Do you want to seek bankruptcy relief through Chapter 13? This chapter of the bankruptcy code allows debtors to keep some or all of their assets and work out more amenable payment plans. But Chapter 13 can be tricky for debtors to successfully complete. How can you help ensure that your case is one of the successes? Here are five tips anyone can put into practice.
1. Work With a Good Attorney
Chapter 13 is more complex and lengthier than Chapter 7 (discharge of assets). This makes your choice of legal assistance even more important. A good bankruptcy attorney in your state will help you honestly assess your case, ensure the most debts are included, and complete all the paperwork to qualify for the best bankruptcy plan you can.
2. Be Realistic About Expenses
One of the most important parts of creating your payment plan is to identify the real cost of living in your particular circumstances. Estimating expenses too high could rob you of the chance to keep more of your assets. Estimating expenses too low, though, may make your chosen repayment plan unworkable over time. Work with your lawyer to come up with the most realistic assessment of your finances possible.
3. Focus on the Right Assets
Which assets should you fight to hold onto during Chapter 13? While you may want to keep everything — such as your primary home, all your underwater vehicles, your outdoor equipment, and those business assets — this may not be realistic. Would you rather keep the mortgaged house or the car with a large loan? These decisions may not be easy, but they will result in much less stress and more success over the years of the plan.
4. Prioritize Priority Debts
Keep in mind that some debts are considered 'priority debts' within Chapter 13. This could include tax debts, child support, or other legal obligations. Don't overlook or minimize these. Obligations you cannot discharge (plus those outside the bankruptcy filing, like student loans) could seem like obstacles, but they should instead form the framework of your repayment plans.
5. Automate the Payments
Failure to pay each month — on time and in full — is one of the biggest threats to any repayment plan. Make sure you fulfill your payment obligations by automating them each month. This may be customary in your state, or it may be optional. But whether or not the court requires it, automating payments prevents any emergencies or forgetfulness from derailing your bankruptcy case.
Where to Start
Want to know more ways to ensure the success of your bankruptcy? Start by consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer today. Armed with knowledge and professional guidance, you can approach bankruptcy with confidence and look forward to a brighter financial future.