Dos and Don’ts Before Filing Bankruptcy

Filing BankruptcyYou may be contemplating the need to file bankruptcy and if you are, get to an experienced attorney’s office FAST! However, if you are not quite sure you want to take that first big step, please consider the following while you are thinking it over:

DO:
1) Review your total outstanding debt. Take a look at your credit report, gather all your creditor notices, medical bills, any paperwork from a court case or lawsuit you may have received, and put them all together for easy review. Go back a minimum of 10 years if possible.
2) Review all your income and expenses. Make a budget to determine your monthly surplus or shortage. Do not include payments on any debts that are not secured (e.g. house, car, furniture, etc.).
3) Review your assets. Figure out how much equity you have in your home, vehicle, etc. Do you own property other than homestead property? Do you have any financial accounts like stocks, bonds, or money market accounts? Make a comprehensive list for yourself and your attorney.
4) Review your secured debts. You will have to decide if you can afford to keep the vehicle you currently have or if you need to get into a less expensive car. This is just one example of your options before filing bankruptcy.
5) Gather your financial documents. Paycheck stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc., will all be important if you decide to file bankruptcy.

DON’T:
1) Sell or transfer any property. If you own any land, financial assets, business interests or other types of valuable property, do not sell or transfer anything to a third party prior to discussing your bankruptcy options with an attorney.
2) Incur additional debt. Do not use your credit cards or incur additional credit if you are on the brink of insolvency. It may be considered fraud and may not dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding.
3) Ignore lawsuits or judgments. These will not disappear and if you wait to long to deal with them, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a notice from your bank that your accounts have been frozen pursuant to a court order.
4) Take funds from your retirement account. Most of these accounts are protected in bankruptcy from your creditors and the court will allow you to keep them.

These are just a few examples of things to consider if you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy. Come see us today to get the answers to all your questions and keep from taking any missteps that may affect your ability to file that bankruptcy case you and your family may need to file.