How Bankruptcy Works
Bankruptcy can be a powerful tool to help you get back on track financially. But before you file, it’s important to understand that filing for bankruptcy can mean different things for different people.
In some cases, bankruptcy will eliminate all of your debts and give you a completely fresh start. For others, bankruptcy is a way to get their current debt load under control and protect valuable assets from seizure.
Bankruptcy gives you many options and the best way to approach bankruptcy is to review your specific situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you explore your specific options and make the best choices for you.
What are your bankruptcy options?
Bankruptcy is a big decision. This doesn’t mean it isn’t the right decision if you are struggling financially, but it does mean you need to weigh the pros and cons before filing. Having a bankruptcy on your credit report can affect your ability to get a loan or to file in the future if you fall on hard financial times again.
Once you file for bankruptcy, it remains on your credit report for up to 10 years. This is longer than the average negative mark remains on your credit report, so you need to ensure bankruptcy is truly the best choice for you before filing.
Types of Bankruptcy
The first option you’ll explore once you decide to file for bankruptcy is whether to liquidate your assets to repay your debts (chapter 7) or to reorganize your debt to make it more affordable (chapter 13). Much of this decision depends on your income.
In order to qualify for chapter 13, you must have an income, which is why this type of bankruptcy is sometimes known as “wage earners’ bankruptcy.” In chapter 13 bankruptcy, creditors might receive all, part, or none of what you owe them, but for three to five years you’ll be making payments toward your debts in one lump sum.
If you opt for chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will liquidate your assets and use that money to pay creditors. Creditors might receive all or a portion of the money you owe them depending on how they are prioritized. In some cases, creditors receive nothing you owe them, but they still have no legal standing to pursue you for the debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy truly means you are free of your obligation to repay qualified debts.
It’s important to realize that not all debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. This means that depending on your type of debt bankruptcy might not be the best option for you.
For instance, if the largest and most pressing debt you’re dealing with is related to child support, bankruptcy will do nothing to remove your obligation. It can free up money so you can afford to pay child support payments, but child support and other court-ordered financial obligations are never discharged in bankruptcy. The same is true for some tax debts and some student loan debts.
For more information about what debts might be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, check out this information from Investopedia.com.
No matter what you choose – chapter 7, chapter 13, or a non-bankruptcy option – it’s important to understand what lies ahead. Your specific circumstances have a major impact on whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you and discussing your situation with a bankruptcy attorney is essential if you want to choose the best option in your case.
For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options, contact the Law Office of Robert M. Geller at (813) 254-5696.