General Tips for Filing Bankruptcy
By Lisa Michelle Jones
To begin with the fact of the matter is that filing bankruptcy was designed to give people buried in debt a new beginning. Unfortunately many people still see it as a failure and the end of everything. Congress created bankruptcy as a means for Americans struggling with overwhelming debt to gain a second chance. Filing bankruptcy is not the devastating catastrophe that creditors want people to believe, but actually a blessing to those that are in a financial crisis. Of course creditors don't want people to know this which is why they perpetuate the myth that filing bankruptcy is shameful, irresponsible, and something that one can never recover from. A bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for up to ten years, but your credit will not be completely trashed if you file for bankruptcy.
Once an individual is at the point where they truly need to file bankruptcy their credit is already in the tank due to late pays and delinquencies on credit cards, utility bills, their mortgage, etc. They may already be in the process of legal action from their creditors in the form of a lawsuit, wage garnishment, or foreclosure. So why not stop the madness and just file bankruptcy? If you think about it, it is really better to file bankruptcy and wipe out your debts, stop the legal action, and begin rebuilding your credit.
The first step in the process is to find an experienced bankruptcy attorney. A quick online search can be very effective. Just make sure to check with consumer protection groups and online reviews for a reputable attorney. You will then need to provide the bankruptcy attorney with detailed personal information such as all debts, assets, income, and expenses. Copies of bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns will also be needed so the attorney can accurately prepare the bankruptcy petition. Once the petition is prepared it is filed at the bankruptcy court by the bankruptcy attorney. At this time the automatic stay is put into effect which prohibits the creditors from contacting the debtor. This is when the debtor can truly breathe a sigh of relief knowing that all of the phone calls and communication will stop.
The bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee to oversee the case at the time of filing bankruptcy as well as the date for the creditors meeting, or 341 meeting. This takes place about a month after the case was filed and must be attended by the debtor and their bankruptcy attorney. Debtors will be happy to know that despite the name, creditors rarely attend this meeting unless they feel that fraud was involved on the part of the debtor. The 341 meeting only lasts a few minutes as the trustee verifies the information on the petition for accuracy and completion. After that the debtor should receive a notice in the mail a few months later that all of their qualified debts were discharged. This means that the debtor emerges from the bankruptcy filing completely debt free or close to it.
If anyone considers themselves in a desperate or hopeless financial situation they should immediately seek professional advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney to find out if filing bankruptcy is right for them.
The author is a professional that formed FilingBankruptcyPros.Com which provides information for debtors considering filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy and helps individuals stop foreclosure and eliminate their debt by putting them in touch with a local bankruptcy attorney.
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