Bankruptcy, although a frightening term to many, can often mean salvation to those who find themselves underwater with intractable debt. If used wisely, under the counsel of a talented bankruptcy attorney, bankruptcy can be a method for getting a fresh financial start. While there is a common misconception that bankruptcy will ruin your credit score, the opposite is true — by eliminating debt, your credit score will rebound rapidly. Believe it or not, bankruptcy can give you immediate relief from being besieged by creditors and restore your peace of mind. Nonetheless, in spite of the potential benefits of declaring bankruptcy, in some cases other types of debt relief may be preferable. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to help you make the best choice in your individual case.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the weight of debt in your personal life or in your business, Alex and Michaela Dolhancyk of The Dolhancyk Law Firm, P.C. are ready to help. Their family owned and run practice has been assisting clients with financial difficulties for over 25 years, always taking a down-to-earth approach, willing to clarify confusing issues, and relieve concerns.
The Dolhancyks are eager to meet with you for a free initial consultation to evaluate your unique situation and discuss your options. Alex and Michaela pride themselves on their ability to gain your trust and offer you the personalized service you deserve. When you visit their office you can expect to be welcomed as friends, and offered beverages and light snacks. Most importantly, you will be made aware that the Dolhancyks are looking out for your best interests. They live locally and can be called on at any time.
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a method designed to help people who can no longer pay their debts get a fresh start. Under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court, individuals and businesses can discharge some debts and/or establish a workable repayment plan. Generally speaking, there are two types of bankruptcy: those involving liquidation and those involving reorganization. Bankruptcy begins when the debtor files a petition with the bankruptcy court. Such a petition can be filed by one person, spouses, or a business entity.
Different Types of Bankruptcy
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code outlines the rules that govern all bankruptcy cases handled in federal courts. For this reason, each type of bankruptcy is referred to by its chapter number in that code, for example, Chapter 11 or Chapter 13. If you are thinking about filing for some type of bankruptcy or other kind of debt relief, it is essential to have a capable bankruptcy attorney at your side to guide you through the complex, often confusing, aspects of such financial restructuring.
You should be aware that in order to qualify for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must demonstrate that you have received credit counseling during the 6-month period before you file from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Georgia.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, also known as “straight bankruptcy” basically allows the debtor to make a completely fresh start. It is the most common kind of bankruptcy filed by individuals. Once a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy has been filed, a trustee is appointed to collect the debtor’s assets, which are cashed in to pay creditors according to bankruptcy law.
Some assets, however, are deemed “exempt,” meaning the debtor may retain them. Exempt assets may include a car or a certain amount of cash. Exemptions differ from state to state. Although in some states you can choose between using federal or state exemption, in Georgia you must use state exemptions. There are, however, a number of federal non-bankruptcy exemptions that you may use, including such items as federal and military retirement accounts and disability benefits.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is typically filed by individuals who have no hope of repaying their debts and no cosigners to back them up. Frequently, Chapter 7 is filed by those about to be sued by creditors, or just overwhelmed by their debt. Businesses that are ready to close up shop and liquidate their assets may also file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It should be remembered that some debts cannot be discharged, even under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include some taxes and child support.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a way for commercial enterprises to reorganize their debt while they continue to do business. This is managed by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and repaying creditors according to a court-approved plan of reorganization. Even though Chapter 11 ultimately requires the court’s approval, the debtor is obligated to provide all creditors with a disclosure statement that allows them to evaluate the plan. Businesses that file for Chapter 11 may return to financial stability by using one or more of the following options: repaying a portion of some debts while discharging others, discharging contracts and/or leases that have become a burden, or downsizing some aspects of the business. In a great many cases, Chapter 11 bankruptcy enables the debtor to end up with a reduced debt and a profitable, reorganized business.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy was established to accommodate individuals who want to pay their debts but are presently unable to do so, in spite of the fact that they have a regular source of income. By filing Chapter 13 with the help of a skilled bankruptcy lawyer, they present a viable plan to the court that must be approved before it can be implemented. The plan demonstrates how they propose to pay their creditors over a reasonable period of time — between 3 to 5 years. If their plan is approved, the debtor will make payments to the creditors through a trustee. During the period of time the approved plan is in effect, the debtor is protected from lawsuits, wage garnishments, and other harassments by creditors. Once the plan is completed, any remaining debts are discharged.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often preferable to Chapter 7 bankruptcy because:
- It allows the debtor to keep a valuable asset, such as a home
- The debtor and his/her attorney fashion their own repayment plan
- It helps the debtor who has nondischargeable debts like taxes and child support
While it is true that bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record and will remain visible on your credit report (usually dropping off after 7 years like other reported items), your credit rating, as previously mentioned, is likely to rise quickly once the bankruptcy is complete. Also, the law prohibits discrimination in hiring because of a bankruptcy filing.
Eligibility Requirements for Bankruptcy Filing
There are eligibility requirements concerning the amount of money you owe that must be met in order to file for bankruptcy (The Means Test). Moreover, you will not be permitted to file for bankruptcy if you have filed previously in the recent past. In addition, the court will not allow you to file for bankruptcy if the judge believes you are trying to cheat your creditors.
The Advantages of Filing for Bankruptcy
The primary advantages of filing for bankruptcy, whatever the type, is that once you file an automatic “stay” goes into effect, prohibiting almost all collection actions by your creditors, including lawsuits and unrelenting harassment. Filing for bankruptcy may even postpone foreclosure proceedings on your home.
Which type of bankruptcy you should file for depends on a variety of factors, including your income, your expenses, what kind of debts you owe and whether you own any nonexempt property. There are some situations in which other methods of debt reduction may work better for you than filing for bankruptcy. Whatever your particular circumstances are, The Dolhancyk Law Firm, P.C. is fully prepared to help you find debt relief and restart your life in a positive way. We can be reached by phone or by filling out the convenient form on our website.
The Dolhancyk Law Firm serves clients throughout Peachtree City, Newnan, Fayetteville, Fayette County, Coweta County, and Spalding County.