There's a reason the world needs bankruptcy lawyers. Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process that can take both a financial and emotional toll on people, especially if not done properly.
When credit card debt is mounting up, medical bills are littering the kitchen table, and every time the phone rings it's a debt collector calling about payments, it may be time to consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
A good bankruptcy attorney will help you consider some questions and explore all of your options. Here are some questions that you and your bankruptcy attorney will want to explore:
- Is bankruptcy the right option for you? Just because you suddenly find yourself drowning in debt does not mean that you need to declare bankruptcy to get yourself back on track financially. You may learn, for example, that your debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy or that you are judgment proof (essentially a creditor can't seize your assets to get the money he's owed). A bankruptcy attorney will help you explore all of your financial options and help you determine if bankruptcy is the one that makes the most financial sense.
- What are your bankruptcy options? There are numerous types of bankruptcy. Some are more applicable to individuals, and some are more commonly used by businesses. Filing Chapter 13, for example, tends to be somewhat complicated as it involves creating a repayment plan for many of your debts. On the positive side, Chapter 13 allows people to keep crucial items such as their house and car. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in contrast, is simpler and faster, but it involves liquidating a tremendous amount of property to pay off debts.
- Are you eligible for bankruptcy? It seems rather strange, but people have to meet certain criteria before they can file for bankruptcy. For instance, if someone has filed for bankruptcy in the past he or she has to wait a certain number of years before filing again. People must also meet certain income requirements if they wish to file Chapter 7.
- Which debts will be discharged in bankruptcy? Certain debts, such as back taxes and child support, are seldom forgiven in bankruptcy proceedings. It is critical to work with your attorney to understand which debts will be forgiven and which will have to be paid.