify for exempt status.
Once your Petition is filed with the Court, this will immediately suspend collection efforts on the part of your creditors. The harassing telephone calls will stop, the volumes of creditor demand letters will stop, the foreclosure or repossession of your home and car will stop.
This next step is called a "Section 341 Meeting" or "Meeting of Creditors." This will be a meeting that you and your Attorney will have with the Trustee that is assigned to your case by the Court. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that your case is properly filed. Some cases are filed as Chapter 7 cases, then are converted to Chapter 13 cases, when it is determined that the case should be filed under that chapter.
Usually this will be your final step in the bankruptcy process, assuming that your case is properly filed, and after your meeting with the Trustee. In some cases, the process is more complicated, and may involve Adversary complaints, Objections to Discharge, or other matters that your Attorney will discuss with you.