Current economic conditions are making a lot of individuals who have never before considered filing bankruptcy to now consider it as a feasible answer to their financial troubles. The problem is that not everyone can be assisted by filing bankruptcy. So, if you’re one of those people who has never, until lately, given thought to filing bankruptcy, you need to know whether bankruptcy will assist you or not.
Should You Even Be Considering Filing Bankruptcy?
As odd as it sounds, there’s no comprehensive test you can take to see whether bankruptcy is right for you. You don’t need a particular level of debt. You don’t need to earn less than a certain amount of money. And, you don’t even need to be in arrears in payments to your creditors.
Bankruptcy isn’t a decision you make by marking off boxes on a flow chart. Bankruptcy is an individual decision. But, it’s a individual decision that’s founded on specific factors in your life. They are some of the things you need to look at before deciding one way or the other about bankruptcy.
1. Are you in financial trouble? You may be in financial distress if you’re having difficulty paying the minimum payments on your credit cards. And, if you’re scarcely able to keep necessaries like food, clothing and shelter you’re likely in financial distress.
2. Do you live paycheck to paycheck? If you had even a moderate health issue, would it put you in a financial crisis?
3. Are you judgment proof? Put differently, do you have no assets that can be confiscated and sold to pay off your liabilities? You may not need to file bankruptcy if you’re judgment proof. Then again, judgments do stay around for a while. Each state’s judgment laws vary on exactly how long a judgment can hang around. But, what you need to look at is that your present-day bad situation may, and likely will, get better in the future. If it does, those judgments that were of no concern during your financial crisis will concern you because you could be looking at the confiscation of your future assets. Most lawyers will give you a free bankruptcy consultation. You should use it to talk about this particular issue.
4. Are creditors and collection agents harassing you? Bankruptcy is one choice to halt that harassment. But, you can also stop it with a letter writing campaign under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and assorted state law fair debt collection laws. But, bankruptcy is likely the best choice if you’re being harassed and you’re in financial trouble (see #1).
5. Are you looking at foreclosure? You’ll be able to block a foreclosure by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows you to restructure your debts and pay your mortgage arrears over time.
Will Bankruptcy Assist You?
Bankruptcy won’t give you more income. So, if you don’t make adequate money to support your life-style, bankruptcy isn’t your answer. You either need to lower your expenses or increase your income. You may even need to do both. But, you don’t need to file personal bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy also won’t help if your primary debts are non-dischargeable debts. Bankruptcy law defines those debts that are dischargeable and those that are not. The following is a short list of such non-dischargeable debts in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy under current bankruptcy laws.
* Current taxes and government penalties
* Child support
* Criminal files or restitution ordered by a court
* Personal injury awards where the debtor was intoxicated at the time of the incident
* Debts that aren’t listed in the bankruptcy filing schedule
* Student loans (there are exceptions but it’s nearly impossible to meet the prerequisites for them. So, it’s advisable to consider student loans as non-dischargeable)
* Debts that were part of a prior bankruptcy case but weren’t discharged
Closing Considerations for Personal Bankruptcy
Deciding whether to file bankruptcy isn’t an uncomplicated decision. But, it’s a decision you’ll be able to make if you adopt a logical and balanced approach to it. As part of your consideration, you’ll need to weigh your emotions, your background, your spiritual beliefs and your values. So, consider the following:
1. Do your own research. Read everything you can about bankruptcy.
2. Keep your future in mind. Think of how you’ll feel when the case is all over and you’re out from under a mass of debt. How will you feel about yourself in 6 months or a year? Will you be delighted with your choice to either file bankruptcy or not file bankruptcy?
3. Find the appropriate bankruptcy lawyer for you. Most bankruptcy attorneys will give you a free consultation. Use that free consultation to question the lawyer. But, when you start interviewing bankruptcy attorneys, don’t base your final hiring decision completely on price. It will be enticing to employ the most low-priced. After all, you’re in a financial crisis so the cheaper the better, right? That’s not always the case. Question the lawyer first. Be sure you’re a good match with that attorney. Your bankruptcy lawyer will be working for you so you need to be comfortable with the general approach to your case. You need to feel good about the fundamental interactions you have with the lawyer and staff. You want a bankruptcy lawyer who will help you through this crisis in a positive manner. You don’t want to feel judgment or dislike from either the lawyer or the staff.
4. Filing bankruptcy is a moral decision. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s not. But, you do have to make the decision that’s best for you and your household. So ask yourself: “Is it more honorable to press a losing financial struggle that places your family’s future at risk in an attempt to pay back old debt?” Or, is it more honorable to admit you did your best, you couldn’t make it work and you need a clean start that will permit you to devote your personal time and effort into actions that will more than positively impact your family’s future?”
Only you can answer that question. Take your time. Make the right decision for you and your household. Once you’ve made that decision, have faith in your power to make the appropriate choice. Then, go ahead knowing that your financial troubles will soon pass.