The next letter in the Bankruptcy Alphabet, V, stands for Very important things to tell your bankruptcy attorney. This may sound basic, but many people I meet with have no idea what to tell their attorney in preparation for a possible bankruptcy case.
First off, tell your attorney everyone you owe. That’s right. Even if you owe your Aunt Bessie, tell the attorney. Many clients somehow think that they can choose what bills they include in a bankruptcy. Not true! The Bankruptcy Law requires that you include all companies and people that you owe. Even if you want to pay them. For example, you want to keep your car, but you owe money on it. You need to let your attorney know which company you owe. Mortgage companies, whether you want to keep your house or not, need to be listed. Family members that you owe need to be listed. All credit card and store accounts, any account with a balance. Even that department store account that you owe $200.00 on. Remember, your bankruptcy case will be a solution for your whole situation. There may be one company suing you, and driving you to bankruptcy, but all are part of the case. Listing the companies you owe does not prevent you from paying them later. But they all are part of your financial situation in a bankruptcy case.
Second, tell your attorney about everything you own. That’s right, everything. Your house, cars, things in your house, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. Most people come in and think “I don’t have anything”. But, when you think about it some more, you do. You should think about whether you ever signed up for a timeshare, or a piece of land somewhere. Or, did your parents put your name on their house? It’s best to think about those things before you come in, so the attorney can give you the proper advice. With the proper advice, you can keep your assets. But, if you don’t tell the attorney, you could have big problems in your case, and your attorney can’t give you the proper advice and counsel before you file the case. But, why do I have to even tell the attorney about what I own, I thought this was about my debts? That’s because banrkruptcy laws allow you to protect only a certain amount of things you own (called assets). Once your attorney knows what you own, you can get the right advice about what type of bankruptcy is right for you.
Third, tell your attorney about any lawsuits you are involved in, or may be involved in. Lawsuits: If you are sued or suing someone else. Collection lawsuits are important, as are foreclosure lawsuits. Bankruptcy stops them. But if you don’t mention them, there’s no way to notify the other attorney to stop the proceedings. If you were involved in any type of accident where you have a claim against someone (car accident or job accident), you also need to let your attorney know. Because, a claim like this is an asset of yours, the bankruptcy trustee can review it to see what part of it is protected, and, if part would not, the trustee could use that money to pay your bill collectors. Also, if you don’t mention the claim (even if you haven’t hired a lawyer or sued yet), you lose the claim! The other party you would sue could use that against you! And, you need to let your attorney know of these claims even after you file the bankruptcy case!
Bottom line: It’s very important to tell your lawyer everything. Only then can we give you proper advice for a possible bankruptcy case.
Call now if you have questions about your financial situation, and think about what very important things you need to tell your lawyer. We have offices in Chicago Loop, Oak Lawn, Skokie, and Waukegan.
Daniel J. Winter
LAW OFFICES OF DANIEL J. WINTER
53 W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604