When You Have to File for Bankruptcy: Step-by-Step Instructions to Take Control of Your Financial Future


According to the United States Bankruptcy Courts, the number of bankruptcies filed each year is on the rise. People file bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, such as preventing foreclosure on their homes, preventing repossession of property, loss of employment, or reducing or eliminating debts. The most common types of bankruptcy for which individuals file are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 involves the surrender of property to pay debts, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows for the retention of property but...

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According to the United States Bankruptcy Courts, the number of bankruptcies filed each year is on the rise. People file bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, such as preventing foreclosure on their homes, preventing repossession of property, loss of employment, or reducing or eliminating debts. The most common types of bankruptcy for which individuals file are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 involves the surrender of property to pay debts, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows for the retention of property but requires payments over the next three to five years.

This book is divided into three sections: evaluating your need to file for bankruptcy, how to file for bankruptcy, and what to do after you have filed. In the first section, you will be provided with evaluation tools, determine your eligibility, learn how to check your credit report for accuracy, and learn about the different types of bankruptcy for which you can file.

In the second section, you will learn about the major changes in bankruptcy law, bankruptcy lawyers, alternatives to filing for bankruptcy, bankruptcy code, collection agencies, exempt property, nondischargeable debts, what bankruptcy can and cannot accomplish, the automatic stay provision, foreclosure, tax levies, bankruptcy fees, the 341 meeting, bankruptcy myths, the initial consultation with your lawyer, and bankruptcy timelines. You will learn the answers to some of the most common questions about bankruptcy, such as: Will creditors stop harassing me? Will my spouse be affected? Who will know about my filing? Will I ever get credit again? What does it cost?

The final section will provide a brief overview of what to do after you have gone through the bankruptcy process. We will address the issues of how to get car loans and home loans and how to build credit after bankruptcy. Whether you are filing for bankruptcy for the first time or, unfortunately, you have been through it before, When You Have to File for Bankruptcy will provide insight into the complex and burdensome process.

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. The print version of this book is 288 pages and you receive exactly the same content. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601382092
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/10/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,286,355
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword     8
Introduction     11
Before Filing     17
How We Got Here     19
Should I File Bankruptcy?     27
Things To Do And Know Before Filing     41
Types of Bankruptcy     63
Your Bankruptcy Case     83
Filing the Proper Paperwork     85
Filling Out and Understanding the Means Test     109
Chapter 13 Plan and Proof of Claims     149
Recent Bankruptcy Changes     161
What You Need to Know About the Foreclosure Process, Tax Liens, and Homestead Exemptions     171
Bankruptcy Fraud, Myths, and Frequently Asked Questions     183
What to Expect After Discharge     199
Post Filing: Rebuilding and Restructuring Your Life and Credit     213
Recall How You Got Here and Begin Restructuring Your Spending Habits     215
Beginning to Pay Things on Your Own Again and Coming Up with a Workable Budget     223
Obtaining and Repairing Your Credit Post-Bankruptcy     233
Conclusion     247
Case Studies     251
Bibliography     281
Acknowledgements     284
About the Author     285
Index     287
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2010

    So helpful

    This book can be extremely helpful for people who are deciding whether bankruptcy is right for them. Personally, I was unaware of the many different ways to file for bankruptcy and this book gave me a greater knowledge of which would be best for me if I am ever in that situation. Bankruptcy is a vast and difficult topic to grasp but the author did an excellent job of defining even the most basic terms.
    Helpful examples are provided in the book that may be relevant to the readers current financial situation. The author uses the Johnson family in several chapters and describes their situation and income with great detail. The Johnson family example actually had me comparing my numbers with theirs, I felt that I could absolutely relate with their situation. Toward the end of the book the author introduces real-life case studies with bankruptcy attorneys, case administrators, and paralegals. These studies can be very helpful to the reader in that they provide a different perspective than the one the reader has been concerned with, their own.
    The author makes it easy to read and understand, even providing the history of several legislatures and how bankruptcy laws came to be how they are today. He obviously did a great amount of research before undertaking this publication. Also, he goes beyond the topic of bankruptcy and into issues such as budgets, spending habits, and repairing your credit-which saves the reader from possibly having to purchase another book!

