There is nobody who likes getting into bankruptcy, but there are individuals who abuse this important debt settlement tool.
The Importance of Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer
There are many legal terminologies that you may not understand. When filing for bankruptcy, the paperwork alone can make your head feel like it’s going to explode. Since you may not even know what to do after filing the necessary paperwork, it is important you hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney to give you competent legal counsel and represent you when needed.
The Bankruptcy Process Demystified
When filling the necessary bankruptcy paperwork, you will be required to declare your assets and debts. If you have a car loan or a home loan, you will need to indicated on the statement of intention whether you wish to retain ownership of the car or you’d like to have it repossessed by the financier. An experienced attorney can advise you accordingly depending on your circumstances. Full financial disclosure is important because the bankruptcy trustee will put your finances under the microscope.
Once the bankruptcy petition has been filed in court, all the creditors you owe money to, and are affected by the bankruptcy, will be notified. An automatic stay comes into effect the moment the bankruptcy petition has been filed. If creditors are the once who filed the petition, you will still get automatic stay, so they’ll have to wait for the bankruptcy process to be concluded to get their money back, whether in part or in full.
The three most popular bankruptcy chapters in USA are: Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13. Individual debtors who meet the minimum requirements are eligible for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, while corporate entities and businesses can file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 11, depending on their circumstances.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
In this type of bankruptcy, the debtor is required to pay their debts through a court-approved payment plan. If you file a Chapter 13, you will be instructed to come up with a sustainable repayment plan that takes into consideration your monthly income. This plan must be presented to creditors in a formal meeting organized by the bankruptcy trustee and attended by creditors, or their representatives. You will be required to answer questions and address any concerns creditors may have. Before the meeting ends, creditors will vote either against or in favor of it, but that does not matter a lot since the plan can come into effect once the judge approves it. If approved, you will be required to submit the monthly payments to the bankruptcy trustee according to the terms of the repayment plan. The trustee will then distribute the funds to your creditors. Please note that if you default, your assets will be liquidated by the trustee. Once the bankruptcy period has lapsed, any outstanding debt will be written off.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
This is similar to a Chapter 13 except for the fact that it’s for businesses and corporate entities. When the debtor is declared bankrupt under this chapter, the trustee will take over the management of the business. All expansion plans, disposal of assets or procurement of additional debt will be frozen until the bankruptcy period lapses.
It is important to note that if debtors fail to honor their repayment plan as proposed during the Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 proceedings, the trustee will start liquidating assets, as is usually the case under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
This is the default bankruptcy option. However, debtors who have a decent monthly income can avoid this option by filing a Chapter 11 or Chapter 13. It entails disposal of all the non-exempt assets belonging to the debtor and the proceeds of the sale distributed among creditors, according to their fraction of the total debt. During the process, exempted assets are not touched. The debtor can also be left with anything else that has little monetary value but is not exempt. While there are federal exemptions, every state has its own exemptions. Debtors can choose to either for the state or federal car exemptions and so on.
When filing for bankruptcy, you should not forget that you have many rights and privileges that can easily be overlooked or breached by the trustee, creditors or the court. Therefore, you should hire a competent bankruptcy lawyer to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.