Bankruptcy: Don't Go Through It Alone
For those considering filing for bankruptcy, this is not the time to turn your back on legal help. Bankruptcy is not a simple process, and it's easy to accidentally make mistakes that could cost you far more money than you might save. Still unsure about the need for a lawyer? Read below and find out more.
Can You File Now?
One of the most surprising aspects of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that filers must pay attention to what they have been doing for several months before they file. That is because the bankruptcy laws allow the trustee, who oversees your bankruptcy case, to look back at your financial transactions to find out what has been happening. The trustee is interested primarily in assets that you have given away or sold before you filed. That property can be taken back and used to help pay some of the bankruptcy expenses. Not many filers would be aware of that issue if they don't have a bankruptcy lawyer helping them.
Another problem with things that filers should be aware of prior to trying to file is means testing. Filers with incomes above the state median level must undergo means testing. In some cases, your lawyer can help you figure out how to add expenses that allow you to still file. However, you might also be advised to wait a month or so if you anticipate your income going down or filing Chapter 13 rather than 7 since it has no means testing.
Can You Deal With the 341 Meeting?
For most filers, the only time they will be facing a courtroom appearance is at the 341 meeting, sometimes called the creditor's meeting. Even though creditors may not necessarily appear at the meeting, it can be very embarrassing if any do show up and you don't have a lawyer there to speak for you. Creditors can object to their inclusion in the bankruptcy for various reasons. Common ones are that the filer lied on their credit card application about their income. That could result in the debt being left out of the bankruptcy. Other issues include excessive credit card use right before the filing.
What About Reaffirmations?
Some filers need to keep their vehicles and agree to continue paying the auto loan so that they can do so with a reaffirmation. Many of those without legal help could end up losing their vehicles and having a difficult time obtaining a new auto loan.
These are but a few of many reasons why it's a very good idea to get the help of a bankruptcy lawyer before you file. It could save you time, stress, and money.