If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of for a person taking steps to protect their livelihoods. Bankruptcy is an option for those who are in a debt crisis beyond control. Although it’s a difficult decision to make, there are many benefits, the main one being that you can restart your journey back to financial freedom and become free from being harassed by creditors, and be free from garnished wages.
There are several different bankruptcy options depending on the person’s situation. Typically, there are three categories, or “chapters”, of bankruptcy that offer certain allowances for people.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy gets rid of almost all – if not all – of your unsecured debt, which refers to debt not connected to property. It allows you to start again and gain relief from the overwhelming burden that comes with debt. Some of the common debts that Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate are:
- Credit card debts
- Car and boat loans
- Mortgage debt
- Medical bills
- Payday loans
- Some tax debt
- Utility bills
- Personal loans
There are pros and cons to chapter 7 bankruptcy. One important downside is that part of it includes selling assets to pay back debtors. A qualified lawyer can help you identify the pros and cons in more detail and how they relate to your case.
Also known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy, chapter 7 bankruptcy is difficult to qualify for. Due to the strict guidelines, an attorney can help you understand those qualifications, some of which relate to income, financial status, legal honesty, and other important notes. There is no repayment plan with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which adds to its appeal for individuals looking to start fresh.
For those that do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is sometimes seen as an alternative. Also called a “wage earner’s plan,” Chapter 13 enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay their debts. Under this chapter, debtors plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years. Chapter 13 allows you to create a plan that you can manage with greater success – all at the same time keeping most of your assets and property.
Common debts in Chapter 13 bankruptcy include:
- Student loans
- Child support payments
- Tax obligations
- Certain debts could be dismissed altogether
Chapter 13 bankruptcy must be overseen and approved by a court. The court will analyze your plan, debt, income, assets & property, and then approve or deny your request. It helps you decide the best monthly payment plan for you, and usually, the process can take up to 5 years.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy enables a business to reorganize and continue to operate. Much like Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a repayment plan is presented to the court by the debtor. The difference is that Chapter 11 allows it to restructure itself and its assets so that renegotiation is possible. They are allowed to sell their assets to pay back the creditors, but one thing to note is that this process can take years.
WHICH BANKRUPTCY CHAPTER
IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
The type of bankruptcy that best serves a certain person depends on their circumstances. Still, each option provides levels of flexibility for the person or business.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the person to keep all or most of their property, and filers don't pay creditors through a three-to-five-year repayment plan.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy stops the person from being so behind as they work to catch up on missed payments, lessen certain loans, and keep their assets. Also, they get to clear off a credit report in 7 years (chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on a report for 10 years)
Finally, Chapter 11 bankruptcy has key benefits for businesses, including:
- Avoids total liquidation of the business
- Provides more time to develop and file a plan
- Allows reorganizing of things that are not working
- Allows the owner to retain control of your business