If you are reading this information, then it is likely that you have already made the important decision to file for bankruptcy. If you are still trying to decide if bankruptcy is right for you and your family, you are encouraged to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney before undertaking this process by yourself.
Once you make the decision to file bankruptcy, the next step in the process is developing a strategy that will allow you to maximize your chances for success. A critical component to any bankruptcy strategy is timing, i.e. when is the best time to file your case?
Why is Timing Important for Bankruptcy?
The timing of a bankruptcy filing can affect which debts a person gets discharged (i.e. wiped away), which property the person can keep during and after the bankruptcy process, and what sort of bankruptcy a person can file (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13). All of these possibilities must be taken into consideration before submitting any documentation with the bankruptcy court. In certain circumstances, a person can withdraw a case if he/she makes a mistake, but this is not a guarantee. It is much easier to start things off right instead of having to go back to fix errors.
Why Would I Want to Delay Filing for Bankruptcy?
A person may decide (with the help of an attorney) to delay the filing of a bankruptcy case because the person will be receiving more bills in the near future. In general, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge only applies to debts that were incurred before the bankruptcy case was filed with the court (called the petition date). Therefore, if you think you may be receiving additional bills soon, and you want these bills to be included in your bankruptcy discharge, it may make sense for you to wait to file until the bills have all been received.
This consideration often presents itself with medical bills. For example, let’s say a person requires two major surgeries, but the doctors recommend a six-month waiting period between the surgeries. If the person cannot afford the medical bill for the first operation, it would likely be in the person’s best interest to wait until after the second surgery is completed so that both sets of medical bills can be included in the bankruptcy case and its discharge.
Another reason why a person may want to delay filing for bankruptcy is because the person anticipates that his/her financial state is going to significantly change very soon. This concern typically arises if a person wants to file for Chapter 7 but does not qualify because the person’s present income is too high. If the person has good reason to believe that he/she will be losing his/her job or access to other income, it may be advisable for the person to wait until after he/she loses the job before filing the bankruptcy case. By doing so, the person may then qualify for Chapter 7 and obtain the discharge.
Why Would I Want to File for Bankruptcy Quickly?
When a person files a bankruptcy case, something called the Automatic Stay immediately kicks in. The Automatic Stay is sort of a legal injunction that stops your creditors from pursuing, continuing, or initiating collection actions against you. Since the Automatic Stay begins the very moment you file your bankruptcy case, it is beneficial for some people to file their cases as soon as possible.
As you can see, there are many issues that must be considered before filing for bankruptcy. If you have questions about the bankruptcy process and what other debt relief options may be available to you, contact our office today to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about your case. We look forward to working with you!