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What your bankruptcy attorney wishes you knew

So, you've bitten the bullet and decided to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to resolve your intractable debt problems. That's the first step toward fiscal solvency.

But there are a few things to keep in mind that you may not have considered — and which your bankruptcy attorney might not tell you but wishes you knew. Below is a short list.

Do not lie

This really cannot be stressed enough. Debtors often try to come up with creative ways to hide valuable assets. But trying circumstances await bankruptcy fraudsters who never dreamed that they would get caught. If you can come up with a scheme, you can be sure it's been tried and discovered before. Right now you're a debtor. Don't become a felon.

Cooperate

You must cooperate fully with your attorney, the bankruptcy court, the trustee and anyone else who has any input into your bankruptcy case. Failing to do so can cause your case to be tossed out with your debts not discharged. It's in your best interests to be fully transparent and cooperative throughout the process.

Include all of your debts

You must identify all creditors, list income sources and assets, detail your expenses and be forthright about all financial transactions you engaged in for the two years prior to your filing for Chapter 7. Don't think that you can omit some clandestine details and not get found out. You can also leave yourself on the hook for debts you won't be able to pay if you do not fully disclose all the debts you owe.

Attend your Credit Counseling and Debtor Education sessions

You can't file until you complete the former, and your debts won't be discharged until the latter has been completed. These are mandatory and there are no exceptions, so just do it. The sessions can actually be helpful if you have the right attitude and put in the work.

Bring all your documents

Your bankruptcy attorney will ask for the past two years' federal income tax returns and proof of income for the past six months. Without these, you will have no proof that you can pass the means test, so make sure that you give your attorney all that is requested.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy gives you a new financial lease on life. It wipes the slate clean and gives you the tools you need to learn how to take control of your finances. Make the most of your opportunity by following the law to the letter.

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Toms River, NJ 08753

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