Getting On The Right Side of FinancesGetting On The Right Side of Finances


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Getting On The Right Side of Finances

There aren't many things more intimidating than looking at a bank statement and realizing you don't have a dime to your name--despite your best efforts. I found myself in this precarious situation about a year ago, and I didn't know what to do next. I realized that if I didn't make some serious changes and fast, I would be in even more trouble with the law, so I started moving towards making some changes that would actually help. I met with a bankruptcy attorney, and we talked about how to wipe the slate clean. WIthin a few months, things were better. Read more about bankruptcy on my blog.

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How To Help Your Bankruptcy Lawyer With Supporting Documentation

When a bankruptcy lawyer sends a case to the court, they are committing to provide supporting documentation very soon thereafter. Fortunately, a client is often able to offer a bankruptcy attorney with a lot of help in providing documentation. You can help your lawyer with the documentation process in these four ways.

Tax Returns

A judge will want to see the tax returns for at least the last two years you have filed. This isn't a problem if you haven't filed taxes in the last few years, but it helps the case if you can provide such documents. If you filed an amended return, you'll also need to provide the appropriate forms for that.

The court doesn't need to see the original documents, however. It's best to make several copies of each form and provide those to the bankruptcy lawyer. You can then keep the originals in a safe place in case the court or your attorney does need to see them. This approach applies to other documents discussed here, too.

Payslips

If you are currently employed, you should try to provide several months' worth of payslips. Even if your earnings haven't changed since the last time you filed taxes, these can confirm what your present financial situation is. Also, if your situation has changed significantly in recent months, the slips will make it easier to show how things have changed since you last filed your taxes.

Creditors

When a bankruptcy judge initially accepts the petition to hear a case, they enter a stay. This is a court order that commands creditors to stop pursuing the collection of your debts while the court processes the case. If you don't name a particular creditor in your filing, they won't be subject to the stay. Likewise, the court can't discharge any debts that are tied to unnamed creditors.

It's a good idea to get accurate spellings for the names of each creditor. Also, you'll want to have the most current addresses and phone numbers for them as possible. You should itemize the debts by the associated creditors, too. If the debt is secured, such as a car loan or a home mortgage, you need to also note that fact.

Assets

Particularly when someone files for Chapter 7, the court needs a detailed understanding of what their assets are. This is anything of value that might be sold to pay your creditors part of what they're owed.

Similarly, the list of assets provides a starting point for seeking exemptions. These cover things you're allowed to keep, such as furniture, dishes, clothes, and a reasonable mode of transportation.