Reality Check: There’s no “I” in Bankruptcy
The fact is that filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is less about the person and more about the process. Let me say it a different way- there is no “I” in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Here are some examples of opening statements that have no relevance in the realm of personal bankruptcy.
1) “I want to…..”
2) “I think that ….”
3) “I feel that….”
4) “I don’t agree ….”
As a culture, Americans have become accustomed to services or items centered on their personal desires. Easy example? I-pod- the music and media that you want, when you want it, in the size that you prefer with lots of accessories to customize the product even more to each individual’s preferences. In the arena of bankruptcy, your personal opinions, preferences and beliefs have very little relevance or impact on the process at hand. And speaking from experience, clinging to those opinions, preferences and belief systems can escalate your financial troubles from bad to worse. Just because you think that the antique car you inherited from your Uncle Bob is exempt from personal property because it was a gift doesn’t necessarily make it so. Failure to list any asset can result in your petition for bankruptcy protection being rejected by the bankruptcy trustee, expose you to implications of perjury, and waste precious time and money that are hard to come by these days.
Here is another real life example. “I want to file for bankruptcy.” Just because you want to file to have your debts discharged and start over fresh, doesn’t mean that you can. There is a detailed test called the “means test” which will determine if you are eligible to file for bankruptcy. That’s right folks, just like you have to pass a credit check to apply for a mortgage or credit card, you also have to pass the “means test” to be eligible to file for bankruptcy. So regardless of what you think or your friends all tell you, there are certain criteria you must satisfy in order to file for bankruptcy. In many cases, our clients pass the means test and the bankruptcy makes financial sense, so we proceed. In other cases, we have to explore different avenues. With the last round of bankruptcy code overhauls, there are lots of things to consider.
The economy continues to creep along at an alarmingly slow rate, forcing many Americans into financial crisis. My advice to anyone who has given even a passing thought about filing bankruptcy. Get the facts from a licensed attorney or legitimate non-profit agency. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer complimentary consultations, verify the credentials of the firm or attorney with the NC State Bar Association and the Better Business Bureau, then take advantage of this opportunity to find out if bankruptcy is a viable option for your personal situation. DO NOT employ any debt settlement firms until you get advice. There has been more fraud than it’s worth in dealing with out of state debt settlement companies that promise the moon and the stars.
Sometimes in life, there are policies and processes bigger than us. Unfortunately, bankruptcy is one of them and legal guidance will significantly increase the likelihood of successfully navigating through the process. Make sure you get advice from a licensed attorney on whether you can file, whether you should file, or whether there are better options out there based on your own unique set of circumstances. A well-rounded professional may have some fresh ideas and good insight. Resolving the financial woes you are facing is a cooperative process. Fully disclose everything to your attorney. Participate and listen to the recommendations, and don’t commit anything to your creditors until you have a roadmap in place—then simply stick to the strategy.

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