As a bankruptcy attorney, this is my slowest time of year. It’s not fun to think about and deal with financial troubles right before the holidays. While sometimes these troubles can become so urgent, it becomes necessary to deal with them right now, most times my clients (and presumably future clients) will put it off until the new year.
And that is fine and understandable. The new year is a time for fresh starts, but the holidays are for families and activities. However, it is good to keep a few things in mind if you are considering bankruptcy, but wish to put it off until after the new year.
First, make sure you are keeping your mortgage and utilities current. I can stop foreclosures and utility shutoffs, but only if I am filing a bankruptcy. If you are putting off bankruptcy until next year, the promise of filing will not stop a mortgage company or a utility from taking action if you are behind on payments, even if you have hired me as your attorney. This also goes for car payments. A foreclosure, shutoff, or repo can happen any time of year (unfortunately), so don’t let yourself get into a bad situation that requires urgent action.
Second, be careful about using credit cards to finance your holiday spending. Too much usage, or filing too soon after usage, could lead to a charge of abuse by the credit card company or United States Trustee. You may need to wait to file, or you may not be able to file at all. This can be difficult to ask, as many people pay for the holidays on credit, but it is something to strongly keep in mind. You may need to be more frugal than usual before the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them. You can make next year easier by being careful today.
Third, if you are stressed about your finances, but don’t want to actually file bankruptcy, contact us to set up a free consultation. Just talking about your problems and coming up with a plan could greatly reduce stress and allow you to better enjoy your holidays. Putting off the problem completely could allow bad feelings to linger just beneath the surface. Talk it over with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, and you are bound to feel better.
Finally, be careful about what you give away, or transfer. It might seem like a nice gesture to transfer a car or other major property as a gift to friends or family. Unfortunately, this could be interpreted as an attempt to hide assets from your creditors. Once again, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before you do anything.
You can still enjoy the holidays if you are having tough financial times. You can deal with the problems in a conclusive manner at the beginning of the new year (as many of my clients do). However, make sure to take these precautions and things will be a lot easier going forward. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to sit down, meet, and review your situation.