If you've been hit hard by our current economic conditions and are considering bankruptcy, it's important that you find out all the information you need first so that you can make an informed decision. Here is some personal bankruptcy information you should keep in mind that might help you streamline the process and make things a little easier.
In some cases, financial difficulties are not your faults, such as in the case of job loss or illness. In other cases living beyond your means and using credit extensively has caused your financial problems. No matter which category you fall into it's good to know that our country believes strongly in second chances and that can help you make better, or different, choices the next time around.
There are two main types of bankruptcies that are used most often by individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the individual is usually allowed to just write off all of their debts and will still be able to keep some assets such as a home and a car. Laws do vary from state to state so you will have to find out specifically what you would be allowed to keep per your state's laws.
Chapter 13 is a restructuring of your debts and the court will set up a repayment plan that can stretch out for 3 - 5 years. If your state laws won't allow you to keep your home under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be allowed to keep it with a Chapter 13.
While it may sound odd, one of the biggest mistakes people make when filing bankruptcy is not hiring a lawyer. Bankruptcy is a complicated process and you need someone who is knowledgeable about the best way to work through this process on your side. Even though money is extremely tight, you owe it to your future to hire an attorney so all your rights are protected.
Before you hire an attorney take a little time to educate yourself about what bankruptcy is all about. Knowledge is power and it's important that you know as much as possible when you meet with your lawyer so you don't have to spend more money on your lawyer's fees by asking them questions you could have gotten the answers to yourself. Lawyers charge by the hour.
Again, don't forget that your lawyer charges, a lot, by the hour. Keep your bills as low as possible by being prepared. If your lawyer doesn't tell you specifically what papers you need to bring when you meet with them, ask them. At the minimum, you will need any loan documents for homes, cars, boats, campers, etc. You will also need copies of medical bills, credit card bills, and other unsecured loans you may have. Your lawyer will also need to know how many assets you may have so included copies of any financial statements for savings, checking accounts, CDs, etc.
Unless someone in your family or friends is a bankruptcy attorney, don't take their advice. This may sound harsh, but listening to well-meaning, but misinformed, people about complicated legal matters can cause you a lot of problems. You hired a lawyer for their expertise, listen to them not your Uncle Herbert.
Use this personal bankruptcy information to help protect yourself during this difficult time. True, the bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, and it isn't something that should be entered into lightly, but if it's your only option it can provide you with a clean slate and a chance to start fresh, take it.