1. Total Debt Amounts- It is essential that you understand the total amount of debt that you owe. This should include all debt types and creditors. Knowing a total for the amount that you actually owe will help make your debt more real, and help you understand the full impact of this. If you owe very little then bankruptcy may not even be needed.
2. Types Of Debts Owed- Look at the types of debt obligations that you owe. Usually the biggest concerns that consumers have in this area is medical bills, credit card costs, and unpaid taxes. You may owe for a court judgment, you may have been sued and ordered to pay a certain amount, or you could even owe for utility bills, a home lost to foreclosure, repossessed property, and other types of debt.
3. Desired End Result- What are you hoping to gain? Do you want to get a fresh financial start or are you hoping to set up a reasonable payment schedule to try and pay off the debts that you owe? The end result that you are hoping for will help determine whether you file for bankruptcy or you choose another debt relief option instead.
4. Income- The income that you have is a big consideration. Is your income large enough to cover the obligations that you have each month and also pay off the debts owed in a reasonable time. If the answer is no then bankruptcy may be able to help you. High income individuals may choose other methods rather than filing for bankruptcy.
5. Assets- What assets do you own? This will be a determining factor in how simple or complex your bankruptcy case is. If you only own a little personal property like clothes and household items then the case will be fairly straight forward and easy. If you own property across the globe and have many valuable assets this can complicate the case.
6. Monthly Expenses- Know the expenses that you are expected to pay each month. A bankruptcy lawyer will need this information when you arrive for the initial consultation. In addition these amounts and expense types will be needed by the court whether you file under chapter 7 or chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code.
7. Cost Of Filing For Bankruptcy- You may wonder how you can afford a bankruptcy attorney when you already owe so much. The truth is that the lawyer fee for a bankruptcy case can eliminate tens of thousands of dollars in debt, sometimes more.
8. Protection From Creditor Harassment- The automatic stay in the bankruptcy process protects you from creditor harassment and collection attempts while you try to sort out your finances. Creditors can not try to contact you or collect unless the court allows it.
9. Exemptions Utilized- Under the bankruptcy laws you are entitled to certain exemptions to protect some or all of the property that you own. You may be able to choose from more than one set of exemptions, and your bankruptcy attorney can help advise you in this area.
10. Chapter Of The Bankruptcy Code Used- Knowing which chapter of the bankruptcy code that you qualify for is a big factor. This determines whether you must pay back some of the debt owed, and can also determine how long the bankruptcy takes. A chapter 7 case is usually done in 6 months, while a chapter 13 case may take 3-5 years to finish and close out.