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  • Posted June 2, 2009

    How best to file for bankruptcy

    Filing for bankruptcy doesn't have to be a shameful thing, and often it happens because of some critical event in your life that you had no control over. This book will help you identify the reasons why, and help you prepare yourself so your claim is completed as quickly and easily as possible. It'll provide you with alternatives to consider before walking you through the steps of how, and what chapter, to file.

    Once you've decided to file, the book breaks down how to select an attorney, why to select an attorney, and goes through all the forms you'll need as well as the Means Test. The book will provide you with everything you need to know to file on your own if you choose, but it's strongly advised to choose a competent attorney that is going to be able to do it a lot better than you can. It then acts as a coach on how to formulate your post-filing plan, and how to stick with it so that your credit and finances are in as good a place as they can be when the bankruptcy period ends.

    The best part of the book is that it touches on the myths of bankruptcy and really informs you of what bankruptcy is, what it will solve, and what it won't. It lets you know your rights, how to get creditors to stop harassing you, and how to rebuild your credit after you file. The second half of the book doubles as a budget planning guide, with tips and tricks to lower spending and pay your debts. At the end of the book is a bunch of case studies, which provide much needed expert advice. This book is a must read for anyone that may be contemplating filing, or has already filed bankruptcy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2008

    Answers to questions you may be afraid to ask...

    In today¿s consumer, debt-based economy, more than ever, working Americans are having difficulty managing the turbulent financial atmosphere with its rising gas and utility costs, and foreclosure rates at an all-time high. This book can help to find the correct avenues for those in financial distress. It consistently offers positive encouragement for facing matters and taking steps to rectify one¿s financial situation. Author Matt Pelc points out that often filing for bankruptcy is the result of a separate stress-inducing, life-changing event, and bankruptcy is not a cause for shame or blame. When you have to file for bankruptcy explains the ins-and-outs, pros and cons, and alternative means of declaring bankruptcy. Author Pelc, writing with years of experience working for bankruptcy trustee¿s offices, strongly suggests bankruptcy should not be undertaken without a specialist attorney and his text is in no way a self-filing guide for debtors. His book does help to answer the reader¿s initial questions and explores in detail the revisions, changes and consequences of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, the BAPCPA (Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention & Consumer Protection Act of 2005). The text, in clear, concise language, provides a framework for the emotionally difficult process of bankruptcy and guides the reader from the initial decision to file through to the methods to manage finances after discharge. Successfully staying positive about a difficult situation, When you have to file for bankruptcy will certainly make the process less intimidating for filers. Additional encouragement is provided by the case studies highlighting real world advice from consumers who have experienced the process of bankruptcy and from persons in the bankruptcy profession.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    Must read for anyone CONSIDERING bankruptcy

