After filing numerous Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions in the State of Florida I have come up with a mini-guide on how to painlessly and successfully file for bankruptcy. The following are tips that any debtor should follow:
Tip 1: Find a Bankruptcy Attorney
First and foremost if you are looking for a smooth and painless bankruptcy filing then find a bankruptcy lawyer in your area. When you meet your lawyer ask them how many cases they have filed in the last year. Remember just because the attorney looks old or has 30 plus years experience it doesn’t mean he or she has ANY experience in bankruptcy. It may be the case that the attorney’s true field of practice has yielded no business and the attorney now is attempting to obtain new business by marketing him or herself as a bankruptcy attorney.
Tip 2: Disclose Everything to your Attorney
When you have your first bankruptcy consultation with an attorney make sure to answer all his or her questions TRUTHFULLY. Failure to answer questions truthfully or with incorrect information could have severe consequences in your case, including lawsuits against family members or friends, loss of assets, or denial of discharge. If your attorney isn’t asking you LOTS of questions about your situation then you need to find a different attorney. Expect your attorney to ask you specific questions going back up to two years before your bankruptcy filing.
Tip 3: Come Prepared to your Consultation
Debtors need to come prepared to their consultation meetings. Prepared involves the gathering of certain documents including bank statements, tax returns, paystubs, valuations on real estate, vehicles, or any other assets. Again if your bankruptcy attorney doesn’t ask you to provide these documents then you need to go find another bankruptcy attorney.
Tip 4: Review and sign your bankruptcy petition before it’s filed
When your bankruptcy attorney puts your information into the computer he or she will generate a bankruptcy petition (what gets filed with the court). You need to review and sign the petition before it gets filed with the court. Do NOT let an attorney file a bankruptcy petition that you haven’t reviewed.
Tip 5: Prepare for and Attend the Meeting of Creditors (341 meeting)
Yes, the dreaded meeting of creditors (341 meeting). Surprisingly this should be the easiest and quickest part of the whole bankruptcy process. Speak to your attorney a few days before the 341 meeting so they can prepare you on how to answer questions. Hopefully you have an attorney who will show up to the 341 meeting with you, rather than send you an associate that you have never met before.
Tip 6: Complete Post-Petition Bankruptcy Course
In order to obtain your bankruptcy discharge you must complete the debtor’s education course. This course is usually done on the computer and takes two hours to complete. Failure to complete this course will close your case without giving you a bankruptcy discharge. Why complete 99% of the work and not obtain a discharge. Call your bankruptcy attorney and he or she will tell you where to take the class.
That’s it! Hire the correct bankruptcy attorney and follow those steps to have a successful and painless bankruptcy filing in Florida.
If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy and would like to schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer then please contact Shmucher Law, PL at 954.309.5559 or 305.741.5553. We offer free consultations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Plantation, and Sunrise Florida.