10 Common Mistakes to Avoid During Bankruptcy

Posted By Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC || 4-May-2015

A Single Misstep Could Cost You Time & Money

If you have made the decision to file for bankruptcy in Arizona, the first and most important step is to get in touch with a Phoenix bankruptcy attorney at Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC. We have been handling bankruptcy cases since 2000, equipping us with more than a decade of experience in this area. Don’t try to file on your own. A single misstep could cost you a great deal of time and money, so call us today.

We offer a free, one-hour consultation to get you started, so don’t wait to contact our firm! We are ready to get you out of debt.

Mistake #1: Waiting Too Long to File

Sometimes, it can be nearly impossible to get out of debt. Daily living expenses can be burdensome enough, which is why it may be time to explore your options. Bankruptcy is one way to get rid of debt, allowing you to move forward with a fresh start; however, you shouldn’t make the mistake of waiting too long to file. The sooner you act, the better off you may be once the bankruptcy process is over.

Mistake #2: Filing Under the Wrong Chapter

For individual debtors, two of the most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Although both forms of bankruptcy will give you the opportunity to work your way out of debt, they are entirely different processes. For this reason, you should discuss the nature of your financial situation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Phoenix before jumping into the process too quickly.

Mistake #3: Failing to Consider Bankruptcy

Unfortunately, there are a number of myths surrounding the bankruptcy process. Some people are deterred from filing because they believe that their credit will be ruined forever or that they will lose everything in the process, but these are nothing more than common misconceptions. You shouldn’t rule out bankruptcy as an option for debt relief until you have spoken to a legal representative.

Mistake #4: Incurring More Debt Before You File

If you have decided that you are going to file for bankruptcy, you should stop using your credit cards. Some people think that they can spend money right before they file, since this debt will be discharged anyway, right? Wrong! Your case could be dismissed if the court thinks that you have engaged in bankruptcy fraud, or the court could choose not to discharge these newly acquired debts.

Mistake #5: Failing to Disclose All of Your Assets

When filing for bankruptcy, it is critical that you disclose all of your assets. If you attempt to hide assets or transfer them for “safe keeping,” your case could be dismissed by the court. Instead, you should be totally honest with your attorney so that you know your discharge will be safe. It could be devastating to learn that your case has been dismissed after spending the time and money to file.

Mistake #6: Failing to File Necessary Paperwork

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. There are numerous forms that must be filled out and numerous documents that must be submitted with your bankruptcy petition, including bank statements, pay stubs and/or tax returns. If necessary documents are not submitted to the court by required deadlines, it could result in the dismissal of your case. For this reason, hiring a lawyer is crucial.

Mistake #7: Failing to Complete Credit Counseling

Before you can file for bankruptcy, you are required to complete a credit counseling course through an approved agency. This must be done within 180 days of filing. When you submit your case to the court, you will need to provide your certificate of completion. If you fail to complete this course, the court could dismiss your case. After you file, you must also complete a debtor education course.

Mistake #8: Not Using Exemptions Properly

When filing for bankruptcy, you are allowed to exempt a certain amount of property. While some states allow you to choose between federal and state property exemptions, Arizona residents must use state exemptions. Even so, it is important to understand how these exemptions work and what types of property you can exempt. This could mean the difference between keeping and losing an asset.

Mistake #9: Not Going to Your 341 Hearing

Within 20 to 40 days of filing for bankruptcy, you will be required to attend a hearing that is called the meeting of creditors, or the 341 hearing. At this hearing, the bankruptcy trustee and any creditors who choose to attend can ask you questions, while you are under oath, about your bankruptcy. Prior to this meeting, the court will mail you’re a notice with the time, date and location. You must attend.

Mistake #10: Filing for Bankruptcy Unnecessarily

Although bankruptcy is a great way for some people to discharge their debt and move forward with a clean slate, this process is not right for everyone. There are certain debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, like child support arrears and student loans, which is why it is important to determine whether or not bankruptcy would benefit you. Discuss your options with a lawyer.

If you have further questions about the bankruptcy process, please do not hesitate to schedule a free initial consultation with the Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer at Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC.

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