How do I know if bankruptcy is the right choice for me?

Making the decision to file a bankruptcy case is not easy. It is important to look at all of your options, and understand both the benefits and negative effects of filing. These are some of the questions that must be considered:

(1) How badly do I need relief? Are creditors hounding me? Have I been sued? Am I facing a garnishment or foreclosure? Is the pressure of dealing with my debts (or not dealing with them) causing problems with my job, my health, my family relationships? Have I tried to work with my creditors to no avail?

(2) Do I qualify for bankruptcy relief? Most individuals qualify for relief under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. However, higher income individuals may be restricted to a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

(3) Will filing a bankruptcy case really help? Bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 will stop creditor harassment, foreclosure, garnishments and lawsuits. Some debts, however, cannot be completely discharged (wiped out) by a bankruptcy filing. These include recent income taxes, child support, alimony, and most student loans. Even if you are facing nondischargeable debts, bankruptcy may still help, though, by providing temporary relief and by freeing up income that had been used to service debt that can be discharged.

(4) Will I lose my property? In most bankruptcy cases, the debtor is able to retain his property. However, in most cases if the property is being used as collateral on a debt, a plan must be proposed to pay the creditor at least the value of the property in order to protect it.

(5) Can I afford the cost of filing a bankruptcy case? The best and most experienced bankruptcy law firms will provide a free initial consultation. You will meet with an attorney who will thoroughly evaluate your situation and fully discuss your options. He/she will explain the fees and costs involved and discuss what payment arrangements can be made. In Chapter 13 cases, the attorney fees are usually included in the repayment plan, so a case can be started with little money up front.

The most important thing to remember if you are considering bankruptcy is to get good advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy law is a specialized field. Only a fully qualified, experienced attorney will be able to fully advise you and follow through with the best plan of action.

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