Self-help in the legal world is not always smart. You may have tried to take care of your financial situation in ways that the law prohibits. A year after a payment or transfer a court can set aside the payment or transfer and require that the asset or money be paid to your creditors. Lack of understanding of the law is not an excuse that the court will accept. For instances, your mother helps support your family while you are unemployed. Good news – you are back to work and get a large tax refund. You use the refund to pay your mother back. A few months later your new company goes out of business. You finally decide that bankruptcy is the only way to save your marriage and your home; so you file. A couple of months later you receive a copy of a complaint that has been served on your mother – she is being sued for all of the money you paid her. Yet, had you used the money to pay other expenses (see your lawyer for a list) then you would receive the coveted bankruptcy discharge, get your fresh start and your mother would never have been sued and forced to refinance her home in order to pay the creditors the money you paid to her. Plus, you can pay your mother back after your bankruptcy is discharged.
The same problem would arise if you sold, transferred or gave away property before filing a bankruptcy, or being sued by a creditor. I am not making any of this up – the legal issues are called preferential treatment and fraudulent conveyances.
If you are reading this article some of you may be thinking that I am trying to scare you in order to increase my business. Not so, I am happy to refer you to very good bankruptcy attorneys. In fact, I refer out a good number of folks who call my office. Why? Because another attorney is better equipped to address their specific issues. My fear is that you not understand the full breadth of the issues in bankruptcy and take that path without proper guidance.