The federal bankruptcy laws promise a fresh financial start for the honest but unfortunate debtor. Bankruptcy balances the interests of the debtor to obtain his fresh start and the interests of the creditor to see that the debtor pays whatever he can afford. In some circumstances the debtor can complicate his bankruptcy case before he files.
Mistake #1: Paying an Insider Creditor
The bankruptcy laws attempt to ensure that all creditors receive fair treatment during the bankruptcy process. One concern is that the debtor will pay loans to family or friends before filing bankruptcy, and therefore deprive other creditors from receiving payment. Family, friends, business partners, and other creditors who have close relationships with the debtor are called “insider creditors” and transfers to insider creditors can be avoided by the bankruptcy trustee if the transfer occurred within one year before the bankruptcy filing. For instance, if you gave your mother $1,000 from your income tax refund as payment for a debt, and then filed bankruptcy two months later, the bankruptcy trustee can sue your mother to recover the $1,000. To make matters worse, often the debtor could have protected the cash money during the bankruptcy and paid the debt without difficulty after the case was filed.
Mistake #2: Incurring Debt After Deciding to File
Some people decide to charge up credit cards or take payday loans just before filing bankruptcy. If you have decided to file bankruptcy, do not incur additional debt. Taking loans with no intention to repay the creditor could be fraud. It could also be a criminal act.
Mistake #3: Transferring Property
Some people fear that they will lose property when they file bankruptcy. Some will give away or sell property to avoid losing it. In most cases your bankruptcy attorney can protect your property and you will not lose anything. However, once you have transferred an item it is no longer eligible for legal protections. For instance, a car worth $2,000 is likely entirely protected from turnover during your bankruptcy. If you transfer title of this vehicle to your brother before the bankruptcy, the trustee can avoid the transfer, take the car, and sell it to pay your creditors.
Mistake #4: Cashing out Retirement
Most retirement accounts are entirely protected during bankruptcy. Unfortunately, some people are unaware of these broad protections and cash out their retirement savings out of fear that it will be taken during the bankruptcy. Sometimes the money is spent to pay off loans which can create preference issues. In other cases the debtor converts an exempt asset (retirement funds) to a non-exempt asset (e.g. a paid off car).
Mistake #5: Failing to Be Honest
This is the worst mistake of all because the bankruptcy laws do not protect a dishonest debtor. Failure to truthfully list all of your assets, debts, income and expenses is grounds for dismissal of your case, or you may have to answer allegations of bankruptcy fraud (a federal crime).
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are considering bankruptcy, discuss your case with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The bankruptcy attorneys at Freedom Law Firm can advise you on the best actions to take before bankruptcy and how to avoid common mistakes. Contact us today for a free consultation and use the federal bankruptcy laws to protect your property in Las Vegas.