One reason why it is highly advisable that Georgians work with experienced bankruptcy attorneys is because the bankruptcy system is not very simple nor user-friendly, and filing a successful case can rarely be considered a do-it-yourself project.
There are many laws and rules that bankruptcy filers (called debtors) must abide by in order to ensure their case is approved by the bankruptcy judge. Importantly, there are also lots of advantages and loopholes to take advantage of during the bankruptcy processing, but these benefits can be hard to find for people who aren’t using a lawyer and are inexperienced with this system.
It often happens that people begin the bankruptcy process without working with an attorney but then later have to hire one to fix mistakes or errors that have happened along the way. Doing so can cause delays during your case. Read on to learn more about many of the most common bankruptcy mistakes and how to avoid them in your own case.
Common Mistake #1: Failing to Disclose All Assets on the Bankruptcy Paperwork
Arguably the most common mistake pro se debtors make is failing to disclose all of their assets on their bankruptcy paperwork. This paperwork is collectively referred to as the “bankruptcy schedules” and debtors are required to list all of their assets – including furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc. The failure to disclose all of this information, whether it was an accident or on purpose, is a very serious error and can result in the dismissal of the case or other penalties. (Additionally, it must be emphasized that if the failure was on purpose, then the debtor may be investigate for fraud and could face criminal charges.)
The best way to avoid making this mistake is to double, triple, even quadruple check all of the information you provide on the schedules. Sometimes it is a good idea to complete the forms one day and then go back and review them a couple of days later.
Common Mistake #2: Delaying the Inevitable and Postponing Your Bankruptcy
Making the decision to file for bankruptcy can be very difficult. For inexperienced debtors, the entire process can take an emotional toll, so it comes as no surprise that many people put off filing their case for as long as possible. This strategy is rarely beneficial though because in the meantime, your bills continue to grow and your creditors will likely continue to call.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to consult with a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. It may be the case that you don’t need to file for bankruptcy because other debt relief options are available. But you won’t know until you ask. Additionally, for some cases, it is actually better to postpone bankruptcy for a number of reasons.
Common Mistake #3: Transferring Your Assets Before Filing Your Case
Attempting to preemptively transfer assets before filing bankruptcy is perhaps the second most common mistake. Depending on when you transfer the assets, who you transfer for them to, and what if anything you received in return, the bankruptcy judge will likely be able to revoke those transfers during your case. If you make these transfers, you could also be accuse of trying to hide assets from the bankruptcy court which can result in further problems for you.
Whether you’re filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13, to avoid these and other mistakes during your bankruptcy process, it is highly recommended that you first consult with an experienced attorney. Contact our office today to speak to one of our attorneys about your case. We look forward to getting you the legal help you need!