There are lots of myths out there about filing bankruptcy that people read on the Internet or hear from "a friend of a friend" that can keep them from filing. Unfortunately, once they get past these myths and make the decision to file, there are often other misunderstandings, misconceptions, and wrong attitudes that they have about the process that hold them back.
Once you decide to file and hire a lawyer, there are other myths and attitudes that can really cause problems for you and your case and/or cause undue delays in getting it filed.
Wrong Mindsets That Cause Bankruptcy Problems
There are many misconceptions and mindsets that can cause issues and problems, but in my experience, the top 5 are:
1. My Lawyer Doesn't Need to Know That
There are no filters between you and your lawyer. He or she needs to know everything about your financial situation (assets, debts, income, expenses, and the like), and you do not get to determine what is important.
The main reason for this is: what if it is important and you didn't disclose it? You could lose an exemption on an asset, lose your bankruptcy discharge, or even go to jail! Don't do it!
2. What My Lawyer Asked For Isn't Important or Urgent
You have hired someone to handle a complex matter for you; you need to follow his instructions. I have been frustrated many times by clients who ignore my letters and do not respond to my calls and e-mails to do something.
They don't bring what they should to the meeting with the trustee; they don't complete the financial management class which leads to them not getting a discharge; they do not sign and return documents I send them. It never ends well.
3. I Paid My Lawyer a Lot of Money; He Should Do It All
No matter how you look at it, no matter how much you paid your lawyer, you have a part in the process, and it is hard work! You need to be committed to doing it.
You need to assemble and organize documents, fill out questionnaires, and figure out your living expenses. Your lawyer prepares the paperwork (an involved and complicated task as it is), but you must get the information out of your head and your files, and over to him, so that he can do that.
4. I'll File My Tax Returns Later; Right Now I have to Get This Bankruptcy Done
Nope! In the words of Tackleberry of the Police Academy movies: "You need to file for your taxes NOW, mister!" This is an important step in the process, especially in a chapter 13, where it can lead to your case being dismissed!
Not doing it results in either ignorance of a refund (and failure to exempt it from the trustee) or of a tax debt that needs to be listed in your bankruptcy. Get your taxes filed.
5. Bankruptcy Will Fix Everything
Bankruptcy will give you a fresh start, an opportunity. It is up to you to take advantage of it and make it work. You need to take steps to fix your credit afterwards. You need to recognize that your lifestyle has to change.
If you do not live within your means, you will just dig another hole for yourself and be no better off than you were before. Don't waste the opportunity that bankruptcy gives you.
Bankruptcy is often the best thing that my clients can do to fix their financial situations. If you listen to your lawyer, do what he tells you, be open and honest with him, and take ownership of your situation, you will be better off.
So What Do I Do?
Bankruptcy is not for the faint of heart and should be done with the expert guidance of an attorney. So if you live in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, are considering filing bankruptcy, and are ready to take action, then call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.
If you are looking for more information about bankruptcy, then download my free book, Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.
Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you? Take the quiz to the right to find out more!
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