When a friend or loved one is going through a financial challenge, you undoubtedly want to be there for them in whatever capacity you are able. When this challenging time includes having to declare bankruptcy, many Americans aren't sure what to do or not to do in order to be a good friend.
If you find yourself in this dilemma, here are a few helpful things you can do starting today.
1. Be a Listening Ear
Most people who go through bankruptcy struggle with a variety of emotions. If they have been dealing with serious issues like financial troubles, a change in earning power, health crises, or a divorce, their stress and anxieties may have been high for some time already.
One of the best, and simplest, things you can do as a friend is to be there when your loved one needs to talk. Avoid judging them for this financial situation, no matter what caused it.
2. Focus on the Positive
Bankruptcy sounds — and often feels — like a negative. But, in fact, it is a very positive step that is getting your friend back on the right track. Focus on the benefits and positive outcomes that will occur throughout the process.
For instance, as soon as a petitioner files for bankruptcy, creditors will stop calling and harassing them. Bankruptcy may prevent a repossession or garnishment and allow the debtor to keep working and earning what they need. And they may still be able to protect some of their assets through exemptions.
When the bankruptcy is complete, too, keep in mind that their debts will be forever gone so they can start fresh and with confidence. Look at this as the start of a new chapter rather than the end of an old one or a mistake.
3. Adjust Your Own Style
You don't have to spend your own money in order to be a good friend to someone going through a financial burden. Instead, make arrangements to spend more time with them and less of your own money. Why? The person dealing with bankruptcy still wants and deserves to enjoy life and their loved ones.
So, how can you help them to do that without further adding to their financial challenge? Perhaps instead of inviting them out to dinner or shows, you could host dinner at your house. Instead of planning an expensive concert date night, you might enjoy an evening of free music under the stars in a park. Find ways to continue to thrive together while spending little or nothing as a group.
4. Ask What They Need
Never underestimate the value of simply asking a person what they really need from you. Many people who want to be a great friend try to guess what their loved one needs during a crisis. But, in fact, their needs could be quite different from what you expect.
For example, someone who isn't going to reaffirm their home mortgage might need help finding a less expensive temporary living situation. If they are unfamiliar with the legal process or nervous about the court case, offer to accompany them to early meetings with their lawyer or days in court.
5. Keep Their Trust
If your friend confides in you, be a friend by keeping their trust. If the person is embarrassed about their financial situation, they may have struggled to talk about it with you. You can respect that by keeping it in confidence.
Ask your friend with whom he or she has confided. Do not share information with anyone who isn't approved by the debtor. If you accompany them to any meetings, keep these confidential and professional. Be a protective barrier for them when possible.
No matter what your friend or family member's struggles are with their bankruptcy, you can help them in many ways. When you focus on the positive, adjust your own expectations, and be a trusted confidante, you provide support that means more than all the money in the world.
To learn more about the bankruptcy process and how it affects everyone, contact the legal team at Kalasnik Law Office today.