Avoid these 3 Bankruptcy Mistakes
Completing a do-it-yourself bankruptcy is much harder than it looks. Many people get seduced by the pre-printed forms they can download from the US courts website and assume they don’t need a lawyer’s help. Unfortunately, they can make many errors that hamstring their ability to wipe out debts.
One reason to hire a bankruptcy attorney is that your attorney will help you avoid common pitfalls and keep you on track. This is key to getting your debts discharged. The fact is that not everyone who applies for bankruptcy protection ultimately gets a discharge. Instead, you must follow the rules. Below, our Plantation bankruptcy lawyers identify 3 mistakes to avoid.
Don’t Choose the Wrong Bankruptcy
Most Florida consumers will file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. They are very different, and choosing the wrong one can cost you time and money.
With a Chapter 7, you can quickly wipe out qualifying debts in a matter of months. Most unsecured debts like credit card, personal loans, or medical debt can be completely erased. You can’t wipe out alimony or child support, and it’s harder to get rid of student loans. However, if your debts qualify, it is very easy to complete.
But Chapter 7 comes with a catch. The trustee can take non-exempt property and sell it, with your creditors getting the proceeds. So if you can’t exempt certain property, don’t choose Chapter 7.
With a Chapter 13, you don’t lose any property, but it takes a painful three to five years of making monthly payments before any debt is erased.
If you don’t know whether you have property to exempt, talk to a South Florida bankruptcy lawyer.
Don’t Forget to Report Assets
When filing, every debtor must disclose all assets, along with all debts. It is very easy to forget that you have a bank account with a few hundred dollars in it. Alarmingly, some people are aware of bank accounts but think “there’s not enough money in it” to report. You must report everything. If you don’t, the judge can dismiss the bankruptcy action and you could be charged with bankruptcy fraud.
Don’t Skip the Chapter 341 Meeting
At this meeting, the trustee who oversees your bankruptcy will ask the debtor questions about his or her finances, debts, and actions leading up to the bankruptcy. The trustee will also inform the debtor about the advantages and disadvantages of filing for bankruptcy.
The debtor’s creditors will also be notified and have the option of attending. They might ask whether the debtor wants to reaffirm a debt, such as a car loan.
You must attend the meeting. Don’t skip it. If it is at an inconvenient time, still try to make it. Reach out to an attorney immediately if you think you cannot make your 341 Meeting of Creditors, since your petition could be dismissed if you are absent.
Speak with a Member of Our Team
Please call 888-813-4737 to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer at Nowack & Olson, PLLC. Our lawyers have helped over 20,000 consumers just like you get a discharge of their debts.