Filing for bankruptcy can be overwhelming, complicated, and time-consuming. Being that the process can be stressful, knowing what you should do before filing can help lower the amount of discomfort and uncertainty you may feel. Before you file, use this helpful bankruptcy filing checklist to properly begin the process:
Examine Alternatives to Bankruptcy. Have you tried negotiating with creditors? Sometimes creditors will agree to a repayment plan or even reduce the debt so it’s more manageable. Do you have property to sell? If you have valuable property, it may be a better option to sell it and pay your creditors instead of filing for bankruptcy.Learn About Bankruptcy. The old saying, “Knowledge is power,” can help you navigate the seemingly "rough waters" of bankruptcy. Knowing and understanding the procedure from beginning to end allows you to feel calmer as you go through each step. You can find information by reading blogs and articles on reputable websites or by speaking with anexperienced bankruptcy attorney.Stop Automatic Payments. Should you have any of your debt payments on auto pay, take the proper steps to stop the payments from coming out of your bank account. It can take one to two months for the requests to actually go through so taking this step weeks before filing bankruptcy helps make sure payments are stopped in time. Notify the creditors and the bank as part of your stop payment requests.Get a Credit Counseling Certificate. Anyone who files bankruptcy is required to get a Credit Counseling Certificate before they even file. The course must be approved by the Executive Office of United States Trustee (EOUST). Once you complete the counseling, you will receive a certificate that is good for 180 days and must be included when you file bankruptcy.Consider Transferring Your Money. Do you owe the bank money? If you do and you have a checking account, savings account, or other account with the bank, the bank may seize those fund in order to pay your debt. Withdraw the money from your account and place it in a new account at a bank where you don’t owe money.We also highly encourage you to consult with a bankruptcy attorney on this matter. You don’t want to face any legal consequences for not properly disclosing or hiding assets. Determine Your Assets’ Values. Listing the value of your assets is required on your bankruptcy schedules. Not everyone has a formal appraisal of their vehicle or home, but you can find the current value online. Visit websites like Zillow, Trulia, NADA and Kelley Blue Book to help you find the values.Elect to Keep or Surrender Assets. If you have lien-secured assets such as a house, vehicle, boats, etc., you are able to choose if you would prefer parting with the item and having the debt forgiven or if you can continue paying the creditor. Your bankruptcy attorney can help guide you based on your unique situation. Gather Your Tax Returns. You are required to provide a copy of your latest tax returns to the trustee under the Bankruptcy Code. If you can’t locate them, request a copy as they are mandatory. You need them for the last three years.Dig up Decrees. If you currently pay child support or alimony, or are divorced, the bankruptcy attorney will need copies of any final orders. The trustee may request copies as well, for review.Save Proof of Income. The trustee will verify your income and will require recent proof of income, such as pay stubs. If you don’t currently save them, start doing so now.
Collect Relevant Paperwork. Your bankruptcy attorney will request any correspondence with creditors, including threat letters, any lawsuits you’ve been served, any documentation relating to debts you owe, proof if anyone owes you money, vehicle titles, lease or mortgage.
Taking these steps before you file bankruptcy can help make the process more efficient and less stressful. If you need a bankruptcy attorney, get a free consultation by calling Michael E. Plummer and Associates 1-877-790-2233.