With the economy in the tank there are many people facing an uncertain financial future. Inflation is on the rise, the housing market is on a continuous decline, gas prices are skyrocketing, medical costs and health insurance continue to increase, and unemployment is at all time highs. Many families find themselves facing tough financial decisions. They are certainly not alone. It is expected that this year alone more than 1.5 million Americans will file bankruptcy, and there are probably many more that are considering it.
When an individual is at the point where filing bankruptcy is a serious option, they undoubtedly have many questions. One of the first and most common questions is, what exactly is bankruptcy? Bankruptcy was created by Congress and it is a process under the federal law that enables individuals or married couples a way to either eliminate overwhelming debt that they are unable to pay back, or a legal and feasible repayment plan to pay a portion or all of their debts back over a scheduled period of time. Another question is, can I qualify to file for bankruptcy? The answer to this really lies with a bankruptcy attorney. Since the changes to the bankruptcy code back in 2005, it has become more difficult for people to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the debtor makes too much money compared to the median income for the state they reside in, then they will be pushed into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
There are other things to consider as well including the debtor's monthly income and expenses, number of dependents, spouse's income, etc. This can become convoluted and confusing even for the most astute individuals. This is where the experience of a bankruptcy attorney can be invaluable in offering advice and solutions for the debtor. Another common question asked is, will bankruptcy stop the creditor harassment? It absolutely will. Once the bankruptcy is filed the automatic stay goes into effect. The automatic stay is a legal order that prohibits all contact and collection attempts from the creditors against the debtor. The automatic stay also puts a halt to all wage garnishments, lawsuits, judgments, and even foreclosure. Many people also fear filing bankruptcy because they are uncertain of losing their property during the bankruptcy.
The answer to that also lies in the expertise of a bankruptcy attorney. Due to the federal and state exemption laws it is uncommon for debtors to lose much property or personal assets. These laws when used properly offer strong protections to the debtor allowing them to retain most if not all of their property. Another asset that is protected that many individuals worry about is their retirement. Social Security and retirement accounts such as 401(k), are all protected under the law.
The thought of having to file bankruptcy brings up many fears and uncertainties to people, but having the help of an experience bankruptcy attorney to answer all of your questions and guide you through the process can alleviate many of these unknowns. The end result is the individual gaining their financial freedom and making a fresh start.
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