If you are in a situation where you are looking to file for bankruptcy then you probably were going through some difficult times when you needed money.  The first place any person looks to get money is from family members.  Debtors routinely borrow money from family members to stay afloat in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.   Sometime in the future the debtor may come across some money (tax return, bonus at work, etc) and the first thing they want to do with the money is payback the family members who lent them money.  This may seem to be the most rational way of thinking, in the bankruptcy world this is a bad idea.

The bankruptcy code attempts to treat all creditors on the same level, which basically means the money you borrowed from your aunt is treated the same as the money you owe on your credit card.  When you choose to pay your aunt back the money you owe her, but not to pay the credit card you owe you are PREFERING your aunt over your other debts.

So what happens if you file for bankruptcy and you paid a family member back money?  The bankrupt cy court can look back 12 months to see how much money you paid your family members.  The court will then likely sue the family member for the amount of money they received because it was considered a PREFERENCE.

Example:  If you paid your aunt $2,000 a few months before you filed for bankruptcy then she will likely be sued to return the $2,000 prior to the bankruptcy.

Don’t let the fact that there may be a preference suit prevent you from filing for bankruptcy, if you or a relative has to return a few thousand dollars in exchange for discharging tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt may be a trade that a debtor is willing to make.

Make sure to inform your bankruptcy attorney of ANY PAYMENTS YOU MADE TO FAMILY members during your initial consultation.  If you haven’t made any payments to family members then don’t pay them until after your bankruptcy case is over.

If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy and would like to schedule a free consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney then please contact Shmucher Law, PL by calling 305.741.5553 or 954.309.5559.  We offer free consultations in any of our office locations, including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Plantation, and Sunrise Florida.