    This book changed my whole perception about the concept of ¿Bankruptcy.¿ Honestly, before I read it I had a very unflattering opinion and negative bias against individuals and organizations that filed for bankruptcies. But after reading this book I realized I was wrong. The author of When You Have to File for Bankruptcy does a wonderful job of explaining that bankruptcy is not a dirty word, and that the vast majority of the filings are actually precipitated by catastrophic health issues, job loss, divorce and unforeseen events. Generally speaking, it¿s not individuals living recklessly beyond their means that account for the majority of filings, it¿s actually individuals seeking a second chance on the other side of circumstances beyond their control. Matt Pelc¿s accessibly-written book was not only informative and interesting but it was also extremely current. For instance, he provides a chart regarding annual bankruptcy filings that includes data for 2007, while a completely different chart on unemployment numbers contains statistics from January 2008. Usually writers dig up dusty factoids and dated data to reinforce their points ¿ but not Pelc. In the book, Pelc does a superb job listing recent changes to federal bankruptcy laws and how those changes have translated into real-world applications since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. While his discussion about foreclosures and liens reads like today¿s newspaper, addressing the current mortgage crisis with stats and facts as recent as March 2008. Beyond those specifics, Pelc masterfully explains the general types of bankruptcies (e.g. Chapter 7, 13, 11 and 12) as well as defining the critical ¿means test¿ that is necessary to determine whether or not you are even eligible to file. I really appreciated his overview of what to look for in an attorney to help you through the process, what questions to ask a lawyer and estimates on how much the entire legal process could cost. But he doesn¿t stop there. Pelc goes further to even include a section about Debtor¿s Anonymous (p. 222) to help individuals who do get a second chance through bankruptcy to take positive steps toward a debt-free future. If you are even considering the remote possibility of filing for bankruptcy, do not take another step down that path without reading this book first. I believe that it can help any individual avoid potential frustration, pitfalls and problems that are inherent within the bankruptcy process, while making the best of a suboptimal financial situation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    A Fantastic Guide to Walk You Through the Bankruptcy Process

    When You Have to File for Bankruptcy is an excellent guide for anyone contemplating backruptcy. It carefully explains the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy in language anyone can understand. The different types of bankruptcy are described as well as what to expect during each stage of the process. Following the book makes it easy to be prepared with your necessary documents ahead of time. Mr. Pelc removes the fear, as well as the stigma, from filing for bankruptcy. The book also helps you repair your credit and create a budget after the bankruptcy is over, putting you back on the road to good financial health. I rate this book five out of five stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    Complete Guide!

    ¿When you have to file for Bankruptcy¿ is in simple words ¿ a great guide. Matt Pelc has written this book with experienced insight and has superbly covered the bankruptcy process. The bankruptcy process is a long and trying process. The person reading this book for the first time might be overwhelmed by the information and process detailed in the book but Matt Pelc is very good at nudging us to understand the procedure of bankruptcy and guiding the reader to clearly understand the course of action needed. The book includes many examples to help the reader clearly understand what Matt Pelc is trying to explain. The case studies are a great resource to further comprehend the bankruptcy process. I especially like the part where Matt Pelc discusses how we can ensure we do not land in the same situation a few years later by guiding us as to where to cut expenses and what to watch out for. The book has some dry spells but the bankruptcy procedure, itself, is a long drawn out process. Matt Pelc, as simply as possible, details the entire bankruptcy, explaining the law, the various forms that need to be filled, the obstacles involved while strongly urging the services of a lawyer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    What to expect before, during and after filing

    Deciding whether you should file for bankruptcy is a very serious matter, particularly when you stop to consider that a successful bankruptcy can take months or even years, and that the filing can remain on your credit report for another decade. The decision is one that should involve tremendous thought and research. This book is an invaluable tool because it offers great insight into what to expect before, during and after filing. Readers are also given other possible solutions and suggestions to try before filing. In the past several years, bankruptcy laws have changed dramatically. The author looks at those changes and gives you sound advice on how to avoid the pitfalls which could complicate or adversely impact an already problematic situation. His information and guidance are posed in simple terms to help regular citizens wade through all the legal jargon and court proceedings. He also takes great pains not to judge anyone who has found themselves in the situation and he offers a great deal of hope and encouragement for the future. The author strongly recommends that legal advice be obtained and backs up his recommendation with expert testimony showing that very few bankruptcy cases are successful without proper counsel. In addition to describing the basic types of bankruptcy filings, from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13, the book also provides advice about life after a bankruptcy. Topics include everything from creating a realistic budget, to using the experience to become a savvy, informed consumer, and what to do with all the credit card offers you¿ll receive after a discharge.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    Unquestionably feel better about bankruptcy process

