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The DON’TS of Bankruptcy
Your conduct and behavior before and during bankruptcy can damage or even be fatal to your case. On the other hand, understanding your rights and responsibilities can minimize your risks. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to help you navigate the pitfalls commonly encountered by those seeking bankruptcy protection.
DON'T repay loans to friends, relatives or business associates who have lent you money. Payment to an “insider” (which includes relatives, friends and business associates) within one year before you file bankruptcy is a “preference.” The trustee may recover preferences from the person that was paid and divide the money between all of your creditors. You can pay back anyone you like after the bankruptcy. If you have already repaid such a person, we’ll discuss how to handle the situation.
DON'T talk to your creditors or bankruptcy trustee directly after you have filed for bankruptcy. Tell them to talk directly to your bankruptcy lawyer. If you receive mail from them, forward it to your attorney immediately.
DON'T keep a creditor off your petition for any reason. If you intend to pay them back, you can after the bankruptcy, but you must list them.
DON'T run up a lot of bills immediately before you file. If you max out your credit cards or take out a loan before you file, the court could find your petition was filed in bad faith and dismiss it, or except those debts from discharge.
DON'T withdraw or borrow from your 401k, IRA and retirement plans to pay bills. Early withdrawal of these funds makes you liable for penalties and taxes which may not be discharged in bankruptcy, and you may be able to exempt and keep all funds maintained in these accounts.
DON'T borrow money on your home to pay unsecured (i.e. credit card, utility or medical) bills. If you take out a second mortgage on your home, you may be converting debt which would have been discharged in bankruptcy into debt which you will still have to pay in order to keep your home. These additional payments could be high enough to cause you to lose your home.
DON'T put property you own into someone else’s name to avoid it being taken by creditors or the trustee. That kind of transfer is a fraud on creditors and can result in your discharge being denied. In addition, the trustee can take the property from the person to whom it was transferred.
DON'T attempt to sell your property for less than what it’s worth. This will not reduce the amount you eventually have to repay — and you or whoever you sold it to may end up stuck with the difference.
DON'T run up your credit card debt prior to filing a bankruptcy. The court may view this as an attempt to exploit the bankruptcy system, and the judge may treat it accordingly.
DON'T buy any luxury items prior to filing for bankruptcy. Contact us today for a free consultation.