14 Requirements Before Filing Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania
Filing for bankruptcy is difficult and stressful. Do not do it alone. At Melaragno, Placidi & Parini we help you navigate the often confusing process and provide you with the information to make informed decisions on what Chapter best suits your needs.
We have handled hundreds of Pennsylvania bankruptcies and over the years have taken care of our clients by providing them with in depth knowledge on how declaring bankruptcy works. Here are some tips that you might find useful.
There are several requirements you need to meet before you file bankruptcy. These include:
1. You must be a resident in Pennsylvania for at least 91 of 180 days before filing. Each court has a jurisdiction.
2. Do your homework before you make a decision about declaring bankruptcy. Think about which Chapter you want to choose when you file. Know where you will file. Will it be the federal or state system? Be aware that the exemptions in a federal bankruptcy are different than a state bankruptcy.
3. There is no waiting period to file bankruptcy. However, there may be a waiting period of up to two years for successive bankruptcy discharges depending on the circumstances of the case.
4. All debtors are required by law to take pre-bankruptcy credit counselings. There is a small fee for the course. It must be completed up to 6 months before filing and can be taken online, on the phone or in person.
5. The amount of debt you have, in part, determines which Chapter you file.
6. Obtain a copy of all of your credit reports from the three credit reporting companies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Check them thoroughly for errors.
7. Put your debts into categories. Dischargeable debts may include credit card bills, business loans and medical bills. We can help you determine what bills are dischargeable and which may not be.
8. Find and bring all of your paperwork to your bankruptcy attorney. Bring documents demonstrating your financial activity, your assets, debts, bank statements, tax reports, credit reports and utility bills. Do not leave it for last minute, as declaring bankruptcy means providing the court and your attorney with very detailed information.
9. Before filing for bankruptcy, take a close look at other options that may be available to suit your circumstances. For instance, you may not be aware of debt consolidation or mortgage modification. Checking these alternatives out may provide you with another avenue to pursue instead of declaring bankruptcy.
10. Are you married or single? You have more options for filing bankruptcy if you are married. You can file jointly, separately or individually. Chapter 7 and 13 have options for either married or single filers.
11. Do not, under any circumstances, hide assets. This is a form of bankruptcy fraud and can result in charges.
12. Do not try to file bankruptcy on your own. Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. Reach out to an experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini.
13. If you are ready to file paperwork relating to bankruptcy, remember that you must also complete a means test. The test determines if you are below or above the median income compared to a household the same size as yours. The test results will show whether you can file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
14. At Melaragno, Placidi & Parini we strongly suggest that you do not pay off your debts before filing. The reason is that the courts consider it to be favoring one creditor over another, otherwise referred to as a preferential transfer. It does not help your case and may in fact delay it. It is best for you to strictly follow the bankruptcy process and adhere to the rules as they are laid out. It is also not a good idea to go further into debt before or during your bankruptcy proceedings.