Declaring bankruptcy gives individuals or businesses that are unable to pay their debts a better way to solve their financial problems. It can also help them start rebuilding their credit and lives in a more positive and financially stable way. When considering all the different types of legal proceedings, bankruptcy can be one of the most document intensive. This is because whether a bankruptcy is recognized by the courts is based on the value of the debtors assets compared to the amount of debt owed to other creditors.
One way debtors organize, before filing a bankruptcy, is creating a bankruptcy document checklist. Another common way is to suggest a list of questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney. Both of these methods are effective, because a bankruptcy attorney needs to review the person’s financial background thoroughly before determining whether filing for bankruptcy is a credible legal option. After the decision to file has been made, even more documents may be required in order to determine what type of bankruptcy is necessary.
Listed below is a more expansive list of documents that you should bring during the first meetings with a bankruptcy lawyer:
- All financial documents, including bank account statements, receipts for major purchases, wage statements, and tax returns;
- A list of your creditors that you owe money, and their contact information, account numbers, and how much money you owe each one;
- Documents relating to any outstanding loans that you may have, including mortgages,student loans, car loans, or any other loans you might have;
- Any large personal property items that you might have a lien on or be subject to repossession, including; motor vehicles, expensive jewelry, leisure items, major appliances, and electronic gaming equipment;
- All Information related to real property that you own or any information relating to property that you rent;
- If your bankruptcy is business bankruptcy, you may need to bring additional documentation, including company balance sheets, budget reports, financial statements, and a list of company property;
- Any other financial information that you feel may be relevant to your bankruptcy;
- Any other questions you have about providing documentation should be asked about to you attorney;
- The value of all major assets that you own including property, vehicles, or any other expensive items; and
- Any other information requested by your attorney that the attorney feels is important in your case in filing for bankruptcy.
The last point is especially important. For the most effective bankruptcy filing, it is crucial that you are completely transparent with your attorney. Make sure you take note of any questions, legal inquiries, or laws that you may wish to address with your attorney. There’s really no such thing as being too honest or prepared when meeting with a lawyer to discuss a possible bankruptcy. In actuality, the more issues that you come prepared to discuss, the easier the bankruptcy proceedings tend to be as they progress
What if I Can’t Find a Document or if I Forgot To Bring One?
If you can’t find a document that you think you need for your bankruptcy or if you forgot to bring a document to a meeting with your lawyer, you should tell your attorney as soon as possible, so that they can take note and take the appropriate action to help you. Furthermore, if something like this happens make sure you don’t panic. This is because usually, the court will give you some additional time to gather the different documents and resources that will be used during the bankruptcy proceeding.
This will give you a chance to communicate with other parties and locate the needed documents for bankruptcy consultation. These parties usually include banks, employers, lenders, etc. The most important thing is that you want to avoid any instances of fraud or non- disclosure of assets of documents. If you have made a good faith, reasonable effort to locate a document, you likely won’t have any problems in terms of fraud or misrepresentation.
How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?
Depending on the type of bankruptcy you wish to file, the length of time it takes for the process to be completed from start to end vaires. Generally, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes less time to complete then a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates all of your debt without a repayment plan necessary. While a Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes more time because it requires a structured repayment plan.
In order to ensure a quick and efficient bankruptcy you should make sure all the necessary paperwork is filed. This includes information about your income, expenses, debts, assets, recent financial transactions, and the property you’re allowed to exempt. In total, most bankruptcies take around 4 to 6 months.
What Types of Issues Should I Anticipate?
Because bankruptcy is such a complex and long legal process there are many different issues that you may run into. Some of these issues can be procedural and not the fault of the debtor, while other issues can be prevented as long as the debtor acts in good faith. Listed below are the most common issues a debtor will encounter when filing for bankruptcy:
- Lowered credit score- After filing for bankruptcy a debtors credit score will generally take a hit and be lowered. Although there may be an initial lowering of the credit score the debtor will have an opportunity to slowly rebuild it after the bankruptcy is filed.
- A bankruptcy is public information- A common issue with filing for bankruptcy is that everything filed with the court is public and can be accessed by anyone. This means friends, employers, and landlords can find out the details about how much money you owed to who.
- Lack of documentation- As stated above, bankruptcy is a document intensive process which requires a lot of paperwork. Frequently, the debtor will forget a piece of information necessary to complete the bankruptcy, that is why it is very important to contact a qualified bankruptcy lawyer if you have any questions.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Bankruptcy Proceedings?
Whether bankruptcy is the right solution for your financial problems could depend on your situation, the type of debts you have, and how much property you need to protect. If you are considering bankruptcy, you should consider discussing your options with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
As with all court cases it is possible to represent yourself “pro se”; however, the majority of people who file bankruptcy in the United States do so with the assistance of an attorney. There are many different types of bankruptcies, and rules that go along with each one, and a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy law can be very valuable.
Because filing for bankruptcy is a complex legal claim, finding the right bankruptcy attorney is important. A bankruptcy attorney will help you decide whether or not to file for bankruptcy, and what type of bankruptcy you should file. Additionally, if you decide to file, an attorney can help ensure that your property is protected, all of your dischargeable debts are discharged, and your creditors do not violate your rights. That way, when you complete your bankruptcy, you will be on the right path to financial recovery.