If you’re contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you may be worried that it will be a hard process that takes a long time to get through. As experienced Georgia bankruptcy lawyers, we’re here to tell you there is no reason to panic. Yes, bankruptcy can be a complex process, but you have the ability to do things in advance that can make it easier.
Here are seven practical steps to help you prepare:
- Retain a qualified bankruptcy attorney — It is generally not advisable to file for bankruptcy yourself or to go to court or fight creditors alone. An experienced Georgia bankruptcy lawyer will take you through every stage of the process, including all the paperwork and legal proceedings.
- Get your financial records organized — You’ll need to have documentation to show what kind of financial shape you’re in. Gather up income tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, medical bills, utility bills, vehicle titles and any other paperwork related to your finances. You should also ask your attorney about ordering a credit report.
- Stop using credit —The court will look at your credit activity in the run-up to your filing, and you can get in trouble for applying for credit or running up debt knowing you’re about to file. If you absolutely must use credit, only use it for essentials like food or medication.
- Ask your lawyer whether you can stop paying certain bills — Unsecured debts like credit cards and medical bills get discharged in bankruptcy, so it might make sense to stop paying them and save the money. Talk to your attorney about whether this is the right step to take in your situation.
- Make a list of your creditors — You will need to provide your lawyer and the court with a full list of your creditors. Sit down and make a list of anyone you owe money to, including banks, medical providers and credit card issuers.
- Create a budget — Now is the time to get a real understanding of where your money goes every month. Write down how much you pay for your phone, utilities, rent, insurance, car payments, food and any other recurring expenses. This will help you find opportunities to cut expenses now and make a plan for the future.
- Plan for post-bankruptcy — Life will go on after bankruptcy. You’ll want to have a plan for how to start rebuilding your credit (such as getting a secured credit card) and how to pay your monthly bills. Bankruptcy gives you a fresh start, so be prepared to take advantage of it.
If you are contemplating filing bankruptcy in the Atlanta area, an attorney at Jeff Field & Associates can help you navigate the process and avoid mistakes along the way. Call 404-381-1278 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at our offices in Athens, Douglasville, Gainesville, Lawrenceville, Marietta or Scottsdale.