In Fort Smith, Arkansas, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts absolved (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to commence with a clean slate, and move on with their lives no longer drowning in debt (and hopefully having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process). Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be discharged of their requirement to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing uncontrollable debt from resulting in complete financial ruin. Accordingly, it is best treated as an option of last resort, because it can carry with it significant negative consequences, which must be weighed against the possible benefits. For example, filing for bankruptcy can heavily damage a person's credit rating.
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good Fort Smith, Arkansas bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your specific situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Fort Smith attorney's advice is really indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Fort Smith, Arkansas
In Fort Smith, Arkansas, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in Fort Smith, Arkansas will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is done, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and various classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other form of bankruptcy most frequently used in Fort Smith is Chapter 13. It allows a person to pay off their debt over an extended period of time, often consolidating it into one periodic payment. In this system, the amount of money the debtor owes is not actually reduced, but the payment of the debt is made far more manageable. This gives the debtor some breathing room, allowing him to continue to earn a living while slowly paying down his debts, and gives some security to creditors that they will eventually collect all or most of what they're owed. Though applicable to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is finalized, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
A major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operating while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Fort Smith Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Fort Smith is not one to be made easily, and it definitely should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an efficient Fort Smith bankruptcy attorney.