Most of us don’t really think about bankruptcy until debt starts to creep up, and even then, bankruptcy may not immediately seem like the right choice. While it’s never wise to jump into bankruptcy without first exploring alternatives, this can be an effective tool for making a new financial start. It’s worth researching and familiarizing yourself with how bankruptcy works and how it may benefit you.
There are several key people who are part of the bankruptcy process. The person who is in debt and needs to file bankruptcy is called the debtor, and those who are owed money are creditors. This could be individuals, banks, medical companies, or collection agencies, to name a few. A professional bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that your case is resolved without any trouble. Once your attorney helps you with your paperwork and files your case, everything will be reviewed by a court-appointed trustee. You will meet them at your 341 meeting, where they will verify the information you’ve provided and mediate between you and any of your creditors who attend. The trustee is responsible for investigating possible fraud and resolving your case in a timely manner.
Your “to-do” List
First I always suggest to review your situation to decide if bankruptcy is truly the best option for you or if you can make some changes to get your budget back on track. If it’s time to pursue bankruptcy, finding a Bankruptcy Attorney that can help is your best bet as they can provide you with a list of the documents you’ll need to provide and worksheets to guide you as you complete your paperwork. Before filing, you’ll need to complete an online credit counseling course, where you’ll learn more about bankruptcy and have the opportunity to evaluate your budget. Once you have your completion certificate and your required documentation, you or your Bankruptcy Attorney can go ahead and file your case, which starts the automatic stay. This is a legal order that keeps creditors from contacting you to collect debt; if they do contact you, all you’ll need to do is give them your case number and my contact information. Your next step will be to attend your 341 Meeting, which some attorneys will attend with you, followed by a final online credit counseling course. If you’re filing a Chapter 7, your unsecured debts will soon be discharged, and if you’re filing a Chapter 13, you’ll soon start your reduced payment plan. Your Attorney can help you throughout the process, so that you always know what to expect next.
Take Control of the Future
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed if you’re in debt with no way of ever paying it off. It can be difficult to know what to do or where to turn, but bankruptcy can give you the peace you need. Then you’ll be able to focus on rebuilding your credit and planning for your future without debt hanging over your head.