Filing for bankruptcy should never be a snap decision. There are several things you should do and several things you must do before taking this major step. Filing for bankruptcy without sound advice and proper planning at best can cause you to miss out on the full benefits of the process. At worst, it can result in some of your creditors being omitted or your petition being dismissed.
Here are several steps you should take before filing for bankruptcy:
- Get credit counseling — For any individual consumer considering bankruptcy, receiving credit counseling from a U.S. Trustee-approved credit counseling agency is an absolute prerequisite. This counseling must occur within the six months (180 days) immediately preceding filing.
- Account for your property — An account of your property is not only a necessary part of a bankruptcy petition, but it is also essential for understanding how bankruptcy is likely to affect your life.
- Account for your debts — Gaining an understanding of the amounts and types of your debts can help you and your bankruptcy attorney determine if bankruptcy is really your best option. Bankruptcy does not treat all types of debts equally. If a large portion of your debt is a nondischargeable type like criminal fines, domestic support obligations or secured debt, bankruptcy may not help your situation as much as you think.
- Consider your alternatives — For some people, there are non-bankruptcy alternatives that can help them get back on their feet without going through the bankruptcy process. Negotiating with creditors or consolidating debt may be enough to make your financial obligations manageable.
There is much more to preparing for bankruptcy than walking into court and filing a petition. Fortunately, a knowledgeable Georgia bankruptcy lawyer can guide you through the entire process, including pre-bankruptcy preparation.