Interviewer: What are some of the common mistakes people make before, during and after filing bankruptcy that can hurt their cases and that can cause them trouble?
Marilyn Minger: One thing that people do before they consult a bankruptcy attorney, and it is needless, is to use their retirement accounts to pay down dischargeable unsecured debt. So, if you have a retirement account and you keep drawing it down to pay off your unsecured creditors, your credit cards, and when you get to the end of your retirement account you come to me and you say, “Now, I need to file a bankruptcy”, and I look at you and say oh no, you could have filed that bankruptcy and kept your retirement account. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see. So don’t use your retirement accounts to pay your credit cards before you consult with a bankruptcy attorney. That’s just a huge mistake.
The Disqualification Factors in the California Bankruptcy Process
Interviewer: Is there anything that I can do to disqualify myself from being able to file?
Marilyn Minger: If you’ve filed and had your case dismissed for not filing all the required documents or not following a court order, or if you’ve filed too recently to be eligible to file again. Generally having your case dismissed for not following a court order means you have to wait 180 days to file again. If you are found to have lied on the petition you filed with the court, you may not be eligible for a discharge. Certain debts may not be dischargeable if they were incurred by reason of fraud or deceit.
Interviewer: Once someone files, can they file again and if so, when?
Marilyn Minger: The question usually is not whether you can file again, but whether or not you can get a discharge. If you have received a discharge in a chapter 7 or chapter 11 case that was filed less than eight years earlier, you cannot get a discharge in a chapter 7 case. You also cannot get a discharge in a chapter 7 case if you have received a discharge in a chapter 13 case within the last six years, unless through the chapter 13 case you paid off all of your unsecured debt.
Interviewer: What does one do when the creditor or creditors continue to call you after you have file your bankruptcy?
Marilyn Minger: You should tell your attorney immediately, it’s a violation of federal law. You can say to the creditor, “I filed the bankruptcy”, you can give them the case number, you can say, “Call my attorney”, but it’s a violation of federal law for creditors to call you after you file because that automatic stay goes into effect and they have to deal with you through your attorney and through the court.
We are a debt relief agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.