Upon first recognition that you need to take drastic measures against your mounting pile of bad credit, it can be overwhelming. So many different avenues to take, do you want to file chapter 13 bankruptcy or do you qualify for chapter 7? And how exactly is chapter 11 bankruptcy any different? You’ve made the tough decision to file bankruptcy, now you just don’t know where to start. Here are some tips on what to do first when facing a financial crisis.
Bankruptcy Rule 1: Stop using your credit cards. Using credit cards with intent to file for bankruptcy will give creditors the opportunity to challenge your discharge of the debt. If you’ve accumulated the debt knowing you could not repay it creditors have the option to nullify your debt discharge- usually done through a lawsuit or adversary proceeding. Lesson one, no more charging. Period.
Bankruptcy Rule 2: See to it that there are no other options for you to utilize. Between debt management, credit counseling, and all the untrustworthy organizations promising a quick fix, there is no doubt that it will require some homework. But do your research and make sure that there isn’t a more gentle method of cleaning up your credit before you resort to the big “B”.
Bankruptcy Rule 3: Once you’ve narrowed down your options and filing bankruptcy is the only one that seems like it will work for you and your situation, find a good lawyer. Many people try to go through this process on their own and end up losing big in the end. Proper legal council will guide you through the process, offer advice on which chapter of bankruptcy is best for you, and will be a huge asset if it comes down to negotiating for better terms with your creditors.
Bankruptcy Rule 4: Figure your costs. Bankruptcy filing fees vary widely from state to state and naturally different lawyers will have different fee schedules, some charging a flat fee, others charging based on how deeply you are in debt. Still other require you to pay up front before they even start the process, but once you have started working with a lawyer, refer all creditors to this office.
Bankruptcy Rule 5: Depending on whether you’re filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, prepare to give up some of your belongings. Exempt items such as tools of your trade and low value heirlooms are considered exempt items. All others fall in the non-exempt category and are likely to be sold so that payments can be made to your creditors. Payment amounts differ between chapters; in chapter 7 bankruptcy you may never have to pay a creditor and had all of your debt written off. However if filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy you will be put on a three to five year payment plan at the end of which any outstanding debt will be written off. Again a good lawyer will be able to tell you which one would help more for your specific situation.
If you file chapter 7 bankruptcy, on the 60th day after meeting with your creditors to negotiate the terms of your bankruptcy declaration, your creditors forfeit the right to challenge any and all of your discharge and you will receive a notice of discharge. This notice will come within 30 – 60 days after your final payment under a chapter 13 bankruptcy filing Best of luck in all your endeavors and may your financial recuperation be speedy.
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Nathan Dawson writes for www.mybankruptcycounseling.com a great online source for finance information regarding bankruptcy laws, alternatives and support.
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