If your financial situation has been keeping you up at night, it might be time to file for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows people with limited amounts of disposable income to liquidate some of their personal property and use the money to repay their debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives people the opportunity to develop debt repayment plans. If you are not sure if bankruptcy is right for you, here are six ways making the decision to file can change your life for the better.
1. Automatic Stay
Collection agencies are supposed to follow the rules outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but some companies ignore the rules and make threatening collection calls. If you've been on the receiving end of calls from agents who don't treat you with the respect you deserve, filing for bankruptcy protection can eliminate most of these calls from your life. Once you file, you receive an automatic stay, which means most of your creditors have to stop their collection efforts.
2. Flexible Payment Terms
If you have too much disposable income to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives you a chance to come up with a flexible plan for repaying your creditors. You might be able to reduce your monthly payments or negotiate with creditors to return their property instead of continuing to make payments on loans secured by collateral. If you are able to negotiate favorable payment terms, you won't have to worry constantly about the possibility of missing a payment or having your car repossessed when you least expect it.
3. No More Credit Cards
Although many people file bankruptcy due to mounting medical bills or lengthy periods of unemployment, others run into financial problems when they make too many purchases with their credit cards. Unless you pay off your credit card balances before you file for bankruptcy, you won't be able to use those cards again. Instead of relying on credit cards, you'll learn how to budget your money and make smart financial decisions, preventing financial problems in the future.
4. Avoid Lawsuits
If you do not do something about your past-due debts, creditors can sue you for the amounts you owe, plus extra interest charges and fees for late payments. Filing for bankruptcy shows your creditors you are trying to fix your financial problems. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be able to work out a payment plan that ensures your creditors receive regular payments and prevents them from filing lawsuits against you.
5. Property Protection
Many people worry that they will end up with no place to live or no way to get to work if they file for bankruptcy. Fortunately, most states allow people who file for bankruptcy to exempt a certain amount of their personal property. This means you might be able to keep your primary home or the vehicle you use to get to work each day. Because the exemption rules vary from state to state, it's important to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine which exemptions apply to your situation.
6. Debt Forgiveness
If you file for bankruptcy, you may be able to have some of your debts discharged completely. This means you won't have to keep paying on those debts. If you've been struggling to make monthly minimum payments, or you have missed several payments in a row, having your debts discharged can put you on the road to financial recovery and help you avoid the stress of knowing you are unable to meet your financial obligations.
The decision to file for bankruptcy protection is not an easy one, but it can help you get a head start on rebuilding your finances. If you are interested in liquidating some of your assets to pay your creditors, contact a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney to find out if you qualify for this type of bankruptcy. If you have too much disposable income for a liquidation bankruptcy, work with an experienced Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney to come up with a plan to repay your debts.