Common bankruptcy errors
Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process with specific rules that must be followed. Failure to follow the rules may cause a bankruptcy petition to be dismissed. When a case is dismissed, the debts are not discharged and the filer is back where he or she started – dealing with creditors, wage garnishment and financial anxiety.
Avoiding dismissal of your bankruptcy petition
A bankruptcy dismissal occurs if you fail to meet the requirements of the court. Some of the most common mistakes people make include:
- Failure to participate in pre-bankruptcy credit counseling: Before filing for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy law requires filers to take a credit counseling course. This requirement cannot be skipped. The credit counseling course is available online, is not time extensive and is affordable. It is virtually impossible to claim a bankruptcy filing had sufficient urgency that there was no time to get the required credit counseling prior to filing, so it is recommended that a potential client plan ahead, as the certificate is good for 180 days.
- Failure to provide the bankruptcy court with detailed information: The bankruptcy court is going to require a lot of documentation, including proof of income, proof of expenses, schedule of assets and a list of all creditors. The information required is comprehensive and full disclosure is mandatory.
- Failure to provide a tax return: In a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer must provide the trustee with his or her most recent tax return.
- Failure to appear at the first meeting of the creditors: The filer is required to physically appear at the first meeting of the creditors, unless due to serious illness or for other good cause, such as military service, the court excuses attendance and the meeting may be held by written interrogatories.
- Failure to complete a debtor education class: In order for a person’s debts to be discharged, he or she must complete a debtor education class and submit a certificate of completion to the court by a specific deadline.
- Filing the wrong chapter of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy has income and asset requirements. If a person attempts to file Chapter 7 and is not eligible for that relief, the court may dismiss the petition.
- Misrepresenting debts assets and income: It is extremely important for a filer to accurately represent his or her financial circumstances. Even an honest mistake may cause a case to be dismissed or an asset or cause of action to be forfeited.
- Failure to pay under a bankruptcy repayment plan: If a person has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and has a scheduled payment plan, failing to make payments may have a disastrous result.
If a filer follow the rules and is transparent to the bankruptcy court regarding his or her financial situation, the filer should not have a problem.
Find an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to help you
The best way for a person to avoid bankruptcy mistakes is to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney guide him or her through the process. Because a bankruptcy lawyer is familiar with the rules and requirements, the attorney can help determine what type of bankruptcy is best for a given individual, help the person file correctly and handle any complications. A board certified bankruptcy attorney has at least 5 years’ experience in the bankruptcy field, extra annual legal education courses to stay abreast of the law, and must pass a rigorous examination.
Contact an experienced board certified bankruptcy attorney in your area today if you have questions regarding filing for bankruptcy.