Great! You’re on your way to a fresh start.
Now you’ve got work to do.
◊ List the debts that didn’t get discharged. Family support, recent taxes, student loans, or taxes for years for which you haven’t filed bankruptcy are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The discharge order doesn’t say what debts survive.
◊ Verify lien balances The discharge eliminates your personal liability for dischargeable debts; liens survive. If you plan to keep a house or car encumbered with liens, find out what you owe and resume payments. Otherwise, the creditor can enforce its lien by foreclosure or repossession.
◊ Rearrange banking Online banking and automatic bill pay may have been disabled while you were in bankruptcy.
◊ Set up automatic savings Bankruptcy probably brought home to you how little net worth you have and how thin the safety net is. Arrange for automatic savings for both an emergency fund and for retirement.
◊ Save your bankruptcy papers- You’re nearly certain to encounter efforts by buyers of zombie debt to collect debts that have been discharged in your case. You need to be able to show that the debt was scheduled in your case. Creditors with notice, and those they sell their worthless accounts to without notice, were discharged.
◊ Join a credit union Credit unions are owned by their members. They are in business to make loans to members. Rates are usually better than the banks, and the profits flow to members. About the only kinds of credit I’m enthusiastic about are car loans and home loans. Plan to be eligible to apply for a loan by joining now.
◊ Check insurance coverage If you elected to surrender property through the bankruptcy that still stands in your name, make sure that you are insured for liability. Liaibility insurance covers you for claims of anyone injured on your property. Electing to surrender property doesn’t take you off title til someone else goes on title. Don’t let post bankruptcy claims arising from property you’re trying to get rid of spoil your fresh start.
◊ Pull a credit report Several months after your discharge, check your credit report to make sure all discharged debts reflect a zero balance. The ugly history can properly remain, but you are entitled to a showing that you now owe nothing.
Take advantage of the opportunity that bankruptcy has provided, and go forth and prosper. Good luck.
Image courtesy of The Green Gables.