No one ever thinks they will file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is what other people need to do. The only problem with that way to think is that more and more Americans are finding themselves in a position where they have to do just that.
Since 2006, the number of personal bankruptcy filings has exploded, it has gone up by 600%. At least 8% of people filing have filed before. People who make less than $30,000 per year make up 60% of personal bankruptcies. Since 1980 the percentage of bankruptcies filed by businesses has plummeted from 13% to 3%.
Many try to go without a bankruptcy attorney but it’s a mistake. The success rate for people filing for personal bankruptcy is 95% for people with a bankruptcy attorney. The success rate for people who opt to not get a lawyer are very different.
Things you should do before filing:
Get your credit report and do a personal audit of your finances. You will be in much better shape if you really know where you stand financially. You also need to be able to list all of your debts when you file. Don’t think your debt with one business has gone away because they aren’t calling anymore. Lawyers for bankruptcy can help you but if you omit one creditor, you will delay your filing.
Contact your creditors and debt collectors. By law the calls have to stop the minute you file for bankruptcy. Give them the name of bankruptcy lawyer. Give them the district where you are filing. Not only is it what you should do but ending the calls will help you sleep at night.
Get credit counseling and do it now. You are required to have completed a credit counseling course given by a government-certified agency for pre-filing. You will need a certificate showing you successfully went through the class. There may be things you can do to prevent the need to file for bankruptcy but you won’t know what your other options are until you see the counselor.
Get a lawyer. This is not the time to go it alone. In criminal court, they say that “any man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for an attorney.” The same same can be said here. The laws are so complicated and they change so that consumers should not try to do this on their own. It is very risky. With the help of an attorney, as mentioned above, the success rate is very high. Bankruptcy lawyers will tell you the process is expensive and you risk too much to not get a good bankruptcy attorney. typically a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can cost between $1,500 and $3,000.
Filing for bankruptcy is a big step and is already really scary. Many people feel ashamed that have to file and many have been living with collection calls for a long time before they face the fact that they have to file at all. It’s made complicated to keep people from doing it at all.
The good news is there are laws on the books to help consumers once they decide this is what they need to do to get their lives back on track. Moreover, there are people that can help. A good bankruptcy attorney is a good place to start.