Post-Bankruptcy Planning

by Carmen Dellutri, Esq.

April 29, 2011

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, bankruptcy is purely financial planning for the future.  If you use bankruptcy strategically, you will maximize the benefits of resolving many if not all of your financial issues.  However, bankruptcy is not a cure-all which solves all of your financial issues.

What is post-bankruptcy planning?  Good Question.  Before we get there, let’s put this topic into perspective.  Before filing for bankruptcy protection, an individual may do some bankruptcy planning.  They may get their financial house in order and gather up the latest statements for their attorney, etc.  This is where I see the case.  I also see that many individuals have no financial goals for themselves, and even worse, husbands and wives do not have a joint plan.  This is where post-bankruptcy planning comes into play.

Once the bankruptcy case is over, I am usually out of the picture.  What I want to see is that my former clients now have a plan for the future.  I want them to pay off their homes, cars and student loan debts as quickly as possible.  Then, I want them to start saving for retirement.  

I don’t care if they are in their 30s,  40s or 70s.  I want them to have a plan.  This idea needs to be planted early on, and it needs to be followed through on.  When was the last time you and your spouse answered these questions:  When do we want to retire?  How much money will we need?  and What kind of lifestyle will we want to lead?

My fear is that most people do not do this in their lives.  I can tell you from experience that most people do not know what kind of retirement plan their spouse has.  Or, if they do know it’s a 401K, they cannot tell you what type of investments are held or how much is in the account.  Likewise, they do not have a common goal.  I can tell you from personal experience, that inquiring into your significant others finances is a daunting process that one must take lightly.  But, if explained properly, it makes perfect sense.

I can understand the financial gurus who say that you should put your financial plans on auto-pilot by paying yourself first, yada yada yada, and I think that is fine.  What I don’t think is fine is the failure to get on the same page with your spouse or significant other especially after the last few years with high unemployment and dismal home prices.  Ask yourself:  What happens to us if…………..?

Think about it.  If you ask your husband or wife:  What age do you want to retire?  and What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead?  You may be shocked at the answer that you receive, I certainly was.  Or, will you have asked this question 10, 20 or 30 years before retirement and in enough time to meet those joint goals.

I started with a wish list of what I want my retirement to be.  Then I started asking myself where I wanted to live.  Once I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my golden years to look like, I asked my wife the same questions.  I was absolutely shocked by her responses.   She didn’t want to spend all of her time fishing.  She didn’t think my plan was a good plan at all.  As a matter of fact, she laughed at me and told me that we might as well spend our retirements separately because there was no way this was going to work.  At that point in time, we learned a new word.  Compromise.

There is always time to set and meet your goals.  But, it will require you to turn off the television and talk to your significant other.

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Carmen Dellutri is a proud member of the Florida Bar, and he is a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney, Certified by the American Board of Certification. He practices in the areas of Consumer Bankruptcy and Plaintiff's Personal Injury. He is the principal attorney at The Dellutri Law Group, P.A. The firm supports many charitable and civic causes by donating time and much needed capital to our community. Mr. Dellutri and the other attorneys in the firm routinely speak to students of all ages about various legal and societal issues.

Last modified: April 29, 2011