When debt is bad enough and no other option is available to you, the next serious step to inquire about is bankruptcy. This decision is not to be taken lightly as it has some serious consequences that goes along with it.
To begin this process, you will need to hire a lawyer. When you do choose a lawyer, you will be expected to pay upfront costs. Be aware of the money involved with the procedure, the time it will take, any requirements that may be expected of you, and the price your credit will pay afterwards. There are some public-funded legal service programs that may handle bankruptcy cases without charging any attorney fees. If this is not an option available to you, they might be able to refer you to a private attorney. Not all attorneys charge the same fees. Ask for references or inquire about experience in bankruptcy court.
Meeting with the lawyer is your next step. Bring any documents you have concerning your debt; bill statements showing how much you owe, letters from collections agencies, and copies of your credit reports. The list may be long, but you will want to include every little amount you owe. Your lawyer will talk you through the next step in bankruptcy. Which type shall you file under?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy:
Bankruptcy options will give your finances a new start. Chapter 13 is one way to file. Your information will be presented in court. The lawyer will have the job of proving to the court that you qualify for this option. In the lawyer's petition to the court, your assets and liabilities will be presented along with income and expenditures. You will also prepare a statement with your lawyer describing your financial affairs and any other pertinent information.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy will put you on a payment plan to play off all or parts of your debt. The payoff period will last three to five years. Debt counseling will be required before you will submit your plan. Learning how to control your money in order to pay off the debt will ensure your success.
You will be able to keep your home and vehicles while paying off your debt. The court will approve a realistic plan which may restructure your debt including the possibility or rescheduling your mortgage debt. Finding financial relief was your purpose for filing Chapter 13, with the courts assistance and some debt counseling, you will get yourself back on track.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 7 years. Your debt counseling will help you rebuild your credit.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
Filing Chapter 7 will give you a whole new beginning to finances. Those people who do not have a large amount of income or property are more often the ones found filing this bankruptcy option. There is no repayment plan and most of your debts will be discharged by the courts.
Once again, through the assistance of your lawyer, you will have to prove your eligibility for this type of debt relief. Not all debts will be eligible for this program, but your home, vehicle and personal items will be exempt. If you have a 401K or individualized retirement account they will be exempt as well.
Rules, forms, and procedures for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will need a lawyer's expertise to please the courts. Your petition to the courts will include a list of all monthly living expenses, income, your creditors and how much you owe to each. Once the court proceedings are finished, your debt will be excused and your finances will have a new beginning.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on your credit for up to 10 years. Consider debt counseling so you do not fall into the same traps as before.
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