Bankruptcy must be considered with complete awareness of all its consequences. It is a life-altering decision and must be given sheer thought before opting for it. Moreover, it has a complicated process and in order to achieve complete awareness of what bankruptcy entails, it is more than recommended to go for counseling regarding bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Counseling - What it Entails
A lot of people lack the understanding of filing for bankruptcy. In most cases, they are unaware of the whole process and also the possible consequences that bankruptcy attracts. The bankruptcy counseling programs share the following information:
- Information: Counseling programs allow the detailed discussion on bankruptcy. A plethora of people thinks that it is just signing papers, but there is a lot more to it. These bankruptcy counseling programs showcase everything required to keep clients fully informed.
- Eligibility: The most common misconception about bankruptcy is that people think it can be availed by anyone. There is a criterion that consumers must meet if they want to be considered. On the other side, the requirements for business organizations are even harsher.
- Paperwork: The process of filing for bankruptcy is known to be extremely tedious and demands huge paperwork. Bankruptcy Counseling programs help people to be more than familiar with the form types and required documentation.
- Restrictions: There are a number of restrictions that one has to face throughout the bankruptcy, and not many people are aware of them. Bankruptcy Counseling helps discuss these restrictions in a more modern and open manner.
- New Laws and Regulations: The rules and regulations have changed a lot due to the recession. The sudden decline in the U.S economy has surely contributed in making it difficult for a business to go for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy Counseling programs provide the latest information on what the rules state and what they stand for.
- Other Options: Usually, people availing these programs learn that there are several other solutions available than filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy stays for a decade on the consumer's credit.
- Life After Bankruptcy: Life after bankruptcy doesn’t remain the same. In fact, it is a decision that can completely change your lifestyle. This offers the clients a fair idea of what they are about to face.
- Is Bankruptcy for You: These programs help an individual to decide if bankruptcy is worth or not. It doesn’t matter what a client's financial situation is, it is better if bankruptcy is taken up as the last resort.
Considerations While Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney
- Qualification: The bankruptcy form should be conversant with the rules and regulations of the state, especially with reference to bankruptcy. One should check the qualification of the bankruptcy attorney.
- Experience: Experience makes an attorney perfect at getting approval for the bankruptcy. It is only with the help of experience that an attorney can tell the debtor about when to file bankruptcy. Sometimes the situation may not be conducive enough for filing bankruptcy.
- Efficiency: This is one of the most important factors to be considered before availing the services of any bankruptcy attorney. Over the years, it has been proved that one should trust the word of mouth of those people who have availed the services of that attorney. One should try to find out the success ratio of the attorney, in other words, efficiency.
- Affordability: The debtor should ask the cost of the services in the very first meeting with the attorney. Prior to the first meeting, the debtor should inquire on the phone whether the attorney offers affordable bankruptcy counseling sessions and without any obligation.
- Ethics: All bankruptcy attorneys are not the same. You may find some attorneys resorting to unethical practices. Some offer their services at nearly a fraction of the prevailing market rate, while there are some that make false promises. This is just to lure the clients and make money. A good bankruptcy attorney is always clear and transparent with the client.
Documents to be Enclosed
If you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will enclose the following documents in the bankruptcy petition:
- Schedules of assets and liabilities
- Bank statements
- Retirement plan statements
- Other sources of income
- All creditors and the debt
- Child support
- Legal Judgment
- Statement of financial affairs
- Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling proof
- Last 60 days of paystubs
- Most recent tax return
- Associated filing fees
What services you should Get
- Service that will help you work out an affordable repayment plan.
- Help you work out an after bankruptcy plan for comfortable living with the repayment plan in mind.
- Assist you to determine what assets you can retain and what you need to give up.
Whether you file or work out a payment plan, you must find a useful service provider that can help you work out the best plan of action according to your budget and lifestyle.
Bankruptcy Counseling Vs Credit Counseling
Bankruptcy is subdivided into different chapters. Filing for bankruptcy is often the best choice for those who are facing repossessions and foreclosures. Unlike credit counseling, which usually deals with minor arrears such as bank account delinquencies, bankruptcy is commonly the last resort for those who have a big amount of debt.
The costs and effects of bankruptcy are more taxing as compared to credit counseling. An individual's credit report can easily be tainted by bankruptcy as soon as the filing takes place. This is reflected on your credit report for 10 whole years and may also be the cause of rejection for future credit applications.
In order to qualify and be declared as bankrupt, a person needs to submit the proper forms in federal court, and go through extensive legal proceedings. Instead of getting a mere credit counselor to assist you with the paperwork, a bankruptcy attorney is needed to help you go through the entire process.
In the end, opting for professional help for your bankruptcy case tends to be more beneficial. The concept of bankruptcy is also something that requires deeper thought process and consideration on the part of the individual being subjected to the case.
The Bankruptcy Process
- Filing the Paperwork: The first step in the bankruptcy process is filing the petition. The petition is a detailed list of your financial standing that includes information about your income, assets, debts, and bank accounts. The petition is also the most crucial document in any bankruptcy case. If there is any information missing or inaccurate on the petition, the case may get dismissed, leaving you without the protection bankruptcy offers.
- Credit Counseling: Laws require that anyone filing for bankruptcy attends and completes a credit counseling course. The course is also known as a debtor education course and teaches you about budgeting, money management, other debt relief options and how to use credit wisely. The course is usually around 90 minutes long and can be completed in person or online.
- Meeting of Creditors: After filing the paperwork, a 341 Meeting Of Creditors is held. This meeting is conducted to provide a forum for anyone involved in the bankruptcy to ask questions or dispute information. Your creditors are allowed to attend the meeting and ask questions about the details listed in the filing. However, creditors do not always attend the meeting, which waives their right to dispute information in the future. The Trustee will be in attendance and it is their job to be a mediator between you and the creditors if any payments or assets are to be given.
- Court Decision: Once the Meeting of Creditors has been completed, the assets have been liquidated and everyone in attendance has been in agreement, the bankruptcy court makes its ruling.
In a Chapter 7 case, the court may either
(a) Discharge the debts, relieving you of the liability to the debts.
(b) Dismiss the case, returning your debt liabilities to your responsibility.
A case may be dismissed for many reasons, including failure to comply with the requirements or fraud. In some cases, you may be able to re-file after the dismissal.
In a Chapter 13 case, the court may either
(a) Discharge the debts after you have satisfied the debt repayment plan.
(b) Dismiss the case, returning your debt liabilities to your responsibility.