What do you do if your family finances are falling apart? Before you start dipping into your 401(k), putting bills on high-interest credit cards or taking out exotic loans, try to get some credit advice.
A bankruptcy attorney is one of the easiest -- but most misunderstood -- places people can get credit advice.
“They may not have to file bankruptcy right away, but they’ll be armed with the right information,” said Ike Shulman, a San Jose attorney who specializes in bankruptcy.
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Shulman says he sees a lot of families who try to triage their finances on their own. Many do more harm than good. Shulman says most people have misconceptions about bankruptcy. Yes, it can stay on your record seven to ten years. No, they don’t automatically take your house or car.
Shulman says a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney might take an hour or less and could be free of charge.
“People who think they are in trouble -- or know it -- should talk to a bankruptcy lawyer sooner rather than later," he said. "Because they can make some very intelligent moves now.”
Shulman expects personal bankruptcy filings to skyrocket in the next six months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’d like to find a bankruptcy attorney, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys has a directory online.
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