Being overwhelmed with financial debt can sometimes lead you to choose bankruptcy as a last resort. It can be a great tool for debt relief, but filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision that you have to think through. The bankruptcy filing has certain advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons between filing and not filing.
In simple terms, a bankruptcy filing is a legal way for individuals dealing with unmanageable debts to get a fresh start. Once you filed a bankruptcy petition, you’ll have the option to clear certain debts and to get a fresh financial start by either temporarily or permanently preventing lenders and debt collectors from collecting payment for your debts. When filing bankruptcy, a bankruptcy court will look into your living expenses, monthly income, and the types of debt you owe to your creditors to determine which type of bankruptcy best suits your needs. To do this, a bankruptcy means test is conducted.
A bankruptcy means test also determines whether you can wipe out your debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or get a debt repayment plan through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy cases usually involve both non-dischargeable and dischargeable debts. Some examples of dischargeable debts are unsecured debts (not backed by any underlying assets) like medical bills, credit card bills, and utility bills. On the other hand, non-dischargeable debts, are secured debts (backed by collateral), alimony and child support, student loans, and tax debts.
Once you filed a bankruptcy, you will either receive a) debt discharge, b) a court order relieving you of duty to repay certain debts, c) a loan repayment plan, or d) a debt settlement. Before filing, it is best to seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney in Portland to help you determine the best type of bankruptcy that is most suitable for you.
There are different types of bankruptcy chapters, and the most common are Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. When filing Chapter 7, your case will be evaluated by a bankruptcy trustee who will also oversee the selling of your nonexempt assets, where the proceeds will be used to repay or partially pay off your debts.
In Chapter 13, you’ll have the option to keep your estate and assets as long as you can pay your creditors. Also known as a wage earner’s plan, it enables debtors with regular income to come up with a plan to repay all or some of their debts in 3-5 years. Filing bankruptcy under this chapter will also allow you to stop wage garnishments, foreclosure, or property repossession.
To file for bankruptcy gives you the option to get out of debt or to relieve some of the financial burdens of dealing with debts. However, it is also important to note that while it has advantages, there are also disadvantages that come with a bankruptcy filing. Before deciding whether to file for bankruptcy or not, it is best to seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney who can guide you in the ins and outs of bankruptcy laws. They can assist you in filling out the bankruptcy forms needed in your bankruptcy petition, and guide you throughout your application up to the bankruptcy proceeding in court.
Advantages of Filing Bankruptcy
Once you declare bankruptcy, an automatic stay is immediately put in place. It is an automatic injunction that halts actions by debt collectors, government entities, or individuals to collect debts from a debtor who has declared bankruptcy (with certain exceptions). It can protect you from creditor harassment, and they won’t be allowed to contact you and ask you to pay your debts.
Declaring bankruptcy can also give you a bankruptcy discharge, which means that you won’t be required to pay off certain debts, depending on which type of bankruptcy you’ll file. It can also give you a fresh start in building your financial future by giving you debt relief.
Disadvantages of Filing Bankruptcy?
Although a great management tool, a filed bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7-10 years, limiting your chances of getting credit, buying a house, applying for insurance policies, and sometimes, even getting a job.
It also can’t eliminate all your debts like mortgage payment, government tax, some student loan debts, alimony, and child support. You may also lose some nonexempt assets if a judge deems it necessary for you to sell them to pay your debts.
How a Portland Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
Understanding the basics of bankruptcy law is important especially if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy proceedings are complicated, and require the legal assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, we are here to help. Reach out to our Portland bankruptcy attorneys at Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm to discuss your situation.