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Atlas Law Firm Jan. 13, 2023

What Should Someone Do Before Filing for Bankruptcy?

Before you actually file, you need to educate yourself on bankruptcy, and the best way to do that is to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Many bankruptcy attorneys provide free consultations. There is no obligation to you to sit down, and understand what your bankruptcy options are, and what bankruptcy can, or cannot do for you. If you were concerned about potentially getting troublesome advice, or overpaying for legal fees, it would not be a bad idea to meet with several experienced bankruptcy attorneys to see if they are offering you similar advice.

You should make sure that you are getting the best value for the lawyer that you hired, because it definitely depends on how good your lawyer is, and the correlation between how well your bankruptcy case turns out. If you do decide to move forward with a bankruptcy attorney, the bankruptcy attorney will give you a list of items he or she would need in order to put together the case for filing. There are a number of financial documents, such as the past two years of tax returns, six months of pay stubs, a list of your assets, and things of that nature. You turn that in to the attorney along with the fee arrangement you have worked out with that attorney.

The attorney would begin working on your case documents, or if you retain a larger firm, most likely a paralegal, or a legal assistant will put together all of your documentation. Then you would sit down with that attorney to review those documents, and make sure everything is accurate, then sign off on them. You are signing it under oath and all that information in there is true and correct to the best of your knowledge. You are signing under penalty of perjury. Having an attorney who is going to take the time to sit with you, and explain what everything is, and make sure that everything is accurate before the document is filed with the court, it is definitely something that is in your best interest.

After that meeting, the attorney is going to have that document filed with the court, and that is the beginning of your bankruptcy case. All those protections go into effect on day one. Depending on the chapter of bankruptcy you file, your case should be resolved, or not within ninety days or three to five years, again, depending on the chapter of bankruptcy you file under.

Should I Start Selling Things Before Filing Bankruptcy?
Do not sell anything while considering a bankruptcy. You should not start selling things before you file bankruptcy. The five main areas the courts analyze for bankruptcy case are assets, debts, income, expenses, and transfers. If you begin transferring things out of your name before you file for bankruptcy protection, or before you meet with an attorney, you can create more problems for yourself, and the problems could be significant. It might preclude you from safely filing for bankruptcy protection. It does not mean that necessarily you cannot transfer anything out of your name before you file your case, but once you file bankruptcy, there are look-back periods that the court has to look at, and see if you have transferred anything out of your name within a two-year period, or a six-year period before the filing of your case. What governs the look back length depends on whom you transferred it to.

In a nutshell, the courts want to make sure that if you did any transfers, it was for the fair market value of what was transferred. They are concerned about people transferring things out of their own names for significantly less than what they are worth, simply to get them out of their names, and to avoid potentially protecting them, or having to lose them prior to bankruptcy. Again, this is another place where those myths create problems for people, because if you have not met with a bankruptcy attorney, and educated yourself on how the bankruptcy laws work, the myths people generally believe are, that you are going to lose everything, and you are going to be destitute, and put out on the street.

Many people panic out of fear, and start taking things out of their name, but in reality, the protections for your assets are quite generous. A good ninety-five percent of the time, I am able to protect one-hundred percent of my client’s assets. It is uncommon that clients, after filing, lose assets. If you do have assets that we cannot protect before we file, it is better to have the guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to tell you how to do that within the laws. The transfer does not create issues after your case is filed. You definitely do not want to start taking things out of your name, and transferring things to others, or selling them, and for much less than the value. You want to sit down with an attorney to get the lay of the land.

For more information on Pre-Requisites For Filing Bankruptcy, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.


What Do I Bring to The Meeting of Creditors?  -

There are 2 things you must do after your case is filed: (1) attend the meeting of creditors (aka the 341 hearing); and (2) complete a debtor’s education course via phone within 75 days from the date your case was filed. The 341 hearing is sometimes referred to as the meeting of creditors because your creditors can attend the meeting and ask you questions about the information contained in your petition.

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