Many small business owners or other entrepreneurs start out with a great idea for a new product or service. They start a business and focus on doing whatever it takes to make the company successful. Many don’t take the steps necessary to properly protect the business from creditors or don’t really pay much attention to what they sign when they are making deals. The ones who do read the fine print may just have the attitude that they are so confident in the business’ success, who cares if they use their own personal credit to get some working capital. With the economic downturn over the last few years, many business owners have had to close their doors because they couldn’t get the funds they needed to even cover the simple things like payroll or rent.
Use of Personal Credit
Many entrepreneurs feel that they should put some ‘skin in the game’ by contributing some of their own money into the business. In fact, the Small Business Administration backed loans often require the founders to contribute at least a certain percent of their own assets or some other major contribution in order to qualify for a business loan. When the owner doesn’t have available cash, they look to other sources to get the money to contribute. That can lead to things like taking out a home equity line of credit or using personal credit cards to help fund the business. Obviously that is pretty risky, but often necessary to get early access to this seed money to start and grow. The banks that issued the credit did so based upon the owner’s personal credit rating. Just because the credit card may have the business’ name on it doesn’t mean the bank hasn’t covered their bases by making sure they can sue the owner personally if the business defaults in payment.
Many people who think about filing for bankruptcy often want to avoid legal costs and either look to do their case themselves or pay a petition preparation company that charge anywhere from $200 to $500 to prepare the forms. The problem with not at least consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney is that you are going into a very complex federal court system. It is not just a matter of a few simple forms.
If your forms and schedules are not done properly with the most up to date forms or they are not filed in compliance with the federal and local rules of procedure, your case can be dismissed within a matter of weeks of filing. Not only will you have to possibly pay the filing fee again to re-file, the court often imposes a ban on re-filing for 6 months. The court can also prohibit re-filing for an even longer time if they think your filing was an abuse of the system.
I have clients come in and end up spending even more money in the long run for me to fix the problems and properly advise them than if they would have just come to me in the first place. Petition preparation companies often give legal advice, even though they are not supposed to. They tell people that they can remove 2nd mortgage or qualify for chapter 7 filing status, only to have the client later learn that they were not properly advised.
Most bankruptcy lawyers will offer free consultations, so even if you don’t hire them, you should at least get some advice before moving forward to be sure you are properly represented.
Chris Barsness, Bankruptcy Lawyer
Even after one files bankruptcy, there are still steps that need to be taken to improve your credit score.
1) Be sure to check with credit agencies after filing. Many people are scared to look at their credit report after filing, but you should several months after filing or discharge to be sure everything is accurate. You want to be sure the bankruptcy is listed and any discharged debt doesn’t show as anything more than a bankruptcy filing.
More can be found at this article below:
RT @NYDailyNews: There is life after bankruptcy http://bit.ly/c5rWzT
2) Make attempts to obtain credit after discharge. You can get secured credit cards by applying for that specific type of card. You simply give collateral, such as equity in a car or cash, to show the creditor they have something of value to collect if you don’t pay.
3) Any debts not discharged or incurred after filing must be paid on time. Don’t think that “oh well, my credit is shot anyway.” If you make all your payments on time after filing, you can be on the road to financial recovery.
A bankruptcy filing has the effect of placing a court order stopping foreclosure and eviction. It gives homeowners time to try to work out a solution to their financial problems. Loan modifications are few and far between these days and do not guarantee the bank won’t sell the home during the process.
Many people do not realize that Chapter 7 and 13 are not the only alternatives when it comes to filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 11 is a reorganization like chapter 13, but can be used for individuals to accomplish foreclosure relief, debt reorganization, and lien stripping that essentially results in principal mortgage reduction. A homeowner’s primary residence 2nd mortgage can only be lien stripped if the home’s value is less than what is owed on the 1st mortgage. Rental or investment properties 1st and 2nd mortgages can be lien stripped in certain circumstances in Chapter 11.
Even in Chapter 13, a homeowner can benefit by removing the 2nd mortgage, resulting in more available income.
Consult with a bankruptcy attorney to review your options. Many, including our firm, provide free consultations to see if bankruptcy may be the right option for you.
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Record numbers of bankruptcy cases are dismissed by the court as they are not being filed properly. Both local and federal rules of bankruptcy procedure require compliance with filing deadlines and format of forms, schedules, and other documents. People want to avoid the costs of hiring an attorney, but they end up wasting the $300 filing fee and time involved by filing improperly only to have the court dismiss the case 14 to 30 days after filing.
If you are trying to rearrange your finances and get back on your feet, an experiences bankruptcy attorney can help you make sure you handle your case properly. Realize that you are eliminating debts and monthly payments, so an investment in your financial future is worth the cost. Most bankruptcy lawyers are willing to work with you to figure out how to pay the costs involved for their advice and representation.
In addition, a bankruptcy lawyer can explain advantages that you may be able to take advantage of, such as eliminating second mortgages on your home, saving your home from foreclosure, and other pieces of advice and counseling.