Too often all it takes is one bad break, like a job loss or costly medical procedure, to force someone to file for bankruptcy. Most people who file for bankruptcy are facing threats of repossession and perhaps imminent foreclosure. Filing for bankruptcy is sometimes the only way they can stay in their homes. For those consumers who are contemplating bankruptcy as an option, there are several considerations that need to be made before filing.
- Educate yourself on the process. Bankruptcy can be complex and overwhelming. It should not be undertaken alone. Utilize online resources and do your homework to become more familiar with what to expect.
- Get a good picture of your finances, including a copy of your credit report. The first step in the process is to know where your credit score currently stands and what your overall financial portfolio looks like. It’s important to remember that your credit score will fall dramatically once you’ve filed and will take about seven years to recover.
- Find a bankruptcy attorney. All too often consumers think they can save on legal fees, but the guidance and support you get from hiring an attorney far outweighs the costs. It is important to feel secure by having a reputable and knowledgeable attorney to help guide you through the process and avoid dismissal.
- Enroll in a pre-filing credit counseling course. If a consumer plans to file for bankruptcy protection, they must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within 180 days before filing. This session should include an evaluation of the personal financial situation, a discussion of alternatives to bankruptcy, and a personal budget plan. On average the counseling session should last about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Prepare for the financial future and how to improve your credit rating. One of the easiest ways to start re-establishing credit is with a secured credit card from a bank, which requires that the consumer provides the lending institution with money and the bank will give the consumer a credit line equal to that amount. Also, create long-term goals, such as saving for a home, to help motivate the you to save.
No matter the reason for filing, it’s critically important for consumers to understand that they are not alone in this process and to utilize the resources that are available. Filing for bankruptcy can often be a lengthy and complex process, which is why it’s imperative that consumers be able to rely on experienced, validated and reputable agencies that can provide the type of education necessary during this process.
American Consumer Credit Counseling offers bankruptcy counseling, as well as the required pre and post-bankruptcy educational courses. For more helpful information on bankruptcy, visit ConsumerCredit.org.