When filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy, you and your lawyer will need to schedule a meeting with your creditors, typically referred to as a "341 meeting" that is designed to assist with determining the outcome of your repayment arrangements. Before heading to your meeting, it's a good idea to take some preparations that will help support your lawyer when they represent you. Here are four effective options to consider implementing:
Make a Plan
One of the best ways to represent your chapter 13 bankruptcy case is to create a solid budgeting plan to share with your creditors that will give them an idea of how you plan to manage the back payments you will be making to them. For example, you can make a spreadsheet that outlines your major monthly bills such as mortgage, phone, and power.
Then document how much you'll be spending on each of those bills based on your income to demonstrate how much you can actually afford to pay your creditors. This will ensure them that you have a clear understanding of your financial responsibilities and that you have the means to stick with your financial commitments for the foreseeable future.
Write a Letter
To ensure that no important communications are overlooked when it comes time to speak with your creditors during the meeting, write a personalized letter that addresses your past credit problems and how you plan to avoid any issues in the future once you start borrowing again. The idea is to officially accept responsibility for your debts and provide a path of action you can take to make sure that you don't end up in the same situation at a later time. This will give your creditors a deeper understanding of your personal situation that they can consider when negotiating payment terms with you.
Another great way to show the court system that you take your debt seriously is to engage in budget counseling and document your counseling to present at the meeting you attend with your creditors. Your counselor should be able to help you put together a repayment proposal to your creditors and help you design a future budgeting plan that will keep you on track and even minimize your need for borrowing money again in the future.
Create a document that outlines your counseling schedule and have your counselor sign off on each session you attend to use as proof of your attendance when you present the information to your lawyer, your creditors, and the court. The confidentiality of the meetings you have with your counselor is guaranteed, so there is no reason to divulge what actually goes on during your counseling sessions. Of course, you're free to share the information you learn in your counseling sessions if you feel they're relevant to the repayment plan you want to propose.
Make an Offer
It's a good idea to sit down with your lawyer and come up with a few different repayment plans you can use to negotiate with during your meeting. Start with an ideal plan and come with two or three alternatives so that you have some flexibility during negotiations and you can ensure that you maintain control until you come to an agreement. By making the first negotiation move, you can leave yourself plenty of room to negotiate without sacrificing the bottom line that you'd like to stick with; even if you don't secure your original offer, you'll likely end up with an agreement that doesn't negatively affect your personal budget.
These tips and tricks should give your lawyer some ammunition to use throughout the bankruptcy process that will help ensure that you end up with the arrangements of your preference. If you have specific questions about hiring a bankruptcy attorney and going through the process of filing for bankruptcy, contact a firm like Wiesner & Frackowiak, LC.Share