Are you currently dealing with major debt that feels insurmountable? You’re certainly not alone. Alarming results from Experian’s 2019 Consumer Debt Study reveal that the average American carries personal debt exceeding $90,000.
If you are burdened with an ever-growing mountain of debt, you may be exploring debt relief options. With the right attorney on your side, you might find relief in bankruptcy. First, however, it’s important to understand the process and its implications. We explain both in detail below.
Chapter 7 Versus Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
While a variety of forms of bankruptcy exist, most personal bankruptcies fall under the categories of chapter 7 and chapter 13. While neither approach is ideal in every situation, many people favor chapter 7 for its ability to discharge a substantial portion of unsecured debts.
Chapter 7, often referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy”, offers a viable means of wiping the slate clean. Under this approach, you can erase a significant share of your current debt without the need for a 3-5 year creditor repayment plan. In order to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy however, you must pass a means test. If your income is above the Florida adjusted median income, you may not qualify.
If you don’t qualify under chapter 7, you may want to consider chapter 13 bankruptcy. Also known as the wage earner’s plan, chapter 13 allows you to pay back all or a percentage of your debts by completing a repayment plan over the course of 3-5 years. This is often the best option for those who want to retain personal property or who don’t pass the means test. Your bankruptcy attorney will work with you to develop a plan tailored to your economic situation.
Consumer Credit Counseling You must complete a course in credit counseling before filing bankruptcy, and a course in debtor education after filing. Your attorney will guide you through this process.
After your voluntary bankruptcy petition is filed with the court, an automatic stay will be activated. This prohibits all collection proceedings by creditors and prevents creditors from collecting on your accounts. The automatic stay could also temporarily protect you from foreclosure, eviction, wage garnishment, or repossession.
After filing for bankruptcy, you will receive information about a mandatory creditor meeting. Run by a court-appointed trustee, this meeting may involve detailed questions about your financial status. Your attorney will attend the meeting with you. Although creditors are welcome to participate, they often do not.
How We Can Help
If you suspect that you may need to file for bankruptcy, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. The more you get out ahead of the issue, the more likely you are to secure a favorable outcome. A proactive approach can make all the difference and your bankruptcy attorney can provide valuable guidance as you consider the pros and cons of the various approaches to debt relief.
Ready to get started on the path to a fresh start? There’s no need to go it alone. You can count on us to provide you with the attentive, personalized representation you deserve. Call us to schedule your complimentary consultation and know that you will have a highly respected legal representative in your corner. This could be your opportunity for a new beginning.