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DOs

  1. Do contact an attorney as soon as you think you're in trouble. Meeting with an attorney to discuss your financial situation will help provide the necessary knowledge and advice that you need to move forward and consultation is FREE. Too many people wait until the last minute, which can dramatically limit the number of options that are available to you.

  2. Do be honest. Be forthcoming with your attorney, as well as yourself about everything. It is imperative that you disclose everything and anything about your financial situation in order for it to be handled properly. Whatever information you tell your attorney, will stay with your attorney. If there is information that must be disclosed in bankruptcy papers, then your attorney will discuss this matter with you beforehand. The attorney-client confidentiality protects you from having unwanted information released. For example, if you have a house that is paid off or a big bonus from work that you do not want to discuss, your attorney will advise you as to whether this is information that you will need to disclose. It is far worse to hold information back and realize later on that you are under penalty or perjury for not sharing information.

  3. Do continue to make payments on any vehicle that you want to keep. If you default on a payment, creditors have the right to repossess your vehicle without giving you notice.

  4. Do disclose any large purchases that you have made in the 3 months prior to filing for bankruptcy and do disclose any large payments to creditors, friends, or relatives that you have made in the 3 months prior to filing for bankruptcy. If you do not provide this information, you may be denied the discharge of debts. The court may construe you not providing this information as an act in bad faith or fraud.

DONT's

  1. Do not wait until the last minute. Do not ignore your financial situation and pretend that it is not happening. Disregarding letters, court documents, and phone calls is one of the worst things that you can do. Waiting until the last minute to file for bankruptcy will only lead to negative consequences down the road. Too many people try to bury their head in the sand and ignore a lawsuit in hopes that it will go away, but it will not and the longer you wait, the worse it can be.

  2. Do not spend money that you don't have (especially excessively) before filing for bankruptcy. For example, if you have a credit card with an $8,000 limit and you've only spent $4,000, it is not okay to max it out. Purchasing expensive items or spending large amounts of money prior to filing for bankruptcy will raise the suspicion with the court that you have committed fraud or an act in bad faith, which will only lead to further negative consequences as well as penalties. You may still have to pay for any large purchases made in the 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy.

  3. Do not transfer property out of your name into someone else's name. This includes everyone from family members, children, or friends. Transferring property into someone else's name can often be seen as though you are trying to hide something from your creditors. If the court thinks you are trying to be purposefully misleading or fraudulent, your case may be dismissed altogether.

  4. Do not leave out any creditors from your petition for bankruptcy for any reason whatsoever. As noted above, any information that is left out can be seen as fraudulent, possibly resulting in further penalties or you may be left owing the debt to the creditor because it was not listed in the bankruptcy.

  5. Do not attempt to sell any of your property prior to filing for bankruptcy. You will not actually be reducing the amount that you owe, and you may end up still having to pay double what you owe as a result.

  6. Do not try to pay anyone off right before filing. Whether it is friends, family, or even a creditor. You have to report any large payments to others in the 90 days prior to filing, and if it reaches a certain dollar amount, the Trustee can take the money back from the person, even your parent, spouse, etc. In most cases your creditors will not keep your account open if you pay them off prior to filing. So, do not send money to JC Penney or Sam's Club to keep your account open. This will usually just be a waste of money.