In order to file for one of the types of bankruptcy, you must know who you owe. This is one of the bankruptcy basics. If you do not know, this is a problem that is easy to remedy by pulling a credit report. A credit report will list most of your debts and obligations that are currently open. Some of the debts that will not be listed on your credit report are medical bills and therefore you should try to provide your attorney with most medical bills as they might not be listed. But fear not; even if a debt is not listed and it was not left off on purpose in order to defraud the court, then there was a recent court decision that will allow that debt to be discharged anyway. It is important to list as many of your creditors as you can but it is not fatal to get a debt discharged if it does not get listed in your bankruptcy. Therefore, your attorney should be pulling a credit report for you along with you providing bills to your attorney.
Many clients are behind on their mortgage and are seeking a loan modification. The loan modification process is something the banks dangle in front of people in hopes of giving them hope that they will be able to save their home. Unfortunately, loan modifications are very, very difficult to achieve. Loan modifications only succeed about 5% of the time for any number of reasons. The banks will say that they have not gotten your documents, they say that you don’t qualify; really they just don’t want to work with you. But if you were one of the lucky people who were able to get into a trial loan modification period, you want to hold off on filing bankruptcy until that loan modification period has ended because although the bankruptcy will not affect your home and your ability to work with the bank, if a current loan modification is pending and you file a bankruptcy, that loan modification will often be reset. So you want to be very careful and speak with your attorney before you file if you are in a loan modification. In any event, do not try to file bankruptcy yourself. It is just too difficult under the current law.
If you do wind up claiming bankruptcy, a creditor may try to hold a particular debt to be non-dischargeable. To do so, the creditor would have to file an adversary complaint which involves a separate proceeding or a mini lawsuit inside your bankruptcy case. These rarely happen and only occur in cases of fraud or several instances in Chapter 13. Adversary proceedings typically require extra attorneys’ fees and only result when an issue cannot be resolved by a simple motion. If a creditor does file an adversarial complaint against you, then you most certainly would need the bankruptcy advice of an experienced attorney.