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Pre-Bankruptcy: What You Should and Should Not Do in the Weeks before Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is a major financial step. The decision to file is not one that should be taken lightly and many people experience some trepidation in the time leading up to their decision to file. Luckily, working with an experienced attorney can put your mind at ease and help you move through bankruptcy successfully.

As distracted as you might be by your mounting financial woes and your decision to file or not to file in the weeks before bankruptcy, there are several important things you need to understand about the pre-bankruptcy period. What you do – and do not do – during this time can make or break your bankruptcy. If there is even the slightest chance you might file for bankruptcy, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an attorney and find out how to manage pre-bankruptcy.

Organization

One of the best things you can do as you move toward bankruptcy is to get organized. Even if you choose not to file, organizing your finances can help you get things back to manageable, so this is time well-spent.

In order to file, you’ll need to report all of your income and all of your expenses. You’ll need to share with the court information about personal loans, medical bills, credit cards, child support and alimony obligations, and student loans. You’ll also need to report your monthly income, as well as all of your assets. The more organized this information the easier it will be for your attorney to help you complete your paperwork.

During the pre-bankruptcy phase, begin tracking all of your monthly expenses. In addition to the debts you owe that you may or may not be paying, you’ll also need to know what you spend on food, clothing, and medical expenses. These expenses are used in part to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and if it’s the latter, what your payment plan will be.

To learn more about whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, check out this means test tool from LegalConsumer.com.

Actions Not to Take

In addition to what you can do to get ready for bankruptcy, there are also some actions you’ll want to avoid. Even a simple misstep during the months before your bankruptcy can result in dismissal of your case. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, do not:

• Use your credit cards for a spending spree
• Transfer or sell assets to family or friends
• Gift family or friends significant gifts, property, or money
• Intentionally damage property

Essentially, you want to avoid doing anything that could look as if you are trying to keep assets from the court. Even if your intentions are good, the court can interpret a gift or sale of an asset as an attempt to hide it and as a result, can reject your bankruptcy claim.

If you would like more tips on how to handle the time leading up to your bankruptcy or you want to talk to someone about whether you qualify for bankruptcy, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to schedule a consultation.

 

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At the Tampa Bay law firm, the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller, P.A., we help people with consumer bankruptcy matters in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg,  Florida communities such as Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Thonotosassa, Riverview, Lutz, Plant City, Brandon, Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel, St. Petersburg Beach, Lakeland, Mulberry, Dade City, Pinellas Park, Largo, Seminole, Odessa, Oldsmar and Lithia, and counties such as Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County and Manatee County.