Many Americans have had difficulties keeping up with their debts and credit obligations since the Recession. If you have similar difficulties, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option.
Here are 11 steps you should take if you are filing for bankruptcy.
- Explore your options. Before filing for bankruptcy, it is best to educate yourself on what filing for bankruptcy means. For example, you need to determine if you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most individuals file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means that you, as the debtor are relieved from some or all of your financial obligations.
- Complete the means test. This is a standard test that will compare your income to your debts to determine if you are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney is invaluable to you during the bankruptcy process. Your attorney will explain your options, answer your questions, make informed recommendations and even fill out the forms for you and make sure they are filed correctly and on time.
- Pay the fees. When filing for bankruptcy, you will be responsible for legal fees and application fees. The application fees alone can cost between $300-$500 and once you include your attorney fees, you may spend around $2,000 total.
- Assemble your information. Gather and organize all of your financial information. This includes: your income, expenses, assets, debts and property exemptions. You need to have all of your financial information ranging over the past six months for the bankruptcy procedure. You have to list this information in order to have your debts discharged.
- Determine which debts are excusable. Although bankruptcy is considered a clean slate, there are debts you will still be responsible for after your bankruptcy proceedings. For example, you will most likely still be responsible for: student loans, child support and tax debts.
- Attend a credit-counseling program. Within six months before filing your petition, you will need to attend a credit-counseling program at a court-approved agency. The counseling can usually be completed online or over the phone.
- File the forms. One reason it is important to hire a bankruptcy attorney is so that they can help you fill out the necessary forms and can remind you of the deadline.
- Automatic Stay. Once you complete all of the paperwork and file it, you will be granted an automatic stay that prohibits almost all creditors from continuing collection actions against you.
- Attend the meeting. Oftentimes, Chapter 7 bankruptcies do not end up in court. However, you will need to attend a mandatory meeting known as a 341 meeting with the creditors and a court-appointed trustee. The trustee will ask questions pertaining to your finances and your petition.
- Post-Bankruptcy Obligations. Once you have successfully filed for bankruptcy, you will need to attend a post-bankruptcy credit counseling. This will help you successfully manage your finances and proceed forward so that you do not end up in a financial crisis again.
Click here to read more on this story.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.