    Bankruptcy is considered one of the more frightening words in the English language, implying financial ruin and personal failure to an extent that few people would dare to approach it unless they had no other hope. Matt Pelc's 'When You Have to File for Bankruptcy' does a remarkable job of taking that fear away from its readers, working past the mythos of the process and providing some genuinely practical advice. Pelc's book is a step-by-step analysis of the bankruptcy proceedings, beginning with a look at how you found yourself in this situation and asking if this is the right course of action. If it is, he then takes you through the paperwork you will need to collect before speaking to an attorney and the extensive forms a case requires. He encourages that you have access to the Internet while reading, and there are several helpful links available if you want to use his book as the manual for your own filing. The most noticeable aspect of this book is the almost comforting tone Pelc takes. He seems aware that anyone who picks up this book is likely in serious financial trouble, repeatedly assuring them that he is not going to point any fingers at them for being in the situation. He also doesn't try to overwhelm with the steps for rebuilding your life after the case is complete, breaking it into sections and offering simple suggestions such as changing your grocery habits and charting your daily expenses. Alternatives to bankruptcy are suggested, but he makes sure to point out that nothing is a cure-all and the problems cannot simply disappear by shuffling your assets around. No one ever wants to go through the bankruptcy procedure, but if you find yourself in a bind 'When You Have to File for Bankruptcy' serves as an invaluable reference to get it started. It educates you without making you feel stupid and makes a very conscious effort to separate the process from the natural tension and fear it produces.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    great help, easy read

    When You Have To File For Bankruptcy 'When You Have to File For Bankruptcy,' by Matt Pelc, is a helpful, easy read. It's a book that pertains to a variety of readers-- from those of us who are simply in credit card debt to those who are in complete financial disparity. The greatest part of this book is how it caters to its readers. A reader has easy access to the chapter he or she needs and can go straight to filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy if they wish. The book is simple and concise for a few reasons. It is set up to take you through the steps of evaluating your debt, considering filing, actually filing and recovering from filing. It explains confusing legal terms and ideas like the difference between chapters 7 and 13. I also found some very helpful tools in the book, like a Web site to retrieve your free credit report. Pelc uses the 'Johnson' family and others as sample people filing for bankruptcy to make it simpler. He shows their fake income and fake debt that can be complicated and relative to everyday debtors. In my opinion, the best part of the book is the chapter that describes the different types of bankruptcy in layman's terms. Pelc does a good job of making an unfamiliar and unpleasant subject easier to deal with. He also does a good job of letting the reader know that bankruptcy is common-- in 2007 over 800,000 people declared bankruptcy. The last part of the book was wordy and possibly could've been a single chapter on rebuilding credit and recovering. Overall I give the book four out of 5 stars because I found it very helpful and easy to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Good pacing and concise, complete information.

    If it were possible to actually want to read a book on filing for bankruptcy, When You Have to File for Bankruptcy would be the one to choose. Author Matt Pelc clearly and compassionately navigates the bewildering world of bankruptcy through a well-balanced combination of surprisingly engaging anecdotes, concisely stated facts, and precisely the kind of no-nonsense inspiration that someone who is considering declaring bankruptcy would need. In addition to being a pragmatic how-to guide, When You Have to File for Bankruptcy also contains up-to-date resources outlining the recent and often confusing changes in the complex world of bankruptcy law. Whil Pelc strongly advises the reader to enlist the help of a qualified attorney, those determined to go it alone will find this book an invaluable resource. The book moves at a pace that is manageable without offending the average person¿s intellect, and offers the added (albeit unnecessary) benefit of mildly amusing photographs and a vaguely pertinent quote at the start of each chapter. Pelc starts the book off with guidelines designed to help the reader to decide whether or not to actually declare bankruptcy, and then moves on through the various steps involved in necessarily painstaking detail. While Pelc¿s style does not distinguish itself for its literary merit, it does accomplish the task of making the entire bankruptcy process accessible in layman¿s terms.

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