In Chicago, Illinois, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts excused (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to start 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 convenient 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).
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good Chicago, Illinois bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your particular situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Chicago attorney's advice is truly indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Chicago, Illinois
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in Chicago: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the process for filing for bankruptcy in Chicago, Illinois will be roughly the same as it would be anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her property, and use the funds to pay creditors. While this doesn't sound like much of a relief at first glance, the upshot is that once the eligible property is sold, and the proceeds directed to the creditors, all of the debtor's eligible debts are deemed paid in full, regardless of how much the creditors actually ended up getting. Not all of the debtor's property has to be sold off - the debtor will usually be allowed to keep things like a house, at least one car, some types of personal property, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. It should be noted that some debts are not dischargeable, and will have to be paid in full even if the debtor files for bankruptcy. This includes student loans, taxes, and criminal fines.
The other largely used bankruptcy system in Chicago is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is authorized by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually a better option for people who have a steady income. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost always used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be authorized by a vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operating, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Chicago cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney beforehand.