Read the First Chapter...
One Step at a Time
I know you don’t want to read this book. Honestly I wish I hadn’t felt the need to write it. You never thought you would be part of a financial horror movie. I understand completely. It seems like a nightmare that just won’t end.
We know that sometimes we have to read things we don’t want to read and do things we don’t want to do. This book turns your current financial roadblock into a common-sense leap toward the breakthrough.
You probably don’t remember learning your first language as a young child because it was a natural part of growing up. Learning about bankruptcy is different because you never thought you would face this situation, and understanding the language associated with bankruptcy is important at this pivotal time in your life. These pages will educate you about terms specific to bankruptcy, sometimes referred to as legalese. This book translates the bankruptcy knowledge I gained during my career as a paralegal into a common-sense language you can use to your benefit. Take control of your own financial future.
You find yourself here after a painful, unexpected personal journey. Your triumph over the pain will be even more personal. Far too many honest, hard-working people like you have made gut-wrenching decisions about bankruptcy. You are definitely not alone. Bankruptcy can affect anyone.
I am encouraged that you found the strength to read this book. You confronted your financial problems in an intelligent way, and you will find the solutions to those problems in short order. You have taken the first steps toward reclaiming and restoring your financial freedom.
You have reached
the point of empowerment.
THE PATH TO FINANCIAL HOPE
BASIC TERMS and CONCEPTS
ADVICE Everyone you discuss your situation with will try to give you advice. Step away from your brother-in-law, your neighbor, your aunt, or anyone else who shares his or her “legal knowledge” of bankruptcy with you. Their advice is not legal advice. Smile politely, and then walk away. Their perspectives on bankruptcy merely reflect personal opinions of your financial situation. Such advice is worthless and could prove harmful if you follow it.
As mentioned earlier I am a paralegal, not an attorney. I cannot provide legal advice or represent you in court. I can, however, show you where to find answers and legal advice. Bypass your friends, your family, and the neighborhood busybody. Contact the only person who can legally, professionally, and intelligently advise you: a competent attorney.
ASSETS The court will evaluate your assets during the bankruptcy process. These assets include the combined value of all real estate and personal property you own when you file your case.
ATTORNEY SELECTION If you haven’t received a lawyer referral from someone you trust, you can call your local bar association. This group maintains a list of attorneys in a particular county that includes their areas of practice. Some bar associations will even contact an attorney’s office to make an appointment for you, usually for a small fee. Using this resource assures that you only meet attorneys who are in good standing with the legal community.
You should interview at least two attorneys before making a final choice. The cheapest attorney may not necessarily be the best choice. The least expensive attorney might be inexperienced and could potentially provide the lowest level of service. Choose carefully.
AUTOMATIC STAY This term describes the hold put on most legal actions against you when you officially file a bankruptcy case. Perhaps you face a hearing because of a lawsuit filed in the local magistrate or county court; that lawsuit might have prompted you to consider bankruptcy.
A bankruptcy case is filed in federal court. Once you file, the parties to any pending lawsuits against you in other courts must request permission from the bankruptcy court to continue pursuing their case.
AUTOMOBILES Any automobiles you own are considered part of your assets. You must tell the attorney about all vehicles titled in your name. This includes any vehicles for which you have co-signed, even if someone else makes the payments. A vehicle is generally considered one of your assets if you signed on the loan or your name appears on the title. Even if you own a vehicle outright, you must provide the year, make, model, and private party value for that car. You must indicate whether you own it individually or jointly, and provide the name, address, and relationship of anyone else listed on the title.
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