Credit - Pre-Bankruptcy Tips - Part 1
By Nate Perrott
Timing is crucial in bankruptcy. The day you file, you must list all your debts and all your assets as of that day. But the day you file is up to you and your lawyer. That is one of the many decisions you'll have to make. In these articles, I'll tell you what goes into making those decisions in the crucial days or weeks leading up to the filing and make suggestions on what to do-and not to do-to make your case go smoothly.
DON'T: Make Last Minute Charges
Let's back up a bit to the day you decided that you would file for bankruptcy protection. As soon as you think that bankruptcy is in your future, you should immediately stop adding to the debt.
Don't charge anything. In fact, it's a good idea to tear up the credit cards, unless your attorney wants to take care of that. I know people who were told by friends or relatives that they could go ahead and "take what's left" of the credit lines of their accounts before they filed bankruptcy.
What does this mean? It turns out they were talking about charging right up to their credit limit and then filing bankruptcy, when they owed an even higher amount. This is wrong. First, it's fraudulent because they know when they're incurring the debt that they have no intention of paying it back.
Even if it weren't morally wrong (which it is), it is legally risky.
Under bankruptcy law, creditors can object to a particular debt being wiped away. The typical reason is fraud. When the creditor gets the notice that you filed, it takes a look at your account history. If it sees a bunch of charges right before filing, it will get suspicious. The creditor can claim that you planned to take money that you had no intention of repaying.
That doesn't mean the creditor will automatically cause trouble. If the amounts were small, the creditor might not bother about it. But you shouldn't give the creditor any reason to be suspicious.
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Page updated 2:41 PM Thursday 9/11/2014