If you’ve been considering bankruptcy, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed your decision, here are some steps you can take now. The #QuarantineLife is first starting to end as U.S. businesses begin to open up. States are lifting COVID-19 restrictions at different paces. Even if you haven’t gotten out of quarantine yet, your state is likely to reopen in some capacity soon.
This means it’s time to look at your financial situation. Can you continue paying off debt or setting aside cash for a down payment; or are you out of work without income? Your finances may not be where you want them to be, but your next move may be vital to your current and future financial health.
Reassess Your Current Finances
Money has been tight for millions of Americans. Your priority has likely been rent/mortgage payments, food, shelter, and transportation. Many people have been in “survival mode”, even forgoing credit card payments. Whether you’ve lost your job or are working, look at your financial goals and where you stand. The following steps can help if high levels of debt are creating a roadblock.
Revisit Your Monthly Budget
Your budget has likely changed if you’ve been stuck at home. Working from your house means not spending on transportation or gas. Perhaps you’ve been spending money stocking up on supplies and purchasing games, puzzles, and other items to keep yourself occupied. But now is an opportunity to look at your pre-coronavirus budget and the changes you can make. Maybe that gym membership wasn’t necessary after all; you can exercise for free using videos on social media. And, was eating out so much really worth it?
Make a Plan with Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you have saved, start tackling that debt. In millions of homes, emergency funds have been used up; if so, start building yours up to cover three to six months of expenses. Contribute to your 401(k) or IRA if possible. But if you’re struggling with a plan or don’t have enough funds, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as you can.
Brush Up on Bankruptcy Basics
Traditionally, bankruptcy is a complex process and requires various in-person meetings. With social distancing and other guidelines, many attorneys are using phone/video conferencing to hold consultations and review documents. You can even sign your bankruptcy documents online and use a telephonic appearance for the 341 meeting of creditors. The bankruptcy basics remain the same although things look different. Before you file for bankruptcy, you’ll still have to meet the same qualifications, seek pre-bankruptcy counseling, have all required paperwork and documentation, and complete a debtor education/bankruptcy course.
File for Bankruptcy
Courts across California and the U.S. have temporarily closed or changed their schedule. Some have relaxed a rule requiring “wet signatures” on bankruptcy petitions prior to online filing. This makes it easier for attorneys to file cases online. It may also be possible to hold a Chapter 13 confirmation hearing by phone, during which the court can decide whether to approve your repayment plan. If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, waiting for your discharge is the next step.
If court closures have impacted your bankruptcy case, visit https://www.lacourt.org/ for the latest information and updates in the area.
Call OakTree Law for Bankruptcy Help
OakTree Law is open for business during the COVID-19 crisis. If you’re unsure how to file bankruptcy and #QuarantineLife has left you even more uncertain, reach out to us now. We’ll help explore your options, determine the kinds of payments you can afford, and whether alternatives to bankruptcy may be available to you. Call us at 562-219-2979 for a free phone consultation today!