What You Should Do
Talk to us. Before you make any changes. Your job, transfer assets, pay back any debts, take out new credit, sell things, give things away, etc. Talk to us first you don’t want to make a mistake that will totally screw up your case.
Keep good records. If you think you are going to file we are going to need a lot of information. Save all your paycheck stubs, bank statements, tax returns, mortgage statements, any legal documents you may have relative to law suits or any other proceedings, etc.
Stay current on debts you want to keep. If you want to keep houses, cars, etc. you should stay current on the payments. If you are behind now that doesn’t mean we can’t help…but best to get current and stay current on those types of debts if you want to keep the property.
Tell us everything. Disclose everything we ask for openly and honestly. Even if it is something we don’t ask about and you think it could be important…make sure you tell us about it. Small details can have a big impact on how we approach your case. Everything you tell us is held in the strictest confidence under the rules governing lawyer/client confidentiality…we couldn’t tell anyone else about it if we wanted to. We’re on your team and we want to help…the more we know the better off we are. If we get the sense a client isn’t being up front with us we won’t take the case…it’s that important. If we ask you about something cooperate by giving us the information…if we didn’t need it…we wouldn’t ask for it.
Help us. Bankruptcy is a team effort….you and us. It is your case and you need to be involved and take part. I tell people it isn’t like an old fashioned TV repair shop where you’d drop off your malfunctioning television and say “here..fix it for me”. Bankruptcy doesn’t work that way. If we need additional info do your best to get it to us in a complete and timely fashion.
Stay in contact. If you move, change your telephone number or email address we need to know. If not we may not be able to get a hold of you in time when something important happens in your case and that could be a bad thing. If we try to contact you by phone, letter or email…get back to us ASAP. Events in legal matters are time sensitive and sometimes there are critical deadlines to respond to the court or other parties. If there is a hearing scheduled for something and you call us the day before (sometimes a week before depending on the issue)…that will be too late.
What You Should Not Do
Repay debts to relatives or close friends. This can be a major mistake and one that often occurs. This situation is known as a preferential payment. Mom and Dad, your brother or your best friend aren’t entitled to any special treatment by you in terms of paying them back…they are just like any other creditor and if you favor them the payment can be avoided (the trustee will go after them and make them give up the money in some cases). Also don’t make payments on debts for a friend or a relative for them.
Fail to disclose assets or be tempted to lie. Major league mistake of Biblical proportions…can’t emphasize that enough. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in the Federal judicial system. People can, and do, go to jail for committing perjury in bankruptcy cases. It is rare but it can happen. It isn’t worth it for you to go to jail to save a couple of bucks and it isn’t worth my law license to help someone try to scam the system. I help honest people with real problems. If something doesn’t smell right I don’t take the case.
Transfer/give away or sell assets. Don’t do this without talking to us first. If you’ve already sold something and you’ve gotten a reasonable amount for it…no problem. You sold a car to your brother for a dollar and it was worth lots more than that…big problem. We’ll talk about it. If you have made some kind of sale or transfer of assets we will need to know the details.
Take on new debt. Don’t take on any new debt before you file without checking with us first. Don’t continue to use your credit lines and credit cards if at all possible…especially don’t use them for things like cash advances, luxury goods or services, etc.
Take legal advice off of street corners. This is the best legal advice that I can give someone and it doesn’t cost a cent!! There is an abundance of bad and just out right wrong information out there about bankruptcy, how credit works and other related matters. Talk to us before you make any decisions or make assumptions. This is important…it involves your financial well being and your Future…make sure you get good information from someone who knows what they are talking about. Be aware too that one person’s bankruptcy case is probably nothing like anybody else’s. We get that all the time…”so and so didn’t have to do this or that” and “that didn’t happen in my cousin’s case” etc. Bankruptcy cases are just like snowflakes and fingerprints. From a distance one looks pretty much like the other….look up close and they are totally different.