Preparing for Bankruptcy (Part 1)

There are many things that you will need to do if you have to file bankruptcy. It is really important that you prepare properly for this complex legal issue. This article will be broken up into a few parts so that you can have information to help you prepare.

The first and probably most important thing that you need to do is to know the process. Educate yourself about the process. Read everything that you can get, contact a professional and speak with them about the process. Once you have a good idea and a beginning understanding of bankruptcy then you can begin to prepare. Remember that the laws changed in 2005 and if you have filed bankruptcy before, then you don’t know what the new laws are and how those changes can affect you.

If you have not searched out alternatives to bankruptcy, then you have started down the wrong path. Bankruptcy should be the last alternative not the first. Try to resolve the financial problem before you decide that bankruptcy is the answer. In speaking with a professional, take the time to explain your situation and then listen to the advice that you are paying for. The bankruptcy attorney will be able to process your information, listen to your personal situation then give you alternatives or solutions to the problem. This may or may not include bankruptcy. Take the time to analyze the situation and listen to the advice you have been given.

If you are deciding to continue further with the bankruptcy procedure. Then you need to begin preparing for the bankruptcy. There are many things that you will need to do. The first thing that you should do is to prepare your paperwork. The paperwork will be necessary for your bankruptcy attorney. Make sure that you have multiple copies of everything that you take to the attorney.

Here is a list of paperwork recommended:

1. 6 months worth of pay stubs. Go back to your employers (or even previous employers) to get any pay stubs that you don’t have. If you don’t do it, then I recommend that you keep at least one year worth of pay stubs. You can then compare your stubs to the W2 that you get when filing your taxes.

2. Tax returns for the last two years. Keeping more than that is recommended but you will need to show the last two years for the bankruptcy.

3. Your current bills and statements. Included in this is any letter or statements that you have received regarding any collection accounts that you have out there. Basically this is bills or statements from ANY money that you owe.

4. Bank account and Savings account statements. You will need at least the last couple of months but providing a few more will help your attorney prepare the documentation for court.

5. If you have any retirement accounts (both IRA and 401(k)s) get the statement information to provide to your bankruptcy attorney.

6. Any legal documentation you have. Even if you think it may not be important, show your attorney any legal documentation you have. Divorce decrements, court orders, judgments, and new lawsuits may be important for you and for your attorney. Your bankruptcy attorney will advise you what documentation is important and what is not important to your bankruptcy.

7. If you are buying and making payments on your home and/or automobiles, you will need to bring the contracts for those loans with you. The attorney will discuss with you about those contracts and determine with you if you want to reaffirm on those loans. Reaffirm means that you do not want to include them in the bankruptcy and want to reaffirm the commitment on those loans.

8. If you own any other real estate, you will need to bring all the documentation pertaining to those properties. Things like the deed, home appraisals, tax assessments are important in a bankruptcy.

9. If you have filed a bankruptcy in the past, then you will need that documentation as well.

10. Finally, you will need to bring proof of your identity. Driver’s License, Social Security Card and a copy of your Birth Certificate will be helpful.

Once you have all of your paperwork gathered up, make multiple copies of that documentation. There are going to be many hands looking at that documentation and it may be passed from person to person. It only takes one mistake for you to be missing an important piece of documentation. Having copies for you is critical to having a successful outcome. No one wants to file bankruptcy but sometimes you are not given any alternatives. Be sure that you hire a professional. Investigate your attorney and talk with them prior to hiring them for bankruptcy. Feeling secure about your attorney will help you to get stabilized before, during and after filing bankruptcy.

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