Many people try to engage in financial planning once they make a decision to file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While such planning can be helpful, there are many potential dangers for the unwary debtors who do not involve a bankruptcy attorney in this process. Here is a list of top five things not do since they may cause significant problems in your bankruptcy case.
Number 5: Stop using credit cards once you decide to file.
In bankruptcy, honesty is the best policy. Using credit cards when you have no intention to repay may result in the debt being nondischargeable, especially where credit cards are being used to purchase luxury goods or for vacations, or cash withdrawals are made. The bankruptcy code gives credit card issuers a number of advantages when credit cards are used just prior to filing bankruptcy. If a creditor decides to file objections, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is nondischargeable. Before you use a credit card convenience check, transfer a credit card balance, take a cash advance, or go on a spending spree, debtors should speak with a bankruptcy attorney.
Number 4: Don’t transfer property before filing bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy petition requires that debtors identify all financial transfers made before their bankruptcy filing. Further, during a typical meeting of the creditors, the bankruptcy trustee will usually ask about any transfers, and will ask debtors about transfers of real property made within the last 6 years. The bankruptcy trustee will review any transfers within the last year, and any transfers that violate preference rules can be voided by the trustee. If the transfer is voided, the debtor may lose the right to protect such property, and the recipient of the property will have to return that property to the trustee. Before selling or transferring property, debtors should speak with a bankruptcy attorney.
Number 3: Don’t repay loans to friends or family.
Because of the preference rules, any transactions such as repayment of loans to relatives or friends can be voided by the bankruptcy trustee as preference. Once the trustee determines that the transaction is a preference, the trustee then can can recover such funds from your family members or friends, and use them to pay your creditors. Before paying back debts owed to family members or friends, debtors should speak with a bankruptcy attorney.
Number 2: Don’t pay more than $600 to one creditor.
Like payments to family members or friends, any payments that exceed $600 and made to any one creditor within 90 days of the bankruptcy filing, can be avoided as a preference. While those payments will be recovered by the trustee from the recipients, it may make more sense to simply not make such payments and preserve the money. Before paying making significant payments to their creditors within 90 days prior to their bankruptcy filing, debtors should speak with a bankruptcy attorney.
Number 1: Don’t cash out retirement plans or 401k plans to pay creditors.
Since retirement plans are fully protected by the Bankruptcy Code, debtors should not withdraw retirement funds to pay creditors. Not only such payments are likely to be voided as preferences, they are also likely to result in taxable consequences to the debtors. Also, once the money is withdrawn, it may lose its protected status, and it is possible that either the creditors or, eventually, bankruptcy trustee may take it.
The bankruptcy code contains many dangers for the unwary. A bankruptcy attorney can help you avoid these common mistakes. It is always a good idea to engage in bankruptcy planning and discuss your financial situation with a bankruptcy attorney.
If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.