When you find yourself over your head with debt, and you can no longer meet your payment obligations, you might look to bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy is a legal remedy for consumers who need a fresh start and relief from creditors and collection agencies. However, it is a serious financial decision that will impact your financial health and credit history for a very long time. Therefore, you should never file for bankruptcy without considering the implications and ensure you follow the proper steps.
Often bankruptcies fail because the consumer attempts to file bankruptcy without legal assistance, or they skip necessary steps in the procedure. Having to re-file means that your creditors could file and seek judgments, garnish wages, and put you in further financial distress.
What Steps Must You Take to Succeed with a Bankruptcy Case?
A successful bankruptcy depends on your financial situation and the type of bankruptcy you are filing. However, there are general steps that all consumers go through regardless of the type of bankruptcy they are seeking.
- Meet with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Regardless of the kind of bankruptcy you are seeking, you need a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can help you determine which form of bankruptcy you qualify for, argue on your behalf, and assist you with the paperwork.
- Gather all documents and financial information. You cannot file for bankruptcy without knowing the full scope of your financial issues. You must have the name and account information of every debt, your income, assets, and all expenses.
- Attend the required credit counseling. You are required to go to credit counseling before you can complete your bankruptcy. If you fail to complete this course or you do not attend at all, you will be unable to complete your bankruptcy and receive a discharge.
- Decide what type of bankruptcy suits your financial situation. You have a few options as a consumer, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is a full discharge, but you might not qualify if you have excessive assets or income. Chapter 13 offers to restructure your debts and gives you a payment plan that allows you to catch up on your past due debts without a discharge. Your attorney can help you sort through the options and choose the one that best fits your situation.
- File your case properly. Most pro se consumers will file their bankruptcy case improperly, which creates significant delays. Therefore, you want an attorney, because when you file the first time correctly, you can receive your automatic stay protection.
- Attend your meeting of the creditors. All consumers are required to participate in the meeting of the creditors, even if no creditors appear. During this meeting, known as the Section 341 meeting, your creditors can show and listen to your testimony. The trustee then learns about your assets, debts, employment history, financial health, and determines if your debt qualifies for bankruptcy.
- Always cooperate with the bankruptcy trustee. A trustee is assigned to your case, and they are there to oversee the bankruptcy process. If you do not follow his or her instructions or you do not provide accurate documentation to the trustee, they will notify the court and your case could be dismissed.
Exploring Your Options for Bankruptcy?
If you think it is time to file bankruptcy, speak with a consumer bankruptcy attorney from Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary today. You can meet with us for a bankruptcy consultation, and we will help you decide not only which type of bankruptcy is best, but ensure the process goes as smooth as possible.
Schedule your consultation now at 509-586-7797 or request a consultation online.