Is Bankruptcy for You?
For those who feel that they are in serious financial distress, bankruptcy may have crossed their minds. Bankruptcy is not something to be taken lightly. While your debt may be wiped clean, there are far-reaching consequences for that "new freedom".
Most people who are considering filing for bankruptcy are doing so because their debt has become uncontrollable. Individuals who declare bankruptcy do so under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy completely liquidates debt and any assets related to it. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different. Instead of liquidating debt it postpones your payments and helps you plan how to pay back part of what you owe.
Bankruptcy damages a person's credit. A bankruptcy judgment stays on credit reports for as long as ten years. During that time, any credit that is applied for will disclose the bankruptcy to the creditor. If filing Chapter 13, you still have to pay back part of your debt and the judgment stays on your credit report for ten years.
Some people have turned bankruptcy into a way to easily get rid of debt without having to pay the money they owe. In some cases, individuals have filed for Chapter 7 multiple times in an effort to rid themselves of incurred debt.
At a bankruptcy hearing, a judge determines which assets need to be taken and which can be exempt from the bankruptcy process. These decisions are based off of laws that are different in every state. Since people know how the system works, some have tried to buy high price items with cash like cars and houses before a bankruptcy. That way, those possessions are not liquidated and the individual ends up paying very little to their creditors.
Laws have been changed in regards to the bankruptcy process and such misuse of the system is no longer possible. Instead of being chosen by the courts, now people who wish to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy must meet stringent requirements. For example, they must earn less than the median income in their state. If a person has enough money on hand to pay for twenty-percent of their debt, they are not eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
These changes have made it so that more people file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In these proceedings, the court take into consideration a person's financial situation and their debt in order to determine how much money they are realistically able to pay. Necessities like a rent or mortgage payment and utility bills are calculated and compared to standards that the IRS has set for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers. After this, the actual amount to be paid is determined and the rest is considered exempt.
Now that the bankruptcy process has become more complicated than before, lawyers are charging more to handle the proceedings involved. The extra cost involved also makes people think about their situation seriously before filing. Credit counselors can help you to make a plan for getting rid of debt without going through the bankruptcy process.
Bankruptcy is not a simple or cheap process and should only be used when all other efforts at eliminating debt have failed since bankruptcy causes long term damage to your credit.
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