Filing Bankruptcy: The First Steps
Many people who have oppressive amounts of debt consider filing for bankruptcy.
Some people are looking for emergency bankruptcy filing (Anaheim), but others are taking time to look around.
While this is a complicated and often stressful process, the results are usually more than worth the effort.
All it takes to get started on the road to a debt-free life is to follow the following few steps:
1. Find an Experienced Attorney
DIY is fine for fixing kitchen sinks but not for legal and financial matters. It is almost impossible to complete the process of filing bankruptcy without the help of a skilled attorney. Many people have tried and failed. However, not just any attorney will do. It is important to choose an attorney who is experienced in bankruptcy. While this may seem expensive at a time when money is very tight, a good lawyer will often save more money than they charge.
3. Gather All Financial Paperwork
The amount of paperwork you need to declare bankruptcy is very extensive, so it is important to begin collecting documentation as soon as you are considering filing papers. Keep your bills, paystubs, bank statements, and every financial document that enters your mailbox or email inbox. Also list miscellaneous sources of income such as annual gifts or judgments that you will be paid in the near future. If you have income other than a standard job, be especially careful with paperwork. Your attorney would rather have too much information than not enough. No documentation that you give your attorney can be used to hurt you; they will decide what is presented to the courts. Be as honest and thorough as possible.
2. Discover the Extent of Your Debt
Many people with extensive debts have actually lost track of how much they owe and to whom. It is time to face the issue so you can begin to solve it! The best way to get a definitive answer is to request a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus. Compare the different credit reports and make a list of what you owe and to whom. Make sure the amounts owed are consistent with your own records and/or memories. You can get a free credit report once a year from websites such as annualcreditreport.com.
4. Make a List of Your Belongings
In order to file bankruptcy, you will need a list of almost every belonging you own. This should not include just automobiles and real estate, but every pair of shoes, bracelet, coffee cup, and lawnmower. Go around your home and inventory everything. Take photos if the item is difficult to explain. It is important that your lawyer have a complete understanding of your financial situation in entirety.
Once you have finished these steps, you can hand off the documentation to your attorney and they will be able to begin the process. The first steps of bankruptcy are often the hardest to get started due to the high level of documentation needed and the similarly high level of trauma caused. However difficult, these are the first steps to a new and debt free life.