If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy in the near future there are some steps you should take to get prepared. Following this checklist will make the entire process go a lot smoother.
Step 1 – Stop taking out new debt.
Stop using your credit cards and don’t apply for any more accounts. Spending too much prior to a bankruptcy can make creditors think you never intended to pay the debt in the first place.
Step 2 – Pull your credit report.
By the time many families end up in a position to file for bankruptcy they’ve begun losing track of whom they owe and who they owe it to. Everything just gets overwhelming, and they lose track.
Unless you’ve been keeping scrupulous files all this time, it’s a good idea to pull your credit report so you actually know how much you owe, and to whom.
Step 3 – Set aside some money for the process.
You should at least have the court fees set aside if you can. As of this writing you’ll need $335 for a Chapter 7 and $310 for a Chapter 13. To see a full schedule of fines and fees, click here.
Step 4 – Gather all your financial documents.
You’ll streamline the process considerably if you are ready to present your attorney with your full financial picture.
Gather the following:
- Two of your most recent pay stubs.
- One copy of each of your bills.
- Any paperwork related to any creditor lawsuit.
- Deeds for any real property you own.
- Titles for boats, motorcycles, cars, etc. you own.
- Appraisals of home, collections, art, jewelry, if applicable and available.
- Bank statements.
- Statements from retirement accounts and investment accounts.
- Copies of life insurance policies.
- Your last two tax returns.
Step 5 – Start searching for your attorney.
Do some research. Your attorney should have the following qualities:
- Lots of experience with bankruptcy cases.
- Outstanding reviews.
- The ability to schedule a free consultation.
- The ability to set up a payment plan.
Step 6 – Choose your attorney.
You may interview three or four attorneys before deciding which one you’re most comfortable with. Once your attorney is officially representing you, you’ll work with him or her to make decisions about which form of bankruptcy you need to file, what needs to be done to protect any assets you may be worried about, and what your next steps are.
Your attorney will guide you through the rest of the process, including:
- Filing all applicable paperwork.
- Completing your credit counseling requirement.
- Attending your 341 hearing.
- Managing any problems or issues which arise.
- Securing your bankruptcy discharge.
Once you’ve chosen your attorney you really only have to follow the process he or she lays out for you, remain in contact, and communicate any new information as it arises.
Have further questions? Contact our office for more information today.