If you’re out of your depth with your financial problems, a petition for bankruptcy may be in order. Understandably, there are some things you have to do before filing that bankruptcy petition and working on getting out of debt.
The first step you need to take is to figure out your finances. You must know certain information in order to properly fill out bankruptcy forms. In case you intend to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to help you file for bankruptcy, he or she will also need it to provide appropriate legal help and advise you toward the most suitable debt relief solution. Unfortunately, bankruptcy lawyers report that many potential bankruptcy filers approach them with only a vague idea of what their financial situation really is.
The prudent course in declaring bankruptcy is to engage the legal services of a bankruptcy attorney. You can’t just declare bankruptcy without making key choices. A lawyer specializing in bankruptcy law will ensure that you always make informed decisions when it comes to your bankruptcy case. With the different types of bankruptcy in the bankruptcy code, you’ll need to identify which bankruptcy chapter to file under. For personal bankruptcy, it’s usually a choice between Chapter 7 (liquidation) and Chapter 13 (reorganization).
A lawyer will also assist you on how to file bankruptcy correctly so that you don’t end up violating any of the bankruptcy laws.
To prepare yourself for filing bankruptcy protection with the bankruptcy court, you need to collect the following information.
- All your assets and their respective current values.
Disclosing all your assets is required by the bankruptcy process. This means including both non-exempt assets and assets that you can claim as bankruptcy exemptions. As expected, it’s more challenging to figure out the current value of some assets like furniture, vehicles, and real estate. Bankruptcy attorneys often advise clients to try the following in order to get a good idea what their assets might be worth.
- Furniture – Price furniture and other personal items as you would for a garage sale. If you’re likely to overprice because of sentimental attachment, go to Craigslist or eBay to see how much similar items are priced.
- Vehicles – Check how much your car model is selling at Edmunds.com, but make sure to consider your own car’s condition and mileage when you price it.
- Real estate – Price your property as though selling it at an absolute auction. To see how much similar properties in its area are selling, go to Zillow.com. You could also check your current tax bill and base your price on what the county’s property value administrator thinks it’s worth.
- All your debts and the creditors you’ve been unable to pay.
Those filing for bankruptcy are required to furnish a list of all their debts and creditors. For your own bankruptcy filing, make sure you include every secured debt such as a car loan or a mortgage, and all unsecured debts such as medical bills and credit card debt. List every creditor and how much each is owed. Include all debt collection agencies that have reached out to you. Your bankruptcy attorney needs a complete list to be able to craft a strategy for dealing with all the debt collectors who are after you.
In bankruptcies, certain debts like child support and student loans are not dischargeable. It’s important to include these debts even if you cannot discharge them since they have a direct impact on your disposable income. Make sure to tell your lawyer as well if you have a lawsuit filed against you or if even if there’s a chance that someone might file one against you.
- The monthly income and monthly expenses of your entire household.
The income is easy to calculate. For the expenses, you can get an estimate by averaging those of the last three months.
Want Legal Advice on Your Financial Troubles? Contact a West Virginia Bankruptcy Attorney Today!
A bankruptcy discharge can wipe out debt and give bankrupt debtors the fresh start they need. For help with this legal process, representation throughout all bankruptcy proceedings, and assistance even after bankruptcy, call us at Thomas E. McIntire and Associates to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.