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Filing bankruptcy can feel like being in a horror movie. With twists and scares around every bend, you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety.
But bankruptcy doesn’t have to be this dramatic. You can free your mind from the woes of filing chapter 13 or 11 using these 9 pieces of bankruptcy advice.
1. Don’t Get Bankruptcy Advice from Friends
You’ll need a referral to a good attorney when filing bankruptcy. But beyond this referral, it is a good idea to not discuss your bankruptcy when friends and family.
Everyone loves to give financial advice when they think you’re in trouble. But bankruptcy advice should be limited to conversations with an attorney.
Following bad advice or shortcuts given to you by friends can lead you into serious legal trouble. There are no cutting corners with a bankruptcy.
Someone else’s attorney may have allowed certain slip-ups but you following the same process could lead to the judge demanding repayment on major ticket items.
2. Read Attorney Reviews
Attorneys make or break your bankruptcy proceedings. You can have the judge dismiss all your problematic debt or hardly any at all.
After getting recommendations from friends or family on a bankruptcy attorney make sure you cross-reference your recommendation with tried and true reviews. Friends and family are more likely to refer you to their own friends and family even if the person does poor work.
Don’t expect to hear the whole story when getting a recommendation. Instead, look for a third party to validate whether this attorney is trustworthy.
If you’re filing bankruptcy, you already have enough financial woes and don’t need an attorney fudging up the process with a poor work ethic or lack of experience.
3. No Schemes
It’s worth repeating that there are no viable schemes the judge hasn’t already seen with a bankruptcy. Trying things like going on a shopping spree with your credit card or buying a new car right before you file is a big faux pas.
Expect the judge to suspect foul play if you make major purchases close to your filing date. The judge has the power to dismiss certain debt as part of the bankruptcy.
Once you show you’re not trustworthy expect the judge to keep suspecting foul play with every other claim you make. That’s not worth the trouble.
Just don’t spend any major money when you know a bankruptcy filing is on the horizon.
4. Plan for the Worst
No one is entitled to a bankruptcy. You might not get the repayment deal you hoped for.
It’s important to proceed with setting aside payments for the debts you can afford while waiting or the bankruptcy to go through. Never assume that the bankruptcy will happen as planned just because you have a good attorney.
There are many reasons a judge might not give you what you ask for. Keep an open mind and pretend you’re in a worst case scenario so that there are no surprises.
5. Reconsider Your Filing
Bankruptcy is a last resort. Simply being tired of too many bills isn’t a legitimate reason to file.
Follow this bankruptcy advice if you still have enough income coming in to make payment arrangements. Payment arrangements do more for your credit history than you could imagine.
It shows lenders you’re responsible enough to figure out your debt and won’t skip out on payments when times get tough.
6. Don’t File Close to Divorce
If you’re planning to file for divorce, it’s probably not a good time to also file for bankruptcy if you can help it. Filing for bankruptcy might make some judges feel like you’re trying to get out of the possibility of splitting certain assets.
Handle one filing at a time so you’re not burdening yourself with the heavy paperwork of both situations. Most of the time it’s best to get your divorce finalized then aim to settle your bankruptcy later.
But this bankruptcy advice varies from person to person. You can click here for more information on what to do in your specific situation.
7. Keep Paying Student Loans
Unfortunately, there are certain types of debt that won’t disappear with bankruptcy. Many Americans are underwater with payments to student loan servicers.
But these payments are here to stay even after a bankruptcy. You’re responsible for your entire student loan balance unless you meet the criteria for loan forgiveness for federal loans.
8. Keep Paying Tax Debt
The IRS is another organization that wants its money regardless of your bankruptcy status. Don’t expect tax debt to disappear after your bankruptcy goes on record.
Money owed to the IRS is considered only to determine the affordability of your overall debt. Keep paying your tax bills while you wait for a final decision since it won’t change after the process is over.
9. Your Home Could Be Sold
Warn your spouse in advance that your home could be sold in the bankruptcy process. If you have equity in your home, this is a viable asset.
Lenders could ask that your home be sold to repay money you owe. You’ll receive the difference after lenders are paid back if the judge decides this is the best option for your situation.
Getting the Right Help
Few people are equipped with the bankruptcy advice they need to face any situation. You’ll need to hire an attorney who can point you toward a successful filing.
You want to be prepared for best and worst case scenarios financially. For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates.