In Honolulu County, Hawaii, 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). Bankruptcy should be treated as an option of last resort, and should not be viewed as a fitting way to get out of debt that you just don't feel like paying. Bankruptcy can have severe consequences, including but not limited to damage to your credit rating. A bad credit score can impact your ability to get loans in the future, to rent an apartment, and possibly even your ability to get hired at some jobs (as some employers now run credit checks on prospective employees).
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Honolulu County, Hawaii bankruptcy lawyer. Your Honolulu County bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional evaluation as to whether or not it's a good option, given your specific circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Honolulu County, Hawaii
There are 3 bankruptcy tactics that are largely used in Honolulu County: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Honolulu County, Hawaii are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or "liquidation," requires the debtor to sell some of his or her property to the highest bidder, and using the funds from the sale to pay down as much debt as possible. Once the sale is done, all dischargeable debt is deemed paid in full, whether or not the sale was able to raise the full amount owed. You should note that some property (usually the types of property deemed essential) is fully or partially exempt from liquidation, meaning that the debtor gets to keep it. This includes houses, cars, and retirement accounts, among others. Some types of debts, however, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including taxes, child support, and student loans.
The other typical bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Honolulu County is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is authorized, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost always by businesses. Not unlike Chapter 13, Chapter 11 focuses on restructuring of debt, rather than discharging it. Chapter 11 requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan designed to reduce debt and cut costs. Before being enforced, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
One major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Moreover, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Honolulu County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Honolulu County is a very important decision, and should not be made easily. Before filing, one should consult with a seasoned Honolulu County bankruptcy attorney for assistance.