1. Waiting Too Long
It is human nature to put off unpleasant events like bankruptcy. No one wants to file bankruptcy. Waiting too long to file gives your creditors the opportunity to seize your assets by garnishment and levy. Wage garnishment, foreclosure, and repossession can all be stopped by filing bankruptcy before creditors begin these collection actions. The purpose of bankruptcy is to help you recover from financial difficulty, and waiting too long to file makes recovery more difficult.
2. Getting a Second Mortgage Instead of Filing Bankruptcy
Many clients try to put off inevitable bankruptcy by obtaining a second mortgage to pay off their unsecured debts. If you cannot make your first and second mortgage payments, you can lose your home. It is not wise to risk your home for the benefit of unsecured creditors.
3. Depleting IRA and 401K Plans to Pay Creditors
In Massachusetts, your IRA and 401K plans, as well as other tax qualified plans, are exempt assets. You can file bankruptcy and still keep all of your retirement savings to help reestablish your normal lifestyle after bankruptcy. Do not sacrifice your retirement security to pay your unsecured creditors. Eventually, you may still have to file bankruptcy, and in that case, there is no benefit to having depleted retirement funds in an effort to postpone filing.
4. Filing When You Have a Substantial Tax Refund Pending
The exemption for tax refunds is limited, and an ill-timed bankruptcy may jeopardize your refund. You should discuss any expected refunds with your attorney before filing.
5. Reaffirming Burdensome Debt
Reaffirming (keeping) loans through bankruptcy will make it difficult or impossible for you to recover financially. Don’t keep credit cards with significant balances. Banks will send you new credit cards after your bankruptcy is discharged.
6. Failing to List All Creditors
A creditor you forgot to list on your bankruptcy petition may not be discharged. You should list all creditors, even if you intend to repay the creditor. You must also include debts owed to family members and other insiders.
7. Large Credit Usage Shortly Before Filing Bankruptcy
You must tell your attorney if you have taken significant cash advances, made balance transfers, or made other large purchases within the previous three (3) months.
8. Paying Back Loans to Family Members Before Filing Bankruptcy
Repaying loans to family members (or insiders) within one year of filing bankruptcy should be avoided. The Trustee can sue your family members to recover sums paid to them within the past year.
9. Transferring Non-Exempt Assets To Others
Assets transferred in anticipation of filing bankruptcy may be recovered by the Trustee as a fraudulent conveyance. Giving away money or other assets to your children, parents, or siblings will not protect the assets from the bankruptcy trustee, and such transfers may jeopardize your bankruptcy discharge.
10. Ignoring Letters From the Court and Your Attorney
Any notice or letter you receive either from the Bankruptcy Court or your attorney is important. Failure to respond to a communication may have adverse consequences. There is probably a good reason why your attorney is trying to contact you or is asking you for information and documents.