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Filing for bankruptcy: When and how to make use of this legal weapon

Bankruptcy is regarded as the ultimate debt relief solution – one which is chosen only when other debt elimination processes fail to revive the finances of a debt ridden individual. It is a legal process which promises fresh financial start to the consumers by eliminating their outstanding bills and dues. The federal law based judicial course of action either results in the discharge of most or all unsecured debts of an individual or reorganizes the debts with a court-approved payment plan. However, certain bankruptcy cases may also involve loss of the consumer's assets to pay off his creditors.

When can you file bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy might seem to be the best debt solution when nothing else seems to work in your favor. One or more of the following common reasons might prompt you to file for your bankruptcy.

  1. You are burdened with enormous debt and not in a financial situation to pay off those
  2. None of your attempts to pay off debt worked
  3. You risk losing assets to creditors
  4. You are unemployed or have lost your job recently

What are the two main types of consumer bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy comes along in various forms. Since bankruptcy leaves a noticeable mark on your financial history, it's extremely important to choose the right form which suits your specific situation. For this reason, it's sensible to sit with an experienced attorney for a pre bankruptcy counseling.

The two most common form of consumer bankruptcy are:

  1. Chapter 7 – Straight Bankruptcy/Liquidation: This is the basic liquidation bankruptcy for individuals and businesses. Since it usually involves the discharge of debt, it's considerably a simpler and faster process.
  2. Chapter 13 – Adjustment of an individual's debt: This form of bankruptcy adjusts an individual's debt in a way that his debts are repaid, as much as possible. It involves formulation of a court-approved repayment plan for individuals with steady source of income.

Why is it better to hire a bankruptcy attorney than to do it on your own?

It's not necessary that you have to appoint an attorney when you're about to file your bankruptcy. You can evidently represent yourself in the court. However, it's strongly recommended to consult one for bankruptcy help since, after the enactment of BAPCPA in 2005, filing bankruptcy have become much more complicated and time consuming. A minor mistake during the filing process or violation of the bankruptcy laws, may result in rejection of your case.

Thus, before you decide to file your own bankruptcy, check out the following list to understand how an experienced bankruptcy attorney can be a better choice.

Hire Bankruptcy AttorneyDo It Yourself (DIY)
Free initial consultation
Protection from creditor harassment
Appropriate legal advice (asset protection, valuation of assets, listing exempted property, etc..)
Protection from mistakes while preparing bankruptcy forms
Absolute peace of mind

How much is the cost of filing bankruptcy?

The term 'affordable bankruptcy' is misleading to some extent, since a debtor needs to pay the mandatory court fees sometime later after his case is successfully filed with the court. The filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $306, while it's $281 for a Chapter 13 case. In addition to the court costs, the consumer also needs to bear the attorney fees for valuable bankruptcy advice.

How bankruptcy can affect credit rating?

A bankruptcy filing can have a significant impact on your credit score. Not only does it brings down your credit score, it also stays on your report for around 7 to 10 years. However, most individuals filing bankruptcy already suffer from poor credit situations. So, getting rid of the debts might seem a good option at that point. Moreover, just because you filed bankruptcy, it doesn't mean that you'll not be allowed credit within or after the 10 year period